“The Next Day,” David Bowie’s first album of new material in more than a decade, was released Tuesday, and it’s been getting rave reviews. I haven’t heard it in its entirety yet, but I must say one thing: It has one of the worst album covers ever.
Imagine taking the front and back covers of Bowie’s 1977 masterpiece “Heroes” and pasting two pieces of plain white paper over them — one on the front with the title “The Next Day” in plain text, and one on the back with the song titles, also in plain text. That’s literally it.
OK, I get that Bowie is trying to make a statement that he’s returning to the musical style of his late-’70s Berlin era. Be that as it may, there are album covers where simplicity works (Think The Beatles’ “White Album” or AC/DC’s “Back in Black”), and this isn’t one of them.
But it’s still not in the list of top 10 worst album covers of all time by a major artist. That honor belongs to the following:
The Scorpions, “Virgin Killer” (1976): Before they gave us “Rock You Like a Hurricane,” this German metal band issued an album cover of a nude prepubescent girl with a cracked glass effect over her privates. It’s so bad, it borders on child porn.
Millie Jackson, “Back to the (Expletive)” (1989): The expletive rhymes with “fit,” and the cover features Jackson on the toilet. No subtly here.
The Rolling Stones, “Dirty Work” (1986): Keith Richards in a pink polo shirt. ‘Nuff said.
Village People, “Renaissance” (1981): Think they looked goofy in hardhats and police uniforms? Check out their brief goth period.
Pat Boone, “In a Metal Mood: No More Mr. Nice Guy” (1997): Not only did Pat butcher “Crazy Train” and “Stairway to Heaven,” he went bare-chested in a leather vest for the cover. And is that the Six Million Dollar Man’s crosshairs shooting out of his eye?
Geto Boys, “We Can’t Be Stopped” (1991): When the Boys’ pint-sized lead vocalist, Bushwick Bill, shot his own eye out during an altercation with his girlfriend, they naturally thought it would make a really cool cover.
Orleans, “Waking and Dreaming” (1976): This album is best-known for two things: The hit song “Still the One” and the five hairy shirtless dudes on the cover. Thank God for 45s.
Herbie Mann, “Push Push” (1971): Speaking of hairy shirtless dudes (Pssst: You’re name’s “Herbie” Mann, not “Harry.”)
Cher, “Take Me Home” (1979): Sonny’s ex dresses up like a reject from “John Carter, Warlord of Mars.” To be fair, she was dating Gene Simmons at the time.
Led Zeppelin, “Presence” (1976): A WASPy family sits around a table and looks lovingly at the centerpiece, a black obelisk. Ummm yeah, still not getting it.
Deputy Managing Editor Rod Harmon may be contacted at 791-6450 or: