The 40 best television soundtrack album covers
From hip spy series scores to Fonzie's favorite rock & roll, these are the coolest record sleeves from TV. Did you own any?
These days, television shows are riddled with pop songs. Nobody collects television soundtracks; they Shazam.
In the middle of the 20th century, at the peak of the jazz era, a TV soundtrack by Henry Mancini or Lalo Schifrin could sit on a shelf next one's Miles Davis and Dave Brubeck records with pride. These swingin' scores were cool, and the sleeves wrapping the vinyl were just as hep.
So we dug through the record bins to find the sharpest looking album covers of the golden age. Which is your favorite?
1. One Step Beyond (1959)
While this supernatural anthology series of the late 1950s is not as well known as contemporaries like The Twilight Zone, its cosmic album cover is a trip.
2. Laverne & Shirley Sing (1976)
Milwaukee's finest look cooler than popsicles here.
3. Man from Interpol (1960)
The NBC series from 1960 was a blip on the radar before the spy craze exploded, but its impressionist mod wrap is a purple delight.
4. Taxi (1983)
Let that image sink in. That is keyboard ace Bob James rising from a busted radiator like a genie.
5. Monty Python's Flying Circus (1970)
Terry Gilliam's immediately recognizable pop-surrealist style melds high art and cartoon fun.
6. Mission: Impossible (1967)
Thankfully, the LP did not self-destruct.
7. The Girl from U.N.C.L.E. (1967)
This about sums up the '60s.
8. Peter Gunn (1959)
The abstract might not have the cool car or Gunn himself, but its suggestions of lighting and bullet holes capture the hip noir vibe of the show.
9. Fonzie Favorites (1976)
No text needed. Well, aside from the subtle "SIT ON IT" button.
10. Bonanza (1961)
Though it had nothing to do with the show, this is a gorgeous piece of western art.
11. The Prisoner (1986)
With its busy photographic image and depth of focus, this could almost pass for something by Pink Floyd. It even came wrapped in jail bars.
12. Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In (1968)
As groovy as the paintings on Goldie Hawn.
13. Moonlighting (1987)
Bruce Willis leaps into the dark side.
14. Space Sheriff Gavan (1982)
We tried to refrain from Japanese television, because that is a whole other deep and obscure world, but this was too awesome to pass up. The design of this hero inspired the creators of Robocop.
15. M Squad (1959)
Sparks fly on this realistic noir pic.
16. Richard Diamond (1959)
The silhouettes bring to mind the stylish opening credits sequences of period caper films.
17. Johnny Staccato (1959)
The tie-in to NBC's John Cassavetes series came as close as anything to looking like a straight Blue Note jazz album.
18. Mr. Lucky (1960)
That sort of deco-design kitty from the opening credits to Blake Edwards' gambler series was too perfect to pass up.
19. Miami Vice (1985)
The suits were so pastel in the 1980s, they positively glowed.
20. Leonard Nimoy Presents Mr. Spock's Music from Outer Space
While it is rather standard design-wise, the title alone earns it a lot of points.
21. The Green Hornet (1966)
As neat as the logo is, they had to put Kato and the Black Beauty on there. We dig how the title is coming from his pistol.
22. Batman (1966)
They could have just gone with a big "POW!" but this random action still will work, too.
23. Honey West (1965)
Do you need a license to own a wild cat like that?
24. 77 Sunset Strip (1959)
We appreciate how the type is on the awning, not superimposed on the cover.
25. The Twilight Zone (1961)
Sure, it's just the title logo, but that is one of the greatest title logos.
26. I Spy (1965)
He morphs from tennis player to secret agent.
27. The Hardy Boys (1969)
What looks like a run of the mill psychedelic pop album becomes more intriguing when you remember this was a Filmation cartoon. They cast a band that looked just like the animated characters.
28. The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (1965)
It couldn't have been so hard to defeat a spy in the 1960s as they were so easily distracted.
29. Dr. Who (1978)
This is where Bill and Ted got the idea.
30. Space: 1999 (1976)
What a cute couple.
31. Electric Company (1974)
Morgan Freeman as Easy Reader. Enough said.
32. Fawlty Towers (1979)
John Cleese is quite tall. We like how this looks like a band. Not sure what kind of band exactly, but it could pass for a new-wave record.
33. Hogan's Heroes Sing the Best of World War II (1966)
34. Hennesey (1958)
Hennessy really missed an opportunity for a cognac tie-in here. They let Kent smokes have all the glory. Perhaps it was the difference in spelling.
35. Howdy Doody (1960)
Okay, this is a little frightening. Did Howdy Doody invent psych-rock?
36. The Andy Griffith Show (1961)
Just chillin' in the jail.
37. Peyton Place (1966)
Randy Newman, before long, long before Toy Story.
38. Route 66 (1962)
Rather obvious, and a compilation technically, but the black and gold is sharp.
39. The Beverly Hillbillies (1966)
It's nice to see the jalopy in color.
40. Dark Shadows (1969)
This looks like a before and after ad for sideburns growth tonic.