Late period Bubbles: Sleeve and band logo for Sad Café’s 1983 single Keep Us Together

Barney Bubbles design for 1983 single sleeve - front

//Front, 7″ and 12″ sleeve, Keep Us Together, Sad Café, Charisma, 1983//

From the Barney Bubbles grab-bag comes this little-known sleeve for Charisma Records, commissioned by label chief Peter Jenner for Manchester soft-rock group Sad Café.

Produced a matter of months before his demise in November 1983, the spare design is marked by the increasingly reductive approach Bubbles adopted in this period and bears similiarities with another Jenner single commission for Charisma: Mercy Ray’s You Really Got To Me (down to the use of  fingers and fingernails as graphic motifs).

Proof, Barney Bubbles design for single sleeve, Mercy Ray You Really Got To Me, 1983.

//Proof, front and back of single sleeve for Mercy Ray’s You Really Got To Me, Charisma, 1983//


//Back cover detail, You Really Got To Me//

The Sad Café sleeve is replete with the typographic play (the “o” and “g” of  “Together” are intertwined) and visual dualities Bubbles enjoyed communicating: the front displays a tick while the back has a cross; the illustration on the front could represent two fingers (one with a ring) or two closed legs, “keeping them together” (with the inverted band of the ring as a stocking top).

Barney Bubbles design for 1983 single sleeve - back

//Back, Keep Us Together//

On the back the image was flipped, the ringed finger spraying perfume and the A-side lyric’s most poignant phrase visually grounding the design: “There’ll come a time, You will be mine…”.

Bubbles also stamped his mark on the band’s logo, created for Sad Café over a series of late 70s and early 80s releases by design house Hipgnosis.

Hipgnosis band logo

//Hipgnosis logo//

In Bubbles’ version, it was marked by six dots, two aside each “a” and two forming an umlaut-shaped grave accent over the “e” of “Café”.

Barney Bubbles design for 1983 single label - A

//A-side, label copy with short lived logo by Bubbles//

Barney Bubbles design for 1983 single label - B side

//B-side label copy//

Released in June 1983, Keep Us Together failed to make a dent in the top 75. By that time Jenner had departed Charisma to launch his boutique label Utility, based around new signing Billy Bragg, with Bubbles on board as art director.

And Sad Cafe reverted to the Hipgnosis branding on subsequent releases.

Read about Bubbles’ association with Billy Bragg here and his design for Utility’s great lost album, Keith Allen’s Station Breakfast Pirate Radio, here.

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