Vampire Weekend, another addition to the long running list of controversial cover art

that'll be 2 million dollars please. Vampire Weekend's Contra, contraversy that is.

I recently read that Vampire Weekend is being sued for 2 million dollars. Apparently they used a photo without consent. I said to myself, “one more for the record books”. It’s a funny thing when values such as freedom, and art are questioned. It also makes me wonder what pain and suffering Ann Kirsten Kennis went through that warrants a 2 million dollar settlement? Another interesting point this story brought about was how many albums I could think that had been banned, or considered controversial, so much so that the band and/or label was forced to do a recall.

So, here is a small list of some bands that made the “mistake” of attempting to join music and cover art as a cohesive representation of themselves and their music and ultimately failed. They were in one case or another forced to change due to the overwhelming and unending public scrutiny. Do we respect these artists for folding under such pressure and not standing their ground? I don’t know. It’s not up to me to decide. I will say that it definatly raises the collectability.

wait, Floyd loves loves Gigi solely for it's "cultural, historical, and aesthetic significance" really they do!

1) Pink Floyd – Ummagumma (1969)

The cover depicts the band, sitting at a house near Cambridge in England, nothing new here. The only thing that sets this apart from any other cover photo is that behind David Gilmour, leaning against the wall is the LP for the musical Gigi. It was later airbrushed out on remaining releases. Later, it was explained that the use of Gigi wasused for the purpose of debate, as some sort of tactic to divert the listener. Weather or not it worked, I am unaware. I did recently spot the original album at a local record store for $20, I did not buy it, and I don’t know why.

2) Mayhem – Dawn Of The Black Hearts (1995)

Although this album was never banned nor subject to recall, it is considered quite offensive and extremely controversial. It depicts Mayhem’s former vocalist “Dead” (Per Yngve Ohlin) post mortem, the victim of a self inflicted shotgun blast to the head. The story goes that Mayhem guitarist “Euronymous” (Oystein Aarseth) returned to their practice home one day back in April of 1991. He had forgotten his key and proceeded to climb through an open window.

Mayhem's "Dead". His sucide note ends with, "sorry for all the blood"

Upon entering the room, he discovered Ohlin. Before phoning the police he snapped a photo. This photo wound up on the live bootleg album titled Dawn Of The Black Hearts. Other rumors floating around are that Aarseth cooked and ate some of Ohlin’s brains, and constructed necklaces out of Ohlin’s skull which were given to each surviving member of Mayhem. On August 10, 1993, Aarseth was murdered by Varg Vikernes, better known as the one man band Burzum.

3) Lynyrd Skynyrd – Street Surviviors (1977)

Hailing from Jacksonville, FL. “Skynyrd” as they are often referred to are in some circles considered legends. “Sweet Home Alabama” being one of their many hits. Unfortunately another thing the group in known for is the 1977 plane crash that killed singer Ronnie Van Zant, guitarist Steve Gaines, back-up singer Cassie Gaines, assistant road manager Dean Kilpatrick, along with the pilot and co-pilot. The crash was horrific, and the surviving members and crew were victims of severe injury that lasted long after the crash that continue to this day. Their album Street Survivors was released just three days before the crash (October 17, 1977) and depicts the band standing on an ordinary street, surrounded by flames. Guitarist Steve Gaines who perished in the crash is literally engulfed in flames on the cover. The album was later changed to the band standing with an all black background. The cover was switched out of respect for the deceased.

4) Scorpions – Virgin Killer (1976)

These metal heads from Germany had a totally different idea behind the title to this album than what it became. It probably had something to do with the cover. Sometimes an artist really does go overboard, and I think the line between art and freedom of expression sometimes gets skewed. Although the album gained attention in parts other than Europe, all of this may have been lost due to the cover. I’ve included a link to the original cover in the caption below. I must warn the reader that I, in no way condone the band/label using such a photograph nor do I approve of anyone using/viewing such material. Be aware that the original photograph is offensive and wrong, yet I chose to include the link out of respect to the First Amendment of the Constitution as well to maintain the integrity of this article.

the alternate cover. to see the original(highly offensive) cover go to

5) The Black Crowes – Amorica (1994)

Reaching #11 on the Billboard charts with three singles reaching the top 10, The Black Crowes third album Amorica did pretty well for the Atlanta, GA. six. Then, there is the cover. Taken from the 1976 Bicentennial issue of Hustler Magazine, it was deemed offensive and replaced. Despite the changing of the cover, the album eventually went Gold selling in excess of 500,000 copies. It leads me to wonder if bands do something like release an album with controversial cover art, just to get their name in the press as a scheme to further their popularity. It works, and the albums become sought after, forever placing them in the world of pop culture.


2 responses to this post.

  1. Absolutely brilliant post guys, been following your blog for 3 days now and i should say i am starting to like your post. and now how do i subscribe to your blog?


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