31 Lists of Horror: Ian Colford on Halloween Album Cover Terror!

Today, in Day 16 of 31 Lists of Horror, we take a look at music.

More specifically, the horrifying stuff the music used to be sold in.

You know, before downloading became a thing.

Today’s special guest lister: Ian Colford

Ian Colford’s novel Perfect World (Freehand Books, 2016) is only mildly disturbing. It’s available from Amazon.

October 16, 2017

Top 10 Creepy Album Covers


By 1970 I was coming into my own as a music fan and buying LPs with my own money. My parents, who came of age in the 1920s and 1930s, could put up with the polite, clean-cut rebelliousness of The Beatles. But as the music and album art of the 1970s grew blatantly transgressive and aesthetically subversive, their responses became tinged with something resembling disgust, which of course made the whole exercise worth the effort.

In honour of Halloween, here are ten eerie album covers that I brought home and presented to my parents, for no reason other than to freak them out, listed in order from mildly disturbing to downright harrowing: [ED: Full images after the list]

Pink Floyd, Wish You Were Here (1975): The guy on fire really wound up my father for some reason.

Neil Young, After the Gold Rush (1970): I didn’t actually see anything weird about this cover but my father always shuddered at the sight of Neil’s mottled face.

Rolling Stones, Goats Head Soup (1973): It was confusing that Mick looked like he was being smothered in plastic but was happy about it. By 1974, when I this album arrived in the house, my mother was just rolling her eyes.

Yes, The Yes Album (1971): The stony expressions and yellow light spraying down that made the band members look like living corpses provoked the classic response: “Yuck!”

David Bowie, Diamond Dogs (1974): My mother figured out David Bowie right away: “He looks like he just got out of a space ship from Mars.” I never let on how right she was.

Peter Gabriel, Peter Gabriel (Melt) (1980): My mother: “That’s just plain gross.”

Emerson, Lake & Palmer, Brain Salad Surgery (1973): Anything with a skull was bound to get a reaction.

Led Zeppelin, Houses of the Holy (1973): “Little naked wormy creatures. Ugh!”

Alice Cooper, Love it to Death (1972): Alice Cooper posed a particular challenge to my mother. To start, the guy called himself Alice. And the goth thing was new and unsettling. Then there was the “chicken incident.” And the fact that the lead singer and the band were both “Alice Cooper” was just confusing. But the myth of “Alice Cooper” as a depraved counter-culture menace came crashing down when she read an article about him playing golf at a course where Bing Crosby used to play. After that, the threat didn’t carry as much weight.

Black Sabbath, Black Sabbath (1970): Even I found this cover image disconcerting. But I played the record loud and often.

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