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Best Fleetwood Mac Album Covers: All 18 Studio Album Artworks, Ranked And Reviewed
Everett Collection Inc / Alamy Stock Photo
List & Guides

Best Fleetwood Mac Album Covers: All 18 Studio Album Artworks, Ranked And Reviewed

The best Fleetwood Mac album covers are full of cryptic imagery and mini-narratives that serve to further the band’s legend.

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Like Fleetwood Mac themselves, the best Fleetwood Mac album covers are enigmatic artworks that have inspired no shortage of rumours of their own. Full of drama, psychedelic whimsy, lush landscapes… and plenty of penguins, they offer a fascinating way of tracing the band’s development over the decades. Here we rank and review all 18 of Fleetwood Mac’s studio album covers.

Listen to the best of Fleetwood Mac here, and check out our best Fleetwood Mac album covers, below.

18: ‘Behind The Mask’ (1990)

Released at the dawn of a new decade, Behind The Mask also represented a turning point for the band – it was their first album without guitarist and songwriter Lindsey Buckingham since he joined in 1975. Perhaps surprisingly, the new line-up, featuring replacement guitarists Billy Burnette and Rick Vito, didn’t want to appear on the sleeve for Behind The Mask, so founding member Mick Fleetwood asked photographer Dave Gorton to shoot an image that “spiritually symbolised” the band. Gorton delivered an image of a young woman turning her back on an outdoor jam session with storm clouds gathering overhead.

Photographer: Dave Gorton

Behind The Mask

17: ‘Time’ (1995)

Another symbolic cover, the design for Fleetwood Mac’s 1995 album, Time, explicitly heralded a new dawn for the group. Stevie Nicks had also now left the band, along with Rick Vito, and Dave Mason (guitars, vocals) and Bekka Bramlett (vocals) had been drafted in. A newborn penguin emerging from an egg suggested an optimism in the new-look group, but this line-up would dissolve before the album’s release.

Photographers: Dale McRaven, Bonnie Nelson

Time

16: ‘Blues Jam At Chess’ (1969)

A functional but stylish entry among the best Fleetwood Mac album covers, the Blues Jam At Chess sleeve features a multitude of guitar leads bathed in red light as the background to the album’s title and the players’ names – and what players they were. Blues Jam At Chess was a collection of Fleetwood Mac’s early 1969 jam sessions at the great Chess Studios, in Chicago, featuring some of the blues luminaries who inspired them: Otis Spann, Willie Dixon, Shakey Horton, JT Brown, Guitar Buddy, Honey Boy Edwards and SP Leary. It was also the last Fleetwood Mac album to feature founding member and guitar genius Peter Green as part of the official line-up.

Photographer/designer: Terence Ibbott

Blues Jam At Chess

15: ‘Mystery To Me’ (1973)

The sleeve of Fleetwood Mac’s eighth studio album was hard to miss. An early example of how the best Fleetwood Mac covers would often to play with imagery that invited fans to draw their own conclusions, this garish gatefold sleeve opened out to depict a baboon on a beach looking quizzical after having taken bites out of a book and a cake, and a berobed old man who appears to be offering guidance. All the while a penguin stands back and surveys the scene. What does it all mean? It’s a mystery to us…

Designer: Modula

Mystery_to_Me_cover

14: ‘Penguin’ (1973)

One of the more unusual Fleetwood Mac facts is that John McVie loved penguins. Not only did this give the band a mascot, but it also inspired the name and sleeve of their 1973 album, Penguin. Around this time, McVie frequently visited the penguin enclosure at London Zoo in order to watch and take photographs of the birds. Still, the band went with a painting of a slightly cross-looking penguin rather than using one of the bassist’s shots.

Designer: Chris Moore

PenguinMac

13: ‘Heroes Are Hard To Find’ (1974)

The last Fleetwood Mac album recorded before Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham joined the band, Heroes Are Hard To Find has a striking cover featuring Mick Fleetwood and his daughter Amelia, taken by photographer Herbie Worthington III. In his autobiography, Play On: Now, Then & Fleetwood Mac, the drummer says of Worthington, “He was able to capture fleeting moments in our world. He was the one we choose to shoot the cover of Heroes Are Hard To Find, an image that features me modelling gorgeously a pair of lace underpants that belonged to Sandra [a friend]. I’ve got my chest puffed-up, which means my ribs are showing, and I’m holding my three-year-old daughter Amelia’s hands as she stands on my shoes. He took that photo of us in a three-way mirror, so the final image is three sides, back-to-back.”

