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10 Great Album Art Fake-Outs

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    The Strokes, Comedown Machine
    The Strokes are obsessed with the sounds and images of the 1970s and '80s, so it makes sense that the band's new album would look like a box of magnetic tape manufactured by RCA (conveniently, the band's label).
    Courtesy of the artist
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    Public Image Ltd, Metal Box
    The second album from Public Image Ltd, John Lydon's post-Sex Pistols group, was three vinyl discs packaged inside what looks like a 16mm film canister. (In the U.S., the album was released in a boring old cardboard sleeve as Second Edition.)

    Marie McGrory/NPR
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    Graf Orlock, Doombox
    Maybe the most elaborate packaging we've ever seen. Graf Orlock's six-song grindcore EP comes on both 10" vinyl record and compact disc, both of which rest within a fold-out cardboard "boom box."
    Marie McGrory/NPR
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    Ray Charles, Pure Genius - The Complete Atlantic Recordings (1952 - 1959)
    A box containing eight CDs, but made to look like an old record player, complete with a molded-plastic turntable under the lid.
    Marie McGrory/NPR
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    Charlie Christian, The Genius of the Electric Guitar
    The swing and jazz-era player helped turn the guitar into a solo-worthy instrument by plugging in. This four-CD set of Christian's recordings is packaged in a replica of his Gibson amplifier.
    Marie McGrory/NPR
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    AC/DC, Backtracks
    The collector's edition of this 2009 rarities box set from the Australian hard rock legends was packaged in another amp. Unlike the Charlie Christian box set, this one actually works!
    Courtesy of the Artist
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    Horslips, Happy To Meet, Sorry To Part
    This Irish group's 1973 debut album — maybe the first Celtic rock record — came inside an amazing, perforated replica of a concertina, or button accordion (look closely and you can see the band members' faces on the buttons).
    Marie McGrory/NPR
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    The Who, Live At Leeds
    The cover looks like a bootleg, with the album title stamped on yellowed paper, but this is one of the best and best-sounding live recordings ever made.
    Courtesy of the artist
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    Shellac, 1000 Hurts
    This cover, made to look like an Ampex tape reel box, is something of an in-joke for fans of the band: guitarist Steve Albini runs the Electrical Audio recording studio in Chicago, notable for its analog-only recording practices.
    Courtesy of the artist
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    System of a Down, Steal This Album!
    Released in 2002 after unfinished versions of the songs on the album were leaked. Once it finally made it into stores, the CD, meant to look burned-at-home, was packaged in a clear jewel case with no booklet.
    Courtesy of the artist

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This week, the Strokes put out the new album Comedown Machine, the band's fifth collection of wiry, tightly-produced throwback rock. The Strokes have always derived as many influences from visual media as they have from music, and the cover of the new album nods to both: the image resembles a box of magnetic tape produced by the Radio Corporation of America, the defunct electronics company that shares a name with the band's record label.

The intentional mismatch of packaging an album of MP3s behind a tape-reel box made more than 30 years earlier is a perfect joke for a band like The Strokes. And it's not the only one of its kind. Many others turn an album into a curious conversation piece, something like a nesting doll with music as the prize inside. Here are nine more great example of albums, EPs and box sets packaged inside another — entirely different — musical instrument or format.

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