are there albums where the covers are worth more than the records?

Es­ti­mated reading time is 24 min­utes.

HERE’S ANOTHER QUESTION ABOUT VINYL on Quora that dis­tracted me from var­ious writing projects! The ques­tion is, “What vinyl album cover empty is worth more than a mint vinyl album without the cover?” Or, as I have worded it in this article’s title: Are there al­bums with covers that are worth more than the records?

If you only know a little about record col­lecting, you might know about the Bea­tles’ “butcher cover,” the most fa­mous “rare” cover. If you know a little bit more about records, you might also know about the Hen­drix “naked women” or the Bowie-in-a-dress album covers.  (Un­less oth­er­wise noted, the reader should as­sume the word album used below refers to a twelve-inch, 33⅓ rpm LP record with 15-20 min­utes of playing time per side.)

Even if you are a record col­lector, you might think that there are only a few LP al­bums other than these where the jacket without the record is worth more than the record without the jacket.

Such is not the case. In fact, there are many such al­bums, as this ar­ticle will illustrate.

Are there many al­bums where the covers are worth more than the records? Hell, yes!

First, you might con­sider reading my ar­ticle, “What Is a ‘Record Album’ and Where Did the Term Come From?” Here is a nut­shell ver­sion of that ar­ticle: An album was orig­i­nally two or more 78 rpm records in­side a book-like, fold-open jacket (or cover).

When Co­lumbia in­tro­duced 33⅓ rpm long-playing records in 1948, they had the smarts to house the records in jackets with cus­tomized graphics and text. That is, a record plus a custom jacket was an album.

Knowing that, the ques­tion on Quora should prob­ably read: “What album cover without the record is worth more than the album record without the cover?”

To follow the ques­tion and an­swers on Quora, click here.

 

Covers Are Worth More: Beatles YESTERDAY AND TODAY stereo album with "butcher cover."

The Bea­tles’ YESTERDAY AND TODAY album from 1966 was orig­i­nally re­leased with a photo of the Fab Four in white tops sur­rounded by parts of plastic dolls and slabs of raw meat. Known as the “butcher cover,” it is prob­ably the most fa­mous valu­able record in the world! The most re­cent copy of a first state stereo “butcher cover” sold on eBay in 2018 for $9,100—approximately $9,075 was for the jacket, the rest was for the record.

Some covers are worth more!

Here are some things that non-record col­lec­tors should know: Jackets were made to pro­tect records. They were made of softer ma­te­rials than records. They were usu­ally ex­posed to more han­dling by people and more ex­po­sure to air, mois­ture, and light. Even with cau­tious han­dling, jackets are likely to be­come worn faster than records.

Most col­lec­tors place most of the value of a normal album in the record be­cause we want to listen to the music in the grooves.

Records that are iden­ti­fied as “first press­ings” by col­lec­tors due to their la­bels often re­main avail­able years after the orig­inal jacket has been changed.

Finding near-mint records in less-than-near-mint jackets is a common oc­cur­rence for record col­lec­tors. Many col­lec­tors ac­cept this com­bi­na­tion and it makes up a large part of their col­lec­tion. Others buy two copies of the same album to com­bine a near-mint record with a near-mint jacket.

But a more common problem is finding many reg­ular al­bums with ei­ther a cover that was re­placed or finding a copy of the album with a cover in near-mint condition.

 

RollingStones BeggarsBanquet toilet fc 800

RollingStones BeggarsBanquet toilet bc 800

Ol’ Mick and Keith fi­nally had their way and the banned “toilet cover” has been used on var­ious press­ings of the LP and CD ver­sions of BEGGARS BANQUET for years. The one above is from the 180-gram pressing is­sued as ABKCO 882-330-1 in Eu­rope in 2003. The passing of time has not made it any less atro­cious than it was in 1968.

But were they really “banned”?

It is common among col­lec­tors to refer to covers that have been re­placed such as the Bea­tles’ “butcher” cover, the Hen­drix “naked ladies” cover, and the Bowie “dress” cover as “banned” covers. Merriam-Webster On­line de­fines banned as “to pro­hibit the use, per­for­mance, or dis­tri­b­u­tion of.”

Most so-called banned covers were not banned: The photos, art­work, or de­sign were done pro­fes­sion­ally and sub­mitted to the record com­pa­nies who ap­proved their use for the album. Usu­ally, it was after the album was shipped to stores that is­sues with the cover were brought up, then usu­ally leading to the album being re­called and the cover re­placed with an al­tered ver­sion or a new version.

