Follow TV Tropes

Following

Alternate Album Cover

Go To

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/donuts_vertical.png
Albums donut have to stick to one cover.
To release an album; musicians, promoters, executives, and such all have to come up with a cover for it. The artwork is meant to showcase part of the personality of the album and has to visually represent the music included within, at least most of the time. Book covers and movie posters often have multiple versions but album artwork tends to be consistent through every release and rerelease of an album for consistency between reissues.
Advertisement:

However, while certain albums covers have become iconic, covers can differ between various markets and formats. Many times, the artwork change is a form of Bowdlerization due to the artwork featuring Gorn or lewd imagery. This may involve de-sexying Sexy Packaging, using a Censor Box, or using a different photograph. The reasons for this change are often due to the Moral Guardians being against the imagery on the packaging. Other times, the changes are done to compensate for the different sizes of LP, CD, and cassette packaging. International releases often have different covers, either to tone down a racy image for a more conservative country, or the label just believes this design is more marketable there.

This trope is not meant to cover a redesign of a special edition.

Sub-Trope of Variant Cover. No Zero-Context Examples Please!

Advertisement:


Examples:

  • 10,000 Maniacs:
    • The LP release of The Wishing Chair includes three copies of a photograph depicting a 19th century woman seated at a chair. The CD and cassette releases, meanwhile, only use a single copy of the picture.
    • In My Tribe features different photos of an archery class across the LP, CD, and cassette releases. The LP and cassette covers depict the class from the front, with the cassette version featuring a wider version of the photo, while the CD cover depicts them from above.
  • AC/DC:
    • High Voltage has three different releases with that name (one of them being an international issue combining tracks from the original album and TNT). The original Australian version features a dog peeing on an electrical box, the second features an image of Angus Young, and the third is a rather brightly-colored image.
    • Advertisement:
    • Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap: The Australian artwork features the album's title as a tattoo on an arm. The international cover was designed by Hipgnosis, and shows people with black bars over their eyes.
    • Highway to Hell: Both the International and Australian versions of the artwork show the band with Angus having devil horns and a tail. The Australian variant shows more flames.
  • Alan Parsons Project
    • Tales of Mystery and Imagination: There are three versions of the album's artwork. The most common is of a man wrapped in tape casting a long shadow within a thin image. A altered version of this artwork adds an image a man's face wrapped in tape with a drawing of a mummified man in the background. A third image features an image of the top half of Alan Parsons wrapped in tape.
    • Stereotomy: The original LP release included a transparent sleeve with blue plastic on one side and red on the other. The artwork inside featured red and blue text and a Rorschach inkblot in the center. Later releases would simplify the artwork with just a blue inkblot with the album title in red text and the band name in light blue due to an inability to recreate the original packaging.
  • Anthrax: Anthems is a Cover Album with six editions. While the track listings are consistent across versions, each edition has cover art based on one of the songs therein.
  • Art of Noise: The original UK cover for Who's Afraid of the Art of Noise? depicts a photo of a facepalming statue atop a black marble backdrop. When the album was released in the US, it was given a new cover depicting a pair of stylized "comedy" and "tragedy" masks (which the band used as a visual motif in their early years) against a blue marble background. Later that year, a third cover would appear on continental European reissues depicting a small pair of silver, traditionally-designed comedy/tragedy masks lying on a sheet of blue velvet. The three covers would be interchangeably used across regions when the album was released on CD.
  • The Beatles:
    • The original release of the US-oriented compilation Yesterday and Today infamously depicts the band in butcher smocks, covered in raw meat and chopped-up baby dolls. After the artwork stoked controversy for its violent content, it was hastily replaced with a new photo depicting the band in and around a steamer trunk; copies with the original cover have since become a highly coveted rarity.
    • The original LP release of the tribute album Beatlesongs! featured cover art by William Stout depicting a cartoon of Beatles fans holding up a banner praising the band. However, the illustration drew public outcry for the fact that it included a caricature of Mark David Chapman, who had shot and killed John Lennon less than two years prior; consequently, Rhino Records hastily swapped out the artwork for a photo of Beatles memorabilia strewn across a floor.
  • amorica. by The Black Crowes: The original artwork is of an American flag thong covering a woman's crotch, taken from the photo used for the July 1976 cover of Hustler. Big box stores refused to sell it, so the alternate artwork features only the flag thong on a black back ground.
  • Blind Faith: The original release of the band's Self-Titled Album depicts a topless 12-year-old girl holding a phallic model airplane. Due to the artwork's controversial nature, it was later replaced with a black and white photo of the band.
  • David Bowie:
    • Space Oddity had several different covers across different releases.
      • The 1969 Philips Records release in the UK features a portrait of Bowie by photographer Vernon Dewherst, laid among a pattern of circles and squares designed by Hungarian op-artist Victor Vasarely.
      • The 1969 Mercury Records release in the US features a similar portrait of Bowie against a blank navy blue background, with the subtitle "Man of Words/Man of Music" appended to it; fans typically refer to this release by the subtitle for clarification's sake.
      • The 1972 RCA Records release features a trend cover photograph of Bowie as the title character of The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, intended to cash in on the popularity of that album. A similar technique was used for the label's concurrent reissue of The Man Who Sold the World. In both cases, this trend cover would be replicated on RCA's CD reissues of the albums. The RCA reissue of this album also retitles it to Space Oddity, thus making the opening song a retroactive Title Track. This variant of the cover is also maintained on the 1990 Rykodisc remaster.
