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Let's rate the studio album covers...


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I've been looking at some of these album covers for over 30 years...


Some are so tied to the music they contain (and the time I spent discovering/listening to them) that I probably don't have the perspective to look at them objectively.


However, my graphic design background is quite formidable, and as such I'm going to try my best to use that expertise to judge these covers on their own merits.


Still, a few of the most horrendous layouts here contain some of my favorite music - and the artwork itself is so enmeshed with my experiences with those albums that it will be hard to resist excusing poor designs - but I'll try. wink.gif


Of course, the cover is not the entire package, but it is the 'face' of the album and that's what I want to concentrate on here. I fear if we dive into the weeds of gatefolds, inner sleeves, back covers, card stock and paper finishes, color separations etc., we'll never even get to 'Caress Of Steel'.


And I wouldn't want that.


If you've read this far, you've probably got something to say about the covers... so let's have at it!



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So "just the front cover" is the rule for this thread, do not take into account the inner artwork..... okay.. I'll abide by that rule


Out of 10


2.gif = 5.5/10

Fly By Night= 6/10

Caress of Steel= 7/10

2112= 9 (Kind of like Dark Side of the Moon, more points for the "Iconic Value" than the full artistic value of the artwork)

A Farewell to Kings= 8

Hemispheres = 8.5

Permanent Waves= 9.5

Moving Pictures= 8.5


Grace Under Pressure= 10 (My personal favorite Rush cover)

Power Windows= 7

Hold Your Fire = 2.5

Presto= 7

Roll The Bones = 6.5

Counterparts = 3.5

Test For Echo= 8

Vapor Trails= 8

Feedback= 5

Snakes & Arrows= 6.5


Live Albums out of 10


All the World's a stage= 6

ESL= 8.5

A Show of Hands= 7

Different Stages= 8

Rush in Rio= 8.5

R30= 4

S&A Live= 9



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I'll start with a 'quick' overview of the first album (feel free to post your own):




> Rush


a line art 'explosion' and a bright pink (intended red) uppercase font - not much else


they tried to 'dress up' the word 'RUSH" by outlining in black and hitting it with a chunky perspective fill... that's it


as it relates to what's contained within, it's pretty appropriate (straight forward, right at you, and a little obnoxious) but as a design unto itself? I've seen thousands that would be more interesting/appropriate here


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Here's my ratings for just the front cover of all the studio albums.

Rush - 6/10 (a little boring, I prefer the oringinal red better)

Fly By Night - 8/10 (cool colors, like the owl)

Caress of Steel - 5/10 (can't figuare out what it is, very bland)

2112 - 9/10 (one of the better covers)

Farewell To Kings - 9.5/10 (awesome)

Hemispheres - 2/10 (naked red man on a brain with another man staring at him...)

Permanent Waves - 8.5/10 (cool picture w/ a lot of little details in the background

Moving Pictures - 10/10 (great colors, love the pictures)

Signals - 6/10 (very dull)

Grace Under Pressure - 10/10 (one of my fav. covers...looks futuristic)

Power Windows - 6.5/10 (kind of forgettable)

Hold Your Fire - 2/10 (not much to it)

Presto - 8/10 (like the rabbits and hat....would be better if the colors were brighter)

Roll The Bones - 5/10 (a little stupid, not much to it)

Counterparts - 3/10 (again, too bland)

Test For Echo - 9/10 (much better improvement)

Vapor Trails - 8/10 (seems to signify their comeback w/ the fire ball)

Feedback - 8/10 (goes with the theme...60's songs)

Snakes & Arrows - 5/10 (too "messy")


I hope CA is better. I like the cover of Caravan/BU2B.

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Interesting topic. This is just the cover and its relationship to the music inside.


