In addition to our huge Roger Dean interview, we present the 10 essential Roger Dean covers that we think are simply breathtaking…
1. Osibisa, 1971
Formed in the late 60s by a set of top-flight musicians from across Ghana, Nigeria and the Caribbean, this London-based outfit melded African music, jazz, rock, R&B, Latin and pop to great effect.
Not least on Osibisa – Osibisa, their very first eponymous outing, illustrated by Dean via elephant-insect hybrids set in a vivid tundra. Apparently, the band name translates as ‘criss-cross rhythms that explode with happiness’, in rash contrast to Dean’s slightly menacing sleeve.
The elephant theme would make a resurgence for their 2015 Ultimate Collection, this time with warlike poses and tank turrets and guns as heads.
Current Market Value: First issue magenta/orange ‘dogbone’ label, from £40 to £60.
2.Gentle Giant – Octopus, 1972
With Gentle Giant’s Octopus, Dean went straight for the jugular. Here, he chose not to explore the fantasias of his mind and instead offered a direct interpretation – a gargantuan carmine cephalopod, depicted thrashing around on the rocks in a rough sea.
The US and Canadian release featured a different – more mainstream – image by Charles White of an octopus in a jar. The original artwork is currently at auction, with a guide price of £10–15,000.
Current Market Value: £100; fetches more with ‘swirl’ black-and-white vinyl.
3. Yes – Tales from Topographic Oceans, 1973
Yes’ 1973 prog-rock behemoth, Tales from Topographic Oceans visited the far-flung extremes of the genre and Dean’s stunning sleeve artwork was just as exuberant, with a painting that stretched out over the front and back covers and featured disparate elements including the Mayan temple at Chichén Itza, the Nazca Lines and various famous English rock formations (Brimham Rocks, the last rocks at Land’s End, Treen’s Logan rock and stones from Avebury and Stonehenge).
The artwork is also featured in Dean’s 1975 book, Views. Current Market Value: Depending on condition, from £30 to £50.
4. Asia – Asia, 1982
At the dawn of the 80s, giants from Yes, King Crimson and The Buggles gathered together to form the classic prog ‘supergroup’. Asia – Asia, their debut, was recorded in 1981 and released a year later in March, went on to sell over seven million and netted three Top 10 hits.
With both the logo and sleeve designed specifically to distance themselves from the imagery used for Yes, Asia features one of Dean’s boldest images – an aquamarine dragon writhing in the ocean, a silver orb rising from the waves beside it.
Current Market Value: In mint condition, around £20.
5. Asia –Alpha, 1983
It was always going to be a tough ask – and Asia’s platinum-certified second attempt fared well – but Alpha fell significantly short of their seismic debut despite a more mainstream sound. The cover, however, is a show of Dean’s effortless ability to inspire intrigue.
An eagle swoops above vivid green leaves; giant unearthly palms sway at the river’s edge; mushroom-domed buildings sit on its banks, while all the while, a towering pyramid swallows the summer sky.
Current Market Value: Depending on condition, from £10 to £20. Japanese picture disc fetches up to £50.
6.Budgie – Squawk, 1972
Welsh heavy-metal band Budgie’s sophomore album Squawk was a big seller, certified gold just a year after its release. It also marks an iconic image in Dean’s catalogue, notable for the fact that it isn’t one of his characteristic landscapes.
The first of his many biomechanical treatments, Dean combined his plastic model of the ’Blackbird’ stealth bomber with a seagull skull that he found while hiking. The result was this simple, yet striking Roger Dean cover.
Current Market Value: Depending on condition, from £30 to £50.
7. Yes – Fragile, 1972
Yes’ fourth album, Fragile, is the first to feature Rick Wakeman behind the keyboards and is the first to show off Roger Dean’s work. Roger’s idea was to incorporate a story about a grand exodus from an unstable planet – this allegorical theme would show up in the art of several other Yes LPs.
Fragile made the top 10 with the help of pop oddity Roundabout, one of the band’s signature songs, and was eventually certified double platinum. Current Market Value: Depending on condition around £10.
8. Yes – Drama, 1980
Yes’ 10th studio album, Drama was the only one to feature soon-to-become über-producer Trevor Horn (in place of Jon Anderson), joined by his Buggles wingman Geoff Downes (who replaced Rick Wakeman).
As a result, Drama was a different animal altogether and benefitted from the change: gold status, No. 2 in the UK and No. 18 in the US. A dynamic translation was required to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the music and Dean delivered, with this inspired, otherworldly landscape. Current Market Value: In mint condition, around £20.
9. Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe, 1989
Jon Anderson reunited with other ex-members of Yes – namely Steve Howe, Rick Wakeman and Bill Bruford – to form Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe, which was ostensibly Yes Mk. II (minus Chris Squire, who had legal use of the name).
The eponymous debut made waves across the world immediately with over 750,000 sold. The foursome enlisted Roger’s services, perhaps to shrewdly illustrate the fact that this was in fact an unofficial Yes album.
Blue Desert on the front and Red Desert on the back – are two sublime works, the skyline dominated by a pine cone-esque skyscraper.
Current Market Value: Depending on condition, around £30.
10. Dr. Strangely Strange – Heavy Petting, 1970
Amongst other Roger Dean-related rarities – including a small early run of Yes’ Yessongs that opened like a book thanks to Roger’s patented folding technique – one is hyper-rare. “I did Dr. Strangely Strange’s Heavy Petting and The John Dummer Band (Blue), as paper sculptures,” Roger told Long Live Vinyl. “Those in good condition are extremely rare, because they were so fragile. You can buy the John Dummer LP for £100 with just the record in good condition, but the cover’s usually been destroyed. I’ve seen them go for £600 in mint condition, I’ve even seen them go for £1,000.”