      • The 1999 EMI remaster restores the original 1969 UK cover, but appends the RCA reissue's Space Oddity title to the bottom.
      • Finally, the 2019 mix features a textless variant of the 1969 UK cover against a navy blue background, packaged in a die-cut navy blue slipcase that exposes only Bowie's face; the slipcase is spot-varnished to feature the same pattern of circles, and includes the artist name and album title in a simple sans-serif all lowercase letters font.
    • The Man Who Sold the World:
      • The original 1970 American release featured an illustration of a John Wayne expy standing in front of the Cane Hill Mental Institution, toting a rifle; this cover is featured on the back of the liner notes booklet on all CD reissues from the 1990 Rykodisc release onwards. A modified version would later be used for Metrobolist, the 2020 remix, replacing the logo, adding the text "NINE SONGS BY DAVID BOWIE" at the bottom, and un-censoring the cowboy's speech bubble.
      • The 1971 British release featured a photograph of Bowie lounging in a satin dress, surrounded by playing cards scattered on the floor. The original plan was for the American cover to be the one used on all releases, as part of a gatefold that would include the dress photo as the inner illustration, but conflicts with Mercury Records execs forced a change of plans; the British cover would eventually be reinstated as the "canonical" one once Bowie regained the rights to his back-catalog in 1988.
      • The 1972 German release used an elaborate round paper cover featuring an illustration of Bowie as a winged hand beast flicking away the Earth; this cover folded over the record's inner sleeve.
      • The 1972 international reissue by RCA Records used a trend cover, featuring a black-and-white photo of Bowie as Ziggy Stardust on both the front and back. This cover would be reused on all RCA issues of the album, as was also the case with Space Oddity.
    • Hunky Dory:
      • The original US release uses a Textless Album Cover, featuring the glamour shot of Bowie and the surrounding black border but without any of the logotypes featured on the UK release.
      • The New Zealand LP release repeats the back cover on both sides of the outer sleeve (with the "DAVID BOWIE HUNKY DORY" logotype added), with the only differentiation being the presence of copyright information on the back.
      • The original RCA Records CD changes the text on the cover from white to black and adjusts the rear tracklist to reflect the single-track sequencing of both "Oh! You Pretty Things"/"Eight Line Poem" and "Fill Your Heart"/"Andy Warhol". The original RCA Victor logo on the black border is also removed, presumably to avoid any redundancy with the "RCA CD" logo that was featured on all of the label's CD releases at the time.
      • The 1990 and 1999 remasters remove the black border around the cover art, with the former additionally removing the artist name and album title.
      • The 2015 remaster's cover art is mostly identical to that of the 1971 UK LP, but replaces the RCA Victor logo with the Parlophone Records one (as was also the case for the label's concurrent releases of The Man Who Sold the World — albeit with the Mercury Records logo on that one — and The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars).
    • The original artwork for Station to Station is a cropped, black and white photo of Bowie as Thomas Jerome Newton entering the spaceship meant to take him back to Earth, bordered in white. The 1991 Rykodisc CD and the 1999 EMI/Virgin Records CD both use a modified version of the cover that incorporates the uncropped, full-color version of the photo without the white border. The 1976 cover would eventually be reinstated starting with a 2007 "mini LP" repressing of the 1999 CD; the 1991 cover, meanwhile, would eventually see one last appearance in 2016 when a color-corrected version was used for the 2010 remix in the Boxed Set Who Can I Be Now? (1974-1976).
    • The cover art for Lodger is a gatefold-spanning photo of Bowie done up to look like an accident victim; the original 1979 release orients the photo to feature Bowie's legs on the front cover and his upper half on the back. CD reissues by RCA Records and Rykodisc flip this around to instead put his upper half on the front, which would eventually be reverted for the 1999 EMI/Virgin Records CD. When the album was both remastered and remixed for the Boxed Set A New Career in a New Town (1977-1982) in 2017, a third version of the cover was created that uses the Face on the Cover configuration but places the faux postcard at Bowie's head instead of his feet. This version would be used for both the remix and the standalone digital release of the remastered 1979 mix (physical releases of the latter maintain the original cover).
    • The arrangement of the band members on the cover photo of Tin Machine differs between each format. From left to right, the CD cover features David Bowie, Tony Sales, Hunt Sales, and Reeves Gabrels; the LP and digital covers feature Hunt Sales, Reeves Gabrels, David Bowie, and Tony Sales; the cassette cover features Tony Sales, Hunt Sales, Reeves Gabrels, and David Bowie.
    • The original 1993 cover art for The Buddha of Suburbia consists of an edited still from the TV show of the same name, with a map of London inserted as the backgroundnote . The 1995 cover art for the US release replaces this with a black-and-white photo of Bowie seated at a cot. The 2007 reissue and 2021 remaster use a sepia-tinted variant of this photo.
    • Initial pressings of the CD release of Hours feature a lenticular cover, meant to evoke a 3D effect with both the two Bowies and the hallway they're lying in. Later releases simply used a regular print of the image.
  • Kate Bush:
    • Seven different cover photos for The Kick Inside exist, mostly based on which region the album was released in:
      • The first and best-known one, featured on the original UK release in 1978 and on the 40th-anniversary remaster in all regions, features Bush in an elaborate red dress riding a large kite against a backdrop of a large yellow-orange eye, framed in burgundy.
