Few kinds of music are more inherently visual than progressive rock. The music lends itself to elaborate flights of fantasy, which is why prog-rock album covers are an art form on their own. To this day, it’s impossible to think of prog music without imagining the manic Schizoid Man, ELP’s mummified goddess, or your favorite Roger Dean fantasy kingdom. In some cases, like Hugh Syme’s work with Rush, Dean’s with Yes, or Kim Poor’s with Steve Hackett, the cover art was the ongoing visual translation of themes in the music.
The likes of Dean, Paul Whitehead, and the Hipgnosis team also worked in other musical genres, but it was largely their prog-related albums that made them household names. Many of the best prog rock album covers become iconic as the albums themselves; along with a few visual masterstrokes that adorn the covers of less celebrated albums.