Black Sabbath

I joined Castle Music in 1993 because they had the UK rights to Black Sabbath and I wanted to redesign the existing CDs. When I began working on the initial batch of remasters in 1995, starting with ‘Technical Ecstasy’ (1976), through to ‘Mob Rules’ (1981), unbelievable as it sounds, I was told there was little or no budget for additional photos, and no budget for commissioning liner notes either. I had recently worked with Ross Halfin on an official release of Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac BBC Sessions, and he seemed the ideal person to supply photography for this series of reissues. My original idea for the campaign was to have individual artists contribute a liner note for a favourite, specific record, but as this was logistically not possible at the time, I wrote them myself.

Around the same time that I began work on the Sabbath back catalogue, I was told we’d be releasing Geezer Butler’s first solo release. In conjunction with TVT in the States, I designed the artwork for ‘Plastic Planet’ featuring the vocals of Fear Factory’s Burton Bell. Don’t ask why I wanted to feature a fruit fly with globes for eyes, but I thought it looked suitably evil, matching the intensity of the album itself.

Ten years later, I was commissioned to design ‘Fused’ for Tony Iommi, his third collaboration with “the voice of rock” Glenn Hughes. The brief I was given for this project was to give a sense of brotherhood, of being rejoined. The initial idea for the title was to literally have something “fused” together, possibly through heat, so it’s ironic that the finished cover design looked quite cold by comparison. I think it was successful in getting the balance between Tony and Glenn’s names on the cover.

I redesigned the packaging for all of Sabbath’s UK catalogue, from 1970′s debut, up until 1987′s ‘The Eternal Idol’, managing to produce liner notes and packaging for a number of box sets and compilations on the way. I quite enjoy getting involved with the whole “concept” for a release, and came up with ‘Under Wheels Of Confusion’, which I thought made a perfect title for the 4 disc set that Castle issued in 1996. Featuring a series of suitably spooky photos I took in North London’s Highgate Cemetery, and at 10,000 words (described by the Guardian as “Milton-esque”!), it is certainly the longest liner note I’ve written for the band. Many of the sets I designed for Castle (and later, for Sanctuary) were very much put together with the fan and collector in mind (such as the box set of rare singles); I’m often trying to squeeze as much memorabilia and information into a package as a 5″ CD booklet will allow. I took the photos for the covers of ‘Between Heaven And Hell’ and ‘The Collection’ in Per Lachaise cemetery in Paris.