      • The second cover, used for the original American and Canadian release of the album on Harvest Records, is also a glamour photo of Bush, running her hands through her hair.
      • The third cover, included on the second edition of the Canadian and American releases (the latter on EMI America Records and later EMI Manhattan Records), features a glamour photo of Bush sitting in a wooden box, wearing a flannel shirt and jeans.
      • The fourth cover, used for the Japanese release, is a different glamour shot of Bush in a pink tank top.
      • The fifth cover, used for the Yugoslavian release of the album, is a photograph of Bush in a white dress, staring sternly into the distance.
      • The sixth cover, used for the Uruguayan release, is a black-and-white headshot of Bush staring directly into the camera.
      • The seventh cover, used for a Swedish cassette reissue in 1988, is another photo of Bush in a white dress, but dancing.
    • The initial Japanese CD release of Never for Ever crops the cover illustration to only focus on the creatures in the bottom-right corner. Reissues from 1995 onwards revert to the full cover.
  • David Byrne:
    • My Life in the Bush of Ghosts: The original release uses a photograph of a TV displaying a feedback loop, intercut with taped-on paper cutouts in humanoid shapes. The 2006 remaster, meanwhile, features an outer slipcase depicting an indistinct horizontal blur based on the original cover's color scheme; a shrunken-down version of the original cover against a black background appears on the front of the jewel case booklet.
    • The Catherine Wheel: The original, truncated LP release uses a black background, the expanded cassette release uses a blue background, and the CD release (which uses the cassette version's tracklist) uses a red background.
  • Cacola: The cassette release of A Gift to Us All features a modified version of the cover illustration that removes the chromatic aberration effect and swaps out the bright neon palette for a more subdued red and black one.
  • Most of Cannibal Corpse's albums, save for the Minimalistic Cover Art ones like Kill, have a censored cover art to go with the standard ones due to their usually graphic nature. These censored artworks are used for releases in countries with restrictions on the cover arts regarding retail, such as Australia, and Rhythm Games which feature the band's songs like Rock Band.
  • The Caretaker:
    • The vinyl releases of Stages 4-6 of Everywhere at the End of Time are split into two discs per album due to the space limitations of the LP format. As a result, they feature entirely new artwork in their inner covers, with Ivan Seal creating a unique painting for each disc in the sets.
    • The CD releases comprising sets of Stages 1-3 and Stages 4-6 feature none of the main artworks for the albums, instead featuring one new painting for the one-disc set of Stages 1-3, and one per disc for the 4-disc set of Stages 4-6 (which is divided up that way due to space limitations on the Compact Disc format).
  • Wendy Carlos:
    • The initial release of Switched-On Bach featured a cover photo of a man dressed as Bach sitting and listening to the album through Carlos' synthesizer, bewildered at the results. Carlos had the cover pulled both because of its silliness and because of its inaccurate depiction of how one would use a synthesizer. The replacement photo instead features a more traditionally dignified Bach standing upright.
    • After Carlos came out as a transgender woman in 1979, all of her previously-released albums were reissued to replace instances of her birth name (including those on the covers) with her preferred one.
  • Elvis Costello:
    • This Year's Model: The British/European, American, and Scandinavian covers all show Elvis Costello in a suit, standing behind a camera, but each uses a different photo where he's posed slightly differently. On the UK release, he's standing up and has his hands beside the camera; on the American release he's leaning forward, with his hands still beside the camera, and on the Scandinavian release he's leaning forward with his hands on the tripod instead of the camera. Also, the first UK pressing from 1978 features a deliberate printer error where the photo is so off-center that the title text is partly cut off on the left side ("Lvis Costello: His Year's Model"), and color test blocks are visible on the right side. This joke wasn't repeated on any international releases, and even in the UK, most reissues fixed the "mistake".
    • Armed Forces: The European release features a painting of an elephant herd. The American release features abstract paint splatter art.
  • Cutting Crew: The UK LP release of Broadcast depicts various pieces of broadcasting equipment surrounding a timpani drum, all against a red background; CD and cassette releases in the territory change this to just the drum. The US release, meanwhile, swaps out the cover for a new one depicting the band name in giant typeface with a large slash across the middle. The 2010 remaster splits the difference by featuring a variant of the UK LP cover with the drum replaced by a band logo styled after the US cover.
  • Daft Punk: The cover of most releases of Discovery consists of the band's logo with a silver tone and rainbow lining against a black background. The Japanese release instead has a cover featuring characters from Interstella 5555 (which uses the entirety of Discovery as its soundtrack).
  • You've Come a Long Way, Baby by Fatboy Slim: The original artwork depicts a photo from the 1983 Fat People's Festival in Danville, Virginia, featuring an unidentified overweight person with a shirt reading "I'm #1 so why try harder". The North American release replaces this with a photo of a large record collection.
  • Peter Gabriel:
    • The cassette release of Melt replaces the manipulated black and white photo of a melting Gabriel with a standard, full-color headshot.
    • The cassette release of Security swaps out the distorted photo of Gabriel's face in favor of the solarized images of him biting a rope from the back LP cover.
  • Genesis: Abacab features four different versions of the cover art featuring different arrangements of the color paper shreds. Going clockwise from top-left, the four arrangements are red-blue-yellow-brown, brown-yellow-red-light blue, teal-orange-red-light green, and yellow-red-brown-green.