Rush-meh...I always thought that this was silly 5/10

Fly by Night-if that bird got any closer it would bite me...not my favorite 5/10

Caress of Steel-Were they discussing album art with Judas Priest? 4/10

2112-Sort of Comic Book 7/10

ATWAS-Works, though it screams low budget 8/10

AFTK-Finally a great album cover 9/10

Hemispheres-Great use of color and theme...naked man notwithstanding 9/10

Permanent Waves-Great album cover 9/10

Moving Pictures-I still stare at it 10

ESL-great 9/10

Signals-Seriously? Great logo though 5/10

GUP-Flawless and cold 10

Power Windows-Again, comic book-like 7/10

HYF-Minimalist perfection 10

ASOH-boring 5/10

Presto-good cover 9/10

Roll the Bones-iffy 7/10

Counterparts-great cover 9/10

T4E-Great Cover 9/10

Different Stages-good 8/10

Vapor Trails-dull 6/10

Snakes and Arrows-see Vapor Trails 6/10

S&L live-cool-8/10


This is just my opinion of course. Still, when I look for an album (particularly back in the 12"days, the cover was a big part of what was inside. Even the colors match with the music. Moving Pictures' sound was hugely impacted by the dark cover and the pillar-like printing of the mane. It would not have worked with a white cover with those letters. again, in my opinion.


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2.gif = 6 Not much to it, but I love the way the word looks.

Fly By Night= 8 Cool looking animal; intense eyes.

Caress of Steel= 7

2112= 5 Sorry, but I just don't like the font, and the star without the starman is meh.

A Farewell to Kings= 9 Cool.

Hemispheres = 7 Weird, but I like it.

Permanent Waves= 7 Too monochromatic.

Moving Pictures= 9

Signals= 8 I must be the only person who likes this. Love the concept and the dog.

Grace Under Pressure= 10 My fave cover and 2nd fave album. If I were a tattooing gal, this bugger'd be on my back or around an arm or leg.

Power Windows= 8 I like the looks of it, and the kid looks like someone in another band I like.

Hold Your Fire = 6 Monochromatic, but I like the texture.

Presto= 7 I like animals...bunnies included.

Roll The Bones = 8

Counterparts = 6 Not enough focus on the cover.

Test For Echo= 9

Vapor Trails= 7 The carpet on stage in this tour was absolutely beautiful, though, so I don't know why I don't dig the album cover more. Maybe it benefits from a bigger design.

Feedback= 7

Snakes & Arrows= 6

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Debut = 5

Fly By Night= 8

Caress of Steel= 9

2112= 8

A Farewell to Kings= 9

Hemispheres = 10

Permanent Waves= 10

Moving Pictures= 6

Signals= 4

Grace Under Pressure= 10

Power Windows= 5

Hold Your Fire = 2

Presto= 4

Roll The Bones = 5

Counterparts = 4

Test For Echo= 6

Vapor Trails= 4

Snakes & Arrows= 1

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2.gif = 7/10 I think it's great for a debut album and I love the font.

Fly By Night= 5/10

Caress of Steel= 4/10

2112= 9/10 The symbolism just works, awesomly.

A Farewell to Kings= 10/10 I can seriously just stare at the LP, it's beautiful.

Hemispheres = 8/10 Like FTK, but I'm not too crazy about staring at ass.

Permanent Waves= 8/10

Moving Pictures= 9/10 for the humor

Signals= 6/10 Creative, but poor.

Grace Under Pressure= 6/10 I find it cluttered.

Power Windows= 7/10

Hold Your Fire = 6/10

Presto= 7/10

Roll The Bones = 7/10

Counterparts = 7/10

Test For Echo= 8/10

Vapor Trails= 8.5/10

Feedback= 2/10 Hideous album cover, it compliments it's content

Snakes & Arrows= 5/10

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Rush = 4/10 ... Plain, but memorable and good for a first shot.


Fly By Night = 6/10 ... I actually really like the bird, but that's about it.


Caress of Steel = 5/10 ... Fairly creative, but also fairly boring.


2112 = 7/10 ... The symbolism is great and memorable, but... plain.


