List of controversial album art

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The following is a list of notable albums with controversial album art, especially where that controversy resulted in the album being banned, censored or sold in packaging other than the original one. They are listed by the type of controversy they were involved in.

Nudity and sexuality[edit]

  • The Jimi Hendrix ExperienceElectric Ladyland (1968)
    • The intended artwork for the UK version of the album did not arrive in time to press the album, so a cover of naked women lounging in front of a black background was issued in its place.[1]
  • John Lennon & Yoko OnoUnfinished Music No.1: Two Virgins (1968)
    • The front cover displayed Lennon and Ono frontally nude, while the rear cover featured them from behind. Distributors were prompted to sell the album in a plain brown wrapper,[2] and copies of the album were impounded as obscenity in several jurisdictions.[3]
  • Blind FaithBlind Faith (1969)
    • The cover featured a topless pubescent girl, holding in her hands a silver space ship, which some perceived as phallic. Photographer Bob Seidemann used a girl, Mariora Goschen, who was 11 years old.[4][5][6] The US record company issued it with an alternative cover which showed a photograph of the band on the front.
  • Alice CooperLove It to Death (1971)
    • The album features a portrait of the original Alice Cooper band, with frontman Alice Cooper posed with his thumb protruding from underneath his cape as if it were his penis. The album was later reissued with Cooper's entire right arm airbrushed out of the photograph.[7]
  • Mom's Apple PieMom's Apple Pie (1972)
    • The album was originally released with the album cover featuring a woman licking her lips and holding a pie with a slice removed showing a subtle depiction of a woman's vulva and some semen leaking from the pie. The cover was later reprinted with the vulva replaced by a miniature brick wall, topped with razor wire and removing the semen.
  • David BowieDiamond Dogs (1973)
    • The album features Bowie as a half-dog half-man hybrid, and the back cover features the creature's genitals. Following controversy, later copies of the album have the genitals airbrushed out of the painting.[7]
  • Golden EarringMoontan (1973)
    • The cover of this album by the Dutch rock band, Golden Earring, features a naked woman, with her nipples clearly visible and exposed. An alternate cover featuring a golden earring with the band's name on it was released in the U.S.
  • Led ZeppelinHouses of the Holy (1973)
    • The Hipgnosis cover, based on the novel Childhood's End by Arthur C. Clarke, features a group of naked children ascending the Giant's Causeway. The interior art also depicts a distant figure of a naked Overlord standing on mossy ruins (nearby Dunluce Castle) while holding one of the children aloft in a ceremonial gesture. Although the album was originally released with the nudity intact, Atlantic Records were allowed to add a wrap-around paper title band to US and UK copies of the sleeve that had to be broken or slid off to access the record.[8] This hid the children's buttocks from general display, but still the album was either banned or unavailable in some parts of the Southern United States for several years.[9] On subsequent the cover covered one of the naked children's buttocks with the "Led Zeppelin Houses of the Holy" text printed on a white background.[10] The buttocks were later airbrushed out.[citation needed]
  • Roxy MusicCountry Life (1974)
    • The album features scantily clad models Constanze Karoli and Eveline Grunwald – the sister and girlfriend, respectively, of Can guitarist Michael Karoli – posed in front of a bush. Although no nudity is directly shown in the photograph, Grunwald is topless. For a later American release of the album, the front cover was replaced by mirroring the photograph on the album's back cover, which features the foliage and forest, but neither woman.[11]
  • ScorpionsVirgin Killer (1976)
    • This cover featured a photo of a naked prepubescent girl, with her pubic area partially obscured by a "cracked glass" effect. Her pose and the title "Virgin Killer" added to the image's notoriety. The Internet Watch Foundation, a British non-profit group who provides content blacklists for major ISPs in the country, also notably blacklisted pages on the internet encyclopedia Wikipedia for featuring the cover on its article about the album.[12] This block was later retracted due to technical problems which occurred as a result of the blocking mechanisms and due to the already "wide availability" of the image.[13]
  • WhitesnakeLovehunter (1979)
    • The cover, which was created by fantasy artist Chris Achilleos, features a nude woman straddling a colossal snake. The band did not change the artwork.
  • Bow Wow WowSee Jungle! See Jungle! Go Join Your Gang Yeah, City All Over! Go Ape Crazy! (1981)
    • The cover of the album features a rendition of Édouard Manet’s painting Le Déjeuner sur l’herbe featuring the band members. The band's then-14-year old lead singer Annabella Lwin is nude on the cover. The cover caused outrage in the United Kingdom that led to an investigation by Scotland Yard, instigated by Lwin's mother.[14] The cover was replaced, and never appeared on the American issue.
  • WhitesnakeCome an' Get It (1981)
    • The cover features a coiled snake inside a glass apple, with its open mouth closely resembling a vagina. Many subsequent releases of the album have had the snake's mouth airbrushed over with a solid red.
  • Roger WatersThe Pros and Cons of Hitch Hiking (1984)
    • The cover features a rear-view and nude image of model and pornography actress Linzi Drew. It was condemned by many feminist groups and was also accused of promoting rape. Columbia Records was forced to place a black box covering the nudity for future releases to avoid more controversy.
