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7 Artists Who Released Music In Bizarre Packaging: Led Zeppelin, The Flaming Lips, And More

by Joey DeGroot   Sep 5, 2014 17:51 PM EDT

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When an artist releases an album on a record or CD, it's just going to be placed on a shelf with thousands of other releases that look just like it. These seven artists shook things up by releasing music in totally bizarre packaging.

1. Led Zeppelin - Led Zeppelin III (1970)

Led Zeppelin had some highly unusual artwork throughout their career, such as the surreal collage on the cover of Led Zeppelin III. What made that album unique, however, was its use of a rotating disc of images inside of the front sleeve, which could reveal different parts of the collage when spun around.

2. Alice Cooper - School's Out (1972)

The cover for Alice Cooper's fifth album School's Out is an image of an olden wooden school desk with the album title written in the corner, along with a few other words and images scratched into it. However, the original vinyl sleeve would fold up just like an actual school desk would, and once you actually took the record out, it was wrapped in a pair of girl's underwear. The underwear was apparently discontinued after it was discovered that it was highly flammable.

3. Public Image Ltd. - Metal Box (1979)

The title of Public Image Ltd.'s second album Metal Box refers to its original packaging, which was a metal 16mm film canister with the band's logo on the front. Though the 60-minute album could have easily fit onto two 12" records, the band decided to make the album even more challenging by releasing it on three records, requiring listeners to flip or change the record every 10 minutes.

4. The Durutti Column - The Return of the Durutti Column (1979)

If the intention of punk was to destroy all music that came before it, the Durutti Column are really the only ones who followed through with that promise. Their debut album The Return of the Durutti Column was originally pressed with sandpaper sleeves, which would ruin the other records placed around it on a shelf.

5. The Flaming Lips - 24 Hour Song Skull (2011)

There could be an entire article about all of the weird ways that the Flaming Lips have released their music, but the most extreme was the release of their EP 24 Hour Song Skull. The music itself is already difficult enough, being a single 24-hour (yes, hour) composition titled "7 Skies H3," but 13 copies of the EP were released on a flash drive inside of a real human skull, costing about $5,000.

6. Street Dogs - "G.O.P." (2012)

When I was the music director at my college radio station, I received a postcard from a band called Street Dogs about their single "G.O.P." After wondering for a minute why the band hadn't just sent me a CD of their song, I realized that the postcard was the song; the card had a hole in the middle and grooves etched into it, meaning it could be played like a record. It doesn't sound great, but it's still a really cool idea.

7. The Residents - Ultimate Box Set (2012)

Having once recorded an album that wasn't released until they forgot it existed, being weird is pretty much the Residents' claim to fame, so you can imagine how strange their career spanning Ultimate Box Set is. Instead of releasing it in a traditional package, the set comes inside of a refrigerator, and can be purchased for a mere $100,000.

What other artists have released music in bizarre packaging? Let us know down in the comments section!

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