Nothing is more entertaining than a good controversy and if you’re a punk rock fan they come in no short supply. Today we thought it would be fun to shake up the conservatives by revisiting the 10 most offensive punk album covers of all time, so put away your decency, get ready to take a shower, and let’s get to it.
Check out the most obnoxious, disgusting, rude, and down right appalling artwork to ever grace the cover of a punk rock album right here.
10. Frenzal Rhomb – “Dick Sandwich”
As any owner of a penis might tell you, the idea of a sandwich made with three severed male genitalia is a bit disturbing. I’m assuming all the members of Australian punk act Frenzal Rhomb have penises of their own, but that didn’t stop them from using the aforementioned visualization as the cover art for their debut EP “Dick Sandwich.” According to legend, the artwork was so offensive to Australian youth radio station Triple J, they allegedly told the fellas in Frenzal Rhomb to “grow up” after seeing it. The band may or may not have grown up in the sense implied but either way, it’s still ironic that singer Jason Whalley and Frenzal Rhomb guitarist Lindsay McDougall became hosts of the youth network’s breakfast program ten years later.
9. Black Flag – “Slip It In”
The term “slip it in” has a pretty heavy sexual connotation, so when you make it the title of an album that depicts a nun arm in arm with a shirtless man you know you’re pushing the controversial envelope. That’s exactly what Black Flag did for the cover of their 1984 album.
8. Dwarves – “Blood Guts and Pussy”
The title of the Dwarves album “Blood Guts and Pussy” is pretty spot-on as a description of its cover. Not sure if a dwarf is really offensive to anybody, but full-frontal nudity certainly is. So are chicks completely covered in blood, so when you combine the three you’re looking at some pretty controversial artwork. Allegedly, this album sparked protests by some feminists.
7. I Spy – “Perversity Is Spreading…”
Any artwork depicting the Pope has the potential for some serious controversy. Depict Pope John Paul II and his cardinals getting shit upon by three celestial rear ends and it’s safe to say you’ve got something pretty damn offensive. That’s what Winnipeg punk act I Spy went with for the cover of their discography spanning release “Perversity Is Spreading… It’s About Time!” Though the label admits that the cover art was designed “to send the theocratic-right into a tizzy of epic proportions”, the album managed to fly under the radar without any public backlash from the Catholic Church or its followers.
6. NOFX – “Heavy Petting Zoo”
I don’t think you have to be an animal rights activist to get offended by NOFX’s 1996 album “Heavy Petting Zoo,” which depicts a dude finger banging a sheep in front of a barn (I suddenly feel the need to shower after typing that). The artwork was used for the CD and cassette formats of the release, but the vinyl release of the same album was actually titled “Eating Lamb” and used a different version of the cover art. That one depicted the same dude, and presumably the same sheep, taking it past third base by 69ing each other (now I definitely have to take a shower). Here in the States retailers generally let this one slide, but in Europe (particularly Belgium) their was significant backlash and the album was pulled from many shelves.
According to Dying Scene readers, “Eating Lamb” is the most offensive of the two versions so we’re featuring that one here in this list.
5. Living With Lions – “Holy Shit”
You probably only need to be slightly Christian to be offended by the packaging of Canadian pop-punk act Living With Lions’ latest album “Holy Shit.” The outside cover mimics The Holy Bible and the inside artwork depicts Jesus Christ as a turd, which inevitably brought religious scorn upon the band and label. Interestingly, the Canadian government also took shit for “Holy Shit” because they partially funded the creation of the album through their FACTOR program, which is “dedicated to providing assistance toward the growth and development of the Canadian independent recording industry.” So much fury was rained down upon the band, label and Canadian government that Living With Lions ended up returning the $13,000 loan to the government and recalling all the albums distributed with accreditation to the program.
4. Gallows – “Grey Britain”
Though not many people can claim to have seen it, the artwork that was originally created for the cover of Gallows’ 2011 album “Grey Britain” was so offensive the execs at Warner Bros Music refused to let the hardcore punk act use it. At first glance it doesn’t seem so bad but a closer inspection yields some pretty f’ed up shit – some dude in a black hoody raping a decapitated corpse, a pig headed cop toting a machine gun and getting a hand job from a bearded man, another dude masturbating with his fist in some chick’s butt while she stabs herself… I’m cringing as I write this and thinking to myself the depictions sorta make Dante’s “Inferno” seem like Disneyland. Supposedly the artwork was done by the band’s singer (at the time), Frank Carter, and is supposed to be a metaphor for what’s going on in England right now. For me at least, the message has gotten lost in translation.
3. Leftover Crack – “Fuck World Trade”
The second album from New York “crack-rocksteady” group Leftover Crack features a black and white image of the World Trade Center during the attack on 9/11. In the foreground the images of George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and NYC mayor Rudy Giuliani (Tony Blair on the UK release) infer that they were the ones orchestrating the mayhem. Considering the title of the album, the “Fuck World Trade” cover would undoubtedly ruffle a lot of feathers even without the foreground imagery. Not surprisingly, the album was banned from most of the big music selling chains, such as Wal-Mart, Best Buy and Music Land, for its cover as well as the lyrical subject matter of its songs.
2. Dayglo Abortions – “Feed Us A Fetus”
Hailing from British Columbia, Dayglo Abortions landed themselves in legal trouble for the covers of two albums, “Here Today, Guano Tomorrow” and “Feed Us A Fetus.” The first features a photo of a hamster with a gun pointed at it on the front cover, while the back cover depicts the ensuing carnage after the trigger was pulled. I don’t even want to ask if the back cover is real. “Feed Us A Fetus” features Nancy and Ronald Raegan sitting down to a meal, which appears to be a human fetus on a plate. This one is a drawing, so perhaps it’s a little easier to… er… swallow, but the Ontario police officer who discovered the albums in his daughter’s record collection was not amused. He instigated a criminal investigation which brought charges for “distribution and possession with intent to distribute of obscene material” to the band’s record label. They were later found not guilty.
1. Dead Kennedys – “Frankenchrist”
Considering the artwork included in the Dead Kennedys album “Frankenchrist” was so offensive it brought criminal charges to band members for “distribution of harmful matter to minors,” I think it’s safe to say that this this 1986 album deserves a spot at the top of the list for Most Offensive Punk Album Covers of All Time even though it technically wasn’t the album cover itself that was responsible. Rather, it was a poster titled “Work 219: Landscape XX” (aka “Penis Landscape”) included with the album that was the focus of the criminal charges and depicts… well, just take a look.
Singer Jello Biafra and Michael Bonanno (former Alternative Tentacles label manager) ended up being acquitted after the trial in 1987.