Posts Tagged ‘Hipgnosis’

Late period Bubbles: Sleeve and band logo for Sad Café’s 1983 single Keep Us Together

Thursday, April 18th, 2013
Barney Bubbles design for 1983 single sleeve - front

//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, Barney Bubbles design for single sleeve, Mercy Ray You Really Got To Me, 1983.

//Proof, front and back of single sleeve for Mercy Ray’s You Really Got To Me, Charisma, 1983//


//Back cover detail, You Really Got To Me//


Comprehensive: The Art Of The Album Cover

Tuesday, November 16th, 2010


“How can something so square be so hip?”

Designer Richard Evans sets out to answer this question in the new illustrated history of the 12in album sleeve, The Art Of The Album Cover.

Evans, The Who’s in-house designer for 35 years, provides a comprehensive overview in this glossy hardback which presents many examples of Barney Bubbles’ plundering of the history of record sleeve design for his palette of possibilities: think the crazy lettering and daring mix of photography and graphics of Alex Steinweiss and his 40s brethren Jim Flora and George Maas and, in the 50s,  the work of the cool ruler, Blue Note’s Reid Miles.





Evans shows how Miles’ admiration for the “blotted line” illustrative work of Andy Warhol in the 50s resulted in gorgeous sleeves for Johnny Griffin and Kenny Burrell, while tribute is paid to the work not just of examplars such as William Claxton and Burt Goldblatt but also the teeming “unknowns” who populated the art departments of (mainly American) record labels in the 50s and 60s.

As design critic Kenneth FitzGerald recently set out in his new collection of essays, Evans recognises that everything changed with The Beatles’ 1963 debut album sleeve by Robert Freeman, setting design for music on the path to Sgt Pepper’s four years later and then onto the 70s boom-time. There are name-checks for all the leading art directors, illustrators, designers and artists, including Cal Schenkel, Neon Park, Kosh, Hipgnosis, Roger Dean and Evans himself as well as Barney Bubbles, whose work Evans deeply admires.





“I don’t have enough words of praise for the delightful and brilliant work of Barney Bubbles,” writes Evans. “He was the graphic designer’s graphic designer; a man full of the best ideas executed with great wit and originality.”

With concise sections dedicated to Neville Brody, Peter Saville, Malcolm Garrett and Stylorouge, Evans tracks the familiar tale of the damage done by the shrinkage of the packaging with the rise of the CD and the ultimately restrictive practices wreaked by increased digitisation.


As in FitzGerald’s Volume, however, the obituary for the vinyl sleeve outlined in Aubrey “Po” Powell‘s introduction (“The art of creating album covers belongs to a bygone age”) looks again to be premature in an era of renewed vigour in the field.

And Evans’ declaration that album sleeve design now resides in CD booklets also seems wrong-footed; the digital format is being rapidly forced down the gurgler by the download generation yet the demand for vinyl – though necessarily much more limited than in it’s heyday – is once again the smart choice.


The Art Of The Album Cover is available here.

Hats off to Dublog’s alternative record sleeve stamps

Tuesday, January 12th, 2010

Hats off to Dublog for coming up with alternatives to the Royal Mail’s largely lazy collection of rock record sleeve stamps.

Dublogs selection.

Dublog's selection.

Dublog’s remix is groovier, with Barney Bubbles included with the most widely-circulated of his 28 Do It Yourself Crown wