The Grateful Dead

Pitchfork‘s lengthy photo feature on the 100 worst examples of record cover art seems unfair for a number of reasons: First, as the introductory essay notes, the CD and the iPod have all but killed the genre that flourished when an album was a tactile, 12-inch by 12-inch visual object, not a palm-sized coaster or a string of digits with no physical presence. It’s not like anyone even tries anymore to make good album covers (save Madonna, whose new cover art is striking).

Second, some of Pitchfork’s selections are hapless, no-name acts without clout or budget; it hardly seems fair to rank them with popular, well-funded groups that actually paid design firms good money and still came up with something hideous.

Then again, these lists are never fair, and it sure is funny to snicker at some of the eyesores on display here. Still, c’mon, guys, none of Roger Dean’s covers for various Yes albums? No mention of Led Zep’s Houses of the Holy or Blind Faith’s self-titled LP (both marred by embarrassingly kitschy and probably illegal exploitation of naked prepubescent girls)? The Dead’s dancing turtles (above)? Sure, the hipsters at Pitchfork have managed to find some admirably obscure bad album covers, but let’s give credit where it’s due. There’s ugly, and then there’s ugly.

Any of your favorites fail to make the list?