Best Album Covers of the 50s

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Discover with us the best album covers of the 50s, iconic artwork that defined the music industry's visual culture! From jazz to early rock 'n' roll, these covers reflect the decade's diverse sounds and artistic trends combining photography, typography, and illustration.

Welcome to a visual journey through the 1950s, a decade that not only revolutionized the music industry with its groundbreaking sounds but also set a new standard for album cover art. This article is your guide to the 50s iconic album covers, each meticulously selected to showcase the diverse musical landscape and the concurrent artistic innovations that defined the period. From the smooth, sultry notes of jazz to the energetic birth of rock ‘n’ roll, these album covers serve as a snapshot of cultural shifts, design trends, and the evolving narrative of music.

In this curated collection, we’ll explore how these incredible artwork contributed to the rich legacy of 1950s music, marking a pivotal chapter in the history of art and sound. 

1950s Best Album Art: Our Selection

Selecting the best album covers of the 50s was a journey through a treasure trove of artistic expression and (now) awesome classics. Our criteria included visual appeal, historical significance, and how well each cover reflected the music and era’s spirit. 

Josh White, Chain Gang Songs - 1966

Josh White, Chain Gang Songs - 1966

The cover features stark, monochrome prison stripes, emphasizing the theme of incarceration. The central image of shackled legs is a powerful, poignant symbol of oppression, echoing the album’s title and its contents.

Sonny Rollins, Saxophone Colossus - 1956

best album covers of the 50s

The silhouette of Sonny Rollins against the deep blue background creates a striking image, highlighting the album’s title, Saxophone Colossus. The minimalist design cleverly plays with negative space, where the saxophone and musician become one, symbolizing their unity.

George Feyer, Echoes of Broadway - 1950s

indieblog best album covers 50s 3

The album cover for “Echoes of Broadway” is a vibrant pastiche of nightlife and marquee lights, capturing the dynamic energy of Broadway. The chalk-style font and illustrations evoke the ephemeral beauty of street art, mirroring the transient nature of theater.

Frank Sinatra with Billy May and his orchestra, Come Fly With Me - 1958

Frank Sinatra with Billy May and his orchestra, Come Fly With Me - 1958

The album cover portrays Sinatra as the epitome of cool, inviting and confident. His centered, smiling figure against a sky-blue backdrop with an airplane suggests luxury, travel, and the allure of the jet-set era. The use of bold, cursive typography adds a personal, stylish touch.

Frank Sinatra, Where Are You? - 1957

indieblog best album covers 50s 5

This contemplative cover features a close-up of Sinatra in a pensive mood, the pastel colors and sketch-like texture convey introspection. The smoke from his cigarette trails off, symbolizing the album’s introspective and melancholic themes. The simple, elegant font reflects the album’s intimate tone.

Miles Davis, 'Round About Midnight - 1957

Miles Davis, 'Round About Midnight - 1957

The cover captures Miles Davis in a moment of absorption, bathed in a monochromatic red hue that evokes the late-night mood of the album title. His closed eyes and clasped hands suggest a deep connection to the music, enhancing the album’s introspective and soulful atmosphere.

Elvis Presley, Elvis - 1956

1950s best album covers

The album cover features Elvis Presley in a profile shot, gazing upward with a look of aspiration or inspiration. The warm, gradient background radiates around him, drawing focus to his figure. Bold, sans-serif typography announces his iconic status. The overall design is classic yet dynamic, embodying the spirit of rock ‘n’ roll.

Carl Perkins, Dance Album of Carl Perkins - 1957

Carl Perkins, Dance Album of Carl Perkins - 1957

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Charles Mingus, Mingus Ah Um - 1959

Charles Mingus, Mingus Ah Um - 1959

One of the best album covers of the 50s, this cover art is an abstract explosion of geometric shapes and lines, suggesting musical harmony and complexity. Its modernist approach reflects the innovative jazz compositions within. The earthy color palette evokes the album’s deep, organic sound.

Ella Fitzgerald & Louis Armstrong, Porgy & Bess - 1958

Ella Fitzgerald & Louis Armstrong, Porgy & Bess - 1958

The album cover features a mosaic design with vivid colors, reflecting the intricate and diverse musical landscape of Porgy & Bess. The fragmented tiles symbolize the coming together of different elements to create a cohesive, beautiful whole, much like the collaboration of the artists within.

