Kanye West, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (2010)
”Yoooo they banned my album cover!!!” Kanye West tweeted on the subject of the rapper-producer’s latest opus on October 17. But it seems Mr. West will have to try harder to be as controversial as some of his rock star predecessors. A Walmart spokesperson subsequently told EW that, ”We’re excited about Kanye West’s new album and we look forward to carrying it in our stores on November 22nd. We did not reject the cover artwork and it was never presented to us to view.” Walmart does indeed carry the album with an alternate cover. Maybe he should have stuck with the CD’s working title: Good A– Job.
The Beatles, Yesterday and Today (1966)
Capitol Records recalled hundreds of thousands of copies of Yesterday and Today following complaints and pasted them over with a more benign photograph of the Fab Four posing around a suitcase. A (paste-free) copy of the record featuring the so-called ”butcher” cover has become one of the most sought-after Beatles collectibles.
John Lennon and Yoko Ono, Unfinished Music No. 1: Two Virgins (1968)
The couple’s experimental opus was distributed in a brown paper bag, but that didn’t stop police in Newark from seizing 30,000 copies. Naughty bits censored here to keep things PG-13.
The Rolling Stones, Beggars Banquet (1968)
The Stones’ label refused to release their album with this graffiti-strewn artwork. Jagger and crew backed down, but ultimately restored their vision when the collection was released on CD in 1984.
Jimi Hendrix, Electric Ladyland (1968)
Even Hendrix didn’t much care for the U.K. artwork that decorated Electric Ladyland. ”I didn’t have nothing to do with that stupid LP cover,” the guitar legend once insisted.
Blind Faith, Blind Faith (1969)
The Eric Clapton-, Steve Winwood-, and Ginger Baker-featuring Blind Faith are remembered for being one of the first supergroups. And for putting a young naked girl on the cover of their only studio album.
Bow Wow Wow, See Jungle! See Jungle! Go Join Your Gang Yeah. City All Over, Go Ape Crazy (1981)
Bow Wow Wow manager Malcolm McLaren provoked a huge furor in the U.K. after persuading the band’s then 14-year-old singer Annabella Lwin to pose naked in a re-creation of Manet’s painting Le Dejeuner sur l’herbe.
2 Live Crew, As Nasty As They Wanna Be (1989)
Most of the brouhaha provoked by Nasty As They Wanna Be concerned its lewd songs (”The F— Shop,” anyone?). But the hip-hop act’s choice of cover photograph didn’t exactly win them any friends amongst the censorious-minded.
Jane’s Addiction, Ritual de lo Habitual (1990)
Following the controversy caused by the naked conjoined twins artwork for Jane’s Addiction’s 1988 debut Nothing’s Shocking, singer Perry Farrell designed two covers for the band’s follow-up: the image above (black bar added here) and a ”clean” version that featured the group’s name, the title of the album, and the First Amendment.
Guns N’ Roses, Appetite for Destruction (1987)
Painter Robert Williams’ depiction of a rapist robot proved too much for many stores and the image was later replaced by an image of the band as skeletons.
Nirvana, In Utero (1993)
Wal-Mart declined to stock the rock icons’ third CD. According to a spokesperson for the chain this reflected the company’s policy of being ”sensitive to the moral standards our customers have.” Whether those standards might be offended by the presence of human fetuses on the back cover artwork or the inclusion of a track called ”Rape Me” (or both) was unclear.
The Black Crowes, Amorica (1994)
The pubic hair-showing cover of the the southern rockers’ third album — an image taken from the bicentennial issue of Hustler magazine — was too hairy, in every sense, for Wal-Mart.
The Coup, Party Music (2001)
The politically-minded hip-hoppers’ fourth CD, which originally featured this shocking image, was due to hit record store shelves on September 12, 2001. But the album was pulled, and its artwork redesigned, following the events of 9/11.
KMD, Black Bastards (2001)
KMD members MF Doom and his brother DJ Subroc originally made Black Bastards in the early ’90s, but their label Elektra declined to release it for reasons probably not entirely unconnected to its inflammatory artwork.
The Strokes, Is This It (2001)
While overseas purchasers of the band’s first album were treated to the risqué photograph above, those in the States had to make do with a rather less erotically-charged image of subatomic particles.