The humble album cover has been a mainstay in Western pop culture since Alex Steinweiss invented this new avenue of expression for Columbia Records back in 1939. Since then, album covers have become something of an artistic sensation, drawing big-name artists, designers and photographers, all vying for maximum exposure.
Sure, some record artworks are wondrously uninspired, but anyone who has seen the Nevermind baby on a t-shirt, Dark Side Of The Moon's prism on a novelty mug, or the black and white radio waves of Unknown Pleasures on every single hipster's bedroom wall, knows that these snapshots of artistic intention can seep deeply into the public consciousness and transcend the form. So it's important to get it right.
Sometimes, however, things don't quite go to plan.
As far as many rock artists are concerned, it is their duty to make a splash with their records' artwork, whether this means loading them with sex appeal, social commentary or just a plain old middle finger to society. Whatever their poison, there have been a number of times throughout rock history where the wheels have come off and these artists have been forced to retract their biggest statements.
Unfortunately, as the record industry continues to refine and shape and squeeze every last drop of money they can out of their artists, the chances of anything controversial, copyright-infringing or potentially margin-damaging making its way into production, never mind onto our shelves, is now rather unlikely.
But hey, there's still the good old days.
10. Rob Zombie - Mondo Sex Head (2012)
Mondo Sex Head hit stores a decade ago, offering up Rob Zombie's greatest hits remixed by a selection of mid-rent electronic artists and producers (Ki:Theory, Das Kapital, Drumcorps? Yeah, us neither), with decidedly uneven results.
The album's original cover art depicted the singer's wife Sheri in black and white with her dress hiked up, arse towards the camera. What Rob reckoned wouldn't even be a blip on the map caused an instant wave of controversy upon release, but not amongst the fans.
Retailers refused to carry the CD, deeming the imagery too racy for their everyday shoppers, and Rob was perplexed; having made a career out of stocking the shelves with horror-soaked imagery, what was a little light nudity to anyone? Instead of censoring and spoiling the cover, he pulled it entirely, replacing it with a black and white image of a sad-looking kitten. Or, a 'pussy shot', as he put it.
While certain mainstream record stores may have refused to stock it, the vinyl version of the release remains obstinately unchanged with the original cover art proudly displaying Sheri Moon Zombie's buttocks for all the world to see.