Posts Tagged ‘Glastonbury Fayre’

Barney Bubbles events at Glastonbury

Saturday, June 4th, 2011
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Front, fold-out sleeve, Revelations: A Musical Anthology, Revelation Enterprises, 1972. 24" x 36".

This year’s Glastonbury Festival will celebrate the work of Barney Bubbles, who created the extraordinary sleeve for the Glastonbury Fayre triple album set Revelations – A Musical Anthology.

Since 2011 marks the 40th anniversary of the Fayre, Bubbles’ biographer Paul Gorman is staging two events at the Festival’s Spirit Of 71 Cafe  to mark the late graphic designer’s involvement with the album, the festival and many of the performers who have played there.

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Nick Lowe: From Glastonbury Fayre to St Paul’s

Thursday, April 29th, 2010

Tomorrow (April 30) I have the great pleasure to be DJing for Nick Lowe again.

The venue couldn’t be more different from the Albert Hall; this time Nick is playing for a couple of hundred people at St Paul’s in his stamping ground, Brentford. It’s in a good cause – the money from the sold-out gig will go to the church’s community drop-in centre.

Nick, second left, with the other members of Brinsley Schwarz from The Glastonbury Fayre, Revelation, 1972.

This is the first of a spate of live appearances by Nick this year. In a couple of months he will be in the acoustic tent at the Glastonbury Festival as the only performer to have played the very first Glastonbury Fayre in 1971.

On that occasion he was a member of Brinsley Schwarz, whose debut album benefited from the lux gatefold cover by Barney Bubbles.

The printed "Silver Surfer" sealed vinyl envelope for The Glastonbury Fayre. Courtesy: Jeff Dexter Collection.

The Brinsleys’ subsequent appearance on the fund-raising triple Glastonbury Fayre set was the next staging post in Nick’s association with Barney.

"Dome Sweet Dome" cut-out geodesic dome insert, The Glastonbury Fayre.

Barney’s Glastonbury package comprised the tri-fold 24in x 36in card sleeve housed in a sealed printed vinyl envelope with customised labels, booklets and cut-out inserts for the creation of a miniature silver pyramid and  geodesic dome.

"Pyramid" cut-out album insert.

These scans of the pyramid inserts don’t do the originals justice (they’re shiny silver on black).

However, it’s been fun using the scans (and some silver paint) to create our own versions.

"Power" cut-out album insert.

Taking it’s cue from Stewart Brand‘s revolutionary Whole Earth Catalogue, the “Dome Sweet Dome” is covered in messages and instructions of ever-increasing pertinence:

“We can survive on waste – energy, experience, imagination is all!”

“Scavenge and scrounge shamelessly – you are your own architect.”

“Ecology is you.”

“We might need this kind of good, cheap shelter one day.”

We also love the “Astral” visage made by glueing the ornate sci-fi insert borders together.

The Eye Of Horus which accompanies the instructions was a marker of Barney’s abiding interest in Egyptology, and one of the powerful symbols he loved to revisit, sometimes using Nick’s aquiline features.

Album insert detail.

For example, a decade later  he openly referenced The All Seeing Eye, as it is also known,  on the cover of Nick’s 1982 album Nick The Knife.

12in sleeves. Front covers, Nick The Knife, 1982. Left: US issue on Columbia. Right: UK issue, F-Beat.

The uncompromising crop on the front of the UK issue (on F-Beat) concentrated on Nick’s angular features to achieve the full effect; as in the case of many another Barney design, the US issue soft-pedaled this with an uncropped and thus more conventional portrait.

Cheekily, Barney responded to comments that the Nick The Knife cover was unforgiving by delivering a totally contrasting sleeve for 1983 follow-up The Abominable Showman.

12in sleeve. Front cover, The Abonimable Showman, Nick Lowe, F-Beat, 1983.

Here there isn’t sign of a single blemish: the boxed-in portrait of Nick is colourised and airbrushed to the max, though the shadows and his expression once again clearly render…The Eye Of Horus.

Really looking forward to tomorrow night’s show. Sure Nick will pull out all the stops at St Paul’s just as he did at another church, St Luke’s, for the BBC a couple of years back – have a look at him rocking with one of the founding fathers of British popular music Chris Barber in the clip above.

Design 4 Music’s success (and a Heeps Willard connection revealed)

Saturday, January 30th, 2010

Yesterday’s Design 4 Music symposium was a roaring success, with all tickets selling out and a stellar cast of contributors providing insights into many different aspects of this vast subject.

The closing panel on Barney Bubbles’ legacy proved entertaining and at times revelatory even from my perspective; I lined up with three leading designers: Barney’s one-time colleague Malcolm Garrett and Barney fans Kate Moross and Gerard Saint.

Label detail with band logo, Music for Pleasure, The Damned, Stiff Records, 1977.

