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2018-06-10 – Dutch Progressive Rock Page (Review)

Originally published:

Ben Craven – The Single Edits
Country of Origin: Australia
Year of Release: 2018
Time: 40:42

Track List:
Critical Mass (part 2) (3:27), The Remarkable Man (3:53), Ready To Lose (3:37), Aquamarine (3:21), Spy In The Sky (part 3) (3:17), Great Divide (4:33), Nobody Dies Forever (2:56), No Specific Harm (3:30), Captain Caper (4:17), Golden Band (5:12), Revenge Of Dr Komodo (2:39)
The Single Edits is a rather unusual “Best Of Ben Craven” album with a slight twist in that it mostly contains edits of longer songs released by Craven on his albums Two False Idols (2005), Under Deconstruction (2007), Great And Terrible Potions (2011), Dissected (2014), and Last Chance To Hear (2016). The album is top and tailed by two unedited instrumentals from this latter album that display the musical muscle of Craven’s writing and performing. The two other tracks culled from Last Chance To Hear are a rather clunky edit of The Remarkable Man which tends to disrupt the flow of the song, and William Shatner’s contribution to prog rock Spirit In The Sky (part 3). This one focuses on the Shatner-intoned lyric elements and somewhat takes away the uniqueness of the original: rather than Shatner contributing to a prog epic it ends up more like a Shatner single. (Which, to be fair, is the whole point of the exercise!)

Four tracks are culled from the other DPRP-reviewed album Great And Terrible Potions. Ready To Lose loses its main synth break but works well as a shorter number. Likewise, the atmospheric instrumental Aquamarine does not lose it’s charm in its edited form although the sequencing on the album sounds rather awkward to me. The edit of No Specific Harm was included as a bonus track on the original album release and is a good song in both the edited and un-edited versions. Glad the Gilmouresque solo survived the edit though! The Nobody Dies Forever edit was also featured as a bonus track which might have been a surprise to some given that on the main album it was split into two parts both of which were shorter than the edit!

The remaining three tracks have all appeared on Two False Idols, Under Deconstruction and the tour rehearsal CD Dissected. What is more, it seems that each of these albums, as well as the current album contain different versions of the songs. These songs are from Craven’s early years where he was exploring a more pop-prog direction and all three display what an adept touch Craven has with creating and delivering strong melodies.

The rendition of The Great Divide on The Single Edits is probably my favourite of all the versions released and simply a superb song. Captain Caper is another mostly successful edit, although it is that drastic a cut and the ending could have done with the drum bit excising. Finally, Golden Band, another great song whose edit again works very well.

To some prog fans taking a long song and making it shorter is tantamount to heresy as editing will inevitably involve removing some of the best bits! However, this album does give a taster of Craven’s work and is quite canny in that prog fans hearing these edits and knowing that proggier versions exist may be tempted to explore further and non-prog fans might be attracted by the strength of the material, particularly of the earlier songs. So potentially a win-win for Craven, although I suspect DPRP readers are more likely to want to go straight to the epic versions in the context of their original albums. Nice idea though and a brilliant CD cover!

Mark Hughes