10 Iconic Gatefold Albums We Love
One of the best parts of having a record collection is selecting records that have captivating and entertaining artwork that represents the band perfectly. There are countless iconic gatefold albums out there that deserve to have a moment of spotlight, but some stick with us a little longer than others. Musicians want their most famous record album covers to be a perfect representation of their band and the album’s sound, tone, and story. Let’s review some of our top picks for the most famous, iconic gatefold albums.
Best Classic Rock: Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon
Perfect for the album’s out-of-this-world imagery and musical journey, Pink”s Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon gatefold album is almost a requirement for every record collector’s selection. The triangle hit with a prism of light shines a thin yet hypnotic strip of rainbow light among a sea of black, a perfect visualization of the band’s psychedelic arrangements.
Runner Up: Okay, let’s be real: this is not a runner up, because we know that calling this next one a runner up makes it sound like this next artist is “less than.” And the opposite is true: there are essays and movies about his story and his tunes. Elton John’s autobiographical album Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy was released in 1975 as a gatefold, featuring hyper-detailed artwork by illustrator Alan Aldridge. It’s a surrealistic, dream-like trip inspired by the album’s music and themes, in addition to looking like a psychadelic mashup between Hieronymos Bosch and Salvador Dali.
Best Movie Soundtrack: Cliff Martinez’s Drive
A beautifully haunting yet equally excited film and soundtrack the gatefold album’s soundtrack delivers with the intricate details of the viewing experience. Neon lighting and close ups are this gatefold album’s strength, with captivating artwork chosen for the film’s unique style. The album was released with a limited edition pink 2-LP run, further making this Euro-synth soundtrack capture the same ambient, ‘80s inspired glitz of the film.
Runner Up: Oh Brother Where Art Thou
An apt and spot-on moment between the three main characters of Oh Brother Where Art Thou are beautifully captured in this famous record album cover. Once opened, the camera zooms in and the characters run even further through a thick field, a perfect tribute to the up-beat melodies and frantic frenzy of this film’s soundtrack.
Best Rap/R&B: Beyonce’s Lemonade
Beyonce has always wanted her music to be a visual experience and when the Lemonade film was released she proved this to be her mission. It only makes sense that this gatefold album would be an example of this showmanship as well, with numerous snapshots from the most “woah” moments of the Lemonade experience.
Runner Up: Kanye West’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
About as intricate as the subject matter and context behind Kanye’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, this famous record album cover is just what Kanye probably wanted. With intricate yet haunting illustrations to interchange within the cover’s exterior, this gatefold album is as enchanting as it is deliberately reflective for the listener. The album was released as a 3-LP tri-fold gatefold, featuring artwork by contemporary painter George Condo. Condo and Kanye listened to the entirety of this lengthy, complex album together, before Condo worked on a series of deeply symbolic and fascinating paintings for each part of the gatefold.
Best Musical: Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cats
Simple yet communicating the musical’s core immediately, the Cats album is a fun and iconic gatefold album perfect for any collector looking to enjoy Andrew Lloyd Webber’s timeless musical.
Runner Up: “Grease”
One of the gatefold albums that is the hardest to get out of your head is Grease. From iconic tunes like “Summer Nights”, “Grease Lightning”, and “Beauty School Dropout”, Grease takes a fun and flirtatious dive into high school antics. Appropriately, the inside of the gatefold album is an entertaining arrangement of moments from the character’s highschool days.
Most Memorable: Nirvana’s Nevermind
You don’t even have to be a lover of Nirvana to have been exposed to Nirvana’s 1991 album Nevermind. Certainly helped by the album’s widespread success, that baby has been a point of parody and a successful way to help the album’s melancholic melodies make us feel like we’re floating, too.
Runner Up: The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper
Just as bold and colorful as The Beatles’ entire career, the Sgt. Pepper is a gatefold album that once you’ve seen you’ll struggle to forget. Popping in fun colors and giving their fans a vivid and intimate shot of the entire crew goes down in the hall of fame of famous record album covers.
The above albums just scratch the surface of some of the most iconic gatefold album covers. With innovative and industry-transforming music experiences happening every day, gatefold records are an intimate way for a musician to connect with some of their most loyal fanbase and allow artists to partner with artists, where the gatefold format gives them a bigger canvas to illustrate the album’s themes.
These gatefold albums we’ve chosen are some of the most memorable and eye-catching listening experiences for any record lover. At Big Fudge, we design record supplies to protect your collection, including our new gatefold album sleeves that allow you to preserve and enjoy these beautiful works of art for decades to come.
We know this is a highly subjective list and there are so many other icons out there. We’d love to hear from you! What are some of your favorite gatefold covers?