With the legacy of Situationism the subject of a couple of posts on my blog, it seems timely to point up Barney Bubbles’ inclusion of frames from Christopher Grey’s Leaving The 20th Century: The Incomplete Work Of The Situationist International in his slide-show for Hawkwind’s post-punk offshoot Hawklords.
Archive for the ‘Choreography’ Category
Check out the Barney Bubbles references in this clip for Kim Ann Foxman‘s track Creature.
In 1978 painter Humphrey Ocean dipped his toe back into the music business with the one-off charmer Whoops A Daisy for Stiff Records, a suitably quirky ditty written by his Kilburn & the High Roads bandmate Ian Dury.
The man born Humphrey Anthony Erdeswick Butler-Bowdon had opted out of playing bass for the Kilburns a few years earlier to concentrate on his art, occasionally contributing to record covers for the likes of Wings and 10cc.
The winsome Whoops A Daisy was backed by a cracking version of the 50s film theme The Ballad of Davy Crockett and wrapped in a wonderful Barney Bubbles sleeve using Chris Gabrin’s photographs of Ocean performing the elaborate dance moves he had recently enacted on the Stiffs Live Stiffs tour.
These were exaggerated by the huge white suit Ocean had bought in Brixton Market during his time in the Kilburns.
Barney decorated the sleeve with detailed lettering (the H on the back from interlinked horseshoes to match the rhyming-slang name of Ocean’s backing musicians, Iron Hoof) and on release there was also a version of the black and white sleeve featuring blue spot-colour.
The accompanying poster was a delight. With Ocean’s name picked out in dance-step style, 35 frames from the Chris Gabrin shoot were presented in sequence with the instruction: “Cut poster out and make Humphrey Ocean’s Daisy Disco Do It My Way flickbook.”
We’ve put them together here to accompany the tune:
And here Ocean is called to the stage to join the Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll finale of the Stiff tour and shows us how it’s done:
Prompted by the forthcoming regrouping of Hawklords at Nik Turner’s Barney Bubbles Memorial Concert on Sunday November 29, here’s yet another exclusive: Barney Bubbles’ sketches for a front-and-back-printed t-shirt for the Hawkwind splinter group’s 1978 dystopian project 25 Years On.
These were drawn in the bottom right-hand corner of an otherwise blank sheet of one of his pads, and feature the heraldic/masonic symbols Barney incorporated in the concept album’s design.
As detailed in Reasons To Be Cheerful, years before merchandise became an ancillary money-spinner for the music biz, Barney was integrating his Hawkwind approach by providing tees for the band and gig-goers based on his designs for X In Search Of Space, Space Ritual and Doremi Fasol Latido and the Hawkwind/Man 1999 Party US tour poster.
As we’ve noted here, Barney first designed t-shirts in 1964, creating one worn by his girlfriend Lorry Sartorio for a poster he made for college band The Muleskinners (featuring his pal and Face Ian McLagan).
In 1976 he supplied an amazing logo design for his friend Jeff Dexter, then co-managing Hawkwind with Tony Howard and also looking after an ill-fated combo Alfalpha. This logo appeared on badges Barney created in conjunction with his friend Joly McFie of Better Badges and t-shirts in fluorescent pink on black with a diamante in the text. “They were very kool – made by his other mate Alan Holden from Sunrise Studios,” says Jeff.
And when punk and new wave took off, Barney provided many t-shirt designs for his friends, such as this Lissitzky-informed Ian Dury tee from 1978.
By 1982 Barney was contributing not only his album covers but also detail from the artwork to t-shirts, such as the “bedbug” which appeared on the back of the top fronted by his Imperial Bedroom painting for a US tour by Elvis Costello & The Attractions.
When his friend from the 60s counterculture days Sam Hutt – aka Hank Wangford - started to make waves on the UK music scene around the same time, Barney not only supplied album artwork but also came up with a wonderful range of t-shirt designs which mixed Argyll knitwear and grey marl with cowpoke.
Tickets for the Barney Bubbles Memorial Concert at the 229 Club, London on Sunday November 29 are available here.
