//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, front and back of single sleeve for Mercy Ray’s You Really Got To Me, Charisma, 1983//
//Proof copy of unused front cover for single sleeve, Your Generation/Day By Day, Generation X, Chrysalis, 1977.//
Presented here for the first time in nearly 35 years, this is Barney Bubbles’ original artwork for the front cover of Your Generation, the 1977 debut single by Generation X.
The design was rejected because the photograph was considered too routine. What a shame. This is a typically high-impact Bubbles work combining concise photographic presentation with audacious typography.
The quartet’s manager Jonh Ingham, the journalist who had been at the forefront of punk reportage, has dug it out from his archive exclusively for this blog.
“I cut, folded and glued it, so we could see what the sleeve would look like held in the hand,” says Ingham.
7in sleeve + record with custom label. Stretcher Case Baby/Sick Of Being Sick, The Damned, Stiff Records, 1977.
A backlog has been steadily building of Barney Bubbles designs to be added to the singles + album sleeves section of this site.
We’ll be getting round to sorting the listings out soon with much more fabulous artwork, but the recent contact with Kosmo Vinyl has spurred on the addition today of Bubbles’ sleeve for The Damned’s free single Stretcher Case Baby/Sick Of Being Sick, issued in the summer of 1977 to celebrate the first anniversary of the band’s debut gig.
I was delighted to receive this boxed Blockhead watch recently.
Of course the typogram on the watch face – which emerges at twelve-fifteen and three o’clock – was designed by Barney Bubbles at the behest of the late Ian Dury, who said in Will Birch’s No Sleep Till Canvey Island:
“I phoned him and said, ‘I want a logo. It’s got to be black and white and square’. Then I heard somebody in his office say, ‘Wow’ and he said, ‘I’ve done it’.”
This 100-second career resume has been created by Lisa Whitaker, who is currently studying graphics at Leeds College of Art.
The DVD – housed in an “inside-out” sleeve and accompanied by a poster – came out of a course brief for a collection of 100 design objects in which she compiled album sleeves, including Bubbles’ design for Imperial Bedroom by Elvis Costello And The Attractions.
“I am fascinated by this talented man and his links to other creative people,” says Whitaker. “My moving image piece Barney Bubbles Inside Out pulls together the research and is aimed at graphic designers, record collectors and music lovers as a way of spreading the word about inspirational figure.”
The absorption and reinterpretation of Barney Bubbles’ oeuvre continues apace, as evinced by this, the design for Punks Jump Up’s Blockhead EP by Michael Willis.
With an overall feel of Bubbles’ compositional techniques – particularly that of realising physiognomy by use of abstract and unusual elements – Willis’ artwork draws on such Bubbles’ creations as the BLOCKHEAD logo, the Tommy The Talking Toolbox ident, the Space Ritual tour material and the typography of the Revelations and Doremi Fasol Latido packages.
Since he was one of the pioneers of the so-called “age of plunder” (as Jon Savage pointed out in his 1983 piece on post-modernism for The Face), it was perhaps inevitable that the reintroduction of Bubbles’ work to a new generation of graphic artists and designers – via Reasons To Be Cheerful and Process – would result in the master himself being plundered.
It was a pleasure to take tea in Soho last week with John Muggeridge, Barney Bubbles’ friend and colleague at Conran and Teenburger Designs.
Muggeridge has long been a resident of Bolivia, and his visits to the old country are rare. This didn’t, of course, hinder his contributions to Reasons To Be Cheerful, but it was fab finally to meet the man credited on Quintessence’s In Blissful Company as J. Moonman (he and Bubbles contributed the album design including a 12-page booklet).
12″x12″. Page 5, booklet, In Blissful Company, Quintessence, Island Records, 1969.
Page 6, in Blissful Company booklet.
Page 7, In Blissful Company booklet.
Page 8, In Blissful Company booklet.
Page 9, In Blissful Company booklet.
Page 10, In Blissful Company booklet.
Booklet detail: Muggeridge-inscribed lyrics for the track Ganga Mai.
A graduate of the London College Of Printing, Muggeridge joined Conran’s design department in 1966, where he worked with Bubbles (then the company’s senior graphic designer going by his birth name, Colin Fulcher).
As described in Jonathan Aitken’s 1967 book The Young Meteors, the Conran studio was at that point at the cutting edge of the global design business, with 35 employees at its offices in Hanway Place, central London.
Muggeridge became Bubbles’ assistant when the designer launched Teenburger from 307 Portobello Road in the spring of 1969, and worked with him on a run of record sleeve designs, as well as pitches for the opening sequence credits for two or three films.
“The only one I can remember was Women In Love,” says Muggeridge, who has a clear memory of himself and Bubbles sat in an otherwise empty Soho screening room viewing a rough-cut of Ken Russell’s movie. Their proposal didn’t make the cut.
Having studied calligraphy at LCP, Muggeridge’s Teenburger responsibilities included hand-lettering; his italics adorn the In Blissful Company credits.
“I was really Barney’s apprentice,” says Muggeridge, these days involved in the food business. “It was amazing to watch him apply concepts. Ideas emerged fully-formed on the drawing board. Quite often we would work together silently in the studio; there wasn’t a great deal of talk. We just got on with it, while US draft dodgers and all sorts of people traipsed up and down the stairs outside.”
12″ x 12″. Front, Cressida, Vertigo, released February 1970.
12″ x 24in. Inner gatefold, Cressida.
12″ x 12″. Front, Red Dirt, Fontana Records, released April 1970.
Back, Red Dirt.
12″ x 12″. Front, Gracious!, Vertigo, released August 1970.
12″ x 24″. Inner gatefold, Gracious!.
As well as the Quintessence album, the pair produced the designs for the eponymous debut albums by Cressida, Brinsley Schwarz, Red Dirt and Gracious!.
In 1970 Muggeridge was laid low by peritonitis and, after recuperation in Ireland, embarked on the hippie trail with his girlfriend Virginia Clive-Smith (who had also worked with Bubbles at Conran), by which time Teenburger had closed.
During our conversation at Patisserie Valerie, the performance artist Bishi approached us. She had just been one of the crowd of 50 contributing silence to the anti-X Factor single 4’33” in a nearby studio, and was intrigued by our conversation and the RTBC cover.
There ensued a fantastic cultural exchange: Muggeridge talked about the Barney Bubbles Light Show, which was inspired by a visit he and Bubbles made to UFO while working on an all-night job at Conran, while Bishi enthused about the work of contemporary light-show designers.
She has been performing in Nicholas Immaculate’s “Hindu Tron” suit, which helps her control light and sound by voice and movements.