Gerard showed off the copy of Music For Pleasure he has owned since he was a 12-year-old punk in Devon (and spotted that Barney extended the design detail to the label). This chimed with Kate since Music For Pleasure was the key which unlocked her appreciation of Barney’s ouevre.

24" x 36" card. Outer foldout sleeve, The Glastonbury Fayre, Revelation, 1972.

And Malcolm displayed some choice designs including Glastonbury Fayre, In Search Of Space and Your Generation, as well as an intriguing art questionnaire filled in by Barney in 1981; he – along with other artists including Peter Blake – had been mailed it by a student friend of Malcolm’s. It’s been promised for the next edition of Reasons To Be Cheerful, which is fab.

Meanwhile an encounter with Andrew Heeps – whose framing company Art Vinyl staged a mini-exhibition – provided yet another example of how Barney connections are every which way.

12in laminated card. Front cover, Walls Have Ears, Blanket Of Secrecy, FBeat, 1982.

Andrew only recently discovered that his grandfather founded construction company Heeps Willard. Wreckless Eric (exclusive interview here) mentioned just the other week that it was an HW sign in Barney’s Islington neighbourhood in the early 80s which provided him with his final – and possibly most charming – nom-de-design, appearing as a credit on releases by Billy Bragg and Blanket Of Secrecy.

Credits, Walls Have Ears, 1982.

“I was knocked out when my dad told me about his father’s company,” said Andrew. “He gave Barney the name and here I am immersed in vinyl and one of Heeps Willard’s biggest fans!”

7" card with foil imprint. Into The Galaxy, Midnight Juggernauts, Isomorph, 2009.

And the day wrapped nicely when the name of our competition winner, illustration student Sarah Jane Griffey (who claims she never wins anything), was plucked for one of the prizes in the draw: a Kate-donated copy of Into The Galaxy by Midnight Juggernauts.

Johnny O Rocket: Excellence in search of space

Thursday, July 30th, 2009

Sonic Attack (Psychedelic Warlords),Trensmat, 2008.

The talents of Johnny O Rocket came to our attention with his superb Barney Bubbles remixes for the three split 7-inchers released last year by Irish indie label Trensmat Records.

Poster, Rocket Recordings 10th anniversary celebration, 2009.

Like Barney, Johnny studied technical illustration and works closely with a select band of independent labels and groups, incorporating Barney’s legacy in his graphic design, light-shows, photography and concert posters for Trensmat and Rocket Recordings and sonic adventurers such as The HeadsThe Notorious Hi-Fi Killers, Thought Forms and Cripple Black Phoenix Band.

Photography, Thought Forms, 2008.

Based in Bristol, Johnny first encountered Barney’s work via an introduction to Hawkwind as an avid vinyl collector in the late 80s, when acid house, shoe-gazing and grunge reigned in “a heady mix of distorted guitars and expanded oscillations”, to use his phrase.

Poster, The Heads/White Hills split LP, Rocket, 2009.

“Nowadays, investigating the past is handed to you on a plate via the internet,” says Johnny. “Back then, I had to rely on older brothers and their friends.” One, by the name of Simon Healey, championed early 70s Hawkwind and in particular the first album Barney designed for the group, X In Search of Space.

Posters, The Heads/White Hills split LP, 2009.

“Wow, the music was Viva La Trance!, a driving, throbbing freak-out,” exclaims Johnny. “I couldn’t detect the ‘hippiness’ the post-punk period portrayed it as, and the cover was unlike anything I’d ever seen. I sat for hours listening, looking and absorbing. The design and music seemed so intertwined, and I’m not sure Hawkwind would have had quite the same power without Barney’s work.”

Poster, Can You Pass The Rocket Test? 2008.

At the time, Johnny was a student on a technical illustration course, which would have struck a chord with Barney; his father was a precision engineer and the technical drawing he himself had studied at Twickenham art school (now Richmond Upon Thames University) was a major element in his output.

7" sleeve, Everybody Knows We Got Nowhere, The Heads, Sweet Nothing, 2000.

Johnny says he’d been accustomed to “a disciplined and geometrical but black-and-white world. Barney opened infinite doorways to the possibilities of the vinyl LP packaging format in all it’s multi-coloured glory. In Search Of Space’s artwork and log booklet are striking, graphic yet stark. It embodied an escape from the rigid structure of the engineered drawing I was studying, while still encompassing geometrical forms”.

Sonic Attack (Motorheads)/Sonic Attack (Lords Of Light), Trensmat, 2008.

Johnny describes the Trensmat covers – which came in three colour schemes in a nod to Barney’s multi-format approach  –  as a “collage”, bringing together elements from Barney’s covers, posters, inserts and booklets for ISOS, Doremi Fasol Latido, Space Ritual and The Glastonbury Fayre, as well as the die-cut elliptical puzzles contained within the booklet produced with his former Conran colleague John Muggeridge (who has the credit J. Moonman) for Quintessence album In Blissful Company.

Poster, Sun Ra Arkestera, The Croft, Bristol, 2008.

