5 'Abbey Road' Knockoff Album Covers: From Kanye West to The Beastie Boys
On August 8 1969, photographer Iain Macmillan assembled his four subjects to capture perhaps the most iconic album cover of all time on photo. John Lennon, Ringo Starr, Paul McCartney and George Harrison crossed Abbey Road outside of the studio of the same name and history was made. Once the image was snapped, The Beatles returned to the recording booth and laid down overdubs for classic tracks "The End" and "I Want You (She's So Heavy)."
Replicas and satires of the image have been created ad nauseam in the 45 years since the original photo was taken and Music Times found the five knockoffs by the biggest bands for your consideration, ranked in terms of creativity and the ability to put one's own spin on the subject matter.
Check it out:
05) McLemore Avenue by Booker T & The MG's (1970)
Booker T and his band at least deserve some credit for being ahead of the trend. The cover image features the pianist and the MG's crossing the title roadway, which ran outside of Stax Records in the band's hometown of Memphis. The album was released less than seven months after its Beatles inspiration, which puts it at the fore for Abbey Road mockups. However that also means that simply shooting the image was a creative option at the time. Now, in an era where hundreds of unique takes exist, the album art for McLemore seems less impressive. Whether the album deserves kudos or critique for simply being multiple medleys of The Beatles album before it is a question of personal taste.
04) Cooky Puss by The Beastie Boys (1983)
It's an argument many have made, whether The Beastie Boys were intending to mimic Abbey Road when they released the first single "Cooky Puss." The art features four individuals holding hands and skipping in a line perpendicular to the camera, their images contrasted to blue on a red background. If they did borrow the image then it's somewhat ironic, considering how the rappers sued British Airways for using a track from the tape without the its permission, earning enough money to rent the famous "59 Chrystie Street" apartment. One mystery: Who is the fourth member in the photo? It sure ain't Rick "DJ Double R" Rubin.
03) Late Orchestration: Live at Abbey Road Studios by Kanye West (2006)
The album cover was almost a "duh" choice for Kanye West, as he was performing live at Abbey Road Studios after all. Still, it's a cool touch to see his old bear mascot trudging the familiar crosswalk (West was coming off of his Late Registration album, making the official title even more clever). The emcee was backed by a 17-piece orchestra, plus John Legend and Lupe Fiasco made appearances. Although this list is supposed to be dedicated strictly to album art, this is the best actual musical product on the list.
02) The Abbey Road EP by The Red Hot Chili Peppers (1988)
In terms of musical product, The Abbey Road EP is by far the most disappointing release on this list. It's just five tracks, four of which had already been released, plus a cover of Jimi Hendrix's "Fire." It remains the most famous image in the Red Hot Chili Peppers' history however. The band is crudely (in more ways than one) chopped into the classic Abbey Road image, crossing the road while wearing nothing but gym socks hanging over their genitals. This was something the band did regularly while performing in concert but it sent a shockwave across the audience not quite in-the-know regarding the Peppers' attitude toward life. The EP was also notable for being the first to feature guitarist John Frusciante following the death of Hillel Slovak.
01) Paul Is Live by Paul McCartney (1993)
It seems like an easy way out, giving the top spot to a member of the band that put out the original iconic image. However McCartney went out of his way to make this cover a multilayered joke for those in the know. One, obviously Paul Is Live is a play off of "Paul is dead," a popular conspiracy theory, and appropriate considering the live nature of this album. However that whole conspiracy began with the Abbey Road cover and the songwriter touches on all the classic "signs." The license plate in the original shoot read "LMW-281F," which many overly excitable fans interpreted as "Linda McCartney Weeps, 28 IF (alive)," indicating his age at the time. The new license plate reads "51IS" to indicate his age at the time of recording and that he is very much alive. He's also wearing shoes in the newer image, with his left foot extended, indicating that he's "back in step" with The Beatles. Finally, the dog on the cover is one of the dogs bred from his beloved Martha, who is sung about on the Abbey Road track "Martha My Dear."