Top 13 Albums With Disembodied Arms On The Cover

on Nov 14, 2012

When looking back on the long, gangly history of rock albums that have disembodied arms for their cover art, one can't help but also wistfully reflect on the lost opportunities; the chances for loose-limbed legend that swung and missed. There was Dire Straits' Brothers in Arms, for one. Even more egregious, consider the case of Seattle-based post-hardcore band These Arms Are Snakes. Sure, there's a floating hand on Oxeneers, but that hand clearly belongs to, and is overshadowed by, the head underneath it...and besides, that's not even the real point. The point is: are two big-ass snakes for arms really all that hard to draw??! 

#13.   Sister Psychic - Catch and Release

Seriously dudes, you all had to get in the same room at least every once in a while to practice, right? And, unless you did so begrudgingly in complete silence, you probably all talked to each other? Exchanging words and ideas? Yet, somehow, we the public are all supposed to buy the idea that not a single one of you, at any point, suggested "oh man, a couple of gnarly snakes for arms rocking out on a flaming guitar, or maybe choking a leprechaun, would be a kick-ass record cover." What the hell were you doing that whole time then?!

#12.   Godspeed You! Black Emperor - Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven

Wanna see how easy it is? Just look at Godspeed. Godspeed have five times as many members as These Arms Are Snakes, and yet when it comes time for them to all sit cross-legged around the campfire and pass the talking stick counterclockwise, it happens like this: "What's the album called again? Oh, okay, how about we just draw that on a piece of cardboard then?" Two dozen "aye's" later: ART.

#11.   Antlers - Hospice

Of course, disembodied hands (sometimes with wrists, as in this particular instance) can also be used in less literally interpretive ways. Here, a deceptively simple drawing is used to illustrate what is surely one of the most painful experiences a human being could ever bear in this world. Cheers, Antlers. 

#10.   Modest Mouse - The Moon & Antarctica

Here's a happier meeting of two hands, perhaps meant to show the moon and Antarctica coming to an agreement, one that probably has to do with conspiring against the tides, or gravity. It's a shame that the Mouse dropped this prog-tastic original cover for the 2004 reissue, but they could have done worse...

#9.   Hole - Ask For It  EP

...A LOT WORSE. Courtney Love was never exactly known for tact, but holy balls. Who the eff at the record label green-lighted this s#@t?!  I'm sorry, but do you know who didn't "ask for it"? The fourteen-year-old me who stumbled on this in the racks at Tower Records way back when and couldn't scrub the image out of his head forever.  

#8.   Matt Sweeney + Bonnie "Prince" Billy - Superwolf

Anyway, moving on...well well, what do we have here? Now here's an arm that looks like a snake! Better yet, it looks like an evil, gnarly snake, right down to the bit of blood -- or venom, totally up to interpretation -- dripping from its mouth. Perhaps because it just devoured the superwolf? That would explain why the superwolf doesn't make what would otherwise be a no-brainer appearance on this album cover. 

#7.   Bettie Serveert - Lamprey

Sure, this kinda looks like a lamprey, in that way that all human arms look like certain kinds of coastal and fresh water eels, but what it truly looks like is the arm snake from Superwolf laying down to take a nap, because it is tired from devouring the superwolf. 

#6.   Blouse - Blouse

Logic then follows that this would be a picture of that exhausted arm snake, fast asleep on its plush, cozy snake bed. Judging by the image, one might think this is a teenage girl arm snake without a job who has time to nap during the day; but that would be sexist, and ageist.

#5.   Spiritualized - Amazing Grace

However, if it were though, that might make this her hairy older brother arm snake. Look at their faces, the familial resemblance is striking.

#4.  Low - Trust

Which would then make this her creepy uncle.

#3.   Letting Up Despite Great Faults - Untogether

If these arms were snakes, they would be Water Moccasins. No question about it.  

#2.   Spoon - Kill the Moonlight

And if these arms were snakes, they would be those gnarly Amazonian snakes that hang from trees, like Kaa from "The Jungle Book." 

But enough about how These Arms Are Snakes let the entire world down. There can be only one true winner here, and that is...

#1.   Iggy Pop - The Idiot

If you think that just because those arms are technically attached to Iggy Pop, that means that they aren't disembodied, you need to read up on your Iggy Pop. Besides, look at them: they are hypnotically distracting. The fact that they can lure the eyes away from the rest of Iggy Pop in the way that they do is a testament to the power they wield on their own. 

Honorable Mention:   Islands - Arm's Way

There's far, far too much nonsense going on in this drawing overall, but Islands, like Godspeed, clearly remembered the name of their own record. Unlike, say, Band of Horses, whose album Infinite Arms, ironically, has infinitely less arms on its cover than this one does. 

Slightly Less Honorable Mention:   Los Campesinos! - Romance is Boring

The peasant farmers from Cardiff got the visual aesthetic right, and an extra point for blood. But, well, legs.