Posts Tagged ‘Caramel Crunch’

Update: Signed copies of the Barney Bubbles book available now for just £20 worldwide!

Tuesday, May 24th, 2016

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Signed copies of Reasons To Be Cheerful, my acclaimed monograph of the radical British graphic artist Barney Bubbles, are now available from my eBay page for just £20 including shipping worldwide, as long as you order through their Global Shipping programme if you are outside the UK.

Buy your copies here.

As well as a celebration of a pop culture great, Reasons To Be Cheerful is recognised as a significant design history, praised by leading magazines and newspapers around the world and voted MOJO’s book of the year . It is also a recommended reference source for graphics communications courses at leading educational institutions.

Reasons To Be Cheerful includes contributions from some of the most important graphic practitioners operating today, such as Art Chantry, Malcolm Garrett and Peter Saville.

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Kill City: Electrifying artwork and a murderous join-the-dots advert

Thursday, February 4th, 2010

At the beginning of 1978 Barney Bubbles was installed at Jake Riviera‘s offices at 60 Parker Street on the Holborn/Covent Garden borders, above Radar, a new independent imprint set up by ex-United Artists honchos Andrew Lauder and Martin Davis.

7in sleeve. Front cover, Kill City/I Got Nothin', Iggy Pop & James Williamson, Radar, 1978.

Radar was the new home of Riviera-managed Elvis Costello and Nick Lowe. Barney designed the label’s amazing logo as well the sleeves and ad campaigns for many of the releases, including first single, Lowe’s I Love The Sound Of Breaking Glass, and first album, Costello’s This Year’s Model.

The second album release was Kill City, a great collection of demos recorded in 1975 by former Stooges Iggy Pop and James Williamson licensed by Lauder from the late Greg Shaw’s splendid LA indie Bomp!, who supplied finished album artwork by David Allen.

Left: Little Electric Chair, 1965. Big Electric Chair, 1967.

But fresh packaging was needed for the storming title track released as a single in February 1978, and Barney produced a front cover recalling the Electric Chairs by Andy Warhol (whose deadpan series of  images of the implement of death appeared over a decade starting in 1963, the year of the final death-sentence executions in New York State).   

7in sleeve. Back cover, Kill City/I Got Nothin', Iggy Pop & James Williamson, Radar, 1978.

The vivid pink screen of the front splashes (in signature Barney style) onto the back cover, a monochrome image of a bizarre crime scene, where the body appears to have been impaled on a parking meter. Riviera clearly remembers Barney drawing the outline on the pavement, while design cohort Caramel Crunch delighted in adding the “bullet-holes”.

We’re indebted to eagle-eyed reader Mark Lungo for pointing out that the Kill City single sleeve was a likely Barney creation and also that the cover image is that of the execution of murderess Ruth Snyder in 1928 (see Mark’s comment below).  

Full-page advert, New Musical Express, February 17, 1978.

Naturally, the fun didn’t stop with the sleeve. Barney reproduced the back cover  for the ad campaign, adding a join-the-dots puzzle fluttering in the position of the body over the crime scene. 

This was captioned with a faux Weegee/crime dept-style teleprint caption flagging up the album release: “Kill City STOP straight sell STOP in town STOP open heart STOP out now STOP ++++Iggy Pop and James Williamson STOP KIll City STOP on Radar STOP Rad 2+”

NME ad with dots joined and single title revealed.

When the dots are joined, they reveal the title: Kill City.

Arriving on the heels of the stunning brace of 77 Bowie collaborations The Idiot and Lust For Life, the album Kill City sealed Iggy’s Godfather Of Punk status and, 33 years after purchase, our original copy never strays far from the three-legged Dansette.

Of course Iggy has been firmly ensconced back within the bosom of The Stooges these last few years, with Williamson rejoining the crew following the sad passing of Ron Asheton a year ago.

There’s something circle-squaring about the fact that The Stooges’ reunion started with three tracks on Iggy’s 2003 solo album Skull Ring, one of which was named after Warhol’s 1965 Little Electric Chair.

Here’s Iggy and the boys again, as ever, giving it plenty:

RIP: Ron “Rock Action” Asheton and Greg Shaw.

Billy Bragg’s rug and the Masereel effect

Sunday, October 11th, 2009

In the early 80s an opportunity arose for Barney Bubbles to spread his creativity into designing rugs.

As detailed in REASONS TO BE CHEERFUL, at this time Barney was already investigating many areas of the visual arts outside of providing commercial art for the record industry: painting, videos, mixed media, collage, mobiles, furniture design and even glass sculptures during a trip to Australia. 

12" inner sleeve. Musical Shapes, Carlene Carter, F-Beat, 1980.

Barney’s friend and patron Jake Riviera explains in Chapter 5 of REASONS that in 1980 the pair encountered an invidual working in the carpet business “who could realise anything we came up with”.

Rug design artwork, 1982. (c) REASONS 2009. Courtesy: Riviera Global.

Barney designed a circular rug like a giant  single featuring Riviera’s F-Beat label for the company’s offices in Acton, west London. This appears on the inner sleeve of Carlene Carter‘s album Musical Shapes.

