Album Cover Inspirations

by Carl Wiser

What do Earth, Wind & Fire and Iron Maiden have in common? Surprisingly similar album covers. But they're not the only ones: artists from Coldplay to Motley Crue have released album art that looks strangely familiar. Let's compare covers.

Dub Sex vs. Blur

The British bands Blur and Dub Sex both went greyhound for their album covers, Dub Sex in 1988 with Then and Now, Blur in 1994 with Parklife. Blur's album was a breakthrough for the band, establishing them as a major force in the Britpop movement with tracks like "Girls And Boys" and "Parklife."


Simon & Garfunkel vs. Kruder & Dorfmeister

For their 1993 album G-Stoned, the Austrian electro duo Kruder & Dorfmeister did an homage to the Richard Avedon photo on Simon & Garfunkel's 1968 album Bookends, which contains the hit "Mrs. Robinson." If you disregard Pete Kruder's moustache, the similarity is spot-on!


Earth, Wind & Fire vs. Iron Maiden

If there is one similarity to be found between Earth Wind & Fire and Iron Maiden, it is in the covers of these two albums. On the one side, Earth, Wind & Fire's All 'N All funk-soul album, released in 1977; on the other side, Iron Maiden's Powerslave heavy metal album (featuring the track "Two Minutes To Midnight"), released seven years later. The similarity between the two album covers is striking. However, don't try to find musical influences between the two bands - you'll have better luck finding meaning in a Kevin James movie.


The Mountain Goats vs. Coldplay

Coldplay went with a spinning globe for the cover of their first album, Parachutes, in 2000. They weren't the first with this concept: The 1995 album Nine Black Poppies by the California indie-rock group The Mountain Goats also has a globe on the cover. Coldplay's album went to #1 in the UK and got them noticed in America with the song "Yellow."


Massive Attack vs. Flying Lotus

Even if the electro act Flying Lotus' music doesn't sound like Massive Attack's distinctive Bristol trip-hop sound, you can still find plenty of similarities between their album covers. Massive Attack's 1998 album, Mezzanine, uses an extreme close-up of a stag beetle; on Flying Lotus' 2008 offering, Los Angeles, it looks like the bug has mated with the creature from Alien.


Kiss vs. Lordi

In 1982, Creatures Of The Night celebrated Kiss's comeback. For their 2009 single Beast Loose in Paradise, the Scandinavian band Lordi, whose members also wear masks and makeup on stage, also went with a blue-toned look with glowing eyes.


Booker T. vs. Caribou

Plagiarism or strange coincidence? On the left is Memphis multi-instrumentalist Booker T.'s 2009 blues-rock album, Potato Hole; on the right is the 2010 album Swim (featuring the song Odessa) by the Canadian electro artist Caribou (Daniel Snaith). The musical styles are diametrically opposite, but the covers have a lot in common.


The Beatles vs. Frank Zappa

In 1968, one year after The Beatles released Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, Frank Zappa released We're Only In It For The Money as a satire of the flower power ethos of that time. Zappa's album cover includes many elements from the original, but with the flowers replaced by vegetables.


The Rolling Stones vs. Mötley Crüe

Replacing glimmer with glam and jeans for leather, Mötley Crüe paid tribute to the Rolling Stones' 1971 Sticky Fingers album cover (designed by Andy Warhol) on their 1981 release, Too Fast For Love.


Taylor Swift vs. Ihsahn

Has Taylor Swift been listening to black metal? Her 2020 album, Folklore, uses a washed-out grayscale shot of a tranquil forest, not unlike what the Norwegian metal artist Ihsahn used on his Telemark EP five months earlier. These artists clearly occupy a different creative space, but it's interesting to note what the similar images convey. For Swift, it's about comfort and harmony; Ihsahn's vibe is wild and untamed.

