Is there a better feeling than purchasing one of your favourite albums on vinyl only to discover it’s pressed with a really cool design? I think not.
From a school-inspired, binder-themed box set to vinyl-shaped ice moulds to self-contained music players, artists are constantly finding new, creative ways to package their records.
So, we’ve put together a list of some of the most unique album packaging designs we’ve seen over the years, which you can check out below.
Sleep – Dopesmoker (Reissue)
— BrooklynVegan (@brooklynvegan) August 22, 2022
Stoner metal icons Sleep are set to reissue their landmark record Dopesmoker this year, complete with the band’s favourite flower pressed into the vinyl. Originally released as Jerusalem in 1999, the album was later released in 2003 as Dopesmoker.
“Manufactured by the custom, bespoke vinyl experts at Third Man Pressing in Detroit (in partnership with Doghouse Farms Premium Cannabis), this beautiful vinyl contains the quintessential representation of Sleep’s plant of choice, the seven-pointed pot leaf embedded in a “mosquito-in-amber” fashion within the LP. Due to the nature of the materials, this version will only be available for purchase in-person at Third Man Records Cass Corridor,” reads a release from Third Man Records.
Soccer Mommy – Color Theory and Color Theory (Selected Demos) Deluxe Binder
limited edition color theory + color theory (selected demos) deluxe binder is in stock & ready to ship now! it includes color theory on translucent blue vinyl, flexi disc vinyl for each demo, lyric sheets, stickers & pencil case w/ pencils/ruler/eraser?? https://t.co/nfHLR8K8TV pic.twitter.com/NFLXDZsVo8
— soccer mommy (@sopharela) January 26, 2021
Soccer Mommy channeled her angsty early 2000’s sound with the release of her Deluxe Binder packaging. The limited edition Color Theory and Color Theory (Selected Demos) packaging looks like something you would have brought to school growing up, with translucent blue vinyl, a flexi disc vinyl for each demo, handwritten lyric sheets, stickers, and a loaded pencil case, all encased in a yellow binder. What more could you ask for?
Shout Out Louds – Blue Ice Vinyl Mould
In 2012, Swedish indie rockers the Shout Out Louds dropped their “Blue Ice” single with a limited run of box-sets. These special, innovative box sets made some serious waves, as they contained a liquid solution, vinyl mould, and instructions to make your own version of their record out of ice. The Shout Out Louds even dropped an accompanying instructional video on how you could create the first record made out of ice.
Tristan Perich – 1-Bit Symphony Self-Contained Music Player
1-bit electronica artist Tristan Perich changed the game with his 1-Bit Symphony release. Packaged in a CD case, Perich’s limited project was essentially a self-contained music player, with its own circuit system, a headphone jack, an on and off button, and a button that allows you to skip a track. The package was created to show listeners how music is made, allowing you to listen to the collection as it is being performed.
Led Zeppelin – In Through The Out Door Water Colour
At first, Led Zeppelin’s In Through The Out Door may look like a pretty average release. Although the outer sleeve was designed to make it look like you were carrying a bootleg record in a brown paper bag, when that was removed, the record seemed pretty normal at first glance. But, when the inner sleeve, which features black-and-white artwork, is exposed to water, it permanently transforms the sleeve into a full-colour image.
Spiritualized – Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space Pill Sheet
Spiritualized – Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space (1997)
Packaging Design: Farrow Design pic.twitter.com/3qwcJYxnMq
— Gen X Soft Club (@genxsoftclub) August 6, 2020
Spiritualized got pretty creative with the vinyl release of their third album, Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space. The album artwork was already designed to resemble a box of medication with dosage recommendations on the outside, but the special edition release saw each track getting its very own three-inch disc, with each disc blister-packed into what was made to look like a sheet of pills, and they had to be popped from its packaging so you could listen to it.
Julian Casablancas + The Voidz – Tyranny Lighter Sleeve USBs
— Junky Store (@JunkyStore) September 4, 2014
Julian Casablancas + The Voidz got creative with the digital release of Tyranny. To promote the album, they dropped MP3s of the tracks in a USB stick that could also be used as a sleeve for a mini lighter. The USB-lighter-sleeve-hybrid came in three different designs: one yellow, one black, and one white.
Carter Burwell – Anomalisa Pop-Up Jacket
— Mondo (@MondoNews) August 14, 2017
Carter Burwell’s soundtrack to Anomalisa features a unique “pop-up” jacket inspired by the animated mid-life horror flick. The packaging, which was designed by Alan Hynes, has a pop-up version of a sparse bedroom, with a frame from the flick hanging above the bed.
The Rolling Stones – Sticky Fingers Andy Warhol Zipper Sleeve
— Jeff | #BLM | #LGBTQ (@PDX_Papa) April 12, 2020
In 1971, The Rolling Stones released Sticky Fingers, and the artwork on the original vinyl release was created by renowned American pop artist Andy Warhol. The front sleeve had a working zipper that opened to reveal an image of cotton underwear on the inner sleeve.
Bob Marley and the Wailers – Catch a Fire Zippo Lighter Sleeve
Bob Marley and the Wailers – Catch a Fire – vinyl #LP in Zippo lighter sleeve. – #eBay #UnitedKingdom #Auction #VinylRecords #Records #VylRecordSearch
? https://t.co/kv3yNdaqnF pic.twitter.com/qSfGGOibwd
— Vinyl Record Search (@VylRecordSearch) December 21, 2020
Bob Marley and the Wailers shared an exclusive version of their Catch a Fire vinyl that came with a special sleeve that was designed to function like a hinged Zippo lighter. Instead of unfolding like most vinyl sleeves, the lighter design opens with a hinge at the top to reveal what looks like an inner flame. Additionally, the record itself is clear, which is an added bonus.
Talking Heads – Speaking in Tongues Robert Rauschenberg design
— Andrew Bannister (@andrewbannister) January 31, 2021
Artist Robert Rauschenberg designed a full LP package for Talking Heads’ Speaking in Tongues, and it saw him referencing the three-colour printing process. The design features separate layers of cyan, magenta, and yellow, with each disc featuring a collage of images that could be layered and spun in different ways to produce different results.