  • Guns N' Roses: The original cover for Appetite for Destruction depicts the Robert Williams painting of the same name, which showcases a metallic monster bearing down on an oblivious robot rapist who's just finished assaulting a human woman. After retailers objected to the illustration and refused to stock the album, the painting was moved to the inner sleeve, and a new cover was designed featuring an illustration of the band members' skulls decorating a Celtic cross (which was originally included as a temporary tattoo).
  • George Harrison: The 2001 remaster of All Things Must Pass colorizes the black-and-white cover photo and adds a blue border. The inner sleeves and the front of the liner notes booklet feature additional edits to the photo that Photoshop in various urban setpieces.
  • The Human League: The original release of Dare uses a gatefold sleeve, with each panel featuring a photo of one of the band members. Some re-releases, which retitle the album Dare!, use a standard LP sleeve with all four photos on the front, with the two pictures from the original inner sleeve being shifted over to the back.
  • Michael Jackson:
    • The cover art for Off the Wall is a gatefold-spanning photo of Jackson standing in front of a wall; the original release oriented the photo so that his upper half was on the front. Starting in 1990, reissues would flip this around so that his legs were instead on the front; the original configuration would eventually be reinstated in 2015.
    • Invincible features five different covers, each with a different color tint. The base cover is white, while the others are red, blue, green, and orange.
  • Grace Jones:
    • Early CD releases of Warm Leatherette replace the Jean-Paul Goude photo of Jones with a still from the Concert Film A One-Woman Show, depicting a headshot of Jones in sunglasses awash in blue light.
    • Due to rights issues with photographer and ex-boyfriend Jean-Paul Goude, the digital releases of Nightclubbing, Living My Life, Slave to the Rhythm, and Island Life all feature generic cover art mimicking a folded-out cassette J-card, featuring just text and dark squares representing the removed photos.
  • Joy Division:
    • The 40th anniversary reissue of Unknown Pleasures inverts the color scheme of the entire album packaging, such that what once was black is now white, and vice-versa.
    • The London Records CD reissue of Closer features a heavy yellow tint instead of the original white. Reportedly this was based on the US LP packaging, but that release was identical to the UK one.
    • The cover art for Substance was reworked for European editions in 1990 to use a zoom-in on the New Alphabet "s", with the epitaph placed inside the lower curve of the letter on CD releases and above it on cassette ones.
  • Jake Kaufman's four Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove Bandcamp covers consist of official art of the characters superposed on an official art background (as you can see for yourself on these links). The other digital store (and vinyl) covers, however, have artworks by Pokémon and Megaman illustrator Hitoshi Ariga which show the personality of the four protagonists alongside major characters (as you can check on these links).
  • King Crimson:
    • Most releases of Islands depict a photo of the Trifid Nebula. The original US release, meanwhile, replaces this with the art from the original inner sleeve, depicting a group of watercolor blots (representing an island) against a solid white backdrop.
    • The original release of Discipline depicted a Celtic knotwork design by John Kyrk, based on a pre-existing one by George Bain. Because the Bain design turned out to be copyrighted and used without permission, the 2001 reissue replaced it with a new, specially-commissioned design by Steve Ball, titled "Possible Productions knotwork", and it's stuck ever since; Ball would later design various other knotwork logos for Robert Fripp's other projects.
  • Korn:
    • For the release of Issues, an artwork contest was held for fans to make their own cover art for the album. There were four winning cover arts on the highest places in the results; while the artwork in the first placenote  is used as the cover art for standard releases, there have been versions of the album with the other three winners.
    • Korn III: Remember Who You Are and The Paradigm Shift have different cover arts for their Special Edition and World Tour Edition (respectively) than the standard ones.
  • Love Live!:
    • The singles for the Love Live! Nijigasaki High School Idol Club anime that feature the solos of the characters have alternate covers, each depicting a different character.
    • The insert song albums for Love Live! Superstar!!, as well as the "Hajimari wa Kimi no Sora" album, feature two different album covers and a song that's exclusive to that version of the album.
  • LudoWic and Bill Kiley's Katana ZERO OST remixes album originally had a red variation of the OST cover. It was changed for a cover of Electrohead (an NPC wearing a helmet with a television on it you must kill because He Knows Too Much) having a... Windows error induced badtrip?
  • Street Survivors by Lynyrd Skynyrd: The original artwork features the band standing in a burning city. The alternate version features the band standing in a black background. The artwork was changed after a number of the band members died in a plane crash.
  • Catch a Fire by Bob Marley. The original LP release packages the album in a custom sleeve styled after a lighter, flipping open to reveal the record. Due to the cost issues involved with this, reissues replace it with a conventional sleeve depicting Marley smoking a joint.
  • Operation: Doomsday by MF Doom has three album covers. Two of them are of a hooded DOOM (with a Doctor Doom-esque appearance) holding a microphone. They differ somewhat in appearance despite their similarities — the 2011 re-release cover more clearly resembles DOOM. Another cover features DOOM's hand using a knife as a record needle. This cover was used for the 2011 deluxe remastered edition. The later two covers were created due to licensing issues with the original artwork that created problems with reissuing the album.
  • Mitski: Laurel Hell features six different covers, all based around a single headshot of Mitski. The digital release crops it to her face and neck, the physical release crops it to her head and hair, and the other four, each with their own names, are close-ups of her face used for limited-edition CD releases: "Stay" focuses on her brow, "Soft" focuses on her left eye, "Eaten" focuses on her right cheek, and "Get" focuses on her chin.