  • ExodusBonded by Blood (1985)
    • The original artwork features an illustration of good and evil conjoined twin infants, who are both naked. When Combat Records reissued the album in 1989, the artwork was censored with a red and black image of a crowd,[15][16] while subsequent reissues feature the original artwork.[17]
  • Dead KennedysFrankenchrist (1985)
    • A poster inserted in the original record sleeve, H. R. Giger's Landscape #XX, or Penis Landscape, was a painting depicting rows of penises in sexual intercourse. The band and its record label Alternative Tentacles were brought to criminal trial for distributing harmful matter to minors.[18][19] Although the trial and two years of subsequent litigation in the case did not result in any convictions, Alternative Tentacles and the band's frontman Jello Biafra were nearly driven into bankruptcy as result of costs related to the trial and litigation. Additionally, the album's actual cover – a 1970s Newsweek photograph of Shriners in a parade – prompted a 1986 lawsuit from the four elderly Shriners included in the photograph.[20]
  • Bon JoviSlippery When Wet (1986)
    • The album originally was to feature a busty, 34DD woman in a wet yellow T-shirt with the album name on the front of the shirt. However, the artwork was rejected because record executives feared that the dominant record store chains at the time would not sell the album with a sexist cover, or Jon Bon Jovi's complaint that the record company had put a bright pink border around the photograph that the band had submitted.[21][22] Instead, the cover was changed before the album's release to an image of a wet garbage bag with the words "Slippery When Wet" written on it.
  • Guns N' RosesAppetite for Destruction (1987)
    • The album's original cover art, based on Robert Williams' painting "Appetite for Destruction", depicted an open-shirted woman leaning against a wooden fence after clearly being raped by a robotic rapist which is about to be crushed by a dagger-toothed monster. After several music retailers refused to stock the album, the label compromised and moved the offensive image to the inside sleeve, replacing it with a new image depicting a cross and skulls of the five band members.[23] The band stated the artwork is "a symbolic social statement, with the robot representing the industrial system that's raping and polluting our environment."[24]
  • Jane's AddictionNothing's Shocking (1988)
    • The album cover, created by frontman Perry Farrell, features a sculpture of a pair of nude female conjoined twins sitting on a sideways rocking chair with their heads on fire. Farrell said the image, like much of his artwork, came to him in a dream and he hired the employees of Warner Bros. to create the cover sculpture; after learning how to create sculptures by watching them closely, he fired the Warner Bros. staff and created the artwork himself. Farrell hired someone to help create a full body casting of his girlfriend for use as the sculptures. Retailers objected to the album's cover. Nine out of the eleven leading record store chains refused to carry Nothing's Shocking, and the record had to be issued covered with brown paper.[citation needed]
  • Red Hot Chili PeppersMother's Milk (1989)
    • The album cover features a black and white photograph of the band sprawled across the arms of a proportionately larger naked woman. A rose conceals one of her nipples while singer Anthony Kiedis' standing body conceals the other. Several national chains refused to sell the record because they believed the female subject displayed too much nudity. A stricter censored version was manufactured for some retailers that featured the band members in far larger proportion than the original.[25]
  • LoverboyBig Ones (1989)
    • The cover features 12 squares with various pictures in them, but with one of them containing a photo of a woman's breasts. After many stores refused to stock the album, the cover was edited with black bars over the woman's nipples.
  • Jane's AddictionRitual de lo habitual (1990)
    • Anticipating censorship, two versions of the disc packaging were created: one cover featured artwork by singer Perry Farrell including male and female nudity; the other cover has been called the "clean cover", and features only black text on a white background, listing the band name, album name, and the text of the First Amendment (the "freedom of speech" amendment of the U.S. Constitution). The "clean cover" was created so the CD could be distributed in stores that refused to stock items with nudity on the front cover.
  • Blur – "She's So High" (single) (1990)
    • The cover shows a naked woman astride a hippotamus, painted by Californian artist Mel Ramos. The poster and accompanying T-shirt, with the picture printed in full size, caused some controversy amongst students and advertisements for the single were banned in Hackney and the London Underground, and defaced elsewhere.
  • NirvanaNevermind (1991)
    • The album cover featured a naked baby with his penis exposed, swimming after a dollar bill. Chain stores such as Wal-Mart and K-Mart initially refused to carry Nevermind. However, eventually due to such high demand, Nirvana compromised and put a sticker that read "If you're offended by this, you must be a closet pedophile" over the genitals.[26] Nirvana saw continued controversy for their next album, In Utero.
  • Tin MachineTin Machine II (1991)
    • The original cover featured a row of four nude Kouroi. In the U.S., the genitalia of the statues were airbrushed out, leading band member David Bowie to exclaim, "Only in America!"[27]
  • SuedeSuede (1993)
    • The gender-ambiguous cover art provoked controversy in the press,[28] prompting Anderson to comment, "I chose it because of the ambiguity of it, but mostly because of the beauty of it." The cover image of the androgynous kissing couple was taken from the 1991 book Stolen Glances: Lesbians Take Photographs edited by Tessa Boffin and Jean Fraser. The photograph was taken by Tee Corinne and in its entirety shows a woman kissing an acquaintance in a wheelchair.[29]
  • ToolUndertow (1993)
    • Photos in the liner notes of a nude obese woman, a nude man of normal weight, a cow licking its genitals, and the band members with pins in the sides of their heads generated controversy, resulting in the album being removed from stores such as Kmart and Wal-Mart.[30][31] The cover was later replaced by a giant bar code.[30]
  • The Black CrowesAmorica (1994)
    • The album cover's depiction of pubic hair, taken from an issue of Hustler magazine, caused controversy.[32] The image was replaced with a black background cover which blacked out the hair.
