Animals Mistreated by Rock 'n' Roll

The unveiling of Steve Hackett’s remarkable Wolflight album artwork this week got us thinking about other album sleeves featuring animals in situations they’d rather not be involved in at all, thank you very much. Here’s 12 examples of musicians humiliating once proud and noble beasts.

Scorpions - Animal Magnetism Paging Dr. Freud, paging Dr. Freud… What do you reckon the far-out art heads at Hipgnosis were thinking when they handed this mind-warping visual to the Scorps in 1980? What exactly is it that’s captivating the young lady on her knees and her (or possibly his?) canine companion here? How will this scenario unfold? And will it be legal in all 50 U.S. states? We’re thinking not everyone is going to come out of this with their dignity intact. But maybe we’re the weird ones.

Nelson - Because They Can Do dogs have therapists? Because these two are going to have some serious questions to pose to whoever coerced them into posing for this ‘hilarious’ snap, wherein they’re call upon to impersonate AOR’s own ‘Timotei Twins’ Matthew and Gunnar Nelson. Look at their sad little faces! The hurt! The betrayal! Just because ‘they’ can, really doesn’t mean ‘they’ should. Disgraceful.

Tygers of Pan Tang - Crazy Nights Is this cack-handed King Kong pastiche really the best way the Whitley Bay NWOBHM crew could convey the unhinged debauchery of a ToPT ‘crazy night’? This magnificent, majestic beast perched atop the Post Office Tower, swatting at bi-planes like a myopic kitten chasing a laser pen light? We’re calling B.S. on this one gumbies…

Cattle DecapitationHumanure And speaking of bullshit… A parody of Pink Floyd’s Atom Heart Mother artwork, this once seen, never forgotten image was deemed too gross for many US retailers to stock: yeah, we were surprised too. We get the whole ‘meat is murder’ vibe here chaps, and we’ve left behind not entirely dissimilar messes after a night on the Guinness, but that poor cow is never going to live this down.

AerosmithGet A Grip Oh, for fuck’s sake.

BitchslicerSex With Sharks We’ll be honest, we’re not totally au fait with Bitchslicer’s oeuvre, but given that the Pennsylvania trio’s Bandcamp page carries a review hailing them as “totally misogynistic fuckwad shitheads” we suspect they might just be trying to troll us with this sleeve. This, their fourth long-player, features a splendidly titled track called Semen Demons, however, so perhaps we got off lightly here.

MessiahExtreme Cold Weather Death/Thrash bands often like to turn their unflinching gaze upon the dark side of humanity, exposing hypocrisy, corruption, abuses of power and all that Bad Stuff, but not defunct Swiss crew Messiah, who in 1987 chose to have a little whine about er, how nippy it is outside, illustrating their point with this barely-in-focus, long lens shot of a suitably nonplussed polar bear. Messiah’s new album, You’ll Need Your Scarf Tonight Love, is expected in late 2018.

NazarethThe Fool Circle Whatever happened to dolphorses anyway? You just don’t see them anymore, do you? Curious.

NickelbackAnimals Pity these poor rhinos: bad enough that they should be caught in flagrante by some sweaty-palmed jungle voyeur, but to add insult to injury they have the embarrassment of having their steamy rhino rumpy-pumpy slapped on a bloody Nickelback single cover - which just happens to be a TOTAL FUCKING RIP-OFF of a Faith No More sleeve – for the world and his wife to drool over. Not cool people, not cool.

NOFXHeavy Petting Zoo Nothing weird going on here, just a dude finger-banging a sheep in front of some children. I mean it’s not as if…oh Christ.

Paul McCartney - RAM Wait, did Linda know about this? Awkward.

The Handsome BeastsBeastiality Quite possibly a heartfelt tribute to Linda Ronstadt’s porky powerhouse album Sow’s Purse. Either way, we’re sorry, so very, very sorry…

Paul Brannigan
Contributing Editor, Louder

A music writer since 1993, formerly Editor of Kerrang! and Planet Rock magazine (RIP), Paul Brannigan is a Contributing Editor to Louder. Having previously written books on Lemmy, Dave Grohl (the Sunday Times best-seller This Is A Call) and Metallica (Birth School Metallica Death, co-authored with Ian Winwood), his Eddie Van Halen biography (Eruption in the UK, Unchained in the US) emerged in 2021. He has written for Rolling Stone, Mojo and Q, hung out with Fugazi at Dischord House, flown on Ozzy Osbourne's private jet, played Angus Young's Gibson SG, and interviewed everyone from Aerosmith and Beastie Boys to Young Gods and ZZ Top. Born in the North of Ireland, Brannigan lives in North London and supports The Arsenal.