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.

Leave a Reply