The Lost Art of Album Covers


I love to look at old LPs and examine the jackets, looking for any special meaning or story. I think it should capture a little bit about the sound inside or the story the music tells. Or sometimes the outside images can tell you a story all of their own.

I think album cover artwork is a lost “art” these days, especially in country music. More often than not the genre has left me disappointed with the seemingly lack of effort put into the album covers. At times it looks like the puts it on the back burner and the result looks rushed. And sometimes it looks like no thought was put into it at all.

The trend is to put the artist or band on the cover, as if the fans need a reminder of whose album it is or what they look like. I guess I get that. If there are pretty faces on the outside then more people will buy it…? If that really is the thought process then it makes it seems like the music isn’t as important either, in my opinion. The cover of an album is not the most important thing, but it should still stand out because it represents the music.

As a rock fan, particularly hard rock and metal, I have high expectations and get anxious to see what the cover will look like for each new release. When you think of iconic albums, for example Abbey Road, the image that immediately comes to mind is the cover. Those four guys walking across the street, each dressed in very different clothing. Or on the flip side, something as simple as Born in the U.S.A. works just as well and is etched in pop culture’s brain.

After looking at country music albums from the past I have realized the artwork really never was a big thing. Every now and then there have been some good ones that stand out and are a window to what the music is about. However, typically it’s just a bust shot of the artist with a boring solid color background. I don’t understand the lack of imagination because country music is a very visual genre of music.

Give me something visually interesting. It can be simple but yet not look cheaply made with Photoshop. I’ll take Kenny Rogers’ The Gambler over Luke Bryan’s Crash My Party any day (although the ladies might disagree with me there)!