Over the years progressive rock has produced it’s fair share of eye catching and iconic album covers. The most successful covers are not only visually appealing, but also tie-in with the music in some way. Here are several of my favorite progressive rock album covers.
Genesis – A Trick Of The Tail (1976) – The cover features expertly drawn illustrations of various characters and scenes from the album’s songs. Grouping the characters together without any background imagery is an effective and bold statement. The artwork was produced by the famous Hipgnosis art design group.
Steve Hackett – Spectral Mornings (1979) – A beautifully rendered portrait of Steve Hackett created by renowned artist Kim Poor. The dreamlike quality of the painting reflects the feel of the music contained on what many consider to be Steve Hackett’s definitive album.
Marillion – Script For A Jester’s Tear (1983) – Marillion’s brilliant debut album, illustrated by the equally brilliant Mark Wilkinson. The band musically and visually updated many of the best traits of 1970’s progressive rock. Wilkinson’s relationship with Marillion resulted in many stunning conceptual images. These images adorned Marillion’s album covers, single sleeves and posters until 1987. In 1988 lead singer Fish left the band. Wilkinson severed ties with Marillion. He than began a longstanding artistic relationship with Fish as a solo artist.
Zero Hour – The Towers Of Avarice (2003) – This is the band’s progressive metal masterpiece. This incredible album was accompanied by a cover that artistically reflected the mood of the music. The music of Zero Hour was complex, highly technical and atmospheric. The artwork was created by Travis Smith.
Pendragon – The Masquerade Overture (1996) – A beautifully rendered cover created by the mysterious artist Simon Williams. Following in the footsteps of the brilliant album covers of Fish era Marillion. Cover artist Simon Williams brilliantly illustrated various scenes from the album’s songs. Unfortunately there is not much information to be found about Simon Williams.
Pendragon – The Window Of Life (1993) – A beautifully captivating cover by the highly talented Simon Williams.
Sylvan – Posthumous Silence (2006) – This concept album is an emotional roller coaster ride. A father reads his daughter’s diary after her suicide. Their story is compelling and heartrending. The cover displays her written words bursting forth after her death. The words in the diary give her grieving father a glimpse into her life. The cover was created by Tobias C. Harnack
Tony Banks – A Curious Feeling (1979) – The album cover does not relate directly to the album’s theme of a man slowly losing his memory. Yet the enigmatic image reflects the mood of the album’s music. The painting was created by artist Ainslie Roberts. The image was not created for the album, it was already in existence. Tony Banks choose the painting which is entitled Wuluwait, Boatman Of The Dead.
Iona – Beyond These Shores (1993) – This cover features a simple yet extremely effective abstract image. The colors and bold brush strokes convey the album’s theme of oceanic travels. The painting was created by James Kessell
STYX – The Grand Illusion (1978) – Surrealism and progressive rock really do go hand in hand. The 1970’s had its far share of incredible album covers. I would count The Grand Illusion among them. This cover elicits a sense of mystery and wonder, much like the album’s music. Styx may not be a progressive rock band, but this sure is a progressive rock album. The cover artwork was created by Stanley Mouse and Alton Kelley.