“They are all amazing,” says Johnny, “not least because of the interactivity: the opening, the unfolding, reflective print, puzzles, shapes, allusions, the collage of BB’s influences – all of these reflect the consciousness of that period in music, something that is harder to replicate in CD packaging.”   

The Heads Live @ The Thekla Bristol, Part 4

Johnny’s light show for The Heads live.

In his work for Rocket Recordings, Johnny says he has attempted to incorporate this creative approach “by collaging different influences and techniques; be it for graphic design pieces, photography or light shows. I dabble with the same methods and draw from an ever widening circle of interests”.

Poster featuring 12" sleeve, Which Side Are You On?, The Notorious Hi Fi Killers, 2008.

And he is full of admiration for the way Barney adapted to the post-punk period. “He seemed to fit neatly into the DIY ethic, but simultaneously had the full multicoloured myriad imagination of the 60s,” says Johnny. “Hopefully I try and encompass those values.”

Logo, Rocket Recordings, 2009.

And Johnny has a theory as to why there is such a blossoming of interest in Barney’s work right now: “In the 80s the commercial environment surrounding cheaply manufactured CDs didn’t pay regard to consumer tastes in packaging, so the art-form was forced underground.

Concert poster, Trinity Centre, Bristol, 2005.

“The rise of download culture has enhanced a desire from those who oppose it to own music as part of a well-crafted and considered package which makes an artistic statement.”

Artwork. Tribute to Can.

The power of the pyramid and the mystery of the three circles

Tuesday, June 30th, 2009

The application of geometric symbols was an important element of Barney Bubbles’ visual language.

Detail from label, I Can't Stand Up For Falling Down, FBeat XX1, February 1980.

As pointed out in Reasons To Be Cheerful, Barney’s use of symbolism throughout his career underlines his consistency of approach and undercuts notions of a clear division between his 60s/70s “hippie” work and that produced after joining Stiff Records in March 1977.

The presence of symbols also effected a “signature” for this artist who opted for anonymity and avoided credits in his later years.

A fine example are the three triangulated circles which surfaced in February 1980 as a tiny detail on the label for I Can’t Stand Up For Falling Down, the hit single by Elvis Costello & The Attractions which inaugurated Jake Riviera’s FBeat Records. Next they appeared on the double A-side promo for the label’s second single, Splash (A Tear Comes Rolling Down) by Clive Langer & The Boxes, though were gone by the official release.

B-side of From Head To Toe, Elvis Costello & The Attractions, FBeat, 1983.

Thereafter, the circles crop up on releases by Costello and Nick Lowe up until Barney’s death in 1983. However, the symbol was not used in the label copy for releases by other acts on FBeat, including Lowe’s collaborative projects with Dave Edmunds in Rockpile such as Seconds of Pleasure or The Attractions’ “solo” effort Mad About The Wrong Boy.

Triple gatefold cover, the Glastonbury Fayre, Revelation, 1972. Advert, Frendz 33, 1972.

So what to make of this repeated, if selective, use?  The pyramid and triangle were sources of fascination in line with Barney’s interest in Egyptology and Norse mythology, as evinced by such projects as The Glastonbury Fayre and in various forms for Hawkwind and band-member Nik Turner’s solo projects.

"Pyramid power": Cut and fold inserts, The Glastonbury Fayre, Revelation, 1972.

The three overlapping circles convey many meanings,  drawing on the potency of Sacred Geometry as well as the work of “The Great Geometer” himself, Appollonius of Perga.

From advert for Xitintoday by Nik Turner's Sphynx, NME, April 22, 1978.

In Christian terms, they represent the Holy Trinity, and in combination with triangles signify alchemy. Intersecting and tangental circles occur in Masonic mathematical calculations – Barney’s father Fred Fulcher was a mason and the compass, used to draw circles, is a key symbol in Freemasonry.

Left: Symbol for the Holy Trinity. Right: The Borromean Rings.

The three interlaced circles are also known as the Borromean Rings (since they  decorate a particular Baroque palazzo on one of the three northern Italian islands owned in the 17th Century by the Borromeo family).  A form of the link was used by the Vikings and is known as Odin’s Triangle.

Left: Alchemical sign. Right: Odin's Triangle.

More recently, three interlinked rings have been employed to define business leadership and corporate management structures.

Contemporary versions used in sociology and management models.

The explicit use of this symbol during the FBeat period comes into focus when one considers Barney’s ongoing preoccupation with power – hence also the variants on crowns and other regal insignia. The strength in the three interlocked circles lies in their unity; if one is broken the potency is lost.

My interpretation is that the three circles – fuelled by the energy of the pyramid and imbued with multiple layers of meaning – represent the powerful interplay between Jake Riviera, Barney himself and the priority artists Elvis Costello and Nick Lowe: this was a time when management, design and music were all reliant on each other and firing on all cylinders.

What’s yours?

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.