There have been covers judged so taste­less or rep­re­hen­sible that the record com­pany ex­ec­u­tives re­fused to allow its use. The most fa­mous is prob­ably the mess that was the “toilet” cover that the Rolling Stones wanted for their BEGGARS BANQUET album in 1968. The hip press and young rock fans like my­self ap­plauded Mick and Keith for standing up to the cor­po­ratist tastemakers!

After months of holding up the al­bum’s re­lease, the Stones fi­nally caved and al­lowed a blander cover to be used on the jacket. In hind­sight, the sub­mitted art­work was atro­cious and Decca in the UK should be pat on the back for in­sisting on some­thing else for the Stones album. But that’s an­other story (as are the many tacky covers that the Stones have made us pay for since).

 

Covers Are Worth More: David Bowie's DIAMOND DOGS album with "genitals cover."

The orig­inal cover to David Bowie’s DIAMOND DOGS album clearly dis­played the Bowie dog’s gen­i­tals. RCA had them cov­ered up with shadow via an artist’s air­brush prior to the al­bum’s re­lease. The most re­cent copy of the Bowie “gen­i­tals cover” album sold on eBay in 2021 for $6,000—approximately $5,995 was for the jacket, the rest was for the record.

 

– The Album Covers –

As I said, there are hun­dreds of ex­am­ples to choose from. Below are a dozen covers that span a twenty-year pe­riod over three decades. I fo­cused on pop and rock music but there are ex­am­ples in country music, blues, jazz, clas­sical, orig­inal cast record­ings, movie sound­tracks, chil­dren’s records, etc.

The covers that I chose were not de­signed at the time to be­come in­stant “col­lec­tor’s items.” They were de­signed to help sell the record at the time. There have been many covers since the 1970s that were what I call man­u­fac­tured col­lectibles and they are simply not as in­ter­esting as the ones that pre­ceded the col­lector mania of the past five decades.

 

Covers Are Worth More: THE NATION'S NIGHTMARE album with Andy Warhol art on cover.

The Nation’s Nightmare

Artist: No artist credits
Record com­pany: CBS Radio Se­ries No cat­alog number (mono)
Re­leased: 1953

THE NATION’S NIGHTMARE is a recording of a CBS Radio Se­ries broad­cast from July 19 and Au­gust 16, 1951, and then re­peated on Sep­tember 13 and 27, 1951. There are no credits for the people in­volved in the broad­cast but the recording tells us that the nar­rator is Bill Downs and the voice ac­tors are Bill Quinn and Mau­rice Gos­field. The usual date given for the re­lease of the album is 1952 but a listing for the cover art on the AIGA De­sign Archives web­site makes it 1953.

The label reads, “From ‘The Na­tion’s Night­mare’ a CBS Radio se­ries, tape-recorded at the scenes and sources of crime” and fea­tures the image of a young man shooting up cropped from the front cover. There is nothing about this record to sug­gest that it was made for pro­mo­tional purposes.

The only iden­ti­fying num­bers on the album are the ma­trix num­bers on the record la­bels: XTV-15688 and -15692.

Why is this jacket valuable?

The il­lus­tra­tion on the front cover is by Andy Warhol, who re­mains one of the most col­lectible artists in his­tory. This is one of his ear­liest con­tri­bu­tions to the world of record album cover de­sign. While the record is also collectible—especially as it is also graced with Andy’s art—the main im­petus for the col­lectibility of this album is the cover art on the jacket.

Making it even more de­sir­able is the fact that, ac­cording to the AIGA web­site, only 2,936 copies of the jacket were man­u­fac­tured. That’s too many copies for normal pro­mo­tional pur­poses and too few for normal com­mer­cial pur­poses, al­though it may have been sold through the mail only.

Are similar jackets also valuable?

If by sim­ilar we mean al­bums fea­turing art­work by Warhol, yes. Andy did the art for dozens of al­bums span­ning five decades, each of which at­tracts col­lec­tors. But it is the covers from the ’50s that hold the most value.

If by sim­ilar we mean al­bums fea­turing art­work by other artists, that is also a yes. There are sev­eral other artists whose work makes the album more col­lectible but none have so dra­matic an ef­fect on the value as Warhol.

 

Covers Are Worth More: The Five Keys' ON STAGE! album with "penis cover."

Covers Are Worth More: The Five Keys' ON STAGE! album with airbrushed cover.

