Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Billy Bragg: “Barney Bubbles lives!”

Tuesday, October 5th, 2010

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Billy Bragg dropped by the exhibition today; here he is with the rug he contributed (featuring, of course, one of Barney Bubbles’ Masereel-quoting designs for the front of 1984’s Brewing Up).

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Bill wrote in the visitor’s book:”Beautiful, hand crafted, timeless, exciting. Barney Bubbles lives!”

Neat Neat Neat show at Paul Stolper

Tuesday, June 29th, 2010

The Term Reality: Collages 1970-2010, the current exhibition at London’s Paul Stolper Gallery, is to the excellent standard maintained by this leading artspace with contributions from the likes of Peter Blake, Damien Hirst, Peter Saville and our great friends John Dove & Molly White.

The Damned, Simon Periton, 2002.

At last week’s private view, Stolper revealed that the piece on which the show turns is Simon Periton‘s The Damned, since it acknowledges the first collage, Picasso’s 1912 composition Still-Life With Chair Caning.

Still-Life With Chair Caning, Pablo Picasso, 1912.

The Damned is from Periton’s period of producing intricate paper cut-outs (which he christened “doilies”) and is of course based around the front cover of Neat Neat Neat, the second single by – who else? – The Damned.

Front cover, Neat Neat Neat/Stab Yor Back/Singalonga Scabies, The Damned, Stiff, 1977.

Periton – whose recent work includes The Beezlebag for “art-eco-fashion” brand Issi and a few years back the cover of Pulp’s Hits collection – was intrigued to find out that the Neat Neat Neat sleeve is a key work for Barney, since it marked his re-entry to the fray in February 1977.

Front cover, Hits, Pulp, Island, 2002. Simon Periton/Sadie Coles HQ after photographs by Willie Seldon.

As Stiff Records and punk rock went nationwide, Barney introduced a purposeful clarity which not only elevated the label out of the pub-rock cheekiness of it’s early months but set the tone for the new wave picture sleeve boom of the next few years. In doing so, Barney also laid the foundations for the richest and most triumphant phase of his own career.

Simon Periton at last week's private view.

Periton has now moved away from cut-outs to painting on glass; The Damned dates from 2002. Read all about him and his work in Michael Bracewell’s monograph, and, if you’re in town, catch The Term Reality; it’s on until August 3.

Humphrey Ocean does his ‘Daisy Disco’ dance

Tuesday, May 11th, 2010

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.

7in sleeve. Front cover, Whoops A Daisy/Davey Crockett, Stiff, 1978.

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.

7in sleeve. Back cover, Whoops A Daisy/Davey Crockett, Stiff, 1978.

These were exaggerated by the huge white suit Ocean had bought in Brixton Market during his time in the Kilburns.

Sleeve lettering, front cover.

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.

Sleeve lettering, back cover.

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.”

Poster 30in x 20in, Stiff, 1978.

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:

Design 4 Music: We have a winner!

Monday, January 25th, 2010

The first name out of the hat in our competition for a much-sought-after ticket to this Friday’s Design 4 Music event is: Sarah-Jane Griffey.

Well done  for sending the correct answer to the following question:

Q: What is the name of Kate Moross’s record label?

A. Isomorph.

Contact us via thelook@rockpopfashion.com Sarah-Jane and we’ll put you in touch with the organisers John and Catherine to arrange ticket pick-up, etc.

Hard cheese to everyone else who entered; maybe we’ll see you down there? Otherwise – watch out: there’s another fab competition coming this way soon!

Win a copy of 70s Style & Design!

Thursday, December 31st, 2009

We’re celebrating the New Year with an exclusive competition to win a copy of the spiffing new book 70s Style & Design.

The competition is in conjunction with sister blog THE LOOK; the fine folk at Thames & Hudson have supplied us with the prized copy which will go to the person whose name is first out of the hat filled with correct answers to the question at the bottom of this post. 

