My three favorite spooky creepy halloweeny album covers:
  • Black Sabbath’s first album, from 1970, has a cover shot taken at an old mill in England by Marcus Keef (photographer of many 1960’s/1970’s album covers).  The infrared film that was used creates a very surreal, otherworldy aura, heightened by the autumnal-wintry landscape.  The fact that nobody can seem to remember who the model was adds to the mystery of who or what the ghostly, witch-like figure is (a jaundiced nun, perhaps?). Marcus Keef went on to direct some Kate Bush videos in the 70’s and then seems to have disappeared as well…hmmm…the curse of the old mill?  <insert evil laughter here>.
  • The Damned’s “Phantasmagoria” (1985), on the other hand, has a well known model on the cover – Susie Bick – who is now married to musician Nick Cave.  Yet, this is still an image suffused with mystery, darkness and foreboding (if a bit more stylized than Black Sabbath’s).  She looks a little possessed, her chilly demeanor merging well with the winter graveyard she’s in.

  • Sonic Youth’s “Bad Moon Rising” (also 1985) comes from early in their career.  From the Sonic Youth bio Goodbye 20th Century, by David Browne:

    “On a late-Fall evening, they assembled at a field in Queens, a patch of land near the water they’d heard about from a friend.  They brought along a pumpkin, a flannel shirt, and a straw hat they’d gathered from a police-horse stable downtown. With the help of Ranaldo’s old friend Thom DeJesu, who’s launched a career designing film sets, they erected a scarecrow, propped it up, carved a demonic smile on its face, filled the pumpkin head with lighter fluid, and set it aflame.  Photographer James Welling, who’d met Gordon on the art-gallery circuit, got off a few shots before the makeshift scarecrow quickly burned up.  “It was beautiful,” Moore recalls. “Dusk was coming and you could see the city behind it.” The idea, according to Moore, was inspired by album covers by the Misfits, but the final image was uniquely their own: menacing, ominous, a hint of the gnarled, disturbed music that anyone putting on the record would hear.”

    James Welling is still active, as you can see from his website, but most of his other stuff bears little relation to the “Bad Moon Rising” cover.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Elizabeth says:

    Great creepy choices Rob! I love the back story on these…and of course there is a Kate Bush connection 🙂

  2. Albert says:

    Very Halloweeny indeed: unknown models, vanishing photographers and exploding pumpkin heads – ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh! BTW, I’d forgotten about Kate Bush, but now I shall relisten. Happy Halloween to the wee one.


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