A Farewell to Kings = 9/10 ... Definitely one of their best, lots of imagery and art.


Hemispheres = 9/10 ... I'm not homophobic so I don't mind a little artistic nudity, and it's actually a very well-done and artistic message.


Permanent Waves = 10/10 .. Fantastic symbolism and imagery. Not just a classic Rush album cover, but a classic album cover period.


Moving Pictures = 10/10 ... Same reasons as above. Well thought-out and a bit comical, A+.


Signals = 7/10 ... I like the cover itself, but it doesn't convey the message of the album title or its contents to me that well.


Grace Under Pressure = 5/10 ... I don't know why everyone likes it so much.


Power Windows = 8/10 ... Very reflective of the contents on the album, a great cover if somewhat a little unprofessional-looking.


Hold Your Fire = 2/10 ... Come on, really.


Presto = 7/10 ... A good message and reflective of the album, lots to look at, but not very ingenious.


Roll The Bones = 8/10 ... The cover's better than the album laugh.gif


Counterparts = 10/10 ... Perfect for a simple cover. Creative, funny, intelligent, and even a bit reflective of the album. Very memorable as well.


Test For Echo = 8/10 ... Simple and good, almost like counterparts, but not as simple nor as good.


Vapor Trails = 5/10 ... Uh.. it's a big flying ball of fire. Not too creative.


Feedback = 3/10 ... Well I get the mock-playbill style, but it's probably their worst cover to date.


Snakes & Arrows = 6/10 ... Stylistic and creative, but a bit "on the nose". Not bad, not great.



For what it's worth I love the cover artwork for Different Stages Live.

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QUOTE (slappa_da_bass @ Jan 9 2011, 01:34 AM)
QUOTE (micgtr71 @ Jan 9 2011, 12:22 AM)
Wow, no one seems to like HYF. I think that is a great album cover.

Actually, micgtr71 gave it a 10/10... for some reason laugh.gif

Yeah, that's me. As far as a minimalist concept, the album cover is great. I wonder why it scored so low on other's list. The shadows and the depth represented in the band name are interesting. When I first looked at the lp through the shrink wrap, it seemed as though the balls were floating. Juggling balls without flame?...I just love the cover.

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2.gif - simple but very effective; perfectly reflects their explosive sound / 10

Fly By Night - beautifully blue & snowy scene that conjures the image of a Canadian winter; the fierce look in the owl's eyes matches the intensity of the music / 10

Caress of Steel - dark, ominous & mysterious; captures that Middle Earth, Lord of the Rings quite well; even though it didn't turn out the way it was intended it reflects the music perfectly / 10

2112 - least fave cover of the early studio albums; in a way a bit too simple; the red star against the space background works very well / 9

All The World's A Stage - few live albums have really great covers and this no exception; in its original lp form very cool though / 6

A Farewell To Kings - a striking, classic image; seems to reflect old vs new (ways, values, year of punk); cities of decay / 10

Hemispheres - vibrant & colorful; surrealism of 3 floating brains its strongest aspect / 9

Permanent Waves - a classic; reflects dramatic upheaval & change in rock music with arrival of the '80s; also the shift in Rush's sound as they confidently & calmly forge ahead through the chaos (like the girl) / 10

Moving Pictures - the triple meaning in it is brilliant; 3 arches, nods to 'Witch Hunt' & 'The Camera Eye'; even the inner sleeve photos incorporate the moving pictures theme; PW/MP the best musically and graphically / 10

Exit...Stage Left - best of the live album covers; coolest element is the inclusion of elements from all the prior covers / 8

Signals - kind of dull; reflects the suburbs; worst musically and graphically of the albums up to & including PoW / 7

Grace Under Pressure - cool & abstract; calm serenity under turbulent chaos / 8

Power Windows - conjures feelings of confusion, loneliness, detachment & alienation which fit in well with the mid-'80s; 3 tvs / 8

