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.

For more information, refer to Discogs.

 

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. 

For more information, refer to Discogs.

 

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.

For more information, refer to Elvis Records.

 

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.

For more information, refer to Discogs.

 

 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.

For more information, refer to Discogs.

 

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.

For more information, refer to Rolling Stone.

 

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.

For more information, refer to Discogs.

 

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).

For more information, refer to Discogs.

 

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?

For more information, refer to Discogs.

 

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).

For more information, refer to Discogs.

 

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.

For more information, refer to Discogs.

 

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.

For more information, refer to Discogs.

 

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? 

 

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)

 


 

11 thoughts on “are there albums where the covers are worth more than the records?”

  1. I have a copy of The Barbara Dickson Album which lists the last track on side 2 as “The Caravan Song*,” the asterisk stating it was produced by Mike Batt. However, the track is not on the record. And in all the listings, it isn’t there. Is this of any value?

    Reply
    • According to the Barbara Dickson website, “The Caravan Song” was released as a single in December 1979. The single is an extended version of the song originally recorded for the soundtrack to the film Caravans.

      Although “The Caravan Song” charted in the UK, it pooped out at #41 when Epic rush-released “January February” as a single in January 1980. That record was a major hit in the UK.

      Here are the ten tracks on the common version of The Barabara Dickson Album:

      SIDE ONE
      January February
      In The Night
      It’s Really You
      Day And Night
      Can’t Get By Without You

      SIDE TWO
      Anytime You’re Down And Out
      I’ll Say It Again
      Hello Stranger, Goodbye My Heart
      Plane Song
      Now I Don’t Know

      Does your jacket have these then plus “The Caravan Song” or does that track replace one of the tend listed tracks?

      Reply
  2. ty, neal, for refreshing my memory on these alternative covers. The main one I can think of that’s missing is the two versions of the Ventures’ Walk—Don’t Run 1964.

    There’s also another famous LP with a little-known error but I’m not going to make this one well known ...

    Reply
  3. I have a Mothership Connection by Parliament album signed by George Clinton as Starchild. It was a prize from the magazine Blues and Soul. I have noticed the lefthand side of the cover is pink not like the original album.

    Reply
    • It’s cool that you have an autographed copy!

      By the lefthand side of the cover are you referring to the purple-tinted nebula in the upper right corner of the image linked to below?

      Parliament album MOTHERSHIP CONNECTION.

      Reply
  4. I have a copy of Genesis’s The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway” in which the album cover was miscut, sort of like when currency is cut wrong. 

    Guessing that has no extra value ...

    Reply
    • A copy of Genesis’s The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway in which the album cover was miscut could be very interesting to serious Genesis collectors. 

      Can you send me a photo of this miscut cover?

      Reply
  5. On the front cover, the yellow that goes around the space ship on the left is pink so half on the right is yellow and the left pink.

    Reply
    • I have looked at images of the album on the internet and did a little research about the pink coloring but found nothing about this variation. I suggest you find some serious George Clinto collectors online and ask them if they know anything about it.

      Good luck!

      Reply
  6. Hello,

    I feel compelled to tell you about the Pink Floyd 45. Tower Records 333, “Arnold Layne” / “Candy and a Currant Bun,” had been issued with a picture sleeve. It is pink in color with black text and reads “The Light Kings Of England Roger, Nick, Syd, Rick ...” 

    This mundane looking sleeve is worth as much, if not more, than the 45 record itself. Prices for this record are cut in half without that sleeve. Recently, I purchased a phenomenal copy of this for about $900. However, a similar NM copy without that sleeve was selling for $400.

    This held true for the stock copies, as well as the promo copies.

    Reply
    • Thanks for the comment. Tower 333, Pink Floyd’s “Arnold Layne” / “Candy and a Currant Bun,” has been known to be a rather rare record for a long time.

      There are three “pieces” associated with this catalog number: a white label promotional record, a promotional pink title sleeve, and an orange stock/commercila copy.

      Without going into a lot of detail, the promo record is the easiest to find, the stock record is the hardest to find, and the sleeve is in between.

      Hope this helps.

      Reply

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