Larry Williams, Here's Larry Williams - 1959

best album covers of the 50s

The album cover, with its bold orange backdrop and contrasting black-and-white image, is a standout design from the best album covers of the 50s. The confident pose of Larry Williams and the striking typography convey the energy and spirit of his music.

Frank Sinatra, In the Wee Small Hours - 1955

Frank Sinatra, In the Wee Small Hours - 1955

This iconic cover is often listed among the best album covers of the 50s. It perfectly captures the album’s mood of introspection and late-night melancholy with its image of Sinatra alone on a desolate street, under the glow of street lamps.

Brownie McGhee and Sonny Terry, Brownie McGhee and Sonny Terry Sing - 1958

Brownie McGhee and Sonny Terry, Brownie McGhee and Sonny Terry Sing - 1958

The abstract expressionist style of this cover, featuring bold yellow and black contrasts, is a highlight in the best album covers of the 50s. It reflects the raw, earthy essence of the blues genre that the duo is known for. The patterns hint at African textile designs, paying homage to the roots of blues music.

John Lee Hooker, The Country Blues of John Lee Hooker - 1959

1950s best cover art

The cover art, with its rustic imagery and bold, blue, handwritten-style font, captures the essence of the country blues. It reflects the raw and authentic storytelling found in Hooker’s music, with the desolate landscape suggesting the deep roots of the blues tradition.

Johnny Ray, Johnny Ray - 1952

Johnny Ray, Johnny Ray - 1952

The cover captures the intense emotion of Johnny Ray’s performance. His closed eyes and pained expression against the bright turquoise background evoke a sense of raw musical energy. The microphone, branded with ‘Columbia Records,’ reinforces his recording identity.

The Original Memphis Five, Connee Boswell and the Original Memphis Five in Hi-Fi - 1957

The Original Memphis Five, Connee Boswell and the Original Memphis Five in Hi-Fi - 1957

The album cover showcases a vintage feel with a steamboat, brass instrument, cards, and dice, suggesting themes of jazz and the Mississippi riverboat era. The typography is bold and straightforward, capturing the era’s essence.

Eileen Rodgers, Blue Swing - 1958

Eileen Rodgers, Blue Swing

The album cover for “Blue Swing” features a contemplative Eileen Rodgers bathed in a blue haze. The use of shadow and light creates a moody atmosphere, while the cursive script adds a touch of elegance, reflective of the album’s smooth and rhythmic contents.

Jimmy Rushing, Listen to the Blues - 1956

Jimmy Rushing, Listen to the Blues - 1956

The album cover features an expressive painting of Jimmy Rushing, vividly capturing the soulful essence of blues music. The raw brushstrokes and use of a singular, bold color palette emphasize the genre’s emotional depth.

Julie London, London by Night - 1959

Best Album Covers of the 50s

This cover art elegantly portrays Julie London against a brick backdrop, highlighting her glamorous attire. The contrast between her figure and the background emphasizes sophistication and the allure of nighttime in the city.

Lee Wiley with Billy Butterfield and His Orchestra, A Touch of the Blues - 1958

Lee Wiley with Billy Butterfield and His Orchestra, A Touch of the Blues - 1958

The cover art captures a silhouetted hand reaching for a streetlamp, set against a dusk sky, conveying the melancholic mood typical of blues music. The minimalist design and warm color palette create an inviting yet introspective atmosphere.

Elvis Presley, Elvis Presley - 1956

Elvis Presley, Elvis Presley

The album cover is a classic, with a dynamic black-and-white photograph of Elvis in mid-performance, accentuated by bold, contrasting pink and green lettering, capturing the energy of the artist and the era. This album cover is famous also for inspiring The Clash for their historical album London Calling

Sun Ra and His Arkestra, Jazz in Silhouette - 1959

Sun Ra and His Arkestra, Jazz in Silhouette - 1959

The album cover presents an otherworldly scene with surreal figures and landscapes, capturing Sun Ra’s avant-garde approach to jazz. The artwork reflects the cosmic and experimental themes of the music created in 1959.

