Baroness’s John Baizley On Six Influential Album Covers

Baroness – Yellow & Green

Baroness’s John Baizley On Six Influential Album Covers

Baroness – Yellow & Green

John Dyer Baizley is probably best known as the frontman of Savannah, GA’s Baroness, but his visual artwork is arguably even more famous than his music. Among his other pursuits, for years now Baizley has been producing some of the most unique, intriguing, stylish, and bizarre album covers in the world (including, of course, all of the amazing artwork seen on Baroness’s album sleeves). It’s not unreasonable to suggest that Baizley’s art has come to be a defining element of the Southern metal scene, although that’s hardly where his influence ends.

With his own band ready to release their hugely anticipated third full-length — the double-LP Yellow & Green, which features a jaw-dropping gatefold cover — we thought it would be interesting to see some of the artwork that inspired Baizley. We asked him to write about five of his favorite album covers, to which he replied with:

Honestly, limiting this to five albums is impossible. Let’s call these six “a few of my favorites plucked randomly from a sea of amazing and influential album covers.”

So let’s call it that. We’ve also compiled a gallery above of some of our favorite covers produced by Baizley, which is really only a small sampling of his remarkable work. To see more, check out his official art blog, A Perfect Monster. And of course, check out Yellow & Green, which will be released July 17 via Relapse. Your tour through the visual world of John Dyer Baizley begins here:

Miles Davis – Bitches Brew

“I stare at this record cover endlessly. It’s a wonderful gatefold design, which is fast becoming a lost art. Mati Klarwein has done a number of great album cover paintings, and this is my favorite because Bitches Brew is one of my all-time favorite records. The scene is so mystically fecund and so painstakingly rendered, I can’t help but dissolve in it. It seems to me that the image is one of tolerance and spiritual elevation, but the underlying mood is incredibly dark and horrifying. The terror that interests me is largely unseen, and this album, both inside and out, has it in spades. It is neither an entirely good nor an entirely bad trip. When I first saw it, I was impressed by both its beauty and its power to make my skin crawl. It’s an inspiration.”

Motörhead – Motörhead

“This is the toughest record cover of all time. I love all the later Motorhead records’ cover art by Joe Petagno, they are truly classics, but this image is simple and perfect. The Snaggletooth has been redone time after time, but the original is still the finest example. This image, like the Misfits’ Crimson Ghost or Metallica’s Damaged Skull, is a cross-genre icon. It’s instantly recognizable.  It symbolizes not just the band, but the entire aesthetic, lifestyle and attitude of Motorhead: vicious, snarling, and uncompromising. Those who wear it are part of a secret society; if you have to ask, you’ll never know … “

Damad – Burning Cold

“One of the best album covers, by one of the best album cover artists, on one of the best albums ever. This is scary, indescribable stuff. Pushead is a legend, an influence, and an enigma. When I was young, it was his art that first got me involved in the world of album cover art. You simply must respect what he’s done, and how he’s done it. Track this record down. Put the LP on a turntable (no CDs/MP3s please), and stare at the record cover while the LP spins. You will love me as much as you hate me for suggesting this.”

Black Flag – My War

“A ‘fuck you’ cover for a ‘fuck you’ record. Black Flag exhibit the perfect postmodern synthesis of art and music. The image is deceptively simple, and packs an immense wallop as a result. Totally reactive, no-explanation-necessary, ’nuff said art. When I was a teenager, Black Flag’s artwork terrified me. To this day they continue to put me at complete disease. I have spent years considering the meaning of any and all of them. It’s useless to analyze them; they engage and provoke no matter what. You can take all the high school shock-value black metal album covers and choke on ‘em. Raymond Pettibon’s art is miles ahead of that sensationalist tripe.”

Yes – Relayer

“Full disclosure: I am a massive Roger Dean fan. I am NOT a Yes fan. I own almost all their records, yet I can barely make it through them as a listener. I think his blend of art, design, and illustration is uniquely perfect. It is psychedelic without the typical artifice. Amongst his record jackets, he has developed his own bizarre and fluid world, of which each sleeve is but a detail. I imagine being able to pull back and see his whole universe at once. His skills as a draughtsman are enviable, and he always seems to synchronize his style with that of the records he designs. The breadth and scope of his vision continues to inspire me. I can’t stand this record otherwise.”

Jesus Lizard - Liar

“All the Jesus Lizard record covers are amazing, as are all the albums themselves. Their cover art does a masterful job of reflecting the indignant muscularity and angular comic irreverence of the band itself. No album lends itself to the band’s cause more than that of Liar. It’s such an odd image; it seems so innocuous on first glance. It’s really pretty disturbing, the more I look at it. Many of my favorite images are those which draw you in through some kind of superficial sheen, only to reveal their true depravity.”

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