  • Monty Python:
    • Another Monty Python Record: Some cassette and CD versions of the album respectively read "Another Monty Python Cassette" and "Another Monty Python CD" to reflect the difference in audio format.
    • The Monty Python Matching Tie and Handkerchief: Both the original artwork and the alternate feature a gift box that holds the inner sleeve. The alternate is just a redesign of the outer sleeve. CD releases combine the outer and inner sleeve for the information booklet.
    • Monty Python's Contractual Obligation Album: The vinyl artwork features a version of the paper label of the record visible on the outer sleeve. In the UK, the Charisma Records label is visible while in the USA it's the Arista Records label. On CD, the label is edited out on some releases.
  • New Order:
    • The first US releases of Movement on the LP and CD formats each featured a noticeably different color scheme from the UK release, with the LP featuring brown-on-ivory art and the CD cover being black-on-white. However, later reissues in the US reverted back to the dark blue-on-light blue cover used in the UK, starting with the Qwest Records reissues.
    • Thanks to the unusual and expensive design for the UK LP packaging of Low-Life (swappable cards behind an onion paper overlay), releases across different regions and formats tend to get creative with how they carry it over. Factory's cassette releases feature the band logotype against a solid white backdrop, while Qwest's US cassettes feature the unaltered photo of Stephen Morris on the front and the band name and album title above it; both include the other band photos in the J-card foldout. Factory and London CDs in the UK replicate the LP packaging with jewel case-sized cards and a printed onion paper sheet, while Qwest goes for a gatefold booklet with the logotype printed directly on the front page; said booklet can be re-folded and reinserted as desired. Qwest LP releases forgo the logo and overlay altogether and simply have the unaltered band photos printed on the sleeves. The Collector's Edition reissue also prints the band photos directly onto the digipak panels, though include the logotype on the front.
    • The standard edition of Republic was a regular jewel case, with the booklet consisting of a collage of stock photos (specifically depicting a burning house juxtaposed with a pair of beachgoers on the front). For the US-exclusive "Limited Run", the entire album was packaged inside a puffy orange vinyl digipak making it resemble a pool toy; a waterproof version of the original booklet was tucked inside. Furthermore, the "Limited Run" edition had two slightly different versions: one with blue text on the cover, another with silver text.
    • The color scheme on the album cover for Music Complete is rearranged for the digital, CD, and LP releases of the albums. As a ready tell, the digital cover features a blue triangle on the right, the CD cover has a yellow triangle, and the LP cover has a red triangle.
  • Mike Oldfield:
    • The original release of Incantations depicts Oldfield on a beach. When the album was reissued in 2011, it featured a new photo depicting only the rock formation featured in the background of the original cover.
    • The UK release of Islands depicts... an island, with stylized handprints overlaid on the surrounding ocean. The US release replaces this with a surrealist illustration of two monochrome "sky" and "sea" cubes atop a white background.
  • Pet Shop Boys:
    • The artwork for Introspective features a different set of color stripes between the CD, LP, and cassette releases. From left to right, the CD release's stripes are pink, yellow, red, green, pink, violet, indigo; the LP release is yellow, green, pink, red, yellow, violet, indigo; the cassette release is teal, light blue, yellow, blue, red, indigo, green. Digital releases simply reuse the CD cover.
    • The first CD edition of Very came in a custom jewel case, which was solid orange with the title in raised letters and a geometric pattern of raised dots. (The "LEGO case", some fans called it.) The 1996 reissue of the album came in a standard, clear jewel case — and the new cover art was just a photo of the old LEGO case.
  • Pink Floyd:
    • Cassette, 8-track, and early European CD releases of Wish You Were Here swapped out the "man on fire" photo for the handshake logo from the sticker that was affixed over the black shrink wrap on the first vinyl pressings, with a white or black background depending on the country.
    • Four different cover photos are used for The Division Bell depending on the format. The CD release features the metal heads lit directly by the morning sun, with four lights glowing in the background between them. The LP release features the metal heads lit from the side by the midday sun, with nothing between them except Ely Cathedral. The cassette release is shot similarly to the LP release, but uses two "stone" heads (actually polystyrene and fiberglass) instead of the metal ones. The digital download/streaming release uses a resurfaced outtake that features the metal heads in overcast weather, with three red flags in the background between them.
  • Poison: The original release of Open Up and Say...Ahh! featured a cover photo of Bambi dressed as a snarling, long-tongued demon. When parental groups complained about the demonic imagery, the cover was modified to feature a letterboxed close-up of Bambi's eyes.
  • The Police: Synchronicity does this to a more extreme degree than most cases: thirty-six different variations of the cover art exist, all with different configurations of the photographs and color stripes, some more subtle than others.
  • Primus and the Chocolate Factory with the Fungi Ensemble normally has a purple cover: its vinyl release changed it for a golden variation. While it normally doesn't fit this trope, the Bandcamp page made it the default cover.
  • Public Image Ltd.:
    • The original release of Metal Box featured the album packaged in a 16mm film canister, which was deliberately picked because it was large enough to fit the three records, but small enough to force the buyer to dirty up and scratch the discs getting them out. When the album was reissued as the double-LP Second Edition, it was packaged in a conventional gatefold sleeve featuring distorted photos of the band members. The UK cassette release, meanwhile, simply featured the album title and "PiL" logo atop a blank white background.