Hailed in some quarters as the “psych-rock single of last year”, Sonic Attack (Psychedelic Warlords), the Acid Mother’s Temple/White Hills split 7″ is one of three special limited edition releases by Irish record label Trensmat celebrating Hawkwind’s heyday with cover versions by contemporary bands.
The wonderful Acid Mothers Temple (with oft time collaborators Cosmic Inferno) give it plenty on their version of Brainstorm from 1972’s Doremi Fasol Latido, and White Hills “put the wig-out horse before the cart” on their reshaping of album track Be Yourself from the band’s eponymously titled debut album.
Sonic Attack (Lords Of Light) features Bardo Pond and Seattle’s Kinski covering Lord Of Light and Master Of The Universe respectively, and, on Sonic Attack (Motorheads), Mark Arm’s pioneering grungers Mudhoney get to grips with Urban Guerilla as Liverpool’s Mugstar sound like they were born to do Born To Go.
The single sleeves by Johnny O pay homage to Barney by remaking and remodelling many of the elements of his design work for Hawkwind; each sleeve appears in a different set of acidic colours.
Some of Barney’s work for Hawkwind was produced under the aegis of design company Hawk Graphics in London’s Westbourne Park.
At the top of this post you’ll find the letterhead derived from his double-headed Hawkwind logo. Due to space considerations, the letterhead did not appear in the first edition of Reasons; this is the first time it has been published.
Many of the elements will be familiar to Barney heads, having appeared first on the cover, gatefold and Hawkwind log insert of X In Search Of Space.
There are graphics, symbols and decorations from both sides of the six-panel Space Ritual fold-out as well as the tessallated design of the album’s record bags.
And there are images and graphics from both sides of Doremi Fasol Latido, including the chrome Hawkwind “gateway”, as well as from the programme for the tour which accompanied that album’s release
To play us out here’s Kinski’s version of Master Of The Universe:
Today we are proud to announce that we have tracked down the rarest of all Barney Bubbles designs: Knees Up Party, the 1975 album by popular pianist Mrs Mills.
“Barney was very secretive and never talked about his work with Mills,” says his friend Jack Rivoli. “I only found out about it by accident when she appeared on The Two Ronnies one night and Barney hinted that they had collaborated.”
Like Bubbles, Mills revelled in pseudonymic disguise (she was born Gladys Jordan in 1918). Mills had been introduced to the designer by Paul McCartney (who would later marry her grand-daughter) when she was recording at Abbey Road Studios. At one time Mills was posited as a replacement for the dancer Stacia on Hawkwind‘s groundbreaking Space Ritual tour. A deal with Stiff Records was reportedly cancelled due to her hedonistic lifestyle, as portrayed here.
In typically oblique style the cover track-listing does not mention Mills’ radical reworking of Kevin Coyne’s Eastbourne Ladies (Bubbles was responsible for the layout and logo for the Coyne album Marjory Razorblade).
Mills and Bubbles shared interests in cosmology, cybernetics and casseroles. When the concept album Knees Up Party was suggested after a trip to the Lesser Great Pyramid, Bubbles adopted his integrated approach for the sleeve, art directing the photo session which involved subtle use of Pearly King & Queen regalia (denoting his ongoing interlacing of references to heraldry and regality). Mills herself is adorned with a necklace of eight flowers, a potent symbol of Bubbles’ oeuvre.
This photo session was in turn to inspire his choreography and stage sets for Hawklords’ 25 Years On tour of 1978.
“This is definitely Bubbles,” says graphics authority Roy Wenge. “Knees Up Party is a fine example of the intricately reflexive nature of his work. As a graphic construction it offers multiple points of interest, dispersing the viewer’s attention.”
In the next post we shall examine another Bubbles rarity – his design for The Damned’s collectable album in their incarnation as little-known horror-rockers Lemming.
These provide us with an opportunity to reveal exclusive images surrounding one of Nik and Barney’s most intriguing collaborations (which also centred on a multi-media happening at the same venue).