Authors Kirsty Hislop and Dominic Lutyens give Barney pride of place in the book with images of his sleeves for Ian Dury & The Blockheads’ 1978 single Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick and The Damned’s 1977 album Music For Pleasure.

Kirsty and Dominic align Barney with Mick Haggerty and George Hardie as part of the triumvirate which “pre-empted the pluralism of the New Wave graphics revolution” and present his influence on the likes of April Greiman and Reasons To Be Cheerful contributor Malcolm Garrett

For a chance to win a copy of this visual feast, send us your answer to the following question:

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

MAIL YOUR ANSWER TO: thelook@rockpopfashion.com.

THE WINNER WILL BE ANNOUNCED ON JANUARY 14.

Be lucky and Happy New Year!

Happy Holidays!

Friday, December 25th, 2009

Happy Holidays to all our readers – January marks the first anniversary of this blog and at this rate we’ve got many years to come, with the work of Barney Bubbles as our springboard into the highways and byways of art, design and rock & roll.

7in sleeve, paper. Private pressing of a 45rpm Christmas message from Colin Fulcher (aka Barney Bubbles) to his friends and relations, 1966. (c) Reasons 2009.

2010 will bring a new edition, an exhibition, a series of events and who knows what other delights? Rest assured they will be many and multifarious.

Be seeing you,

The Barney Bubbles Blog.

 

 

Reasons To Be Cheerful: MOJO’s Book Of The Year!

Friday, November 27th, 2009

We’re proud to announce that MOJO magazine has declared Reasons To Be Cheerful BOOK OF THE YEAR!

Page 50, Mojo magazine, January 2010.

It’s great that the considerable effort which went into the book is being recognised.

A number of high-profile people were there for us when it counted and helped draw attention to what was a pretty left-field idea at the time, among them Billy Bragg, Malcolm Garrett, Peter Saville and Paul Smith.

Behind the scenes, those closest to Barney professionally and personally were generous enough to open their hearts, minds and archives. They know who they are but thanks again to you, and also to the lovely people who have emerged since publication, providing support, information and material to ensure that this blog has become a vital online entity.

John Coulthart deserves special mention; if I hadn’t come across the essential blog he posted in January 2007 so soon after a browse through my record collection with Caz, who knows where we’d all be now? Thanks John.

It’s worth pointing out that the reappraisal of Barney in the scheme of things came from the ground up. It was satisfying that the self-appointed gatekeepers of the graphic arts establishment were evidently wrong-footed by the publication of the book by an avowed team of outsiders, and it’s doubly gratifying to see how all of our efforts have finally elevated Barney into the pantheon (as evinced by this recent Design Week story).

As we all know, it’s a crying shame Barney ain’t around to share in this enjoyment and appreciation of his art. At least we together have done our best to ensure that Barney’s body of work will live forever. So thanks to you as well, the fans, readers, casual online browsers and all-out Barney obsessives: you make it worthwhile.

Enough of that – we have work to do.

Coming soon, the second edition, revised and updated with fresh and never-seen-before info, images and interviews. Keep your eyes out; it’ll blow your socks off.

Also an exhibition at Chelsea Space next autumn.

It’s a cornball pay-off but what the hey! There are many more reasons to be cheerful coming this way, so keep reading and keep in touch,

Your friend,

Paul

Andy Arthurs’ single sleeve: Detected after 31 years!

Monday, August 17th, 2009

A spot of detective work has resulted in confirmation from musician, producer, engineer and now academic and orchestra leader Andy Arthurs that Barney Bubbles did indeed design the sleeve for his 1978 electropop single I Can Detect You (For 100,000 Miles).

Until now this curio has not been recognised as a Barney artwork. We were put on the trail by blog fan Mark Lungo, who put 2 + 2 together correctly, having spotted the familiar tropes and stylistic tics in Detect’s design and added in the fact that Barney was at that time in-house designer at Radar Records.