On Stage!

Artist: The Five Keys
Record com­pany: Capitol T-828 (mono)
Re­leased: Feb­ruary 1957

The Five Keys’ ON STAGE! album is a rather tame af­fair by a quintet that had a pro­found im­pact on the de­vel­op­ment of the genre often re­ferred to as r&b group vo­cals. It’s a col­lec­tion of twelve studio record­ings heavily “sweet­ened” with strings and chick singers. But then, it was their first chance to reach a large (white) au­di­ence with an album from a major record com­pany, so tame makes sense. 

Why is this jacket valuable?

The cover fea­tures a photo of the five mem­bers posing to­gether, chest to back with their left sides facing the camera. Each of their left arms is pointing out­ward with their hands open but their right arms are not vis­ible. Well, a small part of one right arm is vis­ible: The top of the thumb of the first Key on the left is peeking out from be­hind his sports coat in such a way that it looks a bit like the mem­ber’s “member” rather than his thumb.

While this should be re­ferred to as the “thumb cover,” what fun would that be? In­stead, it’s re­ferred to fondly as the “penis cover.” Capitol quickly re­al­ized its mis­take and sub­se­quent printing saw the of­fending member re­moved via an artist’s touch-up. As this album sold poorly, the cleaned-up cover seems to be much harder to find than the orig­inal cover.

Capitol is­sued the twelve tracks on T-828 as three seven-inch EP al­bums, prob­ably si­mul­ta­ne­ously with the twelve-inch album:

•  On Stage! Part 1 (EAP1-1-828)
•  On Stage! Part 2 (EAP-2-828)
•  On Stage! Part 3 (EAP-3-828)

Each of these EP covers had the orig­inal photo with the vis­ible thumb. I am not aware of a second, cleaned-up printing of any of the EPs. And, yes, all three EPs are valu­able be­cause of their “penis covers.”

Are similar jackets also valuable?

Other al­bums by other artists exist with covers that were deemed in­ap­pro­priate for a va­riety of rea­sons and the record com­pany had an artist “fix” the problem. Few are as well known among record col­lec­tors as the Five Keys penis cover.

It’s safe to as­sume that any album with a cover that has been al­tered will at­tract the at­ten­tion of col­lec­tors. If the cause of the change is dra­matic, then people out­side the world of record collecting. 

 

Covers Are Worth More: Elvis Presley's G.I. BLUES album with plain cover.

Covers Are Worth More: Elvis Presley's G.I. BLUES album with "Wooden Heart" sticker.

G. I. Blues

Artist: Elvis Presley
Record com­pany: RCA Victor LPM-2256 (mono) and LSP-2256 (stereo)
Re­leased: Sep­tember 1960

G.I. Blues was the first movie that Elvis made after his re­turn from two years with the US Army. Un­for­tu­nately, it was nothing like his pre­vious two movies: Jail­house Rock (1957) and King Creole (1958) had been gritty dramas with Elvis be­liev­able as a singer in each. G.I. Blues was a flimsy romantic-comedy-with-music that ex­ploited Pres­ley’s mil­i­tary experience. 

The sound­track album sported a well-designed cover with a nifty, dis­tinc­tive type­face on the left and an at­trac­tive close-up photo of the former re­bel­lious artist as a boy-next-door type. The music was mostly light­weight pop and barely even nodded in the di­rec­tion of rock & roll let alone at the blues.

Why is this jacket valuable?

As Presley had Are You Lone­some To-night lined up as his next single, it didn’t matter much that there re­ally wasn’t a strong track on the album. So the G.I. BLUES album was re­leased in the US in Sep­tember 1960 without an ad­vance single to herald its ar­rival and as­sist its sales. It shot to the top of Bill­board’s best-selling LP survey, quickly be­coming Pres­ley’s biggest selling album.

But RCA in West Ger­many saw a winner and pulled the charming Wooden Heart from the album and is­sued it as a single. It pole-vaulted to #1 and re­put­edly sold a mil­lion copies in that country alone! It was then is­sued else­where, reaching #1 in sev­eral other coun­tries, in­cluding the UK.

Even with such a mas­sive world­wide suc­cess, Presley and RCA Victor did not re­lease it as a single in the US. But copies of the album soon ar­rived in Amer­ican record stores with a red, heart-shaped sticker that read “Fea­turing Wooden Heart LPM/LSP-2256” af­fixed di­rectly on the jack­et’s front cover, not the shrinkwrap. This was an odd move for RCA Victor as the like­li­hood that any Amer­ican record buyers knew about the suc­cess of Wooden Heart out­side of the US was slim.