  • ChumbawambaAnarchy (1994)
    • The cover originally depicted a baby's head emerging from a woman's vagina during birth. As some stores would not sell the album due to the cover, the baby image was replaced with an image of several flowers.
  • Frenzal RhombDick Sandwich (1994)
    • The cover shows several severed penises, some of which are being used as filling in a sandwich. They were subsequently banned from some venues and record stores.[33]
  • GobDildozer (1995)
    • The cover for the EP depicted a crowd of people being chased through a city by a massive bulldozer with a penis attached to it. The cover also has the title with a penis in place of the "I". Many stores were highly offended by the content on the cover and refused to carry the EP. As of 2000, Dildozer is currently out of print.
  • NOFXHeavy Petting Zoo (1996)
    • The album features two covers, one for the CD version and one for the LP version; both of them caused controversy. The CD version features a man sitting down on the ground in a petting zoo cuddling a sheep with his hand on the sheep's genitalia area. The LP version sparked even more controversy than the CD version, as it features the same man in a 69 position with the same sheep. The album is known as Eating Lamb on the LP. The LP version was banned from Germany due to the cover's subject matter.
  • White ZombieSupersexy Swingin' Sounds (1996)
    • The album's cover depicts a naked woman relaxing in a hammock in front of a driveway and a sidewalk. The edited version of the album (audio-wise) has the woman wearing a blue bikini.
  • Gob & Another JoeAss Seen on TV (1997)
    • The cover shows a picture of a square showing buttocks and a newsman with a disgusted look. This cover caused such controversy and was banned from certain stores such as Kmart, Walmart and Target Corporation.
  • Marilyn MansonMechanical Animals (1998)
    • The cover shows a picture of a naked Marilyn Manson with airbrushed genitalia. Some retail stores, including Wal-Mart and KMart, refused to stock the album.
  • BuckcherryBuckcherry (1999)
    • The cover depicts a painting of a naked woman with tattoos lying on her stomach on the floor with her right breast exposed. The album was banned from Kmart because of the cover. The band also saw continued controversy on their next album, Time Bomb.
  • MinistryDark Side of the Spoon (1999)
    • The album's cover depicts a naked obese woman seated in front of a blackboard where the words "I will be god" are written numerous times. The album was banned from Kmart due to the offending cover.[34] In the album's insert, the same woman covers her breasts with her hands, and her behind is also exposed on both the insert and back cover. The woman and the words on the blackboard were later airbrushed out.
  • Blink-182The Mark, Tom and Travis Show (The Enema Strikes Back!) (2000)
    • The back cover of the album featured four naked men taking a shower. After many complaints of the cover's content, the buttocks were later censored by black bars.
  • Puddle of MuddCome Clean (2001)
    • The album cover features vocalist Wes Scantlin's son Jordon with his pants down and buttocks exposed. The cover resulted in the album being pulled from certain stores such as Walmart and Kmart. The cover was taken by American photographer Kate Schermerhorn on the afternoon of the 1999 full solar eclipse in Cornwall, England. Despite the controversy, the album has never had an alternative cover.
  • The StrokesIs This It (2001)
    • The original cover art featured a photograph of a woman's nude bottom and hip, with a leather-gloved hand suggestively resting on it. Although British retail chains HMV and Woolworths objected to the photograph's controversial nature, they stocked the album without amendment.[35] In the band's native United States, the cover was changed to a photograph of subatomic particle tracks in a bubble chamber. This decision was made by frontman Julian Casablancas because he liked this image more than the original cover, and was independent of any controversy or label demand.[36]
  • Red Hot Chili PeppersBy the Way (2002)
    • The album cover features a painting by Julian Schnabel of his daughter Stella topless standing on a palm tree background with her eyes scratched out. A few uses of the album cover (such as the album's page on Spotify) have the subject's nipples painted over.
  • Biffy ClyroThe Vertigo of Bliss (2003)
    • The cover shows a woman sitting down with her hand up her dress, presumably masturbating, with a look of pleasure on her face. The controversy of the album cover is accompanied by the incredibly erotic artwork of the singles "The Ideal Height", "Questions and Answers" and "Eradicate the Doubt" (all designed by Milo Manara). Despite being considered offensive and sexist by some, ShortList magazine praised the band for their bravery and originality when they mentioned it in their list of "50 Coolest Album Covers Ever".
  • 3 Doors DownSeventeen Days (2005)
    • The cover depicts a naked baby sitting on an old table with his genitalia covered by a wolf head. Stores such as, Walmart, Kmart & Best Buy refused to carry the album due to the obscene cover. Despite the controversy, the band had never changed the artwork.
