Song Writing

Album Cover Inspirations

by Carl Wiser

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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

Impossible to talk about mere coincidence: for the album cover of Parklife, Blur copied or paid tribute to the image on Then and Now by the Manchester band Dub Sex, who had some success at the end of the 1980s. Released in 1994, Parklife, Blur's third album, made it possible for the band to confirm their reputation as a major group of the 1990s Britpop movement, with hits like "Girls And Boys" or "Parklife."

Simon & Garfunkel vs. Kruder & Dorfmeister

For their first album, the Austrian electro duet Kruder & Dorfmeister paid tribute to Simon & Garfunkel's album Bookends, which contained the hit "Mrs. Robinson." If you disregard Pete Kruder's moustache, the similarity is perfect!

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 and find musical influences between the two bands; there aren't.

The Mountain Goats vs. Coldplay

It doesn't look like Coldplay tried hard to find a cover for their first album Parachutes. The photo bears a similarity to the 1995 album Nine Black Poppies by the California Indie-Rock group The Mountain Goats. In 2000, Chris Martin's band was just starting to get introduced to the public with Yellow, their first single which propelled them at #1 in the UK charts.

Massive Attack vs. Flying Lotus

Even if the electo act Flying Lotus's music doesn't sound like Massive Attack's distinctive Bristol trip-hop sound, you can still find plenty of similarities between their album covers. That's Massive Attack's 1998 album Mezzanine on the left and the Flying Lotus 2008 offering Los Angeles on the right.

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 make-up on stage, didn't hide their admiration for this mythic band.

Booker T. vs. Caribou

Plagiarism or strange coincidence? On the one side Booker T.'s 2009 blues rock album Potato Hole, featuring the smash hit "Green Onions"; on the other side is Caribou's 2010 electro album, Swim, featuring the song Odessa. These albums feature two musical styles that are diametrically opposite, but with cover albums which show great similarities.

The Beatles vs. Frank Zappa

One year only after the release of The Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band album, Frank Zappa released We're Only In It For The Money as a satire of the flower power of that time. The album cover includes all the details of the original, with the flowers replaced by vegetables.

The Rolling Stones vs. Motley Crue

Replacing glimmer with glam and jeans for leather, Motley Crue paid tribute to the Rolling Stones famous 1971 Sticky Fingers album cover on their 1981 release Too Fast For Love.

September 14, 2009
Thanks to Bertrand - Paris, France

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Comments: 22

  • 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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