Nick Lowe: From Glastonbury Fayre to St Paul’s

Tomorrow (April 30) I have the great pleasure to be DJing for Nick Lowe again.

The venue couldn’t be more different from the Albert Hall; this time Nick is playing for a couple of hundred people at St Paul’s in his stamping ground, Brentford. It’s in a good cause – the money from the sold-out gig will go to the church’s community drop-in centre.

Nick, second left, with the other members of Brinsley Schwarz from The Glastonbury Fayre, Revelation, 1972.

This is the first of a spate of live appearances by Nick this year. In a couple of months he will be in the acoustic tent at the Glastonbury Festival as the only performer to have played the very first Glastonbury Fayre in 1971.

On that occasion he was a member of Brinsley Schwarz, whose debut album benefited from the lux gatefold cover by Barney Bubbles.

The printed "Silver Surfer" sealed vinyl envelope for The Glastonbury Fayre. Courtesy: Jeff Dexter Collection.

The Brinsleys’ subsequent appearance on the fund-raising triple Glastonbury Fayre set was the next staging post in Nick’s association with Barney.

"Dome Sweet Dome" cut-out geodesic dome insert, The Glastonbury Fayre.

Barney’s Glastonbury package comprised the tri-fold 24in x 36in card sleeve housed in a sealed printed vinyl envelope with customised labels, booklets and cut-out inserts for the creation of a miniature silver pyramid and  geodesic dome.

"Pyramid" cut-out album insert.

These scans of the pyramid inserts don’t do the originals justice (they’re shiny silver on black).

However, it’s been fun using the scans (and some silver paint) to create our own versions.

"Power" cut-out album insert.

Taking it’s cue from Stewart Brand‘s revolutionary Whole Earth Catalogue, the “Dome Sweet Dome” is covered in messages and instructions of ever-increasing pertinence:

“We can survive on waste – energy, experience, imagination is all!”

“Scavenge and scrounge shamelessly – you are your own architect.”

“Ecology is you.”

“We might need this kind of good, cheap shelter one day.”

We also love the “Astral” visage made by glueing the ornate sci-fi insert borders together.

The Eye Of Horus which accompanies the instructions was a marker of Barney’s abiding interest in Egyptology, and one of the powerful symbols he loved to revisit, sometimes using Nick’s aquiline features.

Album insert detail.

For example, a decade later  he openly referenced The All Seeing Eye, as it is also known,  on the cover of Nick’s 1982 album Nick The Knife.

12in sleeves. Front covers, Nick The Knife, 1982. Left: US issue on Columbia. Right: UK issue, F-Beat.

The uncompromising crop on the front of the UK issue (on F-Beat) concentrated on Nick’s angular features to achieve the full effect; as in the case of many another Barney design, the US issue soft-pedaled this with an uncropped and thus more conventional portrait.

Cheekily, Barney responded to comments that the Nick The Knife cover was unforgiving by delivering a totally contrasting sleeve for 1983 follow-up The Abominable Showman.

12in sleeve. Front cover, The Abonimable Showman, Nick Lowe, F-Beat, 1983.

Here there isn’t sign of a single blemish: the boxed-in portrait of Nick is colourised and airbrushed to the max, though the shadows and his expression once again clearly render…The Eye Of Horus.

Really looking forward to tomorrow night’s show. Sure Nick will pull out all the stops at St Paul’s just as he did at another church, St Luke’s, for the BBC a couple of years back – have a look at him rocking with one of the founding fathers of British popular music Chris Barber in the clip above.

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5 Responses to “Nick Lowe: From Glastonbury Fayre to St Paul’s”

  1. Sandy Says:

    I was lucky enough to be at St Pauls on Friday,Nick was fantastic as always.The place was buzzing and there was standing room only! His little son was there too, he looks just a mini version of his Dad so he’s bound to break a few hearts when he’s older. A great night was had by all. It ended all too quickly.

  2. Anji Says:

    Merde…… I’ve missed him again…our ‘best man’ !!!……………..Nick when are you gigging in Berkshire?…if ever……x

  3. Anji Says:

    have to say….just watched Long limbed girl….Nick I can hear every word…you write great songs and being able to hear & understand what you say makes you…….a star!!!

  4. Helen Says:

    Hi. I’m Helen Martin who organised the gig, Nick was amazing – he was very generous with his time and energy and stayed behind to chat to everyone afterwards 🙂 ! we raised over 6k for the Open House Cafe, and for the sensory garden – we’re also going to improve the lighting/PA system for future events – thanks to all who were involved, we had some great records from Paul and Caz too – here’s the review I wrote for our local website and a short write up by one of the volunteers who helped

    It would be amazing if this could become an annual Brentford event!

  5. Paul Gorman Says:

    Thanks Helen.

    On another, general note: a highly decorative version of the Eye Of Horus dominates the back of the sleeve to 1971’s ultra-rare 3 Parts To My Soul by Dr Z.

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