Top 10 Black Sabbath Album Covers

Black Sabbath Album Covers

Photo:By Martin Johannessen [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

We continue our series with one of the most successful bands in rock history. Black Sabbath’s first album was released in 1970. Simply entitled Black Sabbath, the album featured a cover that is possibly the creepiest rock album cover ever released. From that point on, Black Sabbath Album Covers have shown great variation in the cover concepts and designs that have been released over a forty five year plus period. The album covers from the band’s 1970’s period seem to be the most iconic, although that may be because they are the covers we remember the most. However, our list encompasses the band’s entire career from Ozzy Osbourne through Ronnie James Dio and back to Ozzy once again. It’s tough to choose only 10, but that’s the idea of a top 10 list.

# 10 – Never Say Die

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It’s hard to believe that when Never Say Die was released in 1978, it would become the last Black Sabbath album that would utilize Ozzy Osbourne as the band’s lead vocalist for close to 35 years. Ozzy Osbourne would not record with the band again until 2013′ s Black Sabbath 13 album. To promote the Never Say Die album, Black Sabbath embarked on a tour that also celebrated the band’s 10 year anniversary. Opening for Black Sabbath on their 10th anniversary tour was Van Halen who had just released their debut album. Our Top 10 Black Sabbath Album Covers list opens with the great Never Say Die album cover. We love how sky blue colors highlight the masked pilots standing on front of their planes. The Never Say Die album cover was a complete departure from their previous dark album covers.

# 9 – Master of Reality

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The Black Sabbath album Master Of Reality stands as a seamless example of how simply choosing the perfect fonts and colors can have a dramatic effect when utilizing a text only album cover. The Black Sabbath album Master of Reality was released on July 21 1971. The album became the only Black Sabbath record to reach the Billboard Top 10 album charts. Forty two years later, the band would reach the top 10 for only the second time with their 2013 album Thirteen.When the Master Of  album was originally released on vinyl, the title of the albums was printed in raised black letters. When the album was released on CD, the black lettering was changed to grey.

# 8 – Greatest Hits (Import LP)

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Well we had to pick at least one rare Sabbath record for our Top 10 Black Sabbath Album covers list. The Black Sabbath Greatest Hits album pictured below was released as an import in 1977. The album was released on the German Nems label. The cover art clearly speaks for itself. It’s to bad this compilation was never released in the United States. Listening to the record one can hear how the band influenced rock bands from so many generations such as  Soundgarden, Alice in Chains, QueensrycheNirvana and the Foo Fighters.

# 7 – Paranoid

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If you were a rock fan growing up in the 1970’s, chances are you had a copy of this record along with Led Zeppelin II, III and IV, a few Doors albums, Rush 2112, Queen A Night at The Opera and Springsteen’s Born To Run. Yes these were the records that all rock fans not only listened too , but lived their lives in accordance with the every lyric and guitar riff that permeated from these rock God recordings. The Black Sabbath album Paranoid may not be their greatest album cover, but it was easily their most popular, and for that reason alone, it deserves a place on our Top 10 Black Sabbath Album covers list. The album was released on January 7th 1971 in the United States.

# 6 – Black Sabbath Vol.4

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What Black Sabbath achieved with their great display of graphic text on Master of Reality was augmented by the inclusion of the semi-silhouette of Ozzy Osbourne on their Vol.4 Album. The Black Sabbath Vol.4 album cover made an immediate impression. The LP was released on September 22, 1972. The picture of Ozzy Osbourne holding up a peace sign was taken on stage at the Birmingham Town Hall in the United Kingdom. The original title of the album had been changed from Snowblind to Vol.4 because the band’s record company feared that naming a record after the band’s cocaine addiction may cause great controversy. In Ozzy Osbourne’s autobiography, the singer was quoted as saying that the Vol.4 album was one of his favorite Black Sabbath records he ever recorded.

# 5 – Mob Rules

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The Black Sabbath Mob Rules album is the only Black Sabbath Album cover on our Top 10 Black Sabbath Album Covers list to feature Ronnie James Dio on vocals. The Mob Rules album was released on November 4, 1981. While the music on the album was criticized by many rock journalist at the time, many Sabbath fans feel it may be one of the band’s most underrated albums. The artwork for the album was taken from Greg Hildebrandt’s piece entitled Dream 1: Crucifiers. Black Sabbath simply just added their name to the wall in the backdrop of the art. Nonetheless, the band’s choice of artwork should be hailed as a brilliant decision.

# 4 – Thirteen (13)

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In 2013, Black Sabbath released their 13 album. For the first time in over 35 years, Ozzy Osbourne was back behind the microphone. The album which was billed as a Black Sabbath reunion fell short of that concept because of the refusal of original drummer Bill Ward to participate. Regardless of Ward’s refusal due to money issues, Ozzy Osbourne,Tony Iommi, and Geezer Butler reunited for a Sabbath album that did not disappoint fans. The album cover is simply a brilliant work of art in simplistic yet dramatic fashion.

In the modern world of Photoshop one may think that this was an image that was digitally created. However, the image on the album was taken from a photograph shot by photographer Jonathan Knowles. The number 13 was actually sculptured out of wicker by Spencer Jenkins. The wicker was than set on fire and photographed by Knowles. The concept was designed by London’s Neil Bowen and Nick Dart of Zipdesign.

# 3 – Sabbath bloody Sabbath

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The top three spots in our Top 10 Black Sabbath Album Covers list belong to Sabbath records that were released between 1970 and 1975. These album covers were a far cry from the psychedelic and love inspired covers that graced the covers of many of the famous rock albums of the 1960’s. Black Sabbath album covers were dark and heavy, just like the music the artwork were representing. The cover artwork for Black Sabbath’s Sabbath bloody Sabbath was an intense display of a horrific demonic nightmare.Sabbath fans loved it. The artwork was designed by artist Drew Struzan. whose work many Star Wars fans would recognize from the famous film posters of the 1970’s.

# 2 – Sabotage

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The great album cover for Black Sabbath’s Sabotage depicted the band in one of the coolest rock and roll portraits ever photographed. Some critics have argued that the cover was the weakest of the band’s career.We completely disagree. The colors of the trim and text perfectly highlighted and wrapped the photo of the band resulting in a powerful cover that stands as iconic as the music it represents. The album was one of the heaviest of the band’s career. The title stemmed from the legal issues the band faced over being sued by their former management team.  The Sabotage album was released on July 28, 1975. When the band released the record, they appeared on the famous Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert in 1975 to help promote the album. At the time, the Don Kirshner show was one of the very few televised outlets that bands could appear on to promote new music.

# 1 – Black Sabbath

Landing in the Number One spot on our Top 10 Black Sabbath Album Covers list is non other than the band’s debut album Black Sabbath. It is hands down the most chilling album cover ever released. The image in black standing in the woods has always sent shivers up and down the spines of rock fans for the past 45 years. We wonder how many fans dropped the cover on the floor when they heard Ozzy Osbourne scream on the album’s opening number “Oh no, no, please God help me!” while listening to the record the first time. It’s the scariest vocal moment I have ever heard on a rock record.

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The Mapledurham Watermill building in the background of the picture was located in Oxfordshire, England. The figure standing in the picture was actually an unknown actress hired for the photo shoot. Little did she know how famous she would become in the most ghastly way.

Use of Album cover art is protected under the United States Office of Copyright Fair Use Doctrine Section 107 of the Copyright Act that protects the authors right to show the art that is being critiqued in the article. Additionally, all album cover art pictures are product links hosted on Amazon and are not stored on the Classic Rock History server.

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