3. Appetite For Destruction by Guns ‘n’ Roses (1987)The original cover for G ‘n’ R’s debut was this painting based on the artwork of Robert Williams, showing a “robotic rapist” about to get pwned by a “metal avenger” (thanks, Wikipedia). But it was deemed too freaky for mass consumption, and hidden inside the record instead. It was definitely less offensive than Axl’s first idea for a cover: an image of the exploding space shuttle Challenger that graced the cover of Time Magazine. Label head David Geffen demurred, for obvious reasons. Led Zeppelin might have gotten away with using images of destruction ripped from the headlines on their debut, but the NASA wounds were far too fresh.
In the end, they went with the familiar skull and cross design, each one representing a member of the group.
2. Is This It by the Strokes (2001)Lower East Side kids the Strokes, fronted by the awesomely named Julian Casablancas, packaged the American release of their seminal debut with a magnified image of subatomic particles in a bubble chamber. But for the album’s earlier release in Europe and Australia, they went with this suggestive photo of a woman’s bottom with a black leather glove resting on top.
The photo was spontaneously taken by photographer Colin Lane, when his then-girlfriend stepped out of the shower one day. He intended it to be an homage to the stark-but-sexy black and white photos of fashion photog Helmut Newton, but some objected that it seemed blatantly sexist (a la Spinal Tap‘s Smell The Glove). Fearful of alienating big box American retailers (as well as thinking that the new image was cooler), the cover was eventually changed worldwide.