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You're voting for say ten of your favorite album covers of all time. What comes to mind? Sgt. Pepper with its myriad of faces and bright jackets or the demure dark haired woman covered in whip cream staring back at you? Is it the Warhol Zipper from the Stones Sticky Fingers or the flaring nostrils of King Crimson's Court of the Crimson King? Whatever your picks, they're probably more bizarre than beautiful, and personal unlike any other art form.

To find out what the top album covers of all time are non profit Vinyl Record Day (VRD) sought out public opinion rather than a panel of judges. Tallying submissions received through the VRD web site and radio stations around the US, the results were as diverse as the art form itself. Hundreds of titles were named. The Top Ten below represent one definite conclusion of the poll; it proved once more art is in the eye of the beholder.

Considering there were hundreds of titles submitted it's a little surprising a top vote getter did surface, but the Beatles Sgt. Pepper led all others as the top album cover of all time. Proving record sales aren't a factor when it comes to appreciating cover art, the next highest vote went to Herb Alpert's, Whipped Cream and Other Delights. The Beatles sold over 11 million copies of their record; Herb's sold just 500,000 copies. Yet ask a solidly Baby Boomer male to name a couple of all time favorite album covers and you can bet you'll see that gleam in the eye as you hear a tale of the girl in whipped cream long before you hear about those Beatle jackets.

As a group, multiple titles in the catalog of Journey and the Stones ranked high in having some of the best cover art. Journey's Escape cover with the bolting sun ship was a favorite as was the group's Evolution cover. The Stones, the only music artists with two LP covers in the top ten had Sticky Fingers, Tattoo You, and Their Satanic Majesty's Request named as some of the group's best cover art work.

Other group's whose catalog was recognized for its cover art work are Led Zeppelin, Rush, and Queen. Other Beatle favorites named include Revolver, Rubber Soul and the anti cover, the Beatles White Album.

Though Rock ruled, voters did not limit their choices to this single genre or era. Jazz great Miles Davis' "Bitches Brew", with its strange flow of bright colors turning into faces was a favorite as were the dark and sultry covers for Henry Mancini's Mr. Lucky and Peter Gunn soundtracks. Also cited as among the best covers of all time were the Classical music album covers of the father of Album Cover Art, Alex Steinweiss.

With selections by orchestra leaders such as Acquavira, Al Sack and Bob Hurd, the poll showed an artist's or group's popularity was not a factor in selecting the greatest album covers of all time. Poetic titles weren't required either as Frank Zappa's Weasels' Ripped My Flesh, Hair of the Dog from Nazareth, and Best Dressed Chicken in Town from Dr. Alimantado were also named as best album covers.

Oddities were popular as the paper panties of Alice Cooper's School Out, the unusual shaped covers of the Stones, Traffic and others, and Jimi Hendrix' harem of topless beauties on the European release of Electric Ladyland, a cover banned in the US, were all submitted as aficionado favorites.

Honorable Mentions; great album covers not forgotten include Frank Sinatra's In the Wee Small Hours and daughter Nancy's Boots with the controversial linear notes. Santana's Abraxax, Art Crum's cartoon cover on Janis Joplin's Cheap Thrills, London Calling, the Clash's updated version of the first Elvis album cover were deemed among the classics of Album Cover Art. Jimi Hendrix, Iron Maiden and Journey received "Any of them" votes. Lounge covers as represented by the Jackie Gleason covers of hot blondes with cigarettes and martinis were a favorite genre as well as the YES covers of Roger Dean.

Many voters went beyond just listing their favorite LP covers as the personal connection to their nominations was significant to why the selections were made. Participants cited remembering carefully placing the new gleaming black record on the turntable then analyzing for hours with great fascination the covers that were shining examples of visual art. Other voters made their selections entirely on emotion; they were favorites because of the link to exact moments in one's life; what they were doing, where they were or who they were with when they first saw the covers, an experience completely separate from listening to the music.

Whether we relate a personal experience to it or not, the art form uniquely portrayed who we were, we saw ourselves reflected back to ourselves in ways that no other medium could attempt. With limitless creative boundaries Album Cover Art depicted fifty years of each era's fashion, life styles and social values. Rembrandt, not the group, would be proud.

Top Ten Album Covers
  1. Sgt. Pepper - The Beatles
  2. Whipped Cream and Other Delights - Herb Alpert
  3. The Court of the Crimson King- King Crimson
  4. Their Satanic Majesties Request - Rolling Stones
  5. Abraxax - Santana
  6. Escape - Journey
  7. Sticky Fingers - Rolling Stones
  8. Fragile - YES
  9. London Calling - Clash
  10. Led Zeppelin One "Hindenburg Cover" - Led Zeppelin

Vinyl Record Day is the only non profit organization dedicated to the preservation of the Cultural Influences, the Recordings and the Cover Art of the vinyl record.

Gary Freiberg
Founder, Vinyl Record Day
888-644-4567

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