Are similar jackets also valuable?

There have been many al­bums is­sued with a sticker af­fixed to the shrinkwrap but shrinkwrap is not a part of the jacket so those stickers are not a part of this ar­ticle. There have been a few LPs is­sued with stickers ac­tu­ally af­fixed to the jacket, usu­ally to an­nounce the pres­ence of a hit single. I as­sume that any of these would make that jacket more de­sir­able to collectors.

 

Covers Are Worth More: Beach Boys' SURFIN' SAFARI album with "Duophonic" banner.

Covers Are Worth More: Beach Boys' SURFIN' SAFARI album with "Duophonic" and "Stereophonic" banners.

Surfin’ Safari

Artist: The Beach Boys
Record com­pany: Capitol DT-1808 (stereo)
Re­leased: Oc­tober 1962

In late 1961, the Beach Boys re­leased Surfin’ on a tiny re­gional label in southern Cal­i­fornia. Al­though it was not a big hit out­side of that area, it in­tro­duced to the world of pop music a song with lyrics about the joys of surfing. In 1962, the group signed with Capitol Records and is­sued Surfin’ Sa­fari, which was a Top 20 hit. The flip-side was 409, which in­tro­duced songs about the joys of hot rod­ding and was a minor hit. All three of these were in­cluded on the group’s first album, SURFIN’ SAFARI.

Why is this jacket valuable?

When Capitol man­u­fac­tured a jacket for a stereo album, the cover slick fea­tured two ban­ners at the top. The first one was white and de­clared the record to be “Duo­phonic For Stereo Phono­graphs Only” while the second banner was blue and read “Capitol Full Di­men­sional Stereo.”

The slick was arranged so that only one of the ban­ners was vis­ible on each jacket. As Capitol DT-1808 fea­tured the record company’s patented “Duo­phonic” system for cre­ating fake stereo, the cor­rect banner was the white one.

But there was a man­u­fac­turing error on some copies of this jacket and both the “Duo­phonic” and “Stereo­phonic” ban­ners ap­pear at the top. This is one of the rarest Beach Boys al­bums of the ’60s.

Are similar jackets also valuable?

Man­u­fac­turing er­rors such as this usu­ally make any jacket a bit more valu­able than its cor­rect coun­ter­part but the amount of that in­crease in value de­pends on the rarity of the error (how many copies of the jacket with the error were man­u­fac­tured and sold be­fore it was cor­rected) and the col­lectibility of the artist. Had this hap­pened to a Bea­tles album in the ’60s, the jacket with the error would prob­ably be worth hun­dreds of dol­lars more than the common jacket.

 

 DaveClark5 GladAllOver M first cover 800x

Covers Are Worth More: Dave Clark Five's GLAD ALL OVER album with standing members.

Glad All Over

Artist: The Dave Clark Five
Record com­pany: Epic LN-24093 (mono)
Re­leased: April 1964

After reaching the top­per­most of the pop­per­most on the UK pop charts, the Dave Clark Five’s Glad All Over was a Top 10 hit in the US. Epic promptly re­leased an album named after the single. GLAD ALL OVER be­came the first album by a British In­va­sion artist other than the Bea­tles to reach the Top 10 on the Bill­board best-selling LPs survey!

Why is this jacket valuable?

The orig­inal jackets for the first mono press­ings of GLAD ALL OVER fea­tured a rather staid photo of the group with four of the five mem­bers seated. Epic quickly re­placed this on all sub­se­quent mono and stereo copies of the album with a photo of the group standing with their instruments.

The re­place­ment cover is a dra­matic im­prove­ment over the orig­inal! Un­for­tu­nately, there is not a lot of in­terest in the DC5 these days, so there are not a lot of people searching for this album.

Are similar jackets also valuable?

It’s safe to as­sume that any album that has its orig­inal cover re­placed will at­tract the at­ten­tion of first fans and then col­lec­tors. And there are many album jackets that have been re­placed or altered.

 

Covers Are Worth More: THE VELVET UNDERGROUND & NICO album with unpeeled banana sticker.

Covers Are Worth More: THE VELVET UNDERGROUND & NICO album with banana sticker peeled off cover.