“Then Barney started to produce original designs,” adds Jake. “By that stage he was taking any opportunity he could to create in other media.”

But there was one rug which was based on a design of Barney’s which he didn’t commission. To explain: in the final year of his life – 1983 – Barney was working as the designer for new indie label Go! Discs, whose priority act was Billy Bragg.

Billy and Barney  shared an admiration for Flemish Expressionist artist Frans Masereel.

“I mentioned to Barney that I loved the guy’s work and of course he got it immediately,” says Billy.

Book illustrations, Charles de Coster's The Legend Of The Glorious Adventures Of Tyl Ulenspeigel. Frans Masereel, 1943.

For the cover design of Billy’s debut album Brewing Up With…Barney recreated Masereel’s signature woodcut technique.

Front covers, 12" albums. Left: Ersatz, Imperial Pompadours, Pompadour, 1982. Right: Punkadelic, Inner City Unit, Flicknife, 1982.

This was realised in the same way as the sleeve designs for his own album Ersatz (in the guise of The Imperial Pompadours) and Inner City Unit’s Punkadelic  Barney used black paper on white.

Front cover, 12" album. Brewing Up With Billy Bragg, Go! Discs, 1984.

In the event Brewing Up was released in October 1984, nearly a year after Barney’s death. The cover depicts two scenes: in one, a light radiates from a house over an industrial cityscape, in the other a contemplative figure sits at a window, lit from overhead. 

Poster, 30in x 20in. For Billy Bragg live dates, 1983.

Barney’s design was also used for Billy’s residency at London venue The Captain’s Cabin.

Rug, 8ft x 2.5ft. (c) REASONS 2009. Courtesy: Billy Bragg.

On Barney’s death, his one-time assistant Caramel Crunch took over designing for Billy, and in the mid-80s commissioned a rug rendition of one part of the Brewing Up artwork.

“My business partner Colin did some stationary for a rug-maker and she made us both rugs as payment,” explains Caramel, who these days goes by her real name, Pauline Kennedy.

“I supplied her with Barney’s album illustration and she made me the rug from that. Then I gave it to Billy as a ‘thank you’ for letting me design for him.”

And a quarter of a century later, it is still going strong, having made the leap to another domestic object, appearing appropriately on tea mugs available from Billy’s site.

Fun for all the family at Howies

Saturday, February 7th, 2009

Tommy The Talking Toolbox would have been proud.

Fun for all the family was had at Howies store in Bristol on Thursday night as our pals at the Barney-mad company hosted an evening to celebrate the publication of Reasons To Be Cheerful.

With the invaluable support and assistance of Howies mainmen Nick Hand (who also took these photos) and Tim March, we mounted a mini-display in a hitherto unused upstairs room as the first in a series of monthly events the guys are organising.

The core of our little taster was a collection of 24 of the 27 variations to the cover of Do It Yourself by Ian Dury & The Blockheads.

Pic: Nick Hand.

This seemed particularly appropriate since the site was once occupied by a Laura Ashley branch; some of the walls in the until-now disused upstairs space are still covered in her divinely daft and dated flowery wallpaper.

Part of the original artwork for 4000 Weeks Holiday (c) P. Kennedy/Reasons 2009

To keep the ID/BB theme going, we also displayed original artefacts and artwork, including the paste-up for what later became the cover of Ian’s 1984 album 4000 Weeks Holiday.

Thought to be among the very last projects Barney worked on, this has been contributed to the Reasons archive by our friend Pauline Kennedy. In her previous incarnation as Caramel Crunch, Pauline was Barney’s assistant and continued his work at such labels as Go! Discs.

  • Presentation in Howies’ denim room.
  • With a book signing and talk about Barney, complete with power-point presentation of images from the book, the evening was capped by Paul and Caz mixing up the aural medicine with DJ sets of Barney-related sounds. These, we’re happy to tell you, went down a storm.

    BARNEY BUBBLES SOUND SELECTION:

    Here’s a selection of 10 of the Barney best to warm the cockles (click on the links to download/buy):

    Eastbourne Ladies – Kevin Coyne (Marjory Razorblade 1973)

    Inbetweenies – Ian Dury & The Blockheads (Do It Yourself 1979)

    Lipstick Vogue –  Elvis Costello & The Attractions (This Year’s Model 1978)

    Fung Kee Laundry – Quiver (Gone In the Morning 1972)

    Love My Way – The Psychedelic Furs (Forever Now 1982)

    Opa-Loka – Hawkwind (Warrior On The Edge Of Time 1975)

    Post-War Glamour Girl – John Cooper Clarke (Disguise In Love (1978)

    Darling Let’s Have Another Baby – Johnny Moped (Cycledelic 1978)

    Just Can’t Get Enough – Depeche Mode (Speak & Spell 1981)

    Ghost Town – The Specials (single 1981)

    These are just a few examples of how the BBSS can get the joint jumping. For a playlist from Caz’s set see Howies’ blog  Brainfood.