The top 20 best album covers of the 80s
Here is a definitive collection of the most outstanding album covers of the 80s. This collection is based on layout, design and sheer iconic status. it was a close call to choose the best album covers and this list could have easily doubled in size. Design is very objective so a lot of people will have their own personal preferencess so please comment if you agree or disagree. The 80s arguably produced some of the most inventive, creative and iconic album art above any other decade.
Heavily influenced by the traditional South African music of Ladysmith Black Mambazo also influenced this simple graphic which shows Saint George from an ancient Ethiopian manuscript which dates to the late 15th century.
The album which launched Michael Jackson into the stratosphere. Everybody recognises this cover which shows Michael with his trade mark white suit. Simple but effective.
Songs from the big chair
Tears for Fears
A big commercial hit in 1985 for Tears for Fears. A simple cover with a black and white photograph of Roland and Curt in a relaxed pose. However, this image is indelible in peoples memory.
Queen most certainly produced some of the best (and worst) covers. However, the cover photographed by Lord Snowden showed the band in all of their majestic splendour. We all remember this cover.
An incredible photographic image bathed in purple lighting fused with a stylish typeface. The artwork seems to encapsulate the mood of the music and the motion picture perfectly. Simply the best album cover of his career.
Rattle and Hum
A hard one to call as U2 really did have some striking album covers. A simple play of typography perfectly placed above Bono and the Edge made this album cover to the top of the list.
Pet Shop Boys
These guys weren’t known for their charisma or their stage presence, which ironically the photo captures. However, the image is iconic.
A nice use of black and white imagery with strokes of colour gave this cover visual impact, certainly gave their last studio album a great send off.
The cover features a now iconic photograph of Peter, taken by Trevor Key, with ‘So’ in a serif font top left of the image. Yet again simple but effective.
Maddonas’ side profile in this iconic album cover helped to promote this as one her most remembered album covers. The famous photo was photographed by Herb Ritts.
Another close call as this band’s resident artist Derrick Riggs produced some mighty fine album covers with the main focus being ‘Eddie’. However, this cover was voted the No1 Iron Maiden cover by the fans. Who are we to disagree?
She’s So Unusual
The poor man’s Madonna? Whatever you think a great visual treat and simply one of the most eye-catching photographs with her red dress contrasting against the blue house.
Grace Jones’ impossible pose made this image an instant icon. The photographer named Jean Paul Goude created this with a series of boxes holding up certain parts of her body, he then created a montage to give the overall effect. And no Photoshop.
Although this classic cover looked like it was created by Adobe Illustrator it was actually was painted by a US artist called Patrick Nagel way back in 1982 who was influenced by art deco
This debut album in 1981 was influenced by the 40s and 50s sci-fi magazines of that era complete with a distressed/aged effect. A great piece of illustrative and design work. Can anyone work out the background photograph though?
Born in the USA
One of the most recognised album covers of the 80s from ‘The Boss’. The title track of the album inspired the photo of Springsteen’s backside against the backdrop of an American flag. Obvious but highly effective.
Licensed to Ill
The image on the album doesn’t become apparent until the gatefold is opened fully. The concept was inspired by the producer of the album who thought what would have happened if such stars lives such as Buddy Holly weren’t taken by plane crashes.
Cupid & Psyche 85
A nice composition of graphic styling and layout, of course, the torn paper and postal mark effect have been done to death but in its day was considered pioneering (graphically speaking that is).
This Jackson Pollock inspired album cover was created by the artist John Squire. A few references were incorporated into the art work i.e. the red, white and blue stripes which symbolised the 1968 French riots and the fact lemons were an antidote to tear gas.
Brothers in Arms
This 1985 release ushered in the dawn of CD sales for the band. An unusual mix of pink text on sky blue with a photograph of Mark Knopfler’s guitar made this one of the most remembered album covers of the decade