The Velvet Underground & Nico

Artist: The Velvet Un­der­ground and Nico
Record com­pany: Verve V-5008 (mono) and V6-5008 (stereo)
Re­leased: Feb­ruary 1967

In the ’60s, Andy Warhol may have been the most talked-about artist in the country if not the world. His work made him fi­nan­cially se­cure and he in­vested much of it back into var­ious side projects, in­cluding man­aging the Velvet Un­der­ground. The group be­came the house band at Warhol’s “Fac­tory” studio in New York and the main at­trac­tion of his “Ex­ploding Plastic In­evitable,” a trav­eling show that was a com­bi­na­tion of hap­pening, art event, and mu­sical performance. 

For the group’s debut album, THE VELVET UNDERGROUND & NICO, Warhol de­signed a front cover that was a piece of Pop Art. The cover had a normal-looking yellow, un­peeled ba­nana along with “Andy Warhol” printed on a plain white back­ground. The yellow skin could be peeled off the cover, re­vealing a pink ba­nana be­neath it.

Why is this jacket valuable?

There are many rea­sons for this jacket with this cover vari­a­tion to be rather rare in near-mint con­di­tion with the un­peeled banana:

•  The album only sold a few thou­sand copies.
•  Most people who pur­chased the album im­me­di­ately peeled the banana.
•  The white cover picks up ink and dirt easily.

So, finding a copy of Verve 5008 with a clean white cover with an un­peeled ba­nana is def­i­nitely not an easy thing to do in 2022!

Are similar jackets also valuable?

Any album from the ’50s and ’60s with a cover that has a piece that can be re­moved has prob­ably had that piece re­moved. (People be­came much more careful with han­dling their al­bums in the ’70s, just as they be­came more careful in the han­dling of their comic books and base­ball cards.) There­fore, copies of most al­bums with a re­mov­able piece that is still in­tact would prob­ably be collectible.

Plus, of course, any album with cover art by Andy Warhol is also de­sir­able to Warhol collectors.

 

Covers Are Worth More: STEPPENWOLF album with silver foil cover without "Born To Be Wil."

Covers Are Worth More: STEPPENWOLF album with silver foil cover with "Born To Be Wil."

Steppenwolf

Artist: Step­pen­wolf
Record com­pany: Dun­hill D-50029 (mono) and DS-50029 (stereo)
Re­leased: Feb­ruary 1968

The ini­tial copies of Step­pen­wolf’s self-titled debut album fea­tured a front cover that had a silver, foil-like glaze over a photo of the band. Aside from the title “Step­pen­wolf,” the only text was ei­ther “Stereo­phonic” or “Mono­phonic.”

Months after its re­lease, Dun­hill pulled Born To Be Wild off the album and re­leased it as a single. They then watched it shoot to #2 on the na­tional pop charts. All new print­ings of the jacket after mid-1968 in­cluded a large black blurb on the left side an­nouncing “In­cluding the hit Born To Be Wild.” These blurb covers were also foil-covered for sev­eral years. 

Why is this jacket valuable?

While many people think the orig­inal jacket is “rare” be­cause it does not have the Born To Be Wild blurb, such is not the case. STEPPENWOLF had been on the Bill­board Top LP’s survey for four months be­fore the single dented the Top 100. What is hard to find is a copy of this album with the front cover in near-mint con­di­tion be­cause the foil easily shows even the slightest wear and dirt.

In fact, to find a near-mint copy, col­lec­tors usu­ally have to find one that has never been re­moved from its orig­inal shrinkwrap and han­dled very, very gently over the in­ter­vening decades. The same holds true for the blurb cover but as the album was cer­ti­fied by the RIAA Gold Record Award in No­vember 1968, there are so hun­dreds of thou­sands of copies available!

Are similar jackets also valuable?

Sev­eral al­bums with foil covers fol­lowed, in­cluding QUICKSILVER MESSENGER SERVICE (below) and Cream’s WHEELS OF FIRE, both of which were high­lights of the summer of ’68, and the Ras­cals’ FREEDOM SUITE from early ’69. Finding these and any other album with a foil-treated cover in near-mint con­di­tion is a challenge.

 

Covers Are Worth More: QUICKSILVER MESSENGER SERICE album in shrinkwrap.

Covers Are Worth More: QUICKSILVER MESSENGER SERICE album with ringwear.