Andy, these days professor and head of music at Queensland University, confirmed that the cover was Barney’s, organised by Radar mainman Andrew Lauder. We will be featuring an interview with him shortly.

Backed with the song I Am A Machine, the sleeve was also used for the single’s release on affiliate label TDS Records, for whom Barney created “blackboard” music press adverts developing the use of faux mathematical equations. The TDS logo itself bears a resemblance to that which he produced for magazine Let It Rock a couple of years earlier.

On the TDS sleeves the label’s address is 120 Parker Street W1 – in posh Mayfair. It seems there was some playfulness afoot; Radar was based at 60 Parker Street, another thoroughfare in what was then down-at-heel Camden’s borders with Bloomsbury.

Andy had been around the British music scene for a number of years by the time of the single’s release, having started at George Martin’s AIR studios in 1971 and received engineering credits on albums such as Bryan Ferry’s These Foolish Things.

During the immediate post-punk era he produced singles and albums by such new wave acts as Tot Taylor’s Advertising, Stranglers’ spin-off project Celia & the Mutations, power-pop band Tonight (also on TDS), mod revivalists The Chords and 999

Barney had many connections to the latter band led by Nick Cash, who had been a one-time member of his friend Ian Dury’s pub-rock outfit Kilburn & The High Road

999’s designer was George Snow, who had known Barney since his days at underground paper Friends. Snow is the man credited with pioneering acceptance of computers and digital technology in British graphics and illustration circles by another Barney fan, Andy Martin.

999 were also signed to Radar, having been at Lauder’s previous label UA, and the photographer responsible for many of their sleeve shots was Barney’s friend and collaborator Chris Gabrin.

Meanwhile Andy Arthurs produced 999’s eponymously-titled debut album for Radar as well as such releases as The Soft Boys’ (I Want To Be An) Anglepoise Lamp, which also benefited from a Barney sleeve, and wrote tracks including Skin Tight for Noosha Fox.

Nowadays Andy is ultra-busy, complimenting his professorial duties at Queensland with his involvement in 18-piece orchestra Deep Blue.

And his release has now been added to our virtual exhibition of Barney’s single sleeves. 71 and counting! More to be added soon!

The single sleeves: the embodiment of pop art

Monday, July 6th, 2009


Today we unveil the first public exhibition of the collected single sleeves created by Barney Bubbles; a stunning virtual presentation featuring a host of rarely seen images.

England's Glory/Dream Tobacco, Max Wall, Stiff BUY 12. Released April 1, 1977.

The single sleeves are important since they – more than any other area of Barney’s work – embody the characteristics of pop art as defined by Richard Hamilton in 1957:

Pop Art is:
Popular (designed for a mass audience)
Transient (short-term solution)
Expendable (easily forgotten)
Low cost
Mass produced
Young (aimed at youth)
Witty
Sexy
Gimmicky
Glamorous
Big business

Barney’s single sleeves comply, though, of course, he added the particular characteristic of anonymity. Only one sleeve carries a credit – for the lettering above Humphrey Ocean’s portrait on England’s Glory/Dream Tobacco by Max Wall (apparently at the insistence of the late comic genius).

Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll/Razzle In My Pocket, Ian Dury, Stiff BUY17. Released August 26, 1977.

More will be added over the coming months; just last night at the Nick Lowe/Ry Cooder aftershow, Soft Boys’ leader Robyn Hitchcock confirmed what had long been posited: Barney was responsible for his band’s 1978 Radar single (I Want To Be An) Anglepoise Lamp/Fat Man’s Son.

(I Wanna Be An) Anglepoise Lamp/Fat Man's Son, The Soft Boys, Radar ADA8. Released: April 1978.

Collectively this represents an inspired body of commercial work, much of it concentrated in the post-punk period after Barney returned to the music business in March 1977.

From Head To Toe/The World Of Broken Hearts, Elvis Costello & The Attractions, FBeat XX30. Released September 1982.