Hold Your Fire - most striking element is its beautiful red but otherwise dull; seems to lack a strong idea; 3 balls; innersleeve picture is great & fun with all the references to other Rush covers / 6

A Show of Hands - nothing much to it or anything special / 4

Presto - dark & colorless; lacking a strong idea other than the connection of the word presto to magic / 6

Roll The Bones - another colorless cover but this time in a good & effective way; matches the themes in the lyrics / 7

Counterparts - pretty stark & basic but kind of boring; dull unappealing shade of blue / 5

Test For Echo - ancient & modern people with the common desire of communication & connection; beautiful snowy scene / 8

Vapor Trails - ugly yet profound & meaningful; fire of life; trails & sparks that fly off are what is left behind / 6

Snakes & Arrows - least fave cover & music; inner cover would been definitely preferable / 3








































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Rush - 5/10. Nothing special, but the logo is cool.

Fly by Night - 6/10. Cool, but reminds me of a flea market black velvet painting.

Caress of Steel - 6/10. Like the art, not crazy about the lettering.

2112 - 8/10. Mysterious.

A Farewell to Kings - 10/10. Looks like something classic.

Hemispheres - 8/10. 1 point for lettering, 7 points for man ass. Wait, what?

Permanent Waves - 9/10. Love it. The lady's face seems kind of off though.

Moving Pictures - 10/10. Classic.

Signals - 5/10. Decent but dull.

Grace Under Pressure - 10/10. My favorite. It's cold and it's 80s with the pastels, but it's great artwork and fits the mood of the album.

Power Windows - 8/10. Good art. The kid's haircut bothers me though.

Hold Your Fire - 5/10. Minimal and it sort of stands out, but there's just not much there. The inside art is killer though.

Presto - 2/10. My least favorite cover. Hate the font and all the rabbits. If it was just the hill with the floating hat it would be better.

Roll the Bones - 7/10. Pretty cool but it reminds me of the Dead Pool stage from Mortal Kombat II. Doesn't really fit the music for me either.

Counterparts - 6/10. Simple, but it's okay. It'd be better without the word Rush on the cover.

Test for Echo - 10/10. Love the cover more than the album.

Vapor Trails - 5/10. Meh.

Snakes & Arrows - 3/10. Didn't believe it was the cover when it was revealed online and I still don't like it. The booklet cover is much better.

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Hemispheres = 9/10 ... I'm not homophobic so I don't mind a little artistic nudity, and it's actually a very well-done and artistic message.


I'm glad someone has mentioned the homophobia that goes with this cover, that I read around here. I think we can all be adults and not worry about our sexuality changing, by liking the cover. Hell, I'd kill to have that dudes body...And butt.



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Ok out of 10


RUSH: 7.5, I liked it. When you think of Rush you either think of the starman or that logo on the cover

Fly by Night: 6, I think its pretty cool maybe a little weird.

Caress of Steel: 4, Pretty weird I didnt really get it.

2112: 8, I love it. The font is great and the red star is awesome

AFTK: 10, Its perfect. It reminds me of the Mona Lisa, is she smiling or not. You think "What is the king holding".

Hemispheres: 9, Awesome. The naked guy at first is like creepy but once you listen to it you get it.

PW:8, Very good. Different and cool.

MP: 9, Excellent. Exactly what the title says.

Signals: 7.5, I like it, I get it and its kinda funny.

P/G: 7, Good cover. Its cold and sterile like the music inside.

Power Windows: 8, I liked it a lot with the old tvs and stuff.

Hold your Fire: 6, Its odd I didnt really like it.

Presto: 7.5, Pretty cool and the bunnies are cute. laugh.gif

Roll the Bones: 8, Very litteral.

Counterparts: 8.5, Great cover very minimal.

Test for Echo: 7.75, Cool and it makes sense.

Vapor Trails: 7, Pretty awesome i think it works well.

Feedback: 5, I love the 60s but not on an album from 2004.

S&A: 8, Nice I thought it was decent.

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