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Book Review: Views by Roger Dean, Carla Capalbo, and Donny Hamilton

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First published in 1975, Views is a fascinating artifact. For the uninitiated, Roger Dean was a very famous artist in the Seventies, his medium almost exclusively being album covers. He designed covers for dozens of (primarily British) bands. They include Uriah Heep, Osibisa, Greenslade, Budgie, and Gentle Giant.

Dean’s most famous client by far was Yes. He designed over a dozen covers for the band, plus numerous solo outings. His artwork for LPs such as Fragile, Close To The Edge, and Relayer are burned into every mid-Seventies teen stoner’s brain. They were the perfect visual compliment to the progressive rock of the band. Plus the covers were always gatefold, which was great for separating the stems and seeds from your stash.

Dean’s association with Yes led to him designing the stage for their 1974 Tales From Topographic Oceans tour. The massive set, which included pods, a “drum cave,” hydraulic flowers, and more was somewhat impractical. But it gave Spinal Tap ample inspiration a decade later.

Views is not exclusively about Dean's work with musicians. He went to college to study international design, and there are chapters devoted to his work in the field, and in architecture. His “Sea Urchin Chair” remains a curiosity, although it never progressed beyond the prototype phase. Dean’s “Interior Pod” is also an interesting (if somewhat creepy) idea.

The distinctive and striking artwork of Roger Dean is well represented in this coffee table book. It is said to have sold over a million copies in the original paperback format. I commend the publishers for not “updating” the book, apart from a brief current biography, and a new introduction from Sir Richard Branson.

Views is inseparable from the mid-Seventies era in which it was originally spawned. It is a time period which has been mercilessly lampooned over the years. But in browsing the outstanding graphics, and looking at some of the designs the artist had in mind back then, I had a curious feeling. Certainly nostalgia was a part of it. But the reader may also come away with a small sense of loss for a time and place which are now gone forever.

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About Greg Barbrick

  • http://theglenblogspot.com Glen Boyd

    Man, that cover photo of Views looks as old as the seventies itself. But Amen, Brother Barbrick. Now, thats what I’m talking about!

    -Glen