In the days when hit singles sold in their hundreds of thousands, Barney (who majored in cardboard design for retail purposes at college) almost single-handedly ignited the explosion of 45rpm packaging as it came back into vogue.

Darling Let's Have Another Baby/It Really Digs/Something Else (Chiswick NS27). Released January 1978.

Eager to address the problem-solving possibilities offered by multiple releases and coloured vinyl, Barney produced at an impressive rate, with few, if any, falling below the high quality threshold.

Accidents Will Happen/Talking In The Dark, Elvis Costello & The Attractions, Radar ADA38. Released May 1979.

The mask of anonymity eased adoption of a dizzying array of styles and approaches. Yet themes, symbols, fonts and techniques recur and develop: hearts, arrows, stars, tears, physiognomy, dynamic use of colour, art history references, industry in-jokes, photographic treatments and so on.

Some contain elements contributed by others; obviously the images of the photographers with whom he worked, and also releases such as Accidents Will Happen, where Barney applied the concept of inverting the sleeve.  The stills which ended up on the inside came from the promo for the song made by Rocky Morton and Annabel Jankel. Designs for earlier releases, such as The Pie and Silver Machine, were completed by record companies out of artwork he had already created for albums or posters.

Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick /There Ain’t Half Been Some Clever Bastards, Ian Dury And The Blockheads, Stiff BUY38. Released: November 23 1978.

We start with the folded paper sleeve for the Christmas message of 1966 Barney recorded in a railway station auto recording booth for family and a few friends and move on to big sellers such as Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick, which reached number one and spent 15 weeks in the UK chart.

Visit the exhibition here; download tracks by clicking on individual sleeves. These days music arrives naked, so come celebrate a time when it paraded all gussied up and garbed in finery.

Zip Nolan: an intriguing exclusive

Monday, April 27th, 2009

We’re indebted to Doug Smith for providing this original and previously unpublished Barney Bubbles artwork complete with printing instructions.

(c) Doug Smith 2009

Logo by Barney Bubbles. (C) Doug Smith 2009.

The former Hawkwind manager and a close friend of Barney’s, Doug says: “I always thought we asked him to do it, but what with my memory being what it is, I wasn’t sure. Anyway, I came across it the other day and sure enough there’s Barney’s writing at the bottom.”

Zip Nolan Highway Patrol was a creation of Barney’s friend Michael Moorcock dating back to the late 50s, and appeared in Fleetway Publications’ comic Lion in various forms until the early 70s. Original artwork is currently fetching three figures on eBay.

Original Zip Nolan artwork, 1963.

Original Zip Nolan artwork, 1963.

In 2005 the Zip Nolan character was revived in the six-issue Albion, plotted by Alan Moore and written by his daughter Leah Moore and her husband John Reppion. This was published as a book by Wildstorm in the US and Titan in the UK.

Left: Albion number 3. Right: The Albion book

Left: Albion issue 3. Right: The Albion book, Titan.

Michael doesn’t recall having seen Barney’s Zip Nolan logo until now. “I’d guess it was Barney doing a pop art rip,” he says. “I hadn’t written a Zip Nolan since 1963.”

As revealed here, Barney had worked for Fleetway around that time, having been commissioned to produce a Mods & Rockers special for the company in 1964 (which gave rise to the R&B Here Tonight t-shirt  and the award-winning Muleskinners poster).

The lettering style of Barney’s Zip Nolan logo chimes with that for The Glastonbury Fayre triple-album package of 1972.

Left: Clear vinyl envelope. Right: Booklet cover. The Glastonbury Fayre, Revelation, 1972. (C) Jeff Dexter.

Left: Clear vinyl envelope. Right: Booklet cover. The Glastonbury Fayre, Revelation, 1972. (C) Jeff Dexter.

1972 also saw the publication of a Lion annual featuring on it’s cover – who else? – Zip Nolan. And the character was to inspire a single of the same name a few years later by The Cult Figures, an obscure power-pop tune produced under the wing of indie pioneers Swell Maps.