In an era when the whole concept of the "album" is going away, we're also missing out on iconic album covers. Nirvana's naked pool baby, the Beatles crossing Abbey Road -- these are some of the best-known images in pop culture history. But many of these bands almost made history for a different reason -- by producing albums with covers that would have traumatized (or at least confused) a generation.
6 The Beatles Almost Had an Album Featuring Butchered Babies
In June of 1966, the Beatles were well into their highly publicized love affair with drugs of all sorts. Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band was less than a year away from changing everything, and 1965's Rubber Soul had signaled a groovy new direction for the world's first boy band.
Apparently John is the only one who knows where the camera is.
It was like when the Jonas Brothers released that "rock" album a few years ago, except with good songs and people you don't want to punch. Given the increasingly psychedelic circumstances of the time, though, you'd think that the officially sanctioned cover art for the band's Yesterday and Today album would have a little more edge to it. Instead, we got this:
"We'll close the trunk on the next album and get rid of McCartney entirely."
After all, this was sandwiched between the aforementioned Rubber Soul and Revolver's acid-trip doodle collage cover art.
"We really wanted to go for the Highlights hidden picture look."
So what's with the boring-ass "open steamer trunk and off-duty wardrobe" look of Yesterday and Today? As it turns out, that JC Penney family photo snoozer was merely a last-second replacement for something far more befitting the "experimental" nature of the band at the time.
Wait, did they mean experimental as in "music" or experimental as in "Mengele"?
There's the stuff. Hacked up babies, baby -- it's what all the hippies were into. That's not true, of course, but what hippies were more receptive to was being totally against war, and that's exactly what the Beatles had in mind during the borderline terrifying photo shoot that produced this album cover.
Succinctly commenting on U.S. foreign policy in the way that only a dismembered Cabbage Patch Kid can.
It was intended to be a statement against the escalating war in Vietnam, and when that unsettling photo was chosen as the band's next album cover, no one had any reason to believe it would be a problem. After all, this was practically the exact same image that adorned promotional materials surrounding the release of the "Paperback Writer" single a few months earlier:
And the June 1966 issue of Disc magazine:
Get it?? Carve-up, like ... like the babies?
Here's the thing, though: That promotional poster is black and white, and that magazine cover features zero dead babies, making it simply a picture of four men sitting around draped in various cuts of meat. That's more of a statement against mental health than anything. The "butcher cover," as it's affectionately come to be known, however, featured lots of babies and was in full blood-spattered color. Before the album was even officially available for purchase, calls started pouring in from angry retailers who were, for some reason, hesitant to stock a record featuring the least threatening band in the world sitting among a pile of baby parts and cow blood.
The record label recalled the albums, and in a cost-saving move, just placed an album-art-sized sticker featuring that lame steamer trunk cover over the nightmare-inducing version that was causing so much outrage. To this day, if you can find an original pressing of the Yesterday and Today cover with that steamer trunk on it, a terrifying glimpse into what rich Brits thought Vietnam looked like is waiting for you just below the surface.