  • Cradle of FilthThornography (2006)
    • In news posted on the official Cradle of Filth website in mid-May 2006, it was revealed that the planned artwork for Thornography had been vetoed by Roadrunner Records. A replacement was soon forthcoming, although numerous CD booklets had already been printed with the original image. The controversy was over the nakedness of the female figure's legs on the original cover.[37]
  • Kanye WestMy Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (2010)
    • The cover originally showed a painting by George Condo depicting West being straddled by a phoenix. As certain retail stores refused to sell the album due to the cover, Condo created a less-offensive artwork, showing a ballerina with a glass of cherry juice. However, many versions of the album still feature the original artwork, but pixelated.
  • The WeekndHouse of Balloons (2011) (Mixtape)
    • The explicit cover shows a big picture in the bottom. The picture shows there are some balloons and there is a woman in these balloons appearing topless, showing off her breast outside in the balloons. When the mixtape was sold separately for retail release on iTunes and in stores in 2015, the cover was then censored.[38]
  • Death GripsNo Love Deep Web (2012)
    • The cover shows the erect penis of drummer Zach Hill with the album's title written in black marker. The cover caused such controversy, along with its spontaneous release without their label's permission, that the band were forced to put a disclaimer on their website. An alternative cover was subsequently released depicting a man wearing socks with the words "Suck my dick" on them.
  • Rob ZombieMondo Sex Head (2012)
    • The cover features a nude female's buttocks, but after controversy arose, it was replaced by an image of a cat, which was referred to as a "pussy shot".[39]
  • Two Door Cinema ClubBeacon (2012)
    • The cover features the bottom half of a female's body, with her skirt as part of the ceiling. It was criticized of being sexually offensive as the female's underwear and legs are very clearly visible.
  • Tenacious DRize of the Fenix (2012)
    • The album cover shows an animated penis-shaped phoenix along with flames and fire in the background. The album cover was pixelated for iTunes, and in-store versions had a sticker covering the explicit content. Some stores sold the cover with no censor.
  • Kanye West - Cold (2012) (Single)
    • The cover designed by George Condo features a woman body with bare breasts. It was intended to be the cover art of the song when the name was "Theraflu". When Kanye West changed the name of the song to "Cold", a new cover was revealed, which also caused controversies for bare breasts.[40]
  • Sky FerreiraNight Time, My Time (2013)
    • The album cover features Sky Ferriera appearing topless, wearing a cross necklace inside a shower, with a "demented" facial expression.[41] The album cover was cropped for iTunes,[42] and in-store versions had an elongated sticker with the album title and her name covering the explicit content.
  • Lady GagaArtpop (2013)
    • The album artwork is a sculpture of Lady Gaga by Jeff Koons with her legs open and a gazing ball placed between them. Although no nudity is visible on the artwork, the album cover was still censored in the Middle East and China. Rather than traditional censorship, the gazing ball between her legs was enlarged to fully cover her breasts, and her legs were colored black so they don't appear naked.[43]
  • Lady Gaga – "Do What U Want" featuring R. Kelly (2013) (Single)
    • The single cover is a close-up of Lady Gaga's buttocks wearing a blue, floral thong. Lady Gaga's blonde wig hangs just above her thong-clad buttocks. The image was taken by photographer Terry Richardson. A censored version of the cover featuring a pale mauve coloured skirt edited over the top of her buttocks was used in selected countries in the Middle East.
  • Dizzee Rascal featuring Will.I.Am – "Something Really Bad" (2013) (Single)
    • The single artwork shows a woman dressed in black, tight clothing with both her hands placed on top of her buttocks. The single cover and music video were described as sexist and controversial by many critics including The Guardian.
  • Nicki Minaj – "Anaconda" (2014) (Single)
    • The artwork for this digital single depicts the subject with her back towards the camera, emphasizing her thong-clad buttocks. Some stores censored this art by positioning the Parental Advisory seal over the buttocks. (Or a black box on the edited version)[44]
  • ArcaXen (2014)
    • The album cover is a computer-generated androgynous alter-ego named Xen. With her head tilted back, Xen displays her broad shoulders, breasts, and large hips on the album cover with her skin rippling "as if about to peel and fall off."[45] Even though no genitals appear, Spotify and iTunes pixelate the area, as well as the breasts.[46][47]
  • The HotelierGoodness (2016)
    • The album cover shows a group of middle-aged nudists posing in the middle of a forest. The group consists of five women and three men. The album cover was completely pixelated for its iTunes release,[48] and many online news outlets overlaid a black box over the explicit areas.[49]
  • St. Vincent - MASSEDUCTION (2017)
    • This album artwork shows a woman bending forward in a leopard leotard which partially exposes her buttocks. The Target exclusive version intentionally places a green hype sticker (removable) over the buttocks. [50]


  • Jimi HendrixAxis: Bold as Love (1967)
    • Hindu groups in Malaysia expressed anger at both the David King illustrated poster and cover which shows Hendrix and his bandmates as the deity Vishnu. The Malaysian government's Home Ministry instituted a ban on the artwork in June 2014 to protect religious sensitivities.[51]
  • StryperTo Hell with the Devil (1986)
    • The album's original artwork depicted the devil being thrown into a fiery pit by a group of long-haired angels. After the artwork caused a torrent of controversy, it was replaced on later pressings to a basic black cover with the classic band logo and the album title in the center.