“We struck a chord in each other,” says Nik. “Barney came along to a Hawkwind gig and saw that my vision of the band’s spirit embodied a lot of the concepts and ideals to which he related. After that he was happy to apply his creative energy, designing the Peace & Love poster for us, and then the X In Search of Space album sleeve, log-book and concept.”
Barney realised the visual identity of Hawkwind on every level as the space-rockers progressed through the first half of the 70s. When Nik left the band in 1976 he embarked on a trip to Egypt. “That was in part inspired by the common interest Barney and I had in Egyptology and ancient civilisations,” Nik explains.
“While there I recorded flute music inside the King’s Chamber of The Great Pyramid, and this became the album Xitintoday by my new group Sphynx.”
Barney agreed to design the album sleeve and booklet on condition that he applied the principals of concrete poetry (where typographical arrangement is as important as the words in conveying meaning).
Barney’s mastery of typography had long enabled him to communicate depth of meaning in this way, so concrete poetry became a natural area of investigation for a visual artist fascinated by symmetry, symbolism and shape.
These, of course, were central to his other abiding interests such as cosmology and Egyptology, as evinced by the poster he designed to promote the release of Xitintoday, which is constructed around a favourite symbol of Barney’s, The Eye of Horus.
When he was approached by Nik, Barney had already embarked on developing a series of concrete poetry artworks in 12″ x 10″ frames for a group exhibition which he was helping to organise at his London squat. He also planned the printing of a limited edition of a poem which consisted of one word: “nowhere”. This appears in the booklet he designed for Xitintoday as do many other examples, such as the word “day” made up of repeated use of the word “night” in white on black.
As this page of drafts and notes shows, Barney was fascinated by the form. Among the options are the Xitintoday cover’s constellated tiny pentagrams created from the word “twinkle”.
Barney’s interest in concrete poetry was stimulated by his relationship with the photographer Frances Newman, who was later to marry his friend Brian Griffin. Newman’s partner had been Tom Edmonds, the concrete poet who died in 1971 and contributed to the important collection Gloup And Woup along with such exponents as Bob Cobbing, John Furnival and it’s most celebrated figure, the Benedictine monk Dom Sylvester Houedard.
Xitintoday’s release was heralded by an all-day happening at The Roundhouse, for which Barney choreographed the dancers in Sphynx’s stage show.
Billed as Nik Turner’s Bohemian Love In, this featured an eclectic supporting cast, including ex-Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah band member Roger Ruskin Spear and his robots, former T. Rex member Steve Took’s Horns, punk poets Patrik Fitzgerald and John Cooper Clarke, sci-fi author Michael Moorcock and Tanz Der Youth, the band briefly led by The Damned‘s Brian James.
Both John Cooper Clarke and Tanz Der Youth also benefited from Barney designs; the former with his songbook Directory 1979 and the latter in the shape of the sleeve for his Radar single I’m Sorry, I’m Sorry.
They brought Barney on board and, working with photographer Chris Gabrin, he moved away from concrete poetry into bleak futurism and monochromatic expressionist territory to which he applied the new punk day-glo spray-can aesthetic. This is covered extensively in Reasons, as are the rest of Nik’s collaborations with Barney, through the releases by his band Inner City Unit to the extraordinary Ersatz under the guise of The Imperial Pompadours.
“Throughout this period I lived with Barney off and on, in various studios and houses,” says Nik, who is organising the event with another of Barney’s friends, promoter John Curd. “We always had wonderful times together, full of inspiration and creativity, weird, wild and wacky. I’ll always remember him as being a great fan of object trouve, and feel a debt for all his help and inspiration over the years.”
- – COMPETITION – –
Two free tickets for The Roundhouse event
This week we are giving away two free tickets for The Hawklords/Space Ritual 09/Barney Bubbles Memorial event at The Roundhouse on Sunday, March 8.
Grab a chance of winning them by sending your answer to the question below to: firstname.lastname@example.org by midnight GMT on Sunday March 1.
We’ll announce the lucky winners the following day.
Q: Who recites Sonic Attack on Hawkwind’s The Space Ritual Alive in Liverpool and London?