Billed as a collaboration between local muso Ben Craven and renowned UK artist Roger Dean, Great & Terrible Potions is a prog rock masterpiece for the new millennium. Tony McMahon finds out what it was like working with the guy who made covers for Yes and Uriah Heap.
“Roger is a gentleman and an artist,” says Craven. “Working with him was incredible. He offered up two paintings. When I laid eyes on this one, it instantly fused with the music in my head and there was no turning back. From there on I trusted his judgement and let him get on with what he does best. I’m incredibly happy with the final package. Riding a train home in the evening while talking to Roger Dean on the phone about the size and placement of his lettering for ‘Ben Craven’ on the front cover was a surreal experience, I can tell you.”
Why is album artwork such an important element of music? Among other reasons, Craven says it’s because cocaine tastes better when snorted from a good-looking album cover.
“If you’re going to try to sell physical product, I think you really need to come up with a good reason to convince people to buy it instead of digital. I’ve always loved the great album covers by Roger Dean and Storm Thorgerson. They’re modern day works of art, and they’re intimately linked with the music. And I think the music on Great & Terrible Potions harks to a romantic era when people pored over the front cover artwork, dissected the lyrics printed inside, and used the gatefold sleeve especially for other recreational purposes.”
In Time Off’s opinion, we don’t see enough musos embracing the prog rock genre. Craven is the perfect person to ask why.
“When punk rock came along, prog became unfashionable in the mainstream press virtually overnight. It’s taken a long time for it to recover. Fortunately, I think we’re coming close to the point where there is no mainstream anymore, so it’s safe for the proggers to come out of hiding again.”
WHO: Ben Craven
WHAT: Great & Terrible Potions (Independent)
WHERE & WHEN: Caxton Hotel Friday Aug 12