  • Steve TaylorI Predict 1990 (1987)
    • The album's cover, influenced by early 20th century French neo-impressionist poster art and painted by Taylor's wife, was controversial with some Christian retailers who instead believed it to be a reference to tarot and New Age philosophy. The album was pulled from several stores as a result.[52] Further controversy was raised by the album track "I Blew Up the Clinic Real Good", which condemned anti-abortion violence. Some Christian bookstores which did not pull the album for its cover pulled it due to the song or its title, either because its critique of the pro-life movement offended store owners and customers, or because these same individuals missed the song's satirical point, and believed Taylor advocated such violence.[53]
  • AerosmithNine Lives (1997)
    • The original cover aroused the anger of some Hindus[who?] who felt the artwork, taken from Hindu imagery and altered by giving the dancing figure a cat's head, was offensive. The band, who had been unaware of the source of the artwork, and record company apologized, and changed the artwork.
  • P.O.D.The Fundamental Elements of Southtown (1999)
    • Many Christian stores refused[citation needed] to carry the album due to its surreal cover art, so an alternative cover that was black and featured the band's name and album title was released for Christian markets.
  • Tenacious DTenacious D (2001)
    • The album cover received controversy due to its parody of the Devil tarot card. On the back of the CD were two babies locked to Satan. This had it pulled from many stores and in later US copies of the CD the babies were airbrushed out. Though for the July 2002 CD release of the album in the UK and also the 2013 re-release on vinyl, the babies were kept in.
  • SlayerChrist Illusion (2006)
    • The cover depicts a mutilated, stoned Christ in a sea of blood with mutilated heads. For stores who refused to sell the album with the original cover, an alternative cover was provided instead. In India, Joseph Dias, general secretary of the Mumbai Christian group Catholic Secular Forum (CSF), took "strong exception" to the original album artwork, and issued a memorandum to Mumbai's police commissioner in protest. As a result, all Indian stocks were recalled and destroyed.[54]
  • The GameJesus Piece (2012)
    • The cover features a stained-glass image of an African-American Jesus wearing a red bandanna across his lower face, a Jesus piece necklace, and a teardrop tattoo. After the Roman Catholic Church complained to Interscope Records about the cover, Game decided to make this cover for the deluxe edition and use a different cover for the standard edition. The standard cover features a black-and-white photo of the rapper's deceased brother Jevon Danell Taylor, who died on May 21, 1995 at the age of 20 after being shot.
  • Justin BieberPurpose (2015)
    • An alternative cover was reportedly created by Justin Bieber's team for his Purpose album after several Muslim nations across the Middle East, North Africa as well as Indonesia, took issue with Bieber being shirtless in the original artwork and flaunting his cross tattoo, promoting Christianity.[55]


  • Bob DylanBlonde on Blonde (1966)
    • The original inside gatefold featured nine black-and-white photos,[56] including a shot of actress Claudia Cardinale that Dylan selected from Jerry Schatzberg's portfolio. Since it had been used without her authorization, Cardinale's photo was subsequently removed, making the original record sleeve a collector's item.[57]
  • The Velvet UndergroundThe Velvet Underground & Nico (1967)
    • Shortly after its release, the band and their label Verve Records were threatened with a lawsuit by Warhol superstar Eric Emerson, whose image is projected upside-down on the back cover of the album.[58] Copies of the album were withdrawn from sale so the image could be censored by a large sticker.[58] The image was restored on the 1996 compact disc release of the album.
  • Richard PryorRichard Pryor (1968)
    • The debut album of comedian Richard Pryor was recorded live at The Troubadour in West Hollywood, California. The cover was art-directed and designed by Gary Burden. According to Burden, "As a result of the Richard Pryor album cover, which I loved doing, I got two letters: One was a letter from the National Geographic Society’s attorneys offering to sue me for defaming their publication. The second letter was a Grammy nomination for the best album cover."[59]
  • The Rolling StonesSome Girls (1978)
    • The original pressing of the album featured an inner sleeve containing many black and white photos of both the band members as well as other celebrities, all strategically positioned to show through cut-out holes on the outer sleeve. After protests from some of the persons depicted, the inner sleeve was revised to replace the offending photos with color blocks and text reading Pardon Our Appearance and Cover Under (Re)Construction.
  • Sonic YouthSister (1987)
    • The album's artwork has been edited two separate times to obscure images; the first of which was a Richard Avedon image depicting a 12-year-old girl, due to a lawsuit threat. The other instance was when an image of the Disney Magic Kingdom was deliberately covered with a barcode, likely due to copyright complaints.[60][better source needed]
  • Tad8-Way Santa (1991)
    • The original cover featured a photograph of a man and woman which had been found in a thrift store. The couple on the album sued for unauthorized use of their image and the cover was replaced on later pressings.[7]
  • NegativlandU2 (1991)
    • The cover features the album title, "U2", as a very large logo, with the band's name in small text beneath the album. Island Records sued the band for the use of the misleading album cover because "U2" is trademark of the label. The songs on the album were controversial too, as they were versions of U2's song "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" which were copied without permission.
  • The Beautiful SouthMiaow (1994)
    • The album was originally set to feature a photo of rows of dogs seated in a music hall with a gramophone on the stage. However, retailer HMV made the band withdraw it as it mocked their trademark dog, and the band put out a new cover, depicting four dogs in a boat.[61]
  • GobGreen Beans and Almonds (1995)
    • The album features a picture of the Green Giant standing in front of long green beans. The company sued Gob for the use of the mascot because it is a trademark of the company.
