Digital downloads and CDs were not yet developed back in the 70s. This means that when you buy your favorite artist’s album during that decade, it is in the form of a long-playing record that comes with a 12-square-inch of artwork. And that artwork is as important as the music the album contained inside.
The 70s decade was a revolutionary time when it comes to music and art. And one of the best things that captured this were some of the most iconic album covers of the decade. They were able to show the style, look, and feel of a significant decade in terms of music and world history. That’s why today, we are taking you to a trip down to memory lane and make you remember the most iconic album covers in the 70s.
Ramones by The Ramones
The artwork of this self-titled album by The Ramones features the band standing against a brick wall, and they look like they do not care about what anyone has to say about them. This is the attitude that helped pave the way for a new generation to start breaking down the foundations that were laid by the old one. Back in the 70s, this was one of the best-selling punk albums of all time, and it also helped the Ramones reach stardom while setting the tone for the next decade. In fact, the band was able to set the stage for the punk movement in the 80s with this album. It is indeed an iconic piece of album art.
McCartney by Paul McCartney
After the Beatles split, Paul McCartney solo debuted an album, which is a document of his breakdown. It is also one of the best albums by McCartney. At first glance, it’s kind of difficult to decode the image on this album. But eventually, you will realize that you are staring at cherries scattered around a bowl. For McCartney, it means mixing the sour with the sweet. When you flip the album around, you will see an image of him grinning with the title set cheerfully in Copper Bold.
Dark Side of the Moon by Pink Floyd
Pink Floyd is one of the classic rock bands that produced some of the most iconic music in the 70s. And up until today, despite their unrestrained breakup, a lot of people still love them. The Dark Side of the Moon album of Pink Floyd features an easily recognizable prism artwork, which is a favorite among planetarium goers. This album explores many themes, including madness, envy, capitalism, and greed.
Weasels Ripped My Flesh by Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention
This album by Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention has an edgy cover, and it was commissioned by Frank Zappa himself. He gave illustrator Neon Park a copy of Man’s Life, which is a 1950s proto-lad magazine, with the words “What can you do that is worse than this?”. By half a decade, the subsequent parody anticipated punk’s anti-materialism and pop-art style.
Bat Out of Hell by Meat Loaf
The album Bat Out of Hell by Meat Loaf features a guy that resembles Tarzan bursting out on a motorcycle, shooting out of the ground with an explosive force in the middle of a cemetery. This is probably one of the most impressive artworks among the album covers in the 70s. This album became a certified diamond record, which will make you wonder how many of the people who bought it did so to hang it as art.
Sticky Fingers by The Rolling Stones
The Rolling Stones were huge in the 60s, but they became more iconic in the 70s. They returned to their blues roots, which separated them from their rivalry with the Beatles in the 60. With their Sticky Fingers album, Mike Jagger initially wanted something minimal for the cover. But they asked Andy Warhol to design the album cover.
Jagger even wrote Warhol a note that said the more complicated the format of the album is, the more agonizing the delays. However, Warhol ignored the note, resulting in an album cover that features a real zip attached, which revealed a glimpse of white cotton briefs when opened. It is indeed a very iconic album.
Who’s Next by The Who
The Who is one of the most enduring hard rock acts in the world. However, the cover art of their album Who’s Next sparked controversy because it features the band members having just peed all over a solitary block. This design was their attempt to show that the band was going out of their way to rock harder. And the music on this album indeed did not disappoint the promise of its iconic artwork. This proves that album art can definitely play a role in making classic music and classic art, as well.
Jailbreak by Thin Lizzy
This album is the only certified gold release by Thin Lizzy. It contains two of the biggest singles of the band, which are Jailbreak, and The Boys Are Back in Town. The album’s die-cut cover was designed by artist Jim Fitzpatrick, which gave it a pop. It features an image of a television monitor showing the members of the band running loose, which is actually a die-cut hole, revealing part of the gatefold’s inner scene. When you open the album, you will see the band running from a War of the Worlds-like alien attack. It has a comic book style graphics and is really iconic in the 70s.
Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy by Elton John
This album by Elton John was a multi-platinum record. However, John said in an interview in 2006 that is wasn’t a commercial success. The release of this album scored only one hit, which is Someone Saved My Life Tonight. There’s a lot going on when you look at the cover of this album. You can see eccentric-looking creatures surrounding a cartoon Elton wearing a tuxedo while atop a piano.
Alan Aldrige, a pop artist, designed this album cover, which is inspired by a Medieval painting called The Garden of Earthly Delights by Hieronymus Bosch. And in the 70s, when you buy this issue, it comes with a poster of the album cover, as well, which is really cool.
Led Zeppelin IV by Led Zeppelin
Led Zeppelin, the band that launched the heavy metal genre, decided to think outside of the box in designing the art of this album. The album cover looks like a stucco wall that has a portrait of a peasant carrying a bundle of branches hanging on it. In the 70s, this album art was different from what other bands and albums were doing. This means that you will surely notice it in the record store. With that brilliant marketing move, it also became one of the best album covers of the decade.
These are some of the most iconic album covers in the 70s. Streaming services and digital downloads may have been slowing and making the art of the album cover obsolete. Still, the importance of the album cover will always remain as important as it was. Holding physical music and its packaging is still one of the best experiences, and it is part of the fun.