Yesterday, Bat For Lashes unveiled a new song and a whole lot more with the press release for her third album “The Haunted Man.” The cover of that record features a fully nude Natasha Khan carrying an equally clothes-less man across her back. More sensual that overtly sexual, it’s an obviously eye-catching cover, one worth framing and hanging on your bedroom wall assuming you have other stuff there as well so that every person that comes over doesn’t think you have some lecherous Natasha Khan obsession.
The nude album cover of course is nothing new. One of the most famous and earliest examples in pop culture is “Two Virgins,” the first experimental collaborative album by John Lennon and Yoko Ono. That very public (and pubic) showing of the couple’s affection was a little too graphic for 1968, and most copies were (thankfully) shipped in a brown paper bag. Since then we’ve seen many better examples of the human body via LP sleeve. Bat For Lashes’s new one is an instant favorite, but here are nine more in-the-buff covers we’re also big fans of.
Pixies — “Surfer Rosa”
In an interview with Joy Press, Pixies frontman Black Francis described his reasoning for “Surfer Rosa”‘s topless cover star: “For the first record, I told them I liked nudity. I like body lines—not necessarily something in bad taste, didn’t even have to be female, just body lines.” The inspiration for the cover is also to believed to have stemmed from where the majority of the songs for the record were written — in a topless bar owned by Francis’ father.
The Strokes — “Is This It”
The Spinal Tap-esque cover art for The Strokes‘ debut album “Is This It” was apparently a spontaneous photoshoot taken by photographer Colin Lane when his girlfriend got out of the shower. The cover was stocked in U.K. markets when the album was released in July of 2001 but when it came time for the record’s October U.S. release, the picture was swapped with a microscopic picture of atoms colliding, a band decision that was aimed at making sure the album didn’t receive any guff from conservative U.S. markets.
Ohio Players — “Honey”
For the frontcover of the Ohio Players’ fourth album “Honey,” the group enlisted “Playboy”‘s October 1974 Playmate of the Month, Ester Cordet, who can be seen swallowing the record’s titular condiment wearing nothing but a G-string (her full body can be seen in the gatefold).
The Jimi Hendrix Experience — “Electric Ladyland”
For whatever reason, the U.K. market is a lot more daring with what they’ll allow on their record shelves. In the case of the gatefold cover of “Electric Ladyland,” Track Records took it upon themselves to release this racy photo despite Jimi Hendrix’s wishes to have a photo of the band taken by Paul McCartney’s future wife Linda Eastman for its sleeve. Not even the U.S. markets listened to Hendrix however, using a blurry closeup of Hendrix’s head for the stateside markets.
Bow Wow Wow — “See Jungle! See Jungle! Go Join Your Gang Yeah! City All Over, Go Ape Crazy!”
Yes, that was the title of Bow Wow Wow’s second album and this indeed was the cover, which showed a nude Annabella Lwin on a picnic with her two bandmates mimicking the painting “Le déjeuner sur l’herbe” by Édouard Manet. Controversial because of the nudity yes, but also because Lwin was merely 16 years old at the time.
Roxy Music — “Country Life”
For the majority of their ’70s output, Roxy Music’s cover stars were typically whoever Bryan Ferry was sleeping with at the time. Constanze Karoli and Eveline Grunwald, the two models that adorn the cover of “Country Life,” may or may not have bedded the singer, but their appearance on the group’s album is arguably the band’s sexiest sleeve.
Prince — “Lovesexy”
It’s about time we get a guy on this list. After Prince had scrapped the release of “The Black Album” in late 1987, he went back to the drawing board and pulled out “Lovesexy” within a few months. Its cover is the exact opposite of “The Black Album”‘s solid black panel, featuring a bright white cover with an angelic, nude Prince posing with a holy glow coming off of him. Both the album and its front cover were a much better choice.
Queen — “Body Language”
Granted not an LP, but a hot cover nevertheless, this is for Queen’s 1982 single “Body Language” which shows a naked couple passed out and soaked in sweat. The man also appears the have some instructional directions painted on his torso.
Handsome Furs — “Sound Kapital”
In an interview with LPWTF?, Handsome Furs’ Alexei Perry states, “I love nakedness. I wish I could see everyone naked. Nudity is appealing to me for its obvious sexiness, but even more so for its rawness and honesty. It unnerves and excites me and makes me want to know more.” For the front cover of the duo’s final album “Sound Kapital,” filmmaker Scott Coffey photographed a close friend who had previously appeared in a beer commercial Coffey had filmed standing naked under a bridge.
“I definitely wanted it to be sexy,” says Coffey, “but I didn’t want it to feel like a cliché idea of what men think sexy is… I knew she would have her own interesting take on the cliched idea of a sexy, naked, go-go dancer on top of a car….It was important that she brought herself to it, and I knew she would.” The image is a striking coda to the band’s career.