Quicksilver Messenger Service

Artist: Quick­silver Mes­senger Service
Record com­pany: Capitol ST-2904 (stereo)
Re­leased: June 1968

The self-titled debut album from Quick­silver Mes­senger Ser­vice was is­sued in a jacket with a solid black back­drop on the front cover. The gor­geous psy­che­delic let­tering and the weird-creature drawing (which would not be out of place in a David Cro­nen­berg movie) were done by Rick Griffin, ar­guably the finest of the San Fran­cisco psy­che­delic posters artists of the ’60s.

Why is this jacket valuable?

The let­tering and art­work are high­lighted with a silver, foil-like cov­ering. While this makes Griffin’s work stand out, it also wears off easily. To better show off the art, the cover has a solid black back­drop that easily dis­plays even light wear from han­dling. Ring-wear (the circle of wear caused by the edges of the record in­side pressing the cover out­side against other album jackets) is a big problem with dark covers but the black sur­face wears off easily.

On light-colored covers, ring-wear is the op­po­site, ap­pearing as a dark circle as it is usu­ally caused by the dark ink from other jackets rub­bing off on the light-colored cover. For in­stance, copies of The Velvet Un­der­ground & Nico (above) gen­er­ally have a dark ring on the cover.

Finding copies of this album without any wear can be an ar­duous and time-consuming process. The top image above is an orig­inal jacket in opened shrinkwrap. The light mark­ings are re­flec­tions of light off the folds in the shrinkwrap. Oth­er­wise, the cover is like new!

The image below is of a fairly typ­ical used copy of the same album. While the foil high­lights have han­dled the years just fine, the black back­drop is heavily marked—and we re­ally should call it dam­aged—by wear, in­cluding a very no­tice­able record ring.

Are similar jackets also valuable?

Many al­bums have dark-colored covers such as and quickly go from brand-new to well-used looking after a short time and only a mod­erate amount of han­dling. The re­verse hap­pens with al­bums with light-colored covers. The edges of the record pressing the cover against other album jackets pick up ink and dirt, leaving a dark circle on the covers (like THE VELVET UNDERGROUND & NICO album above).

 

Covers Are Worth More: Bee Gees' ODESSA album in shrinkwrap.

Covers Are Worth More: Bee Gees' ODESSA album with ringwear.

Odessa

Artist: The Bee Gees
Record com­pany: Atco SD-2-702 (stereo)
Re­leased: Feb­ruary 1969

How do you top an album cover with silver foil? You cover your album with red felt!

Why is this jacket valuable?

The Bee Gees’ fourth album in the US was ODESSA, a two-record con­cept album. The gate­fold jacket was cov­ered on both sides and on the spine with fuzzy red felt. When a po­ten­tial cus­tomer held a sealed copy in the store, he could squeeze the album and feel the light give of the felt! While this was a gim­mick, it was a pretty cool gim­mick. Un­for­tu­nately, the felt on both sides started to show wear from both the ring-wear ef­fect (see above) even while still sealed.

The image at the top (above) is a factory-sealed album with two stickers af­fixed to the shrinkwrap. One sticker calls at­ten­tion to the new single First Of May while the other lists the con­tents of the album. As you can see, even still sealed there are signs of wear on the felt.

The copy below it is one that has been cau­tiously han­dled yet dis­plays an ob­vious ring worn into the felt from the records housed in the jacket. This is how most of the better-condition copies of this album are found in 2022.

Are similar jackets also valuable?

Are there any other felt-covered albums?

 

Covers Are Worth More: Sons of Champlin's LOOSEN UP NATURALLY album.

Loosen Up Naturally

Artist: The Sons Of Champlin
Record com­pany: Capitol SWBB-200 (stereo)
Re­leased: April 1969

The Sons Of Cham­plin were a Bay Area band that never quite made it to the Big Time. (None of their al­bums cracked the Top 100.) Their self-titled first album was a two-record af­fair with some very col­orful art­work on both the front and back covers.

Why is this jacket valuable?

With LOOSEN UP NATURALLY, Capitol had an­other “butcher cover” mo­ment: The front cover has a tiny frag­ment with “Big Fucking Deal” printed on it. This made its way past the record com­pany cen­sors but was dis­cov­ered once the album reached the stores.

As with the ear­lier Bea­tles album, Capitol re­called the album and put people to work. But in­stead of man­u­ally re­moving the of­fending cover slick and re­placing it with the new, in­nocuous cover, Capitol had their people scratch the of­fending word off of each jacket using a razor blade!

