Posts Tagged ‘Chris Gabrin’

Photos from The Past The Present & The Possible: Barney Bubbles exhibition in Chaumont

Wednesday, June 13th, 2012
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//Photo: R. Pelletier.//

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//Photo: Pierrick Mouton.//

The Past The Present & The Possible was the title of the section in graphics music exhibition White Noise devoted to Barney Bubbles and curated by Reasons To Be Cheerful author Paul Gorman with artist/curator Sophie Demay and Etienne Hervy, director of the International Graphics & Poster Festival held every year in Chaumont, France.

00_WHITE_NOISE_©R.Pelletier_000

//Photo: R. Pelletier.//

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Barney Bubbles exhibition opens on Saturday

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2012

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This Saturday (May 26) sees the opening at Les Subsistances gallery in Chaumont, France, of the exhibition Barney Bubbles: The Past, The Present & The Possible.

This is part of the group show White Noise: Quand le graphisme fait du bruit (When graphics make the noise), which is co-curated by Sophie Demay and Etienne Hervy and coincides with Chaumont’s 23rd International Poster & Graphic Design Festival.

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Ian Dury + JCC: The joy of songbooks

Thursday, May 3rd, 2012
Front, John Cooper Clarke Directory, 1979. Design Barney Bubbles.

//Front, John Cooper Clarke Directory, Omnibus Press, 1979. 10" x 7", 52pp (inc covers).//

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//Front, Ian Dury Songbook, Wise Publications, 1979. 12" x 9", 68pp (inc covers).//

In 1979 pop songbook design was shaken up by Barney Bubbles and the artist Derek Boshier, who had come together to collaborate on the group exhibition Lives.

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Posters centre-stage of V&A’s British Design show

Tuesday, March 13th, 2012
Double sided fold-out tour programme/poster for Ian Dury & The Blockheads, designed by Barney Bubbles 1978.440

Promotional poster/double-sided fold-out tour programme for Ian Dury & The Blockheads, 1978. 59cm x 84cm.

Ian Dury With Love, 60in x 40in poster for the 1977 Live Stiffs tour, designed by Barney Bubbles.440

Ian Dury With Love, 60in x 40in poster, 1977.

These two stunning Barney Bubbles posters will be taking centre stage in the graphics section of the V&A’s forthcoming exhibition British Design: 1948-2012.

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Situationism: Reality you can rely on

Monday, October 31st, 2011
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//Selection of slides from Hawklords projection.//

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.

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Five Live Stiffs line up for the first time since 77

Sunday, August 28th, 2011
Five Live Stiffs posters designed by Barney Bubbles, photography by Chris Gabrin, 1977.

Posters, each 60" x 40" designed by Barney Bubbles for the October 1977 Stiff Records UK tour Live Stiffs. Photography: Chris Gabrin.

The series of five Live Stiffs posters designed by Barney Bubbles using Chris Gabrin photographs.

Exhibits in Chris Gabrin's exhibition at Dimbola Lodge, Isle Of Wight.

Chris Gabrin’s exhibition From Hear To Photography includes a doozy for Barney Bubbles fans – for the first time since their creation more than three decades ago, Bubbles’ huge Live Stiffs poster designs are displayed together.

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Kosmo Vinyl on Barney Bubbles + Ian Dury

Saturday, May 21st, 2011

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Kosmo Vinyl has sent this photograph taken of himself with Barney Bubbles (centre) and an unidentified person (right)* in the west London offices of Stiff Records in 1977.

“I have no idea what we are looking at,” says Vinyl, the former plugger/publicist/ideas man for Dury and The Clash who later became a record producer.

“The way I’m holding whatever it is,  I’d say it’s a book or a magazine. I love the way it captures Barney’s enthusiasm and amazement.”

Vinyl has also provided some fascinating tales and insights into the creative partnership conducted between Bubbles and the late Ian Dury.

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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:

Wreckless Eric: No Piccadilly menial

Wednesday, March 3rd, 2010

Wreckless Eric is one of British pop’s great survivors, blessed with an ever-growing arsenal of superb, idiosyncratic songs which have seen him outlast most of the class of 77.

7in sleeve, laminated card. Front cover, Whole Wide World/Semaphore Signals, Wreckless Eric, Stiff, 1977.

