Like the music, these 10 best punk album covers defy mainstream art. Since its inception in the late 1970’s, punk rock has always been a figurative middle finger to commercialism, and punk album covers are a reflection of that defiance.
- “…And Out Come The Wolves” by Rancid. Released in 1995, this album marked the emergence of gutter punk’s mainstream revolution. Rancid didn’t forget their forefathers, though. With a similar pose of a man leaning his head on his arms, this album cover was a tribute to an older album by punk pioneers Minor Threat.
- “Dookie” by Green Day. As the most commercially successful entry of the ten best punk album covers, this 1994 release shot Green Day into the public consciousness. Punk fans could spend hours examining this album cover and contemplating the bustling and somehow lively city scene.
- “London Calling” by The Clash. U.S. punk rockers were floored by the British invasion of The Clash in 1979. Their album cover was perhaps the most haunting aspect of their persona, featuring bassist Paul Simonon smashing his guitar against the stage floor in a poignant show of rebellion.
- “Energy” by Operation Ivy, One of the most important albums in punk rock history, this 1989 release gave new life to the genre. The revolutionary music contained within would give birth to the ska punk subgenre. This punk album’s cover was simple yet intriguing. The dark hat-bearing shadow would become Operation Ivy’s most enduring symbol.
- “Life on a Plate” by Millencolin. The most underappreciated band on this list of the ten best punk album covers, Millencolin helped shape the melodic punk movement of the 1990’s. When it hit the United States in 1995, punk rock fans appreciated the artistic statement of a dead bird on a dinner plate.
- “Wiggle” by Screeching Weasel. Lookout! Records scored another groundbreaking release with this 1993 punk album. Screeching Weasel was an unapologetic band immersed in melodic as well as artistic ventures. This album cover depicted a businessman tied to a burning stick of dynamite. Its simplistic black, white and red color scheme only helped to intensify this punk album’s message.
- “Revolutions Per Minute” by Rise Against. In perhaps the most poignant statement of punk rock’s power, this 2003 album cover says what words cannot. Rise Against strikes a silent chord with punk rockers everywhere with their simplistic depiction of a grenade attached to a pair of headphones.
- “White Trash, Two Heebs and a Bean” by NOFX. This punk rock band neutralized criticism with their creative album titles and artwork. Their 1992 album cover is one of their most memorable, shattering social stigma with its bare-chested depiction of multi-ethnic harmony.
- “Everything Sucks” by Descendents. Melodic punk pioneers Descendents found a formula to fit their image on this 1996 release. The album cover featured a basic drawing of their mascot, reading a paper that said simply: “Everything Sucks.”
- “Suffer” by Bad Religion. This punk album cover is a disturbing observation of modern adolescence, which plays directly to the talents of perennial punk band Bad Religion. Released in 1988, this cover shows a young boy standing on a suburban street, engulfed by a raging fire.
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