    • Album was retitled Cassette and Compact Disc for releases on those respective formats, and the Minimalistic Cover Art was changed accordingly to swap out the word on the front cover.
  • Queen:
    • The original South Korean release of News of the World used the upper half of the gatefold interior illustration as its cover art due to the government considering the UK cover too violent. A 1992 LP reissue would restore the original artwork.
    • The original cover art for The Game features a band photo with Roger Taylor folding his arms, John Deacon & Freddie Mercury hooking their hands on their pockets, and Brian May with his hands at his stomach. The EMI CD release in the UK and Europe, meanwhile, replaces this with an alternate photo where Taylor & Mercury's hands are at their sides and May's hand is on his hip (Deacon makes the same pose in both versions). The second cover is also featured on the DVD-Audio release of the album worldwide.
    • The LP release of the band's first Greatest Hits Album in 1981 has the band photo skewed, as if lying down on the floor. The UK cassette release and the 2004 remaster use the unaltered version of the photo, while the German LP release replaces it with a band logotype embossed over a black background. In 2021, EMI would put out collectable limited-edition cassette reissues of the compilation with five alternate covers: one depicting the original, and each of the other four depicting one of the band members.
    • The CD, cassette, and digital releases of Made in Heaven depicts the view of the band's Montreux studio at dusk. The LP release, meanwhile, showcases the same area at dawn. Consequently, the back photo of the band is also different, going from them gazing at the Alps to them gazing at the rising sun.
  • Lena Raine's original album cover for Minecraft: The Caves and Cliffs Update (Official Game Soundtrack) was a basic gray stone background with the game's title. For an unknown reason, it was later changed to a far more elaborate scene of Steve mining amethyst in a lush cave, with Alex exploring behind him and Creepers, Zombies, Skeletons, Spiders, and Endermen lurking nearby.
  • The Rolling Stones:
    • The originally-proposed cover for Beggars Banquet depicts a dingy bathroom covered in the band's graffiti. After Decca Records rejected the idea for its vulgarity, it was replaced with a plain white cover styled after a formal dinner invitation. CD releases of the album would eventually reinstate the original cover.
    • The standard cover for Some Girls features the faces of the band members in cut-out heads along with the faces of famous Hollywood actresses. When Lucille Ball, Farrah Fawcett, Liza Minnelli (who didn't appear on the cover, but her late mother Judy Garland did), Raquel Welch, and the Marilyn Monroe estate threatened legal action, the album was quickly reissued with a revised cover that had their faces replaced on the sleeve with a message reading: "Pardon our appearance. Cover under re-construction."
  • Rammstein: The original release of their debut album Herzeleid features the band from the waist up sweaty and shirtless with a close up of an orange tinted flower. The US release features headshots of the band on a white background.
  • R.E.M.: The Spanish LP release of Out of Time replaced the standard cover, depicting the band name and album title atop an ocean backdrop, with an abstract painting.
  • Roxy Music: The original release of Country Life depicts a pair of female models in lingerie against an evergreen tree. Due to concerns over its sexual content, the initial American release packaged the LP in a green nylon outer bag, before replacing the cover with a shot of just the tree itself (also used for the back cover in all configurations); the CD release would eventually reinstate the UK cover in all regions.
  • Sabaton:
    • Carolus Rex had two cover designs originally: the standard cover art featuring stylized Swedish royal regalia, and the Limited Edition, which instead featured a depiction of Carolean soldiers charging the listener. The Platinum Edition reissue has a silvery minimalist rework of the standard cover.
    • The History Edition of The War to End All Wars comes in hardcopy with the same art as the normal version of the album, a dead British soldier hanging over barbed wire. The downloadable version of the History Edition instead depicts a German stormtrooper in a gas mask. Ironically, "Stormtroopers" is the only song on the album not to come with an Opening Narration on the History Edition.
  • Scorpions:
    • Love at First Sting: Original artwork shows a man making out with a partially nude woman while giving her a tattoo. The alternate artwork is an image of the band in black and white, based on inner artwork from the original release. The change was due to Wal-Mart complaining about the packaging after its release.
    • Lovedrive: Original artwork features a couple sitting in a car with the woman's exposed breast connected to a man's hand by out-stretched bubblegum. The alternate artwork is a blue scorpion.
    • Virgin Killer: The original release of this album infamously depicts a naked little girl lunging against a black background, with a glass crack obscuring her crotch. Due to its controversial nature, later releases replaced the image with a photo of the band.
  • The Sex Pistols: Certain international releases of Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols, including the US one, alter the color scheme from a pink stamp on a yellow background to a green stamp on a pink background.
  • Slipknot:
    • Iowa had a version of its standard cover art with a reddish-orange tint made for CD reissues of the album. Meanwhile, its 10th Anniversary Edition uses a completely different photo for the cover.
    • The CD-exclusive Special Edition of Vol. 3: (The Subliminal Verses) has a heavily edited photo of the band's members at the time of release as the cover art (previously used for one of the sleeves of the album's vinyl release), in contrast to the standard edition's "Maggot Mask" photo.
    • The cover art for the 10th Anniversary Edition of All Hope Is Gone is a rendition of the standard one, with the band members wearing large statue-like masks (again, these masks were featured in internal photos of the album) and a yellow sky.
