Controversial Album Covers



When I went into Half Priced Books to look through their records I wasn't expecting to find the album I did. Flipping through the Eric Clapton section I came across the album Blind Faith by Blind Faith. The band was formed by Eric Clapton, Ginger Baker, Steve Winwood and Ric Grech. I discovered the album back in high school as I was getting into a lot of guitarists from that time, including Eric Clapton. I liked some of the songs on the record, but mostly the song Can't Find My Way Home. The song is so simplistic but resonates so much with me for some reason. The album isn't bad but its not one of my favorites.

What I also remembered though from my time with this album was the controversy surrounding the original album cover. The original cover depicted an underage girl holding a plane. Though the intentions of the album art's creator Bob Seidemann were revealed later on, music publishers decided to remove the cover and display an image of the band. This was interesting to me since the version of Blind Faith I found was the version with the original controversial cover. I felt kind of weird about buying the album with such an obvious cover for the checkout lady to see, yet it was a piece of history I didn't want to pass up.

This experience led me to go down a rabbit hole of album covers that were deemed controversial or not were not meant to be seen by the American public. I came across two examples of when the American version was censored specifically when the true vision of the album was seen by outside countries. Kanye West's My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy had an album cover that was censored solely in the United States. Also The Stroke's album Is This It? was censored in the United States. I didn't even know Is This It? had an alternate album cover.

The idea of censoring album covers was interesting to me because I wondered how many things we see in the U.S. are censored without myself knowing it. I learned of a couple of recent examples recently album covers released in America were less censored than in Middle Eastern areas. What's allowed between different cultures as far as marketing goes I think is reflected consistently within what is released where, adding to the conversation about the role art plays in our lives.