Four Freshmen, Four Freshmen and 5 Trombones - 1955

Four Freshmen, Four Freshmen and 5 Trombones - 1955

The album art is a playful blend of photography and colorful graphics, with the band members interacting with oversized trombones. This whimsical design captures the essence of 1955, reflecting the album’s innovative jazz harmonies.

The Dave Brubeck Quartet, Time Out - 1959

The Dave Brubeck Quartet, Time Out - 1959

The cover of Time Out is a visual representation of the album’s innovation in jazz, featuring abstract art that echoes the rhythmic experimentation within. It’s considered a paragon of 1950s best album art for its bold, modernist design that perfectly encapsulates the era’s exploratory spirit.

Lola Albright, Lola Wants You - 1957

best album covers 1950s

This cover exemplifies the intimate and sultry mood of vocal jazz, with Lola Albright’s gaze drawing listeners into a personal moment. The soft focus and pastel colors contribute to its recognition as one of the best album covers of the 50s, evoking a sense of dreamy allure.

Moondog, Moondog - 1956

Moondog, Moondog 1956

Moondog features a mythical creature against a lunar backdrop, a design that encapsulates the enigmatic nature of Moondog’s music. With its whimsical illustration and celestial motifs, it’s celebrated as one of the best album covers of the 50s.

Meade Lux Lewis, Cat House Piano - 1957

Meade Lux Lewis, Cat House Piano - 1957

The album cover for Cat House Piano is a striking blend of bold colors and stylized illustrations. The vivid contrast of red, black, and blue captures the lively spirit of Meade Lux Lewis’s ragtime blues piano. The whimsical depiction of a cat and a bustling nightlife scene hints at the album’s playful yet soulful contents.

Stanley Black and his orchestra, Red Velvet - 1957

Stanley Black and his orchestra, Red Velvet - 1957​

Red Velvet album cover by Stanley Black exudes a classic 1950s elegance. The luxurious red velvet backdrop and the relaxed pose of the woman, surrounded by records and a gramophone, alludes to the era’s love for high-fidelity and lush orchestral music. The scene invites listeners into a world of sophistication and musical indulgence.

Ron Goodwin and London's Finest Orchestra, Music in Orbit - 1958

Ron Goodwin and London's Finest Orchestra, Music in Orbit - 1958

Music in Orbit cover art captures the fascination with space from its era, featuring a rocket launch against a cosmic backdrop. The imagery suggests a journey through the stars, mirrored by the “out of this world” tagline, promising an otherworldly auditory experience.

Hank Williams, Moanin' the Blues - 1952

Hank Williams, Moanin' the Blues - 1952

The cover of Moanin’ the Blues features Hank Williams with his guitar, set against a bold blue background. The design encapsulates the raw emotion of the blues through a simple yet evocative illustration that reflects the music’s heartfelt storytelling.

Russ Garcia, Fantastica - 1958

Russ Garcia, Fantastica - 1958

The Fantastica album art is a quintessential piece among the best album covers of the 50s, capturing the era’s fascination with space. Its surreal imagery and space-age design elements perfectly complement the theme of “Music from Outer Space,” promising an auditory experience as boundless as the universe itself.

Lightnin' Hopkins, Lightnin' Hopkins - 1958

Lightnin' Hopkins, Lightnin' Hopkins - 1958

A striking example of the best album covers of the 50s, this cover features a triptych of Lightnin’ Hopkins, each panel tinted in a different bold color. It’s a visual echo of the album’s title, suggesting movement and rhythm, and reflecting the energy of Hopkins’ blues music.

Martin Denny, Exotica - 1957

Martin Denny, Exotica - 1957

Exotica features a woman’s face peering through bamboo sticks, a visual metaphor for the allure and mystery of the music. This innovative cover stands out among the best album covers of the 50s, evoking the lush, mysterious sounds that define the artist.

Mose Allison, Local Color - 1957

Mose Allison, Local Color - 1957

The album cover of Local Color by Mose Allison presents a rural landscape bathed in a monochromatic yellow hue, evoking a sense of nostalgia and simplicity. The solitary mailbox and path leading to a distant farmhouse reflect the album’s title, emphasizing the authentic, down-to-earth quality of Allison’s music.

