Detroit’s not just the Motor City, we’re Motown. We have a beautiful history of musical accomplishment, and one way that’s expressed is through amazing record album covers.
Vinyl aficionados can appreciate how the art goes with the record, helping reinforce the over feel of the experience. And today, although not quite the same, there are still digital album covers to promote music and appear on our Spotify or Apple Music app.
So let’s sit back and check these out who we thought we’d highlight for a variety of reasons. Some are nods to history. Some are nods to the music itself. Others are just creative uses of the imagery of the city.
1. John Lee Hooker
“The Legendary Modern Recordings” featured a picture on the now gone Hastings Street. It’s now I-375.
“If I Don’t Six” is a look from a couple of cars near the Fisher Building, as well as a back cover skyline shot.
3. Terrence Parker
I’m a househead, so I love that type of Detroit sound that Terrence Parker embodies. “God Loves Detroit” is a beautifully stylized version of a shot many people see driving down I-75 with the iconic steeples that seem to match the iconic RenCen.
This album that featured the old house of Marshall Mathers for the Marshall Mathers LP is burned into the memories of a generation.
5. The White Stripes
Hotel Yorba was a single released with it’s own cover. Hotel Yorba, despite all of the progress so far, hasn’t been rehabilitated but Jack White has been plowing dollars and time into the city like crazy, including opening a Third Man Records and a record pressing plant.
6. The Detroit Experiment
This compilation series had a great cover mixing Detroit’s architecture. It’s a Jazz/Electronic album by a host of great Detroit musical names including Carl Craig, saxophonist Bennie Maupin, trumpeter Marcus Belgrave, pianist Geri Allen, and violinist Regina Carter.
6.5 The 10 year Anniversary re-release cover for The Detroit Experiment
Make sure to check out the track “Think Twice.”
Mitch Ryder’s band “Detroit” and their self-titled LP and the wings and Detroit metal theme has inspired the look of countless artists who have paid homage to this 1970s Detroit motif. You’ll find the same flag look with feathered wings on a variety of artists with a more updated theme, including Kid Rock.
8. Jazzmen: Detroit
This cover from the mid-fifties blends cars, photography, and architecture. And screams 1950s.
9. I Wanna Go Back To Detroit City
Ok, so this is a newer release (2016), but there’s two things to note about this one. First, this cover is so clearly from another era with the font stylings and the colorization. Second, way to go for making a new album at the age of 79, Andre Williams.
Yusef Lateef’s jazz album “Detroit” from 1969 has a ton of track names you’d find familiar today. Eastern Market, Woodward, and yes, I’ve played “Belle Isle” while driving around Belle Isle.