These scratched-out covers were then re-shrinkwrapped and shipped back for sale in record stores. Sub­se­quent print­ings of the jacket had the of­fending word air­brushed out of the art­work and these covers have “Big” and “Deal” with a blank space be­tween them!

So, like the “butcher cover,” there are three states for the orig­inal LOOSEN UP NATURALLY:

1.  Cover with “Big Fucking Deal.”
2.  Cover with “Big Deal” and scratch marks.
3.  Cover with “Big Deal” and blank space.

Need­less to say, the first state, “Big Fucking Deal” cover is the one that most col­lec­tors want.

Are similar jackets also valuable?

I as­sume that any other album jacket with any ob­scenity printed on would also have some pre­mium value to col­lec­tors. That would in­clude vi­sual ob­scen­i­ties, too—like the Moby Grape “finger” album (but that’s an­other story).

 

Covers Are Worth More: Alice Cooper's LOVE IT TO DEATH with thumb but without "Eighteen."

Covers Are Worth More: Alice Cooper's LOVE IT TO DEATH with thumb and with "Eighteen."

Covers Are Worth More: Alice Cooper's LOVE IT TO DEATH without thumb and without "Eighteen."

Covers Are Worth More: Alice Cooper's LOVE IT TO DEATH without thumb but with "Eighteen."

Love It To Death

Artist: Alice Cooper
Record com­pany: Warner Brothers WS-1863 (stereo)
Re­leased: March 1971

Like the group’s first two al­bums, Alice Coop­er’s LOVE IT TO DEATH was sup­posed to have been re­leased as part of Frank Zap­pa’s short-lived Straight Records, which was man­u­fac­tured and dis­trib­uted by Warner Brothers. It was as­signed a Straight cat­alog number (STS-1065) but was ap­par­ently only is­sued in the UK with that number.

In the US, first press­ings of the record were is­sued with a Straight label but with a reg­ular WB cat­alog number (WS-1863) and shipped in Warner Brothers jackets. All sub­se­quent press­ings of the record had WB labels.

Why is this jacket valuable?

The jacket for LOVE IT TO DEATH fea­tures a photo of the group with Vince “Alice” Furnier in the center. He has a cape wrapped around him with his two hands holding it to­gether. On the first print­ings, the thumb of his right hand sticks out from be­neath the cape in such a manner that some people saw it as a penis.

(Hope­fully, someone had a talk with those people who be­lieved that a man’s penis is lo­cated sev­eral inches to the right of his belly button.)

Like the Five Keys On Stage! album (above), the Cooper album is re­ferred to as an­other “penis cover” al­though it should be re­ferred to as a “thumb cover.” After the ini­tial batch of al­bums was shipped, Warner Brothers had the thumb air­brushed out of the art­work and all sub­se­quent print­ings of the jacket had a thum­b­less cover.

Copies of the jacket with both the thumb and the thum­b­less covers can be found with a white blurb printed on the front cover that reads, “In­cluding Their Hit I’m Eigh­teen.” So, there may be two first print­ings of the “penis cover” along with two second print­ings, as can be seen by the four im­ages above:

1a.  Cover with thumb but without “Eigh­teen” blurb.
1b.  Cover with thumb and with “Eigh­teen” blurb.
2a.  Cover without thumb and without “Eigh­teen” blurb.
2b.  Cover without thumb but with “Eigh­teen” blurb.

I as­sume that the first and second im­ages are first print­ings from dif­ferent printers while the third and fourth are both second print­ings from dif­ferent printers. The weirdest piece of in­for­ma­tion is that the fourth cover above is the only one to have the Straight em­blem (a car­toon thought bal­loon) next to the Warner Bothers’ em­blem (a shield) in the lower right corner.

Are similar jackets also valuable?

It’s safe to as­sume that any album with an orig­inal cover that has been al­tered in any way will at­tract the at­ten­tion of col­lec­tors other than fans of the artist whose cover has been changed.

 

Covers Are Worth More: Lynyrd Skynyrd's STREET SURVIVORS album with "flame cover."

Covers Are Worth More: Lynyrd Skynyrd's STREET SURVIVORS album with black cover.

Street Survivors!

Artist: Lynyrd Skynyrd
Record com­pany: MCA MCA-3029 (stereo)
Re­leased: Oc­tober 1977

On Oc­tober 17, 1977, Lynyrd Skynyrd’s STREET SURVIVORS album was re­leased with a photo of the group sur­rounded by fire on the front cover. Like all rock stars, they’re re­ally tough dudes who can sur­vive any­thing, in­cluding hundred-foot high flames.