  • Matchbox TwentyYourself or Someone Like You (1996)
    • The album's cover depicts a man with glasses wearing a shirt on his left shoulder and a pilot hat. Frank Torres, the man featured on the cover image sued the band in May 2005, claiming Matchbox Twenty had no permission from him to use his photo on the album's cover and that the photo had been the cause of mental anguish. Torres justified the delay in suing Matchbox Twenty by claiming he had only seen the album photo within the last two years.[62]
  • Blink-182Enema of the State (1999)
    • Initial copies had the American Red Cross on the subject's nurse cap. This logo was airbrushed on subsequent copies after a complaint.
  • Sufjan StevensIllinois (2005)
    • Shortly after the release of the album, reports arose that DC Comics had issued a cease and desist letter to Stevens' label Asthmatic Kitty because of the depiction of Superman on the cover.,[63] However, on October 4, 2005, Asthmatic Kitty announced that there had been no cease and desist letter; the record company's own lawyers had warned about the copyright infringement. On June 30, 2005, Asthmatic Kitty's distributor Secretly Canadian asked its retailers not to sell the album; however, it was not recalled. On July 5, the distributor told its retailers to go ahead and sell their copies,[64] as DC Comics agreed to allow Asthmatic Kitty to sell the copies of the album that were already manufactured, but the image was removed from subsequent pressings.[65] Soon after it was made public that the cover would be changed, copies of the album featuring Superman were sold for as high as $75 on eBay.[64] On the vinyl edition released on November 22, 2005, Superman's image is covered by a balloon sticker. The image of the balloon sticker was also used on the cover of the Compact Disc and later printings of the double vinyl release.[66]
  • Crystal CastlesAlice Practice EP (2006)
    • The cover of the EP features artwork by Trevor Brown of Madonna with a black eye. Brown sued the band, claiming that they had used his work without permission.[67] In 2008, Brown and the band came to a settlement in which he was paid for the rights to the image.[67]
  • U2No Line on the Horizon (2009)
    • The cover image, Boden Sea by Hiroshi Sugimoto, had previously been used by Richard Chartier and Taylor Deupree for their 2006 album Specification.Fifteen. Deupree called U2's cover "nearly an exact rip-off" and stated that for the band to obtain the rights to the image it was "simply a phone call and a check."[68][69] Sugimoto refuted both of these claims, calling the use of the same photograph a coincidence and stating that no money was involved in the deal with U2.[68]
  • Vampire WeekendContra (2010)
    • The cover art, taken in the 1980s, features a blond girl staring into the camera with an unidentifiable expression on her face. In July 2010, the band and their label were sued by the model, Kirsten Kennis. Kennis claimed photographer Tod Scott Brody, who sold the image to the band, did not take the picture and she was not aware her image was being used until she saw the copy her teenage daughter had bought.[70] Vampire Weekend also sued Brody, arguing that he was liable for any damages in the Kennis case due to misrepresentation on his part.[71] Kennis and Vampire Weekend amicably settled their lawsuit in August 2011.[72] However, the model and the band continued to pursue litigation against Brody.[72]


  • The BeatlesYesterday and Today (1966)
    • In early 1966, photographer Robert Whitaker had the Beatles in the studio for a conceptual art piece titled A Somnambulant Adventure. For the shoot, Whitaker took a series of pictures of the group dressed in butcher smocks and draped with pieces of meat and body parts from plastic baby dolls. The group played along as they were tired of the usual photo shoots—Lennon recalled the band having "boredom and resentment at having to do another photo session and another Beatles thing"[73]—and the concept was compatible with their own black humour.[74] Although not originally intended as an album cover, the Beatles submitted photographs from the session for their promotional materials. According to a 2002 interview published in Mojo, former Capitol president Alan W. Livingston stated that it was Paul McCartney who pushed strongly for the photo's inclusion as the album cover, and that McCartney reportedly described it as "our comment on the [Vietnam] war".[75] A photograph of the band smiling amid the mock carnage was used as promotional advertisements for the British release of the "Paperback Writer" single. In the United States, Capitol Records printed approximately 750,000 copies of Yesterday and Today with the same photograph as "Paperback Writer".[76][77] Reaction was immediate, as Capitol received complaints from some dealers. The record was immediately recalled under orders from Capitol parent company EMI chairman Sir Joseph Lockwood[78] and all copies were ordered shipped back to the record label, leading to its rarity and popularity among collectors.
  • Pink FloydWish You Were Here (1975)
    • The artwork depicts two men shaking hands in the alley of Warner Bros. Studios, with one on fire. As some retailers deemed it "too violent" and refused the sell the album, the cover was replaced on some re-releases with a black background featuring the album's four-elements sticker.[79]
  • Lynyrd SkynyrdStreet Survivors (1977)
    • The original cover sleeve for Street Survivors had featured a photograph of the band, particularly Steve Gaines, standing in the street of a town engulfed in flames. Three days after the album was released, three of the band members were killed in a plane crash due to fuel exhaustion. Out of respect for the deceased (and at the request of Teresa Gaines, Steve Gaines' widow), MCA Records withdrew the original cover and replaced it with a similar image of the band against a simple black background. Thirty years later, for the deluxe CD version of Street Survivors, the original "flames" cover was restored.
