7 SMOKIN’ ALBUM COVERS

It may be anti-social these days, but not long ago a cigarette was considered a cool accessory to casually include in your album cover portrait. This selection ranges from the ultra hip to (attempts at) confrontation. Yet remember, however good the artwork, it’s still very bad for your health, kids.

Van Halen "1984" [Warner Brothers 1984]

Van Halen “1984” [Warner Bros 1984]

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Bad Company "Dangerous Age" [Atlantic 1988]

Bad Company “Dangerous Age” [Atlantic 1988]

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David Bowie "Young Americans" [RCA 1975]

David Bowie “Young Americans” [RCA 1975]

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Joe Jackson "Body and Soul" [A&M Records 1984]

Joe Jackson “Body and Soul” [A&M 1984]

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Marianne Faithful "Broken English" [Island 1979]

Marianne Faithful “Broken English” [Island 1979]

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Dave Swarbrick "Dave Swarbrick" [Transatlantic 1976]

Dave Swarbrick “Dave Swarbrick” [Transatlantic 1976]

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Dexter Gordon "Blows Hot and Cool" [Boplicity 1955]

Dexter Gordon “Blows Hot and Cool” [Boplicity 1955]

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That’s the smokey seven but I think we can cadge a few extra puffs. Firstly, here’s one fascinating for its omission. By the time Canadian pop-country chanteuse kd lang released Drag, her 1997 paean to the cigarette, it was no longer acceptable to have a cancer stick on the cover. But we can all see it, can’t we?

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kd lang "Drag" [Warner Bros 1997]

kd lang “Drag” [Warner Bros 1997]

And finally, another couple of sleeves where the human element is out of shot. Both are striking images.

Of course I could  have scored other album covers that feature ciggies, but I’m trying to kick the habit.

Mark Colby "Serpentine Fire" [Tappan Zee 1978]

Mark Colby “Serpentine Fire” [Tappan Zee 1978]

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Atomic Rooster "Nice 'n' Greasy" [Dawn 1973]

Atomic Rooster “Nice ‘n’ Greasy” [Dawn 1973]

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34 comments

  1. 1984. Bob Schipper and myself are on the porch listening to 1984. My dad sees it. Baby smoking a ciggy. Asks what band this is. Bob answers Van Halen. My dad says:

    “Van Halen? What is that, some tropical disease?”

    Liked by 3 people

    1. He was kinda correct, wasn’t he? Probably more an urban disease, though 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I didn’t even know how to answer him, because I was so new, I didn’t know why they were called Van Halen. Later on my mom asked me, “Why are they called Van Halen when the singer is a Lee Roth?”

        Liked by 1 person

        1. A question many asked but few answered.

          Liked by 1 person

  2. One that sprng to mind that I own is Rickie Lee Jones.
    There are so many jazz albums out there I unfortunately do not own that feature smoking as well.

    As for banned album covers, The Beautiful South album cover was banned, not for the half with a woman holding a gun in her mouth, but for the half with a man smoking.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. 3 orhers I have but almost forgot are John Cougar, Grateful Dead and Black Sabbath.

      Also, Bob Marley. Although I suspect it is not a cigarette.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Lastly.

        The (Battered) Wives.
        Cigarettes.
        11 King Size Hits

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Well that’s a smoky environment and no mistake. Enough for a follow-up post at boppinsblog!

          Like

  3. A smokin’ set, alright. My fave would be the Dexter Gordon. Of course, I also recognized that colorful 70s Jazz Fusion album styling of the “Tappan Zee” artwork for Mark Colby. Still brings back the time. Fine picks, Bruce.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Michael. I chose the Dexter to stand for the many jazz covers that feature smoking, and to draw attention to Joe Jackson’s homage. Glad you enjoyed it.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Love it! Post some more!
    When I managed record stores in the ’70s I smoked Benson and Hedges 100 menthols (liked to crystallize that tar in those lungs) and used it as a beneficial prop of slow inhale and slower exhale to prepare for a proper retort to certain “problem” customers. Worked great!

    Like

    1. That’s very funny about the tactical use of cigarettes. Oddly, I also smoked a foul menthol brand back in the day, as mentioned here:

      https://vinylconnection.com.au/2013/10/11/of-fleas-and-faust/

      Glad you enjoyed the post, ooi.

      Like

  5. I’m with Leopard. The Dexter Gordon was is the coolest looking, and I’ll give Bowie a close second. Very novel idea! – Marty

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Cheers, Marty. From the comments, it could have been a whole pack of 20 covers!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. That Swarbrick one is quite something, huh? Pick of the bunch right there.

