Ben Harper: Analog purist betrayed by cover art?

Is this a sign of our ailing music business? Art departments asleep at the wheel? I pulled out my copy of Ben Harper’s new album, Lifelife, after hearing him guest host Jonesy’s Jukebox on LA’s Indie 103.1 yesterday (he did a great job), and I’m looking at the CD’s art (a cardboard fold out) which displays a two-panel-wide photo of a studio board and has only one paragraph of text. It reads in part:

The record, Lifeline, was recorded and mixed in 7 days on a 16-track analog tape machine. No computers or pro-tools were used anywhere in the process.
— Ben

But lo and behold, staring straight at me from the center of the shot is a computer screen with Pro-Tools running and, I’m told, in record mode. Hmmm…

I’m going to presume the photo is not of Harper’s actual session, which he notes was recorded at a studio in Paris, but still, should be easy enough to Photoshop out. What’s up former Virgin Records, now Capitol Music Group?

Comments (12 total) Add your comment
  • Kevin G. Hunt

    This actually came up in the forum on the offical Ben Harper website. The moderator of the forum posted a direct quote from Ben Harper himself regarding the issue. Here is a link to the thread containing the quote:,5538

    I will post the quote in another comment because i can’t fit it all here with the limited space. It basically states that the claim regarding the recording of the album onto analog tape without pro-tools is accurate, but the music had to be put on a hard drive as a back up just in case the reels of tape were damaged while being transported.

  • Kevin G. Hunt

    Here is part one of the quote from Ben Harper:
    “on the inside picture of the cd…there is the fold out picture of the studio console and control room.
    in this picture there is a glaring computer screen. (upper middle) as you well know, this entire record…every track, was recorded onto 2 inch analogue tape.
    as we rapidly approached finishing the record, i realized we were gonna have to cart these GIANT reels of tape….10-12 or so of them, all the way back to america, through x-rays, irregular temperatures and all the aggressive elements of travel, shipping and transport. these reels of tape are large, cumbersome, and all the while, fragile as hell. getting these tapes back home was a nerve wracking proposition.”

  • Kevin G. Hunt

    Here is part two of the Ben Harper quote:
    “so in the name of protecting the music and all the work that went into it, we took the necessary precautions to prevent disaster, and threw the final mixes onto a hard drive as a back up just in case.
    anyone who has spent time in the audio world knows what a massive undertaking it is to back up numerous reels of analogue tape onto numerous more reels of analogue tape.
    fortunately, all the tapes made it safely to america, with special thanks to jan ghazi for this.

  • Kevin G. Hunt

    I feel that you should amend your story to include this information and the quote from Ben Harper regarding this issue. I would also suggest that in the future you do some research before writing something that essentially questions someones honesty and artistic integrity.
    Thank you
    Kevin G. Hunt

  • kgc

    i believe shirley is commenting more on the photo than on ben harper’s integrity. perhaps the label’s art department could have cropped or photoshopped pro-tools out of the shot. that way it would compliment, not contradict, harper’s statement.

  • Kevin G. Hunt

    After reading the piece again, I think you are right about the writers intention kgc. I apologize for the content of my last post. I should have paid closer attention to what the writer was trying to say. I overreacted like the overzealous Ben Harper fan that I am. Thanks for your post and for helping me see what the writer was truly getting at. Once again, I apologize to the author of this piece. I at least hope the Ben Harper quote from the forum regarding the issue was helpful.
    Kevin G. Hunt

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