Best Country Album Covers of All Time

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Dolly Parton - Hello, I'm Dolly

album art hello i'm dolly
Hello, I'm Dolly (1967). Image courtesy of Sony Records

Well hello. Later records emphasized Dolly Parton's more pneumatic qualities, but this debut favored her earthier assets. This simple but striking portrait transforms the well-endowed singer into Tennessee's answer to the Mona Lisa.

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Lefty Frizzell - Songs of Jimmie Rodgers

songs of jimmie rodgers album cover
Songs of Jimmie Rodgers (1973). Image courtesy of Koch Records

Like the secure man he was, Lefty wasn't afraid of dressing in pink. Here, Lefty Frizzell revisits the songs of one of his old-time heroes, Jimmie Rodgers, which explains the album's homespun art.

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Hank Williams Jr. - Family Tradition

family tradition album cover
Family Tradition (1979). Image courtesy of Curb Records

Hank Williams Jr. shows his boozing side with the cover to his hit 1979 album. What happened before the photographer showed up? We can only imagine. But it looks like just an average day for one of country music's favorite sons.

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Jim Reeves - Jim Reeves Sings

Jim Reeves Sings (1956). Image courtesy of Abbott Records

Jim Reeves has all his corners covered. (Get it?) Reeves' debut album featured graphic, cut-and-paste artwork that was common during the '50s. The record is a hot property among collectors -- selling on auction sites for as much as $1,000.

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The Judds - Why Not Me

album cover Why Not Me
The Judds - Why Not Me. Image courtesy of RCA Records

The eerie resemblance between mother Naomi Judd (left) and daughter Wynonna Judd (right) is highlighted in the duo's second album, Why Not Me. Despite the creep factor, the 1984 record was one of The Judds' biggest successes, going double platinum and featuring the hit single "Mama He's Crazy."

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Kenny Rogers - The Gambler

The Gambler album cover
Kenny Rogers - 'The Gambler' (1978).

A colorful cast of characters crowds into this sensational cover, straight out of Kenny Rogers' classic story song "The Gambler." His fondness for the poker table makes sense for a singer who's spent a lot of time in Las Vegas.

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Merle Haggard - Big City

big city album art
Big City (1981). Image courtesy of Epic Records

Don't lean back, Merle! An optical illusion is the centerpiece of this Merle Haggard album sleeve -- with the city streets seeming to close in on the singer. But it's not just a gimmick; Haggard's songs have often explored the conflict between town and country.

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Emmylou Harris - Blue Kentucky Girl

blue kentucky girl album cover
Blue Kentucky Girl (1979). Image courtesy of Warner Bros. Records

Emmylou Harris sings before a painted backdrop in this evocative album cover that plays with your depth perception. Past and present collide in both the visuals and the record's blend of new and traditional country styles.

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Roger Miller - Roger and Out

roger and out album cover
Roger and Out (1964). Image courtesy of Mercury Records

Roger Miller is clearly out of his head with this whimsical cover. (Sorry.) But it's truth in advertising for an album that features such oddball cuts as "Squares Make the World Go Round" and "Dang Me."

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Spade Cooley - Sagebrush Swing

sagebrush swing album cover
Sagebrush Swing (1949). Image courtesy of Columbia Records

While it might seem odd to contemporary eyes, this cover art is part of the general enthusiasm for all things atomic post-WWII. Spade Cooley was regarded as one of the kings of Western Swing, but it's hardly shocking if you haven't heard of him. His career ended in scandal when he brutally murdered his wife -- and the music industry did its best to sweep him under the rug

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Tanya Tucker - TNT

tnt album cover
TNT (1978). Image courtesy of Geffen Records

Tanya Tucker turned up the sex with this campy album artwork. Her all-leather wardrobe was right in line with fashion sensibilities of the '70s, but a break with the conservative tastes of Nashville. TNT was released on Los Angeles' Geffen Records, responsible for a good portion of the decade's country rock output.

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Johnny Cash - Ring of Fire

Ring of Fire album art
Ring of Fire (1963). Image courtesy of Columbia Records

Target practice, anyone? A hypnotic succession of concentric circles probably wasn't what you were visualizing while listening to "Ring of Fire." But this album's arresting cover art is a bull's eye all the same.

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Wanted! The Outlaws

album cover wanted the outlaws
Various Artists - 'Wanted! The Outlaws'. Image courtesy of RCA Records

A holding cell's worth of country artists -- including Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, Jessi Colter, and Tompall Glaser -- fill out this wanted poster. No word on what the reward is. Maybe some mighty fine music?

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Rosanne Cash - King's Record Shop

king's record shop album cover
King's Record Shop (1987). Image Courtesy of Columbia Records

This photograph of Pee Wee King's record store in Louisville, Kentucky, offers everything that needs to be said; that includes the title for Rosanne Cash's 1987 album King's Record Shop. It won the Grammy award for Best Album Package. But even before the Photoshop era, you should be aware of some artistic license: Roseanne Cash was superimposed into the store's doorway from another photo.

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The Flying Burrito Brothers - Gilded Palace of Sin

album cover gilded palace of sin
The Gilded Palace of Sin (1969). Image courtesy of A&M Records

This washed out photo features The Flying Burrito Brothers in their trademark marijuana-leafed Nudie suits. Their body language suggests the End Times -- or a massive high.

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Kinky Friedman - Sold American

sold american album cover
Sold American (1973). Image courtesy of Vanguard Records

This irreverent record from Kinky Friedman features an equally unhinged cover. Look close and you can make out Nashville, a dirty spoon diner, a lonely horseman, and Star-of-David emblazoned on a mystical ten-gallon hat. This was Kinky's debut and its madcap charm was never to be repeated.

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Johnny Cash - American Recordings

American Recordings album cover
American Recordings (1994).

Johnny Cash returns as a mythic figure for a new age. With its sepia tone and stark contrasts, the art for this album set the tone for the back-to-basics approach of the American Recordings series. It also looked to the past by nodding to the black-and-white photographs of his Sun Records years

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Porter Wagoner - Carroll County Accident

album cover Carroll County Accident
Carroll County Accident (1969). Image courtesy of RCA Records

From the Technicolor cowboy suit to the tears coursing down Porter Wagoner's face, Carroll County Accident pumps up the melodrama. But that's all in keeping with the tragedy of its title song.

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Dwight Yoakam - This Time

This Time Album Art
Dwight Yoakam - 'This Time' (1993). Image courtesy of Reprise Records

Going literal with your album art can sometimes be a mistake, but the trick worked with Dwight Yoakam. This Time has one of the best album covers of the '90s, despite not getting to see Yoakam's purty face

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Louvin Brothers - Satan Is Real

satan is real album cover
Satan Is Real (1959). Image courtesy of Capitol Record

The Louvin Brothers' fire-and-brimstone classic has an interesting backstory. The effigy of Satan was built by Ira and Charlie Louvin themselves and, according to the liner notes, the brothers were "nearly burned while...directing the photography." Anything to fight the devil!