Naked Vinyl: The Golden Age Of The Gratuitously Sexy LP Cover

Shameless sexploitation used to sell decidedly unsexy music to wannabe swingers.

If music is the food of love, then naked girls are the garnish that you would frequently find plastered across LP covers in the 1960s and 1970s. Shifting morals and relaxing censorship meant that bare flesh was increasingly acceptable, and what better way to make your LP stand out from the crowd that with some gratuitous T&A?

Of course, many serious artists have used erotic imagery on their album covers as an artictic statement, but that’s not what we’re interested in. No, our fascination lies with the more throwaway and disposable. It’s a rule of thumb that by and large, the sexier the cover, the more entirely unsexy the music. Not for nothing are naked women (and, for that matter, attractive young women in general) frequently found gracing the covers of easy listening albums by increasingly anonymous orchestra leaders (a general rule of thumb: the sexier the cover, the more second division the big band will be), organ grinders, sax players, Hawaiian exotica, lounge singers and obscure disco acts. Sexy girls were also a mainstay of the compilation LP, most notably the Top of the Pops series, but perhaps most dramatically on Pye Chart Busters, with a topless Nicola Austine intimidating the more nervous listener in a no-nonsense topless shot.

Some artists – Fauto Papetti, for instance – and some countries (that’ll be Germany) went all out with sexy LP covers, while others just went with the flow while it was fashionable and commercial to do so. By the middle of the 1980s, the golden age of the sexy LP cover was over – feminism and a new moralism combined to make these covers seem sexist, dated and offensive. And while naked girls continue to pop up on album covers from time to time – particularly in dance music – we’re unlikely to see a return to this golden age of unnecessary nudity any time soon.

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