One of music's most tried and true traditions is the album-cover homage. The sheer amount of album covers patterned after the Beatles, for instance, is utterly staggering. That isn't even counting straight ripoffs or two artists who just happened to use the same photograph or piece of art, which has happened a lot more than you would expect.
Second only to homages is parodies. Since punk came out and Johnny Rotten wore a shirt boasting that he hated Pink Floyd, the genre set to work on parodies of mainstream music, especially the classic-rock dinosaurs they were rebelling against. Even before that there were comedians doing it for years.
Even though it's impossible to definitively evaluate all of the probably close to a million of these parodies that have been created, Rocks Off selected twenty of the best to showcase. Share your own favorites in the comments.
2 Live Crew, As Nasty As They Wanna Be/2 Live Jews, As Kosher As They Wanna Be Straight outta Florida, 2 Live Jews carried on the great tradition of Yiddish satire ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p8w3ADqWp8Q ) in this brilliant send-up of gangsta rap. Unfortunately, the guys on the cover are probably no longer quite "live."
Leonard Cohen, Greatest Hits/Ween, The Pod I think what makes this one so creative is that Ween took the cover of a mostly forgotten greatest hits compilation Leonard Cohen's record label released in the '70s and transformed it into something as brilliantly weird as anything else in the Ween tradition.
Sonic Youth, Goo/Prisonshake, Spoo My favorite part of this one is Prisonshake's Madlibs rewording of Goo's original text, although you might have to strain your eyes to read it.
Bruce Springsteen, Born to Run/Sesame Street, Born to Add This one pretty much sums up the cycle of most music fans' interests from childhood to adulthood.
Various Artists, Grease/Slapping Suspenders, Greece The Slapping Suspenders version is a little less John Travolta/Olivia Newton-John and a little more Deliverance.
Queen, The Miracle/Gerson, Il Miracolo What happens when you take an already awful album cover and make it even worse? Apparently, a great parody.
Pink Floyd, Atom Heart Mother/M. Walking on the Water, Pictures of an Exhibitionist Don't ask me what M. Walking on the Water was thinking here, but whatever the idea was, it turned out awesome.
Pink Floyd, The Wall/Jimmy Fallon, The Bathroom Wall Let's be honest here: Jimmy Fallon's version is a lot closer to what Pink Floyd's wall would have liked like in real life given a couple of days.
Morrissey, Years of Refusal/Xiu Xiu, I Am Hated for Loving Xiu Xiu apparently decided if they were going to cover Morrissey, they were going to go all the way, even if they couldn't obtain a real live baby for the shoot.
Metallica, Kill 'Em All/Hillbilly Blitzkrieg, Spill 'Em All Lots of fans picked up on the "Alcoholica" nickname Metallica went by in the '80s and the fact that the blood on the cover of their first record could be made to look like spilled booze, but only Hillbilly Blitzkrieg had the balls to put it on their own album cover.
Metallica, Master of Puppets/Sleepasaurus, Master of Muppets And somehow this equally endearing parody was created, even though Sleepasaurus must have known they'd be facing some harsh repercussions if the Muppets people found out about this.
Led Zeppelin, Led Zeppelin/Great White, Great Zeppelin: A Tribute to Led Zeppelin If you're a hair-metal band twenty years past your prime and you want to do a Zeppelin cover album, doing it with the most hilarious, over the top album cover possible is really the only way to go.
Iron Maiden, The Number of the Beast/Stormtroopers of Death, Bigger Than the Devil If the implication is that SoD's Sargent D and Iron Maiden's Eddie are both more powerful than the Devil, the comic book fan in me now wants to know would win in a fight between them.
Michael Jackson, Thriller/Tech N9ne, Killer Some may suggest that the straitjacket was on the wrong guy here, but that would have been for a doctor to decide.
The Beatles, With the Beatles/Genesis, Land of Confusion By far the creepiest thing of the '80s (aside from Ronald Reagan) was that damn Phil Collins puppet from the "Land of Confusion" video.
The Beatles, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band/Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention, We're Only In It for the Money Perhaps the ultimate album cover parody, and it ended up being in the liner notes because Zappa's record label at the time didn't agree with taking on the sacred Beatles.
The Beatles, Abbey Road/The Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Abbey Road E.P. So if Anthony Kiedis and Flea are both barefoot here, does that imply they're both secretly dead like it did for Paul?
Duran Duran, Rio/Various Artists, Gag Me With a Spoon This is the music world's version of that botched Jesus fresco restoration.
Madonna, Like a Virgin/Richard Cheese, I'd Like a Virgin I think this one pretty much speaks for itself.
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Elvis Presley, Elvis Presley/The Clash, London Calling Punk's most iconic album cover was nothing more than a riff on Elvis, bringing rock and roll full circle.