  • MetallicaKill 'Em All (1983)
    • The album was originally set to be titled Metal Up Your Ass, with the cover featuring a toilet bowl with a hand clutching a dagger emerging from it. However, at the request of Megaforce Records (who thought the original album title would be inappropriate),[80] the band changed the album title to Kill 'Em All. They also changed the artwork, this time depicting a shadow of a hand releasing a bloodied hammer.
  • Def LeppardPyromania (1983)
    • The cover depicted an animated photo of a bullseye aimed at a massive flame emerging from the top floor of a skyscraper. After the September 11 attacks, many fans deemed the offensive image very similar to the destruction of the World Trade Center towers. On September 12, 2001, the day after the attacks, certain stores such as Walmart and Kmart removed the album out of respect for the victims.
  • AnthraxFistful of Metal (1984)
    • The cover depicted a metal-wrapped fist emerging from the throat of a man as his mouth explodes. Many retail stores such as Kmart and Walmart deemed the artwork "too violent and too grotesque" and subsequently refused to sell Fistful of Metal. A new cover was made for the 2000 Megaforce release of the album (which included the 1985 EP Armed and Dangerous) depicting the original artwork with less blood and the artwork for the Armed and Dangerous EP. However, many versions of the album still feature the original artwork, but with a black triangle over the fist.
  • Overkill!!!Fuck You!!! (1987)
    • The original cover art featured a hand gesturing an upraised middle finger. The 1990 CD re-issue was sold with a reversible cover art booklet. The visible side when sold in the stores was a simple field of white with the band's logo, the album name reading as !!!**** You!!!, with a subhead that read "The Record THEY tried to ban". A Parental Advisory logo appeared in the lower right corner. The original cover art was able to be used if the booklet was opened and reversed by creasing the cover the opposite way.[81] The expanded re-release, entitled !!!Fuck You!!! and Then Some, displayed the original cover photo.
  • Ice-TThe Iceberg/Freedom Of Speech... Just Watch What You Say! (1989)
    • The album cover features an image of a shotgun shoved in Ice-T's mouth, and two pistols pressed against each side of his head. Because of the artwork, the album was banned from many chain stores.[which?] Ice-T has said that the cover reflected his experiences with the concept of freedom of speech.[82] Despite the controversy, the album has never had an alternative cover.
  • The Beautiful SouthWelcome to the Beautiful South (1989)
    • The album cover originally depicted two pictures, one of a woman with a gun in her mouth, and another with a man smoking. The cover was banned by Woolworths[citation needed] because they thought it might cause people to take up smoking; the picture of the woman with a gun in her mouth also offended. As a result, a second cover was made, depicting a fluffy rabbit and a teddy bear.[83]
  • KreatorExtreme Aggression (1989)
    • The cover was originally intended to depict a monster-like creature painting a picture of a cannibal eating a person's head. However, at the request of record companies, the rejected artwork was censored with an image of the band members in front of an orange background.[84][citation needed]
  • The OffspringThe Offspring (1989)
    • The album's original artwork depicted an image of a man's body exploding as the xenomorph from the Alien franchise holding a Stratocaster guitar emerges from his chest. The album was reportedly banned for being "too grotesque",[85] and on the 1995 reissue, the artwork was replaced by a blurry black-and-white picture of a man. It was later admitted that the band and their studio never really liked the original artwork.
  • Cannibal Corpse – Various albums (1990–2006)
    • Death metal band Cannibal Corpse's albums were all banned from Germany until 2006 due to their graphic album covers and disturbing lyrics. The band was also forbidden to play any songs from those albums while touring in Germany. This prohibition was not lifted until June 2006. In an interview from 2004, George Fisher attempted to recall what originally provoked the ban: "A woman saw someone wearing one of our shirts, I think she is a schoolteacher, and she just caused this big stink about it. So [now] we can't play anything from the first three records. And it really sucks because kids come up and they want us to play all the old songs — and we would — but they know the deal. We can't play 'Born in a Casket' but can play 'Dismembered and Molested.'"[citation needed]
  • Green DayKerplunk (1992)
    • The cover features a white picture (with some green added in) of a teenage girl wearing a flower shirt holding a smoking gun. The back cover features a boy lying on the ground with a gunshot wound on his back. Retail stores such as Walmart and Kmart were highly offended and initially refused to carry Kerplunk. The band saw continued controversy on their next album Dookie.
  • Ice-THome Invasion (1993)
    • The album's cover depicted a white boy listening to rap music in the midst of a home invasion in which Blacks are attacking Whites (presumably the boy's parents). Sire Records, owned by Time Warner, refused to release the album with the cover, and Ice-T left the label as a result.[86]
  • SlayerDivine Intervention (1994)
    • The cover was originally intended to depict a photo of a man's arms with the band's name carved into them. However, vocalist Tom Araya stated that the cover was "too graphic" and would be banned from certain stores. Guitarist Kerry King decided to move the graphic image onto the inlay and the disc. The cover was changed to depict a circle of a skeleton sitting on a skull on a stone wall background in the shape of the band's iconic "Slayer pentagram" graphic. However, some vinyl releases of the album use the original cover artwork.