    • As well as its standard cover, the The End, So Far has nine covers of each of the band members for a series of CD-exclusive limited edition releases that could only be acquired by pre-ordering them before the album's official release.
  • Starflyer 59:
    • Silver: The original CD issue had a textless, solid metallic silver cover, while the cassette edition featured the logo of a fictitious airline on a metallic silver background. (The airline logo had been on the back cover of the CD edition.) For the 10th anniversary "Extended Edition" reissue, the CD received engraving-style art of a crown and an "SF 59" logo, still on a metallic silver background. Finally, in what's most likely some kind of mistake, the MP3 version of the album on various digital storefronts has a solid drab yellow cover, instead of silver.
    • Gold followed almost exactly the same pattern as Silver before it: The first CD and LP issues featured a textless, solid metallic gold cover, while the cassette edition featured a shield and crest on a metallic gold background. (And the shield and crest were from the back cover of the CD and LP edition.) And the "Extended Edition" reissue featured engraving-style art, this time of a steam ship, on a metallic gold background.
    • The Fashion Focus: The CD edition had a design with some stock photos. The LP edition reused the same cover. Exactly the same cover, at exactly the same size. As in, they didn't scale up the CD-sized art to make it fit the larger LP sleeve at all — leaving the original cover to float in empty white space.
    • Everybody Makes Mistakes was available on CD with two cover variants: a yellow cover with white title text, or a white cover with yellow title text. Both were actually the same liner notes, just folded differently to put a different panel in the front. The vinyl edition was only available with the yellow cover.
  • The Strokes: The originally-proposed cover art for Is This It depicts a crotch shot of photographer Colin Lane's girlfriend touching her nude hip with a leather glove. While this made it to the UK release, the US one replaced it with a psychedelic photograph of subatomic particle tracks in a bubble chamber. The two different versions of the album also have differing tracks between themselves.
  • Sufjan Stevens:
    • The first pressing of Illinois included Superman mid-flight on the cover art — but Sufjan and his label, Asthmatic Kitty, neglected to get permission from DC Comics, as they mistakenly thought Superman was already in the public domain. To avoid a lawsuit, they covered Superman with a sticker of balloons on most of the unsold first-issue copies — and they edited the art itself for the reissues, replacing Supes either with a patch of empty sky, or the same balloons from the sticker. (Copies of the album with Superman are now rare collector's items.) Then the 10th anniversary vinyl reissue introduced yet another variant with a different comic book hero, Blue Marvel, reenacting Superman's pose.
    • The initial release of his debut album A Sun Came, in 2000, had a black-and-white photo of Sufjan staring straight at the camera. When it was reissued with a few bonus tracks in 2004, it featured a new cover with watercolor art of a toga-clad Sufjan fighting a dragon.
  • Taylor Swift's folklore had eight alternate covers to choose from for people who pre-ordered the CD. All the covers were in black-and-white, and showed Swift outside wandering through or around a forest. Each design was named after a lyric from the album.
  • David Sylvian:
    • The original release of Brilliant Trees featured a photograph of Sylvian in the woods, bordered by a yellow marble texture. When the album was belatedly released in the US in 1994, the border was removed and the photo was resized and re-cropped to put Sylvian closer to the center of the image. The 2003 remasters would change this again by using the uncropped version of the photo, with Sylvian once again being on the right side of the image, with this configuration becoming standard for later releases.
    • Because the original master artwork for the albums was lost, the 2018 reissues of Alchemy: An Index of Possibilities and Gone to Earth feature new covers made from various photoshoots done at the time, with the former now depicting Sylvian overlooking the view atop a hill and the latter depicting him sitting in the back seat of a car. Likewise, the expanded reissue of Dead Bees on a Cake for Record Store Day 2018 featured a new cover depicting a headshot of Sylvian circa 1999; a grayscale version of the original artwork is featured on the inner sleeve for disc one.
  • Talking Heads:
    • The original cover for Speaking in Tongues, designed by David Byrne and Robert Rauschenberg and used for the limited-edition LP release, consisted of an elaborate plastic clamshell with rotatable color wheels inside depicting a collage of urban imagery, based on one of Rauschenberg's earlier pieces. For cost reasons, the wider general release used a new cover across formats consisting of a painting by Byrne that provides an abstract reinterpretation of the original, featuring a blue dot on a yellow backdrop with tinted photos of an armchair in the corners. Some CD releases in Europe invert the color scheme of the painting cover, featuring a yellow dot on a blue background.
    • Cassette and international CD copies of True Stories feature a revised version of the front cover that includes both the band name and album title in rectangular bars on the front, with the colors of the text and background swapped around (namely, "Talking" and "True" are in white text against a red backdrop, while "Heads" and "Stories" are in black text against a white backdrop).
  • Soul Mining by The The has three different album covers. The UK version of the album cover is of a yellow-skinned, blue-haired portrait of one of Fela Kuti's wives smoking a joint. the US release depicts a similarly-styled portrait of of band frontman Matt Johnson yelling. The 2002 CD reissue uses an early photograph of Matt Johnson.
  • U2: The European release of Boy depicts a headshot of a shirtless little boy (portrayed by Peter Rowen, who would go on to model for several of the band's other album and single covers over the years). Due to concerns that the cover might be construed as pedophilic in America, Island Records replaced the original photo with a new one depicting distorted portraits of the band members for the US release.
