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The Hottest Censored Album Covers, 1981-Present (NSFW)

Longtime readers of Rocks Off might remember that back in 2009 we ran thorough look at censored album covers that spanned the years of 1966 to 1980, with two more recent covers at the end. Of course, album covers didn't stop being censored just as frequently after 1980, and the two examples in our first list -- Guns N' Roses' Appetite for Destruction and the Coup's Party Music -- are certainly not the only ones to be hastily covered up and/or recalled in response to controversy.

Since it's been a few years and this sort of controversy is rearing its ugly head once again thanks to the new album from ex-Oasis front man Liam Gallagher's band Beady Eye, it seemed appropriate to revisit the idea by filling in the blanks over the last 30 years, so this list picks up at 1981.

Bow Wow Wow, See Jungle! See Jungle! Go Join Your Gang, Yeah. City All Over! Go Ape Crazy (1981) What you see above is only the censored alternative cover which appeared in the UK and U.S. releases; honestly, nobody here wants to go to jail for showing you child pornography (really). The original version of the album cover showed BWW lead singer Annabella Lwin, 14 years old at the time, posing nude in a tribute to Manet's Luncheon on the Grass. It went over about as well as you'd expect.

Guns N' Roses, G N' R Lies (1988) No strangers to controversy over, well, every single thing they ever did, Gn'R even had to censor the cover to their 1988 EP G N' R Lies because somehow someone mistook the original's text of "ladies, welcome to the dark ages" and "wife-beating has been around for 10,000 years" as endorsements of misogyny. Who knows where they got that idea, but the album was reissued with altered text immediately.

Red Hot Chili Peppers, Mother's Milk (1989) One more in the nudity-censoring column. The very prominent breasts on the original cover were covered up by enlarged images of the band members.

Jane's Addiction, Ritual de lo Habitual (1990) After already having their previous album Nothing's Shocking sold in a brown paper bag for the nudity on its cover, Jane's just replaced the cover this time with a white background, their logo, and the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

Tad, 8-Way Santa (1991) The image of even a bra-clad breast being touched proved to be too much for the American public in 1991 and necessitated a switch over to a band photo.

Paris, Sleeping With the Enemy (1992) In case the lyrics and title to Paris' song "Bush Killa" weren't clear enough, he created an album cover that would help you understand his motives a little bit better. Warner Bros. originally replaced the cover, but Paris made sure it was used for the deluxe edition re-release on Scarface Records.

Tool, Undertow (1993) Due to the censoring of the inner sleeve, Tool replaced the cover of Undertow with a giant bar code and placed this hilarious note inside the inner sleeve.

Black Crowes Amorica (1994) Nicked from an old issue of Hustler Magazine, the problem with this one wasn't so much the pubic area as the pubic hair present.

Pantera, Far Beyond Driven (1994) One way or the other, that drillbit was going inside someone somewhere. After the ass proved to be a bit too much, Pantera decided the frontal lobe worked just as well.

Van Halen, Balance (1995) In the U.S. we got the traditional album cover of Van Halen's Balance: an image of Eddie Van Halen's son Wolfgang (who now plays bass in the band) as a conjoined twin with himself on a see-saw. In other countries it was replaced with an undoctored image of Wolfgang, reportedly because the original was freaky as all hell.

Master P, Ghetto D (1997) This one was censored because of the person smoking crack on the cover of the original, but both versions of the cover are so blindingly ugly that I can't really tell the difference.

The Strokes, Is This It? (2001) America really got shafted on the release of Is This It? back in 2001. First, we lost the song "New York City Cops," one of the best songs on the record, because it was considered offensive in the wake of 9/11. Next, we lost the sexy cover art.

Ted Nugent, Love Grenade (2007) I'm not usually one for censorship, but the original version of this one makes a pretty strong case in favor of it.

Kanye West, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (2010) The original version's crude painting of Kanye having sex with a phoenix proved too controversial for retailers and was pixellated for wide release. Honestly though, did we lose anything? That is some ugly album artwork.

Tenacious D, Rize of the Fenix (2012) Clearly the original cover of Rize of the Fenix was never intended to resemble anything remotely offensive or vulgar. It's just a phoenix. Regardless, the D came up with a pretty funny way to censor their cover for those with dirty minds who might misconstrue it.


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