Overshadowed during the early days of Stiff Records by the label’s priority acts Elvis Costello, Ian Dury and Nick Lowe, the 2001 publication of Eric‘s great memoir A Dysfunctional Success and the use of the deathless Whole Wide World in Will Ferrell-starrer Stranger Than Fiction have provided the, er, wider world with a taste of his talents in recent years.

Over the coming weeks, the considerable fruits of his partnership with US singer-songwriter Amy Rigby can be witnessed first-hand on a series of European live dates.

In comparison with his former stablemates, Eric Goulden benefited fleetingly from the design work of Barney Bubbles, though they maintained a friendship from introduction early in 1977 to Barney’s death late in 1983; they shared common ground in having attended art schools (Goulden studied sculpture at Hull).

On the line from his home in France, Goulden confirms that Barney wasn’t at Stiff for the first six months of the label’s existence, when the design direction was handled by Chris Moreton.

“Then Barney swam into the picture,” says Goulden. “I liked him a lot. Barney was easygoing and looked kind of normal; short-ish hair and always wearing some kind of anorak. To look at him, you wouldn’t have thought this bloke had any history.

“He was a strange man, an acid casualty on some levels. It was unusual for someone who’d been such a part of the Ladbroke Grove/Notting Hill hippie scene to cross over and working with people like The Damned.”

Barney created an ident (which, like those produced for other Stiff artists, appeared on the record label). “He used the guillotine to cut jagged strips of paper which he put together to make up my name,” says Goulden. This logo was paired on the front cover of Whole Wide World with a crop from the Chris Gabrin portrait from A Bunch Of Stiffs.

From the inner to A Bunch Of Stiffs, April 1977. Photo: Chris Gabrin.

For the back, Goulden was despatched to a photo-booth and ordered to improvise semaphore signals. Barney then cropped and bleached out one of the frames. “I’d never seen anything like it; he made it look incredible,” Goulden adds.

7in sleeve, card. Back cover, Whole Wide World/Semaphore Signals, Wreckless Eric, Stiff, 1977.

“To me Barney was like The Beatles. When I was a kid you wouldn’t be quite sure of how they sounded when you first heard one of their new records. Sometimes you’d think: ‘They’ve lost it,’ because it was so unexpected, and Barney was a bit like that. Every time he did something new, it was so over-the-top you were taken aback.” 

A clutch of 1977 Stiffs with personalised labels.

One of the five subjects of the 60in x 40in day-glo posters Barney and Gabrin created for the Stiffs Live Stiffs tour of late 77, Goulden was around when the pair collaborated on the sleeve for Music For Pleasure.

12in sleeves. Back cover and inner "lino" shots, Music For Pleasure, The Damned, Stiff, 1977.

“I went with him to a lino shop in Westbourne Grove where he bought the roll which is on the inner sleeve,” says Eric. “The Damned were made to lie on it at Chris’s studio and shot from above, so it looked like they were standing up. Very odd, but it worked brilliantly.”

One of Barney’s great lost designs was the sleeve for Goulden’s unreleased 1977 Stiff EP, Piccadilly Menial. With the catalogue number LAST3, this was to comprise the title track, Excuse Me, Personal Hygiene and Rags & Tatters .

“It was on graph paper and in the style of an architectural drawing,” says Goulden, who recalls  it was akin to the axinometric lettering Barney created for The Soft Boys. The EP was replaced in the schedule with Reconnez Cherie,  the B-side of which was the Benny Hill theme tune-quoting Rags & Tatters.

Music press half-page advert, The Soft Boys tour, 1978.

“Barney had angles to him,” says Eric. “People would say ‘Oh it’s just Barney, a bit of a wacky image with some splashes and other esoteric stuff’ but in fact he thought things through and was way better than his imitators, of course. Unfortunately, in that way, he inadvertently created the look of the 80s, which was horrible and gaudy.”

Dansette, detail, front cover Musical Shapes, Carlene Carter, F-beat, 1980

Poignantly, Goulden saw Barney not long before his death in November 1983. “I visited him at his house off the Balls Pond Road,” says Eric. “He got Nuggets out and played it really loud on this Dansette on legs in the basement.”

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!