Barney Bubbles: The Smash Hits interview

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Thanks are due to the indefatigable Brian McCloskey for turning up this little-known interview given by Barney Bubbles to journalist Johnny Black for an early 80s Smash Hits feature on the fledgling promo video industry.

The quotes from Bubbles appeared exactly 30 years ago in the issue of the teen mag dated Jan 21- Feb 3, 1982.

Just a couple of months earlier the graphic designer had relented for the only full interview of his career (for the November 1981 issue of The Face).

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Lining up with such “producers” (actually directors) as Dave Robinson – with whom Bubbles worked at Stiff Records – Bubbles’ comments to Smash Hits were made in the wake of his magisterial video for the previous summer’s number one for The Specials, Ghost Town:

“A good video can sell a record which might not do so well. The record companies know that. I think Chrysalis would agree that The Specials’ Ghost Town video helped sales a good deal. This year I intend to make videos which are really inexpensive but really inventive. It can be done you know.

“For Ghost Town we had a convoy of three cars, started filming about midnight on Saturday and finished at ten on Sunday morning. They really got into all the fighting and action scenes, leaping out of moving cars as if they’d done it all their lives. At one point a £2000 camera fell off the car roof, but when we saw the results we kept them in because they looked so great.”

As you can read in Chapter 5 of Reasons To Be Cheerful,  Bubbles didn’t direct too many more promos; his “inexpensive/inventive” formula resulted in fabulous clips – such as Is That Love for Squeeze – which were canned as too experimental by scaredy-cat record companies.

Frustrated, Bubbles left the promo business behind and returned professionally to producing record sleeves, all the while painting privately.

Here is the Smash Hits Jan – Feb 3 cover and four page video feature from Like Punk Never Happened, Brian McCloskey’s wonderful site which reproduces each full issue of Smash Hits exactly 30 years after publication:

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Visit Like Punk Never Happened here.

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