  • Ultravox: The original album cover for Rage in Eden, designed by Factory Records collaborator Peter Saville, depicts a stylized face with a gold pane. According to Midge Ure, the artwork was based on an unspecified film poster. Due to rights issues, European reissues replace it with a surrealist painting of a wooden landscape, and the 1997 remaster replaces it with the "UV" horse logo associated with the album against a burgundy and navy blue backdrop. A further variant of this, used for the 2015 LP reissue, features the same logo against a gray and white backdrop.
  • Balance by Van Halen: The original artwork features nude conjoined twins on a see saw. The alternate artwork features one of the conjoined twins missing so it looks like a single child is sitting alone.
  • Roger Waters:
    • The Pros and Cons of Hitch Hiking: The original artwork shows softcore porn actress Linzi Drew with her bare behind pointed towards the viewer. After the illustration attracted accusations of sexism, Waters' US label, Columbia Records, put together a modified version that covers Drew's rear with a black rectangle.
    • The original 1992 release of Amused to Death depicts a photo of a chimpanzee staring at an eyeball on a CRT television. For the 2015 remaster, this was replaced with a new photo that recreates the original, but with a baby starting at an LED television instead.
  • Face Dances by The Who: The vinyl and CD releases feature 16 paintings of the band members on the cover. Due to the detail of the images and scale of the alternate release, cassette and 8-track copies of the album just show a tube of paint with the album's title on it.
  • Yellow Magic Orchestra:
    • The original Japanese release of the band's self-titled debut features an album cover of a Circus cabinet and various other pieces of western upper-middle-class paraphernalia against a metallic blue backdrop, with the artwork spanning all across the LP sleeve. The remixed western release, meanwhile, features an android woman in a mock-Oriental outfit (who also appears as a mannequin in the "Computer Game/Firecracker" video) against a blue background, with a photo of the band on the back. These different covers are still simultaneously in use to differentiate between releases of the Japanese mix and releases of the US mix.
    • The US release of ×∞Multiplies removes the red border around the cover image, while the European release simply redoes the border's text, repositioning the band name and album title while removing the kanji and "Yellow Magic Special" tag. For CD releases, both the Japanese and US versions use the borderless version of the album cover, making it difficult to tell them apart without looking at the tracklist on the back. The 1999 remaster would eventually restore the original cover art, border and all, for the Japanese version.
    • The original release of Technodelic sported cover art of three Polaroids of the individual band members in Kabuki makeup, all laid against an off-white background. The European release swapped out the cover with one featuring a stock photo of a woman in Maoist China against a red background; this cover was later incorporated into Japanese reissues, becoming standardized worldwide and consequently eclipsing the original cover in recognition. Since 2003, CD reissues include both covers on different sides of the liner notes pamphlet, allowing one to flip it around and insert it back in based on which cover they prefer. The "Polaroid" cover would eventually be reinstated as the canonical one in 2019, via the 40th anniversary remaster.
    • European CDs and reissues of Technodon omit the polarized effect on the album art's text.
  • Yes:
    • The UK release of their self-titled debut has a large red speech bubble with a black background, while the North American release was a band photo being taken at an architectural centre.
    • Time and a Word was released elsewhere with the album cover being a naked woman in a dadaist room, but the North American cover opted for another band photo. Strangely, it featured Steve Howe, who wasn't involved in the album and joined as a replacement after original guitarist Peter Banks got fired.
    • The original double-LP release of Tales from Topographic Oceans features an elaborate Roger Dean painting depicting a surreal Mayincatec-inspired landscape. Meanwhile, early double-CD releases outside of Japan zoom in on the band logo and album title at the top-center in order to account for both the smaller size and different proportions of a fatbox jewel case compared to an LP sleeve. Later remasters would revert to the full LP artwork, owed to the introduction of standard-sized jewel cases that can store two CDs at once.
    • The cover of the original LP release of Big Generator featured dark blue print over an aquamarine background, while the cassette and CD versions used red print over a yellow background.
  • Frank Zappa:
    • The cover art for We're Only in It for the Money was designed as an unflattering, yet very thorough Sgt. Pepper's Shout-Out, which Paul McCartney reportedly approved of. However, Verve Records changed the cover at the last minute to swap the outer art with the gatefold photo, which depicts a plain image of the Mothers of Invention against a yellow background (as a riff on the Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band gatefold photo). When Zappa regained the rights to his back-catalog in The '80s, he had the inner and outer art swapped back to match his original intentions.
    • The original release and 2012 UMe reissue of Does Humor Belong in Music? use a photograph of Zappa below large metallic title text, while the 1995 Rykodisc reissue uses a new illustration by artist Cal Schenkel.
    • The Best Band You Never Heard in Your Life received three over the years. The original 1991 release consisted of a photograph of Zappa and co. performing during the 1988 tour, framed by blue underlighting. Due to the photograph being used without the permission of photographer Bruce Malone, Zappa opted to simply remove it on later releases, leaving the space in the middle blank. The 1995 reissue by Rykodisc, meanwhile, uses an illustration by artist Cal Shenkel; the censored version of the 1991 cover would be reinstated on the 2012 UMe reissue.
    • The original 1996 release of Läther depicts a cow with Zappa's facial hair in a field, parodying the cover of Pink Floyd's Atom Heart Mother. For the 2012 remaster, the cover was swapped out with a new photo depicting Zappa covered in soap foam, playing off of the originally-proposed cover of Zappa in blackface (which was ultimately used for Joe's Garage).

Top