This week we are dedicating our column to smoking hot sexy covers. Needless to say that all albums selected also carry extremely hot music, from Tropicalia to Glam Rock and garage rock revival to Motown’s late 70’s R&B. Some of these sleeves due to their outrageously sexy covers suffered from censorship, forcing the bands and labels to create alternative artworks.
1. Roxy Music – Country Life
The cover, credited to Bryan Ferry and Nick DeVille, was shot in Portugal where Ferry was working on lyrics for the album during a recording break. He had an LP title in mind, Country Life, the name of a long established weekly magazine for the landed gentry. Each issue features a demure image of one of the daughters of the aristocracy as a frontispiece, and Ferry liked the idea of trying to subvert this by using a more overtly soft-core girly-calendar image, inspired apparently by a photo he had seen in an issue of Men Only magazine. Ferry arranged for stylist Anthony Price and photographer Eric Boman to fly out, and they were all sat in a small bar one evening when two striking looking young German women walked in. They seemed ideal for the cover and an approach was made. Eveline Grunwald and Constanze Karoli were already fans. Eveline was going out with the Can guitarist, and through him had already met Roxy’s press officer, though it seems the meeting in the bar was sheer coincidence.
Label: Island Records
Art Direction: Bryan Ferry / Nick DeVille
Artwork: Bob Bowkett
Photography: Eric Boman
2. Gal Costa – Índia
In 1973, the album cover of Costa’s India was censored because the image of the singer in a red bikini was considered too daring. By the late 70s, however, she became a superstar, becoming more and more popular and commercial. On the cover of India the picture really shows nothing more than a close-up of the Brazilian singer’s nether regions in an itsy bitsy red bikini—needless to say, the record was censored on the strength of that risqué cover art.
Photography: Antonio Guerreiro
Artwork: Waly Sailormoon
3. The Strokes – This Is it
The July and August 2001 cover art of Is This It is by Colin Lane and features a photograph of a woman’s nude bottom and hip, with a leather-gloved hand suggestively resting on it.The model was later revealed to be Lane’s then-girlfriend, who explained that the photoshoot was spontaneous and happened after she came out of the shower naked. Lane recalled that a stylist had left the glove in his apartment and noted, “We did about 10 shots. There was no real inspiration, I was just trying to take a sexy picture.” The result was included in the book The Greatest Album Covers of All Time, in which Grant Scott, one of the editors, noted influences from the daring works of Helmut Newton and Guy Bordin in its design. Scott concludes, “It’s either a stylish or graphically strong cover or a sexist Smell the Glove travesty.” Although British retail chains HMV and Woolworths objected to the photograph’s controversial nature, they stocked the album without amendment.
Label: Capitol Records
Photography: Colin Lane
4. Leon Ware – Musical Massage
Cover shot for the sleeve is a picture of former playmate Azizi Johari, as she appears naked and reclining with her head and knees on the floor with a pair of male hands on her back. This outstanding Motown record originated one of Marvin Gaye’s biggest hits, in this case the classic anthem “I Want You” written by Leon. The album also features guest appearances by Marvin Gaye, Bobby Womack and Minnie Ripperton.
Label: Motown Records / Gordy
Art Direction: Frank Mulvey
Photography: Sam Emerson
This selection is brought to you by Arara: a creative & production studio run by Malu Barretto, Rodrigo Peirão and Pedro Igor Alcantara located in Rio de Janeiro, follow them on instagram @ararainc.