Ian Dury + JCC: The joy of songbooks

Front, John Cooper Clarke Directory, 1979. Design Barney Bubbles.

//Front, John Cooper Clarke Directory, Omnibus Press, 1979. 10" x 7", 52pp (inc covers).//

id440

//Front, Ian Dury Songbook, Wise Publications, 1979. 12" x 9", 68pp (inc covers).//

In 1979 pop songbook design was shaken up by Barney Bubbles and the artist Derek Boshier, who had come together to collaborate on the group exhibition Lives.

The show, which opened at London’s Hayward Gallery in March that year, was curated by Boshier from his purchases on behalf of the Arts Council collection. He commissioned Bubbles to provide the catalogue design, poster and private view invitation at the suggestion of the art critic Marco Livingstone.

livesfront

Front, invitation card, 8.5" x 6".

livesback

//Back, invite card.//

Front, Lives catalogue, 1979. Design Barney Bubbles.

//Front cover, Lives catalogue, 11.75" x 8.25", Arts Council Of Great Britain, 1979. 84pp (inc covers).

Double page spread, catalogue for Lives exhibition, 1979. Design Barney Bubbles.

//Lives spread for Fritz Wegner.//

Double page spread, catalogue for Lives exhibition, 1979. Design Barney Bubbles.

//Lives spread for 'Ovski' (a collaboration between Barney Bubbles and Chris Gabrin.//

Evidence of the artistic exchange conducted between Boshier and Bubbles can be found in the songbooks they each published that year. These share the Lives book’s canny use of spot colour, lively graphics, monochrome photography, quirky illustrational style and unusual lettering.

These elements were all manifest in Boshier’s Clash 2nd Songbook – read about this remarkable document here.

Clash 2nd Songbook was distributed by Music Sales, which also handled the Bubbles-designed Ian Dury Songbook while its Omnibus imprint published Bubbles’  John Cooper Clarke Directory.

Double page spread, John Cooper Clark Directory, 1979. Design Barney Bubbles.

//Double page spread, JCC Directory.//

Double page spread, John Cooper Clark Directory, 1979. Design Barney Bubbles.

//DPS, JCC Directory.//

The Ian Dury book is one of Bubbles’ best-known works, and was featured in the V&A’s 1991 exhibition The Art Of Selling Songs. Read Cynthia Rose’s review of that show and her pinpointing of Bubbles’ significance in Eye magazine issue 3 here.

Double page spread, The Ian Dury Songbook, 1979. Design Barney Bubbles.

//DPS, Ian Dury Songbook.//

Double page spread, The Ian Dury Songbook, 1979. Design Barney Bubbles.

//DPS, Ian Dury Songbook.//

Double page spread, The Ian Dury Songbook, 1979. Design Barney Bubbles.

//DPS, Ian Dury Songbook.//

Double page spread, The Ian Dury Songbook, 1979. Design Barney Bubbles.

//DPS, Ian Dury Songbook.//

Bubbles produced front cover variants for each book. The alternate for the Ian Dury title used a tight crop of a photograph of the performer to great effect. There were plans for another version of the book to be printed in green and yellow rather than pink and black, but this was scrapped at proof stage.

Meanwhile the other JCC book was in a different format, in that it wasn’t perfect bound but stapled. In addition it did not include the word ‘Directory’ or the publication year in the title.

Front, The Ian Dury Songbook, 1979. Design Barney Bubbles.

//Front cover variant of the ID Songbook.//

Alternate front cover, John Cooper Clarke Directory, 1979. Design: Barney Bubbles.

//Front cover variant of the JCC Directory.//

Boshier’s engagement with music is the subject of a forthcoming exhibition at British gallery Pallant House. Read more here.

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4 Responses to “Ian Dury + JCC: The joy of songbooks”

  1. Steve Says:

    Do you think Barney had any involvement with the Damned Disciples Songbook that Stiff published in 1977?

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  2. Paul Gorman Says:

    Hi Steve

    Due to workload he passed it over to Stiff staffer Suzanne Thomas and gave her some direction. Suzanne talks about it in RTBC. It’s neat (neat neat) isn’t it?

    Best

    PG

  3. Mike Millett Says:

    Hi Paul,
    DO you know if the contents of the of the JCC Directory 1979 are the same as the version that came with the JCC LP, Snap, Crackle and Bop? I imagine the undated one is smaller as it fit in the pocket on the LP’s front cover.
    Best,
    Mike

  4. Paul Gorman Says:

    Hi Mike
    Will dig mine out from storage and post here
    Best

    PG

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