Photographer: Herbie Worthington III

Heroes Are Hard To Find

12: ‘Tusk’ (1979)

At the time of its release, Fleetwood Mac’s 1979 double album, Tusk[https://www.thisisdig.com/feature/tusk-fleetwood-mac-album/], was reputedly the most expensive album ever recorded, with session costs allegedly hitting $1 million. In contrast, the sleeve looked at first glance like a bootleg – a photograph of producer Ken Calliat’s dog Scooter nipping at his trousers. Calliat later said, “Stevie wasn’t happy about that at all… When the band decided that the cover of Tusk should be a picture of Scooter biting my foot, Stevie told me that she had put a hex on Scooter.” Curses aside, the rest of the packaging was more extravagant, with an unusual four cardboard inner sleeves featuring enigmatic photography and collages for fans to puzzle over.

Art direction, design: Vigon Nahas Vigon | Photographers: Peter Beard, Jayme Odgers, Norman Seeff

tusk

11: ‘Future Games’ (1971)

The first Fleetwood Mac album to feature Christine McVie as an official member, 1971’s Future Games also introduced guitarist Bob Welch to the band and marked a transitional moment for the group. One of the more subtle contenders among the best Fleetwood Mac album covers, the sleeve features an evocative black-and-white photograph of a couple of children playing in the water, one of whom has a rubber ring around their waist and foliage in their mouth. Early UK and US releases of Future Games featured a yellow background behind the picture and cover text, while all subsequent releases have a green background.

Designer: John Pasche | Photographer: Sally Jesse

Future Games

10: ‘Say You Will’ (2003)

Following a tumultuous 90s, Say You Will was a return to stability for the group – and a return to Fleetwood Mac for Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks (though Christine McVie had by now departed). Buckingham and Nicks were aware of the drama that their tempestuous relationship afforded Fleetwood Mac, as the cover for Say You Will acknowledged. The photograph shows the two songwriters lying prostrate on the floor, facing in different directions but still appearing intertwined – a visual nod to the final image of Japanese filmmaker Masahiro Shinoda’s 1969 film, Double Suicide.

Art director: Steven Walker

Say You Will

9: ‘Bare Trees’ (1972)

The only Fleetwood Mac album cover to feature a photograph by bassist John McVie, Bare Tress’ image of skeleton-like trees shrouded by fog not only has a literal link to guitarist Danny Kirwan’s title track, but it also fits the mood of song such as Bob Welch’s The Ghost, Kirwan’s Dust, and the closing track, a reading of Aileen Scarrott’s poem Thoughts On A Grey Day, delivered by the poet herself.

Photographer: John McVie

Bare Trees

8: ‘Then Play On’ (1969)

With a title that nodded to the opening line of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night (“If music be the food of love, play on”), and a more expansive sound than their earlier material, Fleetwood Mac’s third album, Then Play On, was a grander affair than previous outings. And, as one of the best Fleetwood Mac album covers, the ornate sleeve matched the contents. The image of a naked man riding a white horse was taken from a mural painted in 1917 by English artist Maxwell Armfield. The mural adorned the dining-room wall of a London mansion before hitting record racks worldwide.

Illustrator: Maxwell Armfield

Then Play On

7: ‘Mirage’ (1982)

This dramatic tableau used for Mirage’s album cover was another acknowledgement of the band’s shifting romantic unions. Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham appear to have been caught mid-dance; Nicks is lost in the moment while Buckingham is distracted by his bandmate Christine McVie. When asked by Classic Rock in 2016 whether the sleeve was designed to evoke the intrigue surrounding the Rumours album, McVie was forthright: “Oh yes, exactly – that’s what it’s meant to do.” The image was shot by George Hurrell, who made his name photographing stars in Hollywood during the 30s and 40s. Easily one of the best Fleetwood Mac album covers, the Mirage sleeve was every bit as glamourous as those portraits.