On Oc­tober 20, 1977, the band’s char­tered air­plane went down, killing three mem­bers of the group.

On Oc­tober 27, 1977, the album was cer­ti­fied by the RIAA for a Gold Record Award for sales of 500,000 LPs and tapes.

On De­cember 12, 1977, the album was cer­ti­fied for a Plat­inum Record Award for sales of 1,000,000 LPs and tapes.

Why is this jacket valuable?

After the air­plane ac­ci­dent, all sub­se­quent print­ings of the jacket re­placed the “flames cover” with a photo of the group sur­rounded in somber black. The cer­ti­fi­ca­tion of the album for a Gold Record Award within weeks of its re­lease means that there were prob­ably hun­dreds of thou­sands of copies of the LP with the orig­inal “flame cover” man­u­fac­tured and sold.

Nonethe­less, near-mint copies of this album with the “flames cover” sell for con­sid­er­ably more than al­bums with the black cover.

Are similar jackets also valuable?

It’s safe to as­sume that any album with an orig­inal cover that has been al­tered will at­tract the at­ten­tion of col­lec­tors other than fans of the artist whose cover has been changed.

 

Covers Are Worth More: Mamas & Papas' CRASHON SCREAMON ALL FALL DOWN album.

Covers Are Worth More: Mamas & Papas' THE MAMAS AND THE PAPAS album.

The rarest of the rare

Hell, yes! Al­bums I didn’t choose in­clude Moby Grape’s self-titled first album with one of the mem­bers “giving the finger”—and, un­like the “penis covers” above, this was intentional—in the cover photo and somehow it went right past the people at Co­lumbia who are sup­posed to catch things like that! With the Jef­ferson Air­plane Takes Off album, it’s not what’s on the front cover, but what’s on the back! But that’s an­other story for an­other time.

But what’s even rarer than any of the covers above? How about records with covers that were pic­tured in ad­vance pro­mo­tional cam­paigns or ad­ver­tise­ments but were ap­par­ently never man­u­fac­tured or man­u­fac­tured and de­stroyed! Such is the case with The Mamas & The Papas’ second album, Dun­hill 50010.

At one point, the album was ti­tled CRASHON SCREAMON ALL FALL DOWN and ads with a cover fea­turing Jill Gibson (top image above) ap­peared in the Au­gust 20, 1966, issue of Bill­board. Gibson was the re­place­ment for the re­cently fired Michelle Phillips but when she re­turned to the fold, all ev­i­dence of Gib­son’s stay with the group was erased.

This in­cluded the cover and title of Dun­hill 50010. An album with that cat­alog number was re­leased later in the year and ti­tled THE MAMAS & THE PAPAS with a com­pletely dif­ferent cover (bottom image above)!

There are no copies of the record or jacket for CRASHON SCREAMON ALL FALL DOWN known to exist, al­though re­con­struc­tions of the cover as an art piece do exist. To read a lengthy back-and-forth be­tween dozens of fans, ex­perts, and others about the making of the second Mamas & Papas album, read “Jill Gib­son’s vo­cals on the 2nd Mamas and Papas LP” on the Steve Hoffman Music Fo­rums site.

Are there other al­bums with ru­mored covers that do not exist? Yes, the Rolling Stones’ orig­inal cover for BEGGARS BANQUET was a photo of a toilet in a public re­stroom, a ghastly, taste­less image that in­sulted the mag­nif­i­cent music on the record within. There are others . . . What could be rarer? 

Are there many al­bums where the covers are worth more than the records? Hell, yes! Click To Tweet

Covers Are Worth More: Andy Warhol's boy shooting up from THE NATION'S NIGHTMARE album.

FEATURED IMAGE: The image at the top of this page of a young man shooting up (without tying up) was cropped from the Andy Warhol art­work for the album THE NATION’S NIGHTMARE. Ac­cording to CBS cre­ative di­rector Lou Dorf­sman, “I’d say here’s the layout I’m doing and I don’t want to re­strict you, what­ever I do, I’ll make it work so you just do it and I’ll make my ty­pog­raphy and layout work around it. I just ex­plained to him what the pro­gram was all about and left it to him.” Warhol won an Art Di­rec­tors Club Medal for his “news­paper ad­ver­tising art” for CBS Radio in 1952, pre­sum­ably for the graphics on this album. (Warhol Stars)

 


 

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