June 10, 2011

20 Album Covers to Stare at on Flag Day

Putting the American flag on an album cover is sure to get your album or single more than a passing glance from most people. It's a powerful symbol. So in honor of flag day (June 14), here are ten albums that display Old Glory front-and-center on the cover, which could make you think a little differently about the country in which you live. Curated by Nick Lucchesi and Thorin Klosowski.
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Bruce Springsteen - Born in the U.S.A. (1984)
Arguably the most famous album cover on this list, Born in the U.S.A. by Bruce Springsteen also displays the Boss' backside in addition to the stars-and-stripes. Reagan's campaign famously used the title track in his re-election campaign, not knowing Springsteen's political leanings went the other way.
Bruce Springsteen - Born in the U.S.A. (1984)

Arguably the most famous album cover on this list, Born in the U.S.A. by Bruce Springsteen also displays the Boss' backside in addition to the stars-and-stripes. Reagan's campaign famously used the title track in his re-election campaign, not knowing Springsteen's political leanings went the other way.
Anti-Flag - Die for the Government (1996)
The first and, ahem, the best record by Pennsylvania punk band Anti-Flag, Die for the Government has the upside-down American flag (a common theme on this list) behind the band members. Anti-Flag went on to distance itself from the overtly-anti-American theme of this record. Always sad to see a band move from its roots to accommodate a larger audience.
Anti-Flag - Die for the Government (1996)

The first and, ahem, the best record by Pennsylvania punk band Anti-Flag, Die for the Government has the upside-down American flag (a common theme on this list) behind the band members. Anti-Flag went on to distance itself from the overtly-anti-American theme of this record. Always sad to see a band move from its roots to accommodate a larger audience.
Jefferson Airplane - Volunteers (1969)
Back in the late '60s all you needed to do to create a controversial album was to throw the American flag on the cover of a decidedly anti-war album and toss in the word "motherfucker" somewhere in a song. Add a few pro-anarchism lyrics, a photo of the band wearing disguises to hide their identity and some pro-Black Panther lines and you have a hit.
Jefferson Airplane - Volunteers (1969)

Back in the late '60s all you needed to do to create a controversial album was to throw the American flag on the cover of a decidedly anti-war album and toss in the word "motherfucker" somewhere in a song. Add a few pro-anarchism lyrics, a photo of the band wearing disguises to hide their identity and some pro-Black Panther lines and you have a hit.
The Black Crowes - Amorica
Ah yes, pubes. Amorica by the Black Crowes was released in 1994, but an alternative cover was also issued to help boost album sales among people who didn't want album-cover pubes in their collection. If you didn't know, it's a take off the 1976 Bicentennial issue of Hustler, Larry Flynt's  free speech vehicle disguised as a magazine for people who love porn.
The Black Crowes - Amorica

Ah yes, pubes. Amorica by the Black Crowes was released in 1994, but an alternative cover was also issued to help boost album sales among people who didn't want album-cover pubes in their collection. If you didn't know, it's a take off the 1976 Bicentennial issue of Hustler, Larry Flynt's free speech vehicle disguised as a magazine for people who love porn.
Garth Brooks - The Hits (1994)
1994's The Hits has Garth Brooks' face covered in the colors of the American flag and honestly, it's a little creepy. He looks a little like an alien, with those wide-open unblinking eyes. Conversely, the songs on this record -- "Friends in Low Places" -- have become downright iconic in country bars and un-air-conditioned gas stations across the South.
Garth Brooks - The Hits (1994)

1994's The Hits has Garth Brooks' face covered in the colors of the American flag and honestly, it's a little creepy. He looks a little like an alien, with those wide-open unblinking eyes. Conversely, the songs on this record -- "Friends in Low Places" -- have become downright iconic in country bars and un-air-conditioned gas stations across the South.
Outkast - Stankonia (2000)
The fourth album by Atlanta's Outkast, released in 2000. By 2011, Andre 3000 and Big Boi might be more famous for their solo work, but this record should take America back to a time and place. This album is full of hits like "So Fresh, So Clean," "Ms. Jackson" and "B.O.B."
Outkast - Stankonia (2000)

The fourth album by Atlanta's Outkast, released in 2000. By 2011, Andre 3000 and Big Boi might be more famous for their solo work, but this record should take America back to a time and place. This album is full of hits like "So Fresh, So Clean," "Ms. Jackson" and "B.O.B."
Johnny Cash - Ragged Old Flag (1974)
Ragged Old Flag is one of Johnny Cash's only super-political albums. While much of his work dealt with ethical, social and political issues, Ragged Old Flag lays it on pretty thick. Even the title track and album opener was a spoken word tribute to America, not a traditional song.
Johnny Cash - Ragged Old Flag (1974)

Ragged Old Flag is one of Johnny Cash's only super-political albums. While much of his work dealt with ethical, social and political issues, Ragged Old Flag lays it on pretty thick. Even the title track and album opener was a spoken word tribute to America, not a traditional song.
Sly and the Family Stone - There's a Riot Goin' On (1971)
There's a Riot Goin' On by Sly and the Family Stone, released in 1971. The original art had a red, white and black flag with suns instead of stars. Sly told a fan website, "Betsy Ross did the best she could with what she had. I thought I could do better."
Sly and the Family Stone - There's a Riot Goin' On (1971)

There's a Riot Goin' On by Sly and the Family Stone, released in 1971. The original art had a red, white and black flag with suns instead of stars. Sly told a fan website, "Betsy Ross did the best she could with what she had. I thought I could do better."
Jello Biafra - Become the Media (2001)
If there's an image that can sum up Jello Biafra quickly, it's this one. The American flag strung out as a roll of toilet paper should give you a pretty good idea of what to expect from Biafra's spoken word work, much of which was recorded in Seattle, Denver and Boulder prior to his bid for President in 2000.
Jello Biafra - Become the Media (2001)

If there's an image that can sum up Jello Biafra quickly, it's this one. The American flag strung out as a roll of toilet paper should give you a pretty good idea of what to expect from Biafra's spoken word work, much of which was recorded in Seattle, Denver and Boulder prior to his bid for President in 2000.
Ice Cube - Death Certificate (1991)
Ice Cube's 1991 album, with more piss-and-vinegar than the rest of the artists on this list combined. Just watch the video for "Steady Mobbin" to get a feel for the entire record.
Ice Cube - Death Certificate (1991)

Ice Cube's 1991 album, with more piss-and-vinegar than the rest of the artists on this list combined. Just watch the video for "Steady Mobbin" to get a feel for the entire record.