    Aside from Rickie Lee Jones, I have Mark Lanegan’s Whiskey For The Holy Ghost. Ryan Adam’s Heartbreaker, Marley’s Catch A Fire, Cohen’s Live Songs, yon Arctic Monkeys album, and Clapton’s Money And Cigarettes are some others I can think of…

    Like

    1. I think Swarb’s is my fave too, J. Poor bugger died last year – can’t help wondering about the causes.

      Yep, lots of cigarette covers, that’s for sure. I did wonder about a set featuring, er, herbal remedies, to kind of take it to the next level, but perhaps not.

      Like

  7. Brilliant Bruce, just brilliant. I can think of a good few reggae LPs I have with a similarly smoky theme too.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s odd, but reggae albums seem to regularly feature people smoking roll-your-owns. Any clues what that’s about?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Possibly there’s an anti-filter tip bias in Rastafarianism?

        Liked by 1 person

  8. My parents used to dump me off at my Grandmothers ranch for weeks at a time back when I was a kid. One time I was with my Grandma in some store and there was Bad Co’s Dangerous Age and Grandma being the God fearing Christian woman she was she turned the cover so the back was showing. Oh Lord that woman!!! 😉

    She was also a smoker. Ha, miss you Grams!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Just as well it wasn’t the Van Halen or, as a ‘God fearing Christian woman’, she might have had a coronary!

      Do you wonder if, as a younger person, she’d been corrupted by, say, the Dexter Gordon cover (or similar) and was trying to spare you the same smokey fate?

      Like

  9. Love the Swarbrick cover. The first one that came to my mind was Marley’s “Catch a Fire.” Does Jefferson Airplane’s “Long John Silver” count?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s a connected category, isn’t it? Covers focussing on the actual stuff to be smoked. (BTW, would just love to have that Jefferson Airplane cover!)

      Like

  10. Theme post, yes!
    The first Arctic monkeys album also jumped to mind, very nice to see Young Americans make an appearance

    Liked by 1 person

  11. futurelandfill · · Reply

    Almost certain there’s a Guess Who cover with the lads standing in a wheat field with one of them holding. The most obvious, “Wheatfield Soul”, doesn’t feature the image. A collection, “Track Record” might have the shot but any google images are too low res to be sure. I’m guessing their management have managed to suppress the cover.

    I do recall them being chastised for being so stupid as to have a lit ciggie in a field of ripe wheat.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So I guess that smoking in a field of ripe grain can be dangerous to your farm’s health?

      Like

    2. The Best Of The Guess Who (inside a barn), and The Guess Who Collection ( in a field).

      Liked by 1 person

  12. I’ve always found that Atomic Rooster cover to be one of the least appealing marketing efforts of all heavy rock time. The one that immediately came to mind for me was — as mentioned by Boppin above — the smoking angels of Sabbath’s Heaven and Hell.

    Dad smoked for decades, from jazz-loving youth until he finally went all-in with AA and left both booze and cigs behind some 15 years back. Mom smoked for about six months after the divorce but gave them up as the light at tunnel’s end began to shine brighter. I chain smoked a couple packs over the course of two days at age 12 in an attempt to impress my worldly and alluring 15-year-old cousin as she babysat my sisters and me while the folks were away one weekend. Past tense equals good tense here.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well, there’s a family history of good choices there (eventually, anyway). I’m afraid my smokin’ history was much longer, and as for my (still breathing, but that’s about it) Mother, she only stopped when she forgot she smoked, at age 94!

      BTW, I think you can work that ‘Past tense equals good tense’ into an effective health marketing campaign. Perhaps even adding a few variations, like ‘Past tense = Good Sense’. A new career beckons.

      Finally, back in the very early VC days, I posted on ‘alternate’ covers. Check it out, Rooster man, and I think you’ll find the subbed egg motif much more appealing…
      https://vinylconnection.com.au/2013/06/14/another-cover-in-a-different-country/

      Like

  13. Ah, I’ve always loved that particular Bowie cover: that curl of smoke, the glint off the bracelets, the Young Americans font. And I love the Joe Jackson, along with all of the albums (including the Gordon) to which it’s a clear homage. And re: the Guess Who cover referenced by futurelandfill, I’m quite sure the guy crouched down in front–with the red collar–has a cig in his mouth. And on a wildly tangential note, I’m currently in the midst of studying for my Internal Medicine re-certification exam (which we have to take every 10 years, to demonstrate we’re up to speed on the latest drugs and treatments) and it never fails to amaze me how MANY various health risks are associated with smoking…so good on you, Bruce, that you kicked the habit. (Lecture over!)
    : )

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Good luck with the exams. And thanks for being Vinyl Connection’s Surgeon General.

      Like

  14. ‘The Baddest Turrentine’. Great album!

    Like

  15. ‘The Baddest Turrentine’. Great album! (Dexter is in the hall of fame with Bogart and Belmondo)

    Like

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