Famous Album Covers Banned In The USA, But Adored In The UK
Arctic Monkeys – Suck It and See (2012)
Some US chain supermarkets believed the title ‘Suck It And See’ was basically just too darn suggestive and decided to place a sticker over the title. Fortunately, Arctic Monkeys & Co. (and the entire British public) reside with our minds outside of the gutter (some of the time) and understand that the title refers to trying your hand at something new to see how it works out before making any snap judgements. Unfortunately, the irony of this English saying seems to be lost on American conglomerates.
The Beatles – Yesterday and Today (1966)
For some acid trip-induced reason (my own theory), The Beatles decided it would be a brilliant idea to show off their darker side through a little morbid humour. This original cover shows the band smiling amidst cuts of raw meat and decapitated baby dolls. Robert Whitaker, the album’s photographer, claimed it was a metaphor for the band’s untouchable, god-like celebrity status; they could have been sociopathic killers and the public would still love them. American fans reacted so badly that Capitol Records had to recall over half a million copies and re-sticker them with a less offensive image. Nowadays, if you own the original release with the former album cover still hidden behind the tamer, re-issued one….you’ll be laughing all the way to the bank. They are worth thousands.
Black Crowes – Amorica (1994)
The sight of naturally occurring pubic hair is a clear reason for an album cover re-issue, right? I mean, we should be shielding our children from the truths they’ll soon learn once they hit pubertity. Hopefully, educational initiatives such as Baywatch will remind the public that the only hair people were born with is the stuff on their head.
Scorpions – Virgin Killer (1976)
This caused ridiculous amounts of controversy. So much so, the album had to be sold in a black bag. Only to be brought under fire again by the FBI 32 years later under child pornography laws. The cover depicts a young girl baring all with a cracked glass effect shielding her genitalia. In the defence of the band, the child in question was photographed by a family member (who worked for the label) in the presence of her mother and sisters and to this day is still comfortable with the picture taken of her. Although no malice was intended at the time, in hindsight, all parties involved agree that it was designed in bad taste.
Tin Machine – Tin Machine II (1991)
This British Rock band used a stylised version of the Kouros for album art, which features a generic young, male nude. A Kouros was an ancient Greek statue used to depict aristocratic culture and youth. The re-issue has literally scraped out the offending parts. What I find hilarious is they haven’t ripped the genitalia from the Greek statues in museums or stickered over the abundant amount of nipple in renaissance paintings, have they? This is the absurdity of US modesty – apparently there’s a time and a place for nudity and if it’s not involved with selling you cars or clothes, it’s inappropriate.
The Strokes – Is This It? (2001)
The US release of Is This It was altered even before it had hit the shelves across the Atlantic. The cover depicts a bare derrière with a rubber glove placed on top. These two elements were way too suggestive and the cover art was replaced with the telescopic view of particles at the moment of collision in a bubble chamber. Additionally, one of the tracks on the album was swapped with another because it was seen as being offensive towards New York City police at a time when they were regarded as heroes during the World Trade Centre attacks.
Roxy Music – Country Life (1974)
This last album controversy is also my favourite. The fact that both women were completely removed, only to leave an empty, leafy bush behind completely symbolises what censorship and prudism does to music. It leaves it hollow and without expression. With it’s oversaturated tones and tanned models, Country Life has inspired many photoshoot recreations and has been heralded as one of the coolest covers in Rock ‘n’ Roll history.