Archive for the ‘Competitions’ Category

Kirsten wins the signed copy of Will Birch’s Ian Dury biography

Wednesday, February 17th, 2010

By the sign of the Do It Yourself 1979 paint splodge badge ye shall know that we have a winner in our competition for a SIGNED copy of Will Birch’s fantabulous Ian Dury biography.

Photo: Tom Sheehan.

Congratulations to Kirsten Sharvin whose correct answer to the question below was plucked from the ceremonial ID fez.

Q: What is the title of the B-side of Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick?
A: There Ain’t Half Been Some Clever Bastards

Send us your address Kirsten and we’ll get Will a-scribblin’ and Sidgwick & Jackson a-postin’.

Commiserations to every one else; there will be another brahma comp coming along soon.

 

 

Don’t fart before your arse is ready and win an Ian Dury biography!

Saturday, January 30th, 2010

As highlighted in Will Birch’s tremendous Ian Dury biography, the creative relationship between the late singer and Barney Bubbles was one of the most fruitful in the history of pop.

Of similar ages with deep art school roots, Barney and Dury commenced their partnership in the spring of 1977 just as both were heading for the top of their game, with Barney installed at Stiff after a hiatus of more than a year and Dury preparing to unleash the career-defining records and performances which brought him enduring national treasure status.

Back cover photograph by Chris Gabrin.

Unlike his treatment of others, Dury was never-less-than respectful of Barney. “Barney was easily the most incredible designer I’d ever come across,” Dury told Birch.

Poster for Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll, Stiff Records, 1977. Tom Sheehan Collection.

Dury said Barney “scared the shit out of me. He was righteous. He didn’t have the faults or the ego and he made me feel second class. I wanted his approval in a strange kind of way”.

And, as Birch details, when Jake Riviera departed Stiff with Nick Lowe and Elvis Costello at the end of 1977, remaining partner Dave Robinson was left with Dury’s recently released New Boots & Panties!! as his main chance for commercial survival.

The decision was made to throw all resources behind the polio-stricken performer and his band The Blockheads. Barney art-directed a sustained marketing and promotional campaign made up of several elements: his Blockhead logo, numerous press ads, several posters, a songbook and a tour programme. Together these helped maintain the album’s presence in the charts for more than a year and set up hits What A Waste and number one smash Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick.

NME, February 4, 1978: Ian Dury and Davey Payne.

The cover of Birch’s book is a delightful rendition by Dury’s friend and mentor Sir Peter Blake, while on the back is a photo by Chris Gabrin from sessions for a series of music press ads.

Melody Maker, February 4, 1978: Fred Rowe and Ian Dury.

These are littered with Dury’s skewiff humour and guttersnipe poetry and feature some of the  possible titles he had drawn up for his debut solo album.

NME January 28, 1978: Ian Dury and Charley Charles.

Gabrin’s monochromatic clarity  and his strong working relationship with both parties was an important element in the Dury/Bubbles dialogue. “We were working full-pelt at the time,” said Gabrin the other night. “There was so much to do to keep up with press ads and tours.”

Right: Melody Maker, January 28, 1978: Norman Watt-Roy and Ian Dury. Left: Sounds, February 4, 1978: Ian Dury and John Turnbull.

Gabrin’s band portraits of Dury and The Blockheads (and minder Fred “Spider” Rowe) hit the UK’s music weeklies in February 1978.

Poster, Stiff Records, 1978.

A Gabrin photograph from an earlier session (which Barney had overlaid with a lurid orange screen for one of five giant posters for the Stiff tour) was used for a standard sized poster to hammer home the album’s availabiity. The year ended with more band shots in the incredible fold-out programme for the December 1978 Hanky Pantie tour.

8" x 6" tour programme cover, December 1978.

The matchstick portrait cover was even used for the manufacture of hankies (to be knotted and worn on the head). A couple of Stiff employees – maybe Paul Conroy or Andy Murray can identify them? – sport these in the Top Of The Pops audience for Dury and The Blockheads’ triumphant performance of Hit Me.

Ian Dury & The Blockheads perform Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick, Top Of The Pops, December 1978.

By 1983, when Dury was filmed by director Franco Rosso for a Channel 4 documentary, the wordsmith was in a very different place. 