Photographer: George Hurrell

Mirage

6: ‘Kiln House’ (1970)

While Christine McVie hadn’t officially joined Fleetwood Mac by the time they recorded their 1970 album, Kiln House, she did contribute the bucolic, lightly psychedelic artwork for its cover. The album was named after the communal house in Hampshire where the band lived at the time, though they soon moved on to another abode, a country manor called Benifold. The group made four albums during their time there, and it is said that on the second floor there are still some paintings reminiscent of McVie’s Kiln House artwork.

Illustrator: Christine McVie

Kiln House

5: ‘Fleetwood Mac’ (1968)

The cover of Fleetwood Mac’s debut album might not be pretty, but its image of a dog shuffling around a back alley full of bins and litter couldn’t have been more perfect in announcing the band’s distinctly British take on the blues. Clearly, the Fleetwood Mac of the late 60s was not an outfit concerned with politeness or image – and it did them no harm. The album, also known as “Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac”, reached No.4 in the UK and stayed in the charts for 37 weeks. It was the perfect start for the group: now the world was their oyster.

Photographer: Unknown

Fleetwood Mac

4: ‘Mr Wonderful’ (1968)

Some of the best Fleetwood Mac album covers embraced humour, and Mr Wonderful is one of them, featuring as it does a close-up shot of a shirtless and shell-shocked Mick Fleetwood. Open up the gatefold sleeve and the photo extends to show Fleetwood’s modesty covered merely by shrubbery and a dog. Producer Mike Vernon spoke about the sleeve’s photographer in the book Fleetwood Mac FAQ. “Terence had the most imaginative mind, beyond belief. The guy was just… weird,” Vernon recalled. “He was an extremely clever photographer and a great artist. Terence would come up with the most daft ideas, some of which were just vulgar to the point of being irresponsible and unusable. But sometimes he came up with extraordinary pictures. The picture of Mick on the double-fold of Mr Wonderful was extraordinary.”

Photographer: Terence Ibbott

Mr Wonderful

3: ‘Fleetwood Mac’ (1975)

The only Fleetwood Mac album cover to feature bassist John McVie, the group’s self-titled 1975 album marked the beginning of the Buckingham-Nicks era, and with it a whole new level of success. Herbert Worthington III’s photograph of the Fleetwood Mac rhythm section is one of the group’s most enigmatic, with Mick Fleetwood dressed to the nines and brandishing a cane while sipping from a champagne flute. Meanwhile, McVie is on his knees, his eyes on a crystal ball in mid-flight – yet the ball features a reflection of the duo that doesn’t correspond to the image. Another instance of the ways in which the best Fleetwood Mac album covers often invited fans to pore over them in order to ascertain their meaning, the inscrutability of this image didn’t stop the record from establishing Fleetwood Mac as one of the biggest bands around.

Photographer: Herbert Worthington III

Fleetwood Mac 1975

2: ‘Tango In The Night’ (1987)

The scene of wildlife grazing among lush, verdant foliage (with added UFO) that adorns the sleeve of Fleetwood Mac’s 1987 album, Tango In The Night, might look like a Henri Rosseau painting, but it was actually an homage to the French artist by Australian painter Brett-Livingstone Strong. The image is a perfect match for Tango In The Night’s sophisticated pop, and the band didn’t have to look too far to find it – Lindsey Buckingham had the original painting hanging up in his home, the location for much of the album’s recording sessions.

Illustrator: Brett-Livingstone Strong

Tango In The Night

1: ‘Rumours’ (1977)

The image most associated with Fleetwood Mac, the Rumours sleeve tops our list of the best Fleetwood Mac album covers, and perfectly sums up the heartbreaks and affairs that went into the making of the album. Herbert Worthington III returned on photography duties, capturing a shot of Stevie Nicks and Mick Fleetwood in stage wear, Fleetwood holding a crystal ball for Nicks to inspect as she swoops around with her robe flowing behind her. The McVies had split by the time the album was recorded, with Nicks and Buckingham also parting ways during the sessions, and Fleetwood and Nicks subsequently embarking on their own brief affair. These tensions resulted in an album that features many of the best Fleetwood Mac songs, and, according to Fleetwood himself, it was a John McVie comment on the drummer’s affair with Nicks that inspired the title. “That’s why John came up with such a great album title for Rumours,” Fleetwood explained. “He said: ‘This is like a fucking soap opera.’”

Photographer: Herbert Worthington III

Fleetwood Mac rumours

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