September 14, 2009, updated July 30, 2020
Thanks to Bertrand - Paris, France

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Comments: 23

  • Robert Caruana from HamrunThat Iron Maiden album cover is a masterpiece, thank you Derek Riggs. As are all songs on album \m/
  • Groovus Maximus from Boston, MaOn a related note, Manowar in turn paid almost slavishly faithful respects to "Destroyer" by Kiss when they enlisted the original artist Ken Kelly to paint them in a rocky wasteland for their 1987 release, "Fighting The World" (possibly their best album, too IMHO). I wonder how many copies they sold to unsuspecting consumers on the strength of the cover alone? I'm also sure the unaware weren't disappointed, as "F.T.W." is downright phenomenal, a killer slab of "true metal," as Manowar were fond of saying back in the day :-)
  • Groovus Maximus from Boston, Ma"KISS" by Kiss was a loving tribute to "Meet The Beatles," I believe by Gene Simmons' decision and choice (being the biggest Fab Four fan of the bunch). I'll never forget being 7 years old in Lechmere's with my report card '"A" money' and smacked in the face by that cover -- changed my life!
  • Spence from TorontoJet: Get Born was clearly inspired by The Beatles: Revolver
  • Guru Deck from BrazilLMFAO's Sorry for Party Rock vs É o Tchan no Brasil
  • Peter from Hamilton, New ZealandShort, sharp, shock is actually from the Gilbert and Sullivan "The Mikado" from 1885.Pink Floyd borrowed/plagiarised it.
  • Chuck Q. from Concord, NhThe phrase "short, sharp, shock" is from Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon.
  • Tim from Okc, Okmichelle shocked "short sharp shocked" is a direct rip-off of CHAOS UK's "short sharp shock" including the damned title....punk gets no respect.
  • Gary from Phoenix, AzMadonna's True Blue vs Olivia Newton-John's Physical. Both cover photographs by Herb Ritts.
  • Charlie from EnglandGreen Onions is definitely not on Potato Hole. Potato Hole is Booker T's newest album and green onions was released aaaaaaaaages ago.
  • Silly Soulman A.k.a. Billy Bluesman from Delft Blues Town, HollandIndeed, the Clash's London Calling album cover homage to Elvis Presley's debut album, is too evident and well known to be missed in this Inspirations Gallery.
  • Andrew from Portland Me UsaYou might have added The Rolling Stone "Their Satanic Majesties Request" to the Beatles and Mothers of Invention
  • Danny from Massalso elephant shell by tokio police club's album art is pretty close to booker t and carbiou
  • Marc from NetherlandsUriah heep album conquest and Status Quo album In the army now
  • Cameron from WvThe album cover for the awesome Japanese band Boris's album Akuma No Uta was a tribute/spoof of the cover of Nick Drake's album Bryter Layter.
  • Squirtcrab from New YorkThe Best of Leonard Cohen and Ween's The Pod. Awesome spoof
  • Bob from Kalamazoo, MiGreen Onions came out WAY before the Potato Hole record by Booker T. OOOOops....
  • Arcid63 from Genoa,italyThe cover of Bob Dylan's Desire (1975) is notoriously similar to an older "Papa" John Phillips album cover.
  • Arcid63 from Genoa,italyThe cover of Italian singer Claudio Baglioni's live LP "Assieme-Oltre il Concerto" (1992) looks like the inspiration for the ones of Booker T.'s and Caribou's albums.
  • Bluesboy from San DiegoThe Clash's London Calling album cover pays homage to Elvis Presley's debut album by using the style of graphics and a black & white photo.
  • Mandy from New YorkMotley Crue's Too Fast For Love orginally came out in 1981, it was rereleased in 1983.
  • Bluesboy from San DiegoJohn & Yoko/Plastic Ono Band with Elephant's Memory - Sometime in New York City is similar to Jethro Tull's - Thick As A Brick.
  • Bluesboy from San DiegoThe Beatles Abbey Road has many lookalikes for album covers. The Red Hot Chili Peppers did one. Booker T. & the MGs album McLemore Avenue. New York City's album Soulful Road.
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