 

On one of his regular separations from The Blockheads and main writing partner Chaz Jankel, Dury’s career was about to hit the skids as he recorded the half-baked 4000 Weeks Holiday. During the making of the film, management company Blackhill collapsed, but there are some sequences where it’s office can be seen decorated with Barney’s designs.

As well as Blockhead logo stickers there are posters for Do It Yourself and also the spoken-word album Blackhill’s Peter Jenner  released on Charisma by cricket commentating legend John Arlott.

This was cooked up with Charisma publicist and Barney’s friend Glen Colson, who recalls how he came up with such faux cricket positions as “Wayward Short Leg”.

Poster, Charisma Records, 1982.

By the time the documentary was screened in 1984, Barney had died at his own hand.

“Barney Bubbles told me a few straighteners towards the end of his life,” said Dury, towards the end of his own. “Barney told me: ‘You were a horrible piece of work in those days Ian.’ I said: ‘Barney, I didn’t want to be’.” 

Left: 12" cover, Jukebox Dury, Stiff, 1981. Right: 7' cover, What A Waste, Stiff, 1981.

A couple of years earlier, Barney had delivered his views on Dury’s behaviour via the designs for 1981 greatest hits Jukebox Dury and it’s single, the reissued What A Waste.

Gone is the affection of the New Boots & Panties!! era. In it’s place, with stark contrasts, the bleached-out image renders Dury as Frankenstein’s monster, while the jaunty razor-blade earring is now used for chopping out coke, lobotomising the artist.

Will Birch’s book is a fully rounded portrait of this extraordinary man, and is heartily recommended.

Here’s a chance for you to get your hands on a FREE copy SIGNED by the author.

Send your answer  to the question below to thelook@rockpopfashion.com – we’ll be announcing the winner’s name on February 14 .

Q: What is the title of the B-side of Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick?

Good luck!

Win a free ticket to the essential Design 4 Music

Sunday, January 17th, 2010

“The legacy of Barney Bubbles” is the title of the finale of Design 4 Music: Music + Design, the forthcoming conference considering this “complex, passionate, sometimes obsessive relationship”.

Organised by Eye editor/co-owner John L. Walters and Central Saint Martin’s Catherine Dixon, Design 4 Music takes place on January 29 at London’s design and printed reference hub St Bride’s,  with contributions from such important practitioners and commentators as:

• designer/writer Adrian Shaughnessy

• Gerard Saint of Big Active

Robin Kinross of Hyphen Press

Spin‘s Tony Brook (on Ronald Clyne’s designs for the Smithsonian Folkways label)

• and Lemon Jelly‘s Fred Deakin, who founded creative agency Airside in 1998.

On our recommendation Kate Moross will talk about “The vinyl solution to making music look good”.

Moross, Saint and Reasons To Be Cheerful contributor Malcolm Garrett will also join me and Walters in considering the enduring legacy of Barney Bubbles in the final panel of the day, starting at 5.15pm.

Also on show will be a mini-exhibition of sleeve art courtesy of Art Vinyl.

If you are able, do come along. This is shaping up to be an essential day for anyone engaged or interested in music’s visual identity through graphic design.

Tickets are available here.

Meanwhile John and Catherine have generously supplied us with a free ticket to the event. For a chance to win it, please send your answers to the question below to thelook@rockpopfashion.com by January 22 at the latest.

Q: WHAT IS THE NAME OF KATE MOROSS’ S RECORD LABEL?

Best of luck and hopefully see you on the day!

Willow wins 70s Style & Design competition!

Thursday, January 14th, 2010

We have a winner of our competition for a copy  of Kirsty  Hislop and Dominic Lutyens’ estimable 70s Style & Design.

Congratulations to Willow Timmons of Cardiff, whose name was picked out of the hat for providing the correct answer to the question:

Which album by Ian Dury & The Blockheads featured 28 front cover variations of 1970s Crown wallpaper patterns? 

It was of course Do It Yourself – read all about the story behind the design here.

Your copy of 70s Style & Design will be winging its way from publisher Thames & Hudson to you very soon Willow.

Commiserations to the many other entrants and best of luck next time – we have more exciting competitions coming this way so keep your peepers peeled.