  • Green DayDookie (1994)
    • The cover art shows an animated picture of dogs throwing bombs and dirt on people and buildings and a huge explosion with the band's name on top of the cloud. A blimp on the left in the sky says "Bad Year" (possibly a parody of the Goodyear Blimp) and on the right is a man with a harp in a cloud. Retailers Walmart and Kmart were highly offended and refused to sell the album because of this. The back cover also was Despite the controversy, no alternative cover has existed.[citation needed] However, later printings of the album edited the back cover for copyright reasons, airbrushing out a puppet of Ernie from Sesame Street.[87]
  • SodomGet What You Deserve (1994)
    • The cover features an obese man in bed covered with blood, with a female mannequin and a handcuffed woman tied with rope by his side. Because this artwork was deemed inappropriate, it was replaced by an image of the members of Sodom in front of a black background on some versions of the album.[88][89]
  • SlayerSerenity in Murder (1994)
    • This is a 4-track EP released by Slayer shortly after the release of their 1994 LP Divine Intervention. But it was discovered that the cover featured a photo of the band's name carved into a man's back similar to Divine Intervention, which had it carved onto a pair of arms. Unlike Divine Intervention however, the EP has never had an alternative cover.
  • Butthole SurfersElectriclarryland (1996)
    • The album cover originally showed a pencil impaling a man's bleeding ear and many people had complaints about the cover. The band then decided to change the graphic image to an image of a headshot of a squirrel. The band is credited as "B***h*** Surfers" on the alternative cover.
  • Ugly Kid JoeThe Very Best of Ugly Kid Joe: As Ugly as It Gets (1998)
    • The cover features a picture of the Ugly Kid Joe mascot running in a living room with a lighter in his hand. Many stores, such as Kmart and Walmart, refused to stock the album, as it was deemed "too violent". The album was released 6 years after their debut album America's Least Wanted. Unlike that album, As Ugly as It Gets has never had a second cover.
  • CKYVolume 1 (1999)
    • The cover originally depicted a stylized cartoon depiction of R. Budd Dwyer's live television suicide. After many complaints of offensiveness, the label forced the band to replace the offensive cover with a black and white cut-out of one of the band's live performances. The album was released with the band's original name Camp Kill Yourself, which was switched to CKY.
  • BuckcherryTime Bomb (2001)
    • The cover depicts a black-and-white headshot of a child with bandages crossed on its eyes and mouth. This led to the album being pulled from certain stores such as Target Corporation as it was declared child abuse. As of March 2010, the album is currently out of print.
  • The CoupParty Music (2001)
    • The original cover art, designed in June 2001, depicted Boots Riley and Pam the Funkstress destroying the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center. After the September 11 attacks, the group postponed the album's release until November of that year, with the record now sporting an alternate cover depicting a hand holding a flaming martini glass.
  • Manic Street PreachersJournal for Plague Lovers (2009)
    • The album art depicts a painting by Jenny Saville. A number of UK supermarkets deemed the red/ochre colours on the portrait to be blood, and therefore used alternative packaging to stock the item.[90] The alternative packaging in question is a longbox, a type of outer packaging used for some CDs in the 1980s and early to mid-1990s.

Other reasons[edit]

  • The Mamas and the PapasIf You Can Believe Your Eyes and Ears (1966)
    • The album cover, which features the four members in a bathtub, also featured a toilet in the far right corner. The inclusion of this toilet was controversial for the time and copies with the cover were pulled due to complaints of indecency. The copies were re-issued with a text-box pasted on top of the toilet. Later issues of the album feature both the toilet and the bathtub cropped out entirely.[7]
  • Ugly Kid JoeAmerica's Least Wanted (1992)
    • The album's cover features an image of Ugly Kid Joe's mascot posing as the Statue of Liberty holding a porn magazine and sticking up a middle finger. The album was banned from many national retailers because of the cover. A clean cover was used, which featured the band's mascot tied up in rope, handcuffed in one hand (which is covered with duct tape), while his legs are wrapped in chains.
  • NirvanaIn Utero (1993)
    • When In Utero was released, there were many objections to the song "Rape Me", despite the band's claims that the lyrics were "anti-rape." Retailers Wal-Mart and Kmart refused to sell the album because of the offensive back cover artwork (featuring model fetuses), so a "clean" version was released for them which featured an altered version of the back cover and listed the title "Rape Me" as "Waif Me", though the song remained unchanged.[91][92] The band acquiesced to the demands to change the artwork because members Kurt Cobain and Krist Novoselic were only able to buy music from the two chain stores as children; as a result they wanted to "make their music available to kids who don't have the opportunity to go to mom-and-pop stores".[93]
  • Van HalenBalance (1995)
    • The cover in most markets features two nude conjoined twins sitting on a teeter-totter. The cover was altered in some markets, including Japan, to remove one of the twins entirely from the photograph.[7][94]
  • Arctic MonkeysWhatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not (2006)
    • The cover sleeve showing Chris McClure, a friend of the band, smoking a cigarette, was criticised by the head of the NHS in Scotland for "reinforcing the idea that smoking is OK".[95] The image on the CD itself is a shot of an ashtray full of cigarettes. The band's product manager denied the accusation, and in fact suggested the opposite — "You can see from the image smoking is not doing him the world of good".[95]


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