The Del Vikings, The Swinging, Singing Record Session - 1957

The Del Vikings, The Swinging, Singing Record Session - 1957

The cover art for The Swinging, Singing Record Session presents The Del Vikings in a candid studio setting, their backs to the viewer, creating an intimate atmosphere. The perspective invites the listener into the session, offering a glimpse behind the scenes of this doo-wop group’s creative process.

Stan Kenton, This Modern World - 1953

Stan Kenton, This Modern World - 1953

The cover of This Modern World showcases Stan Kenton with a graphical overlay of geometric shapes and lines, representing the atomic age and the complexities of modern jazz. It’s a visually compelling mix of portrait and abstract art, indicating the innovative nature of the music.

Otto Luening and Vladimir Ussachevsky, Tape Recorder Music - 1955

Otto Luening and Vladimir Ussachevsky, Tape Recorder Music - 1955

The album cover for Tape Recorder Music features abstract atomic-era artwork, symbolizing the experimental nature of Luening and Ussachevsky’s compositions. The white linear designs against the dark background evoke the technological innovation of tape-recorded music during the 1950s.

Pearl Bailey, I'm With You - 1958

Pearl Bailey, I'm With You - 1958

I’m With You by Pearl Bailey features a striking mid-century graphic design. A bold, duotone image of Bailey dominates the composition, set against a playful, abstract green and red background. The typography, a mix of cursive and print, adds a personal, inviting touch to the design.

Jimmy and Mama Yancey, Yancey Special - 1958

Jimmy and Mama Yancey, Yancey Special - 1958

Yancey Special album cover presents a vintage illustration style, capturing a candid scene of musical performance. The muted color palette and stencil-like drawing create a sense of nostalgia, while the ornate script typography adds elegance, echoing the era’s design sensibilities.

Dee Lawson, 'Round Midnight - 1957

Dee Lawson, 'Round Midnight - 1957

This cover for Dee Lawson’s ‘Round Midnight employs an expressionist art style, characterized by its textured brush strokes and a moody blue palette. It evokes the lively, yet intimate atmosphere of a jazz club, complemented by the informal, handwritten font used for the title.

Thelonious Monk and Sonny Rollins, Thelonious Monk and Sonny Rollins - 1957

Thelonious Monk and Sonny Rollins, Thelonious Monk and Sonny Rollins - 1957

This album cover features abstract geometric shapes and a striking contrast of orange, black, and white, embodying a modernist aesthetic. The playful arrangement of forms and freeform typography reflects the improvisational nature of jazz music.

Howlin' Wolf, Moanin' in the Moonlight - 1959

Howlin' Wolf, Moanin' in the Moonlight - 1959

The Moanin’ in the Moonlight cover art is a minimalist design with a hand-drawn wolf and stark, angular typography. The earthy background color complements the simple line art, capturing the primal essence of blues music.

Ronnie Deauville, Smoke Dreams - 1957

Ronnie Deauville, Smoke Dreams - 1957

The Smoke Dreams album cover by Ronnie Deauville exemplifies classic Hollywood glamour with a dreamlike quality. The smoky typography mirrors the smoke from the woman’s cigarette, while the monochrome palette suggests a timeless elegance. The juxtaposition of the relaxed woman and the formal man adds narrative intrigue.

Best Album Covers of the 50s & of the following decades!

In this episode of Indieground’s Best Album Covers we have researched the best album covers of the Fifties. A fantastic collection of artwork and images that explain the taste of an era.. we hope you had fun exploring those great album covers with us and maybe you discovered some great music along the way! 

If you are looking to find more inspiration for your cover art, check out the other episodes in the series, we hope you’ll enjoy them!

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Indieground Design

We are a team of designers, developers & photographers from Italy and we love to create striking graphic resources! Have a look around our website to discover more about what we do and the services we offer!

Picture of Indieground Design

Indieground Design

We are a team of designers, developers & photographers from Italy and we love to create striking graphic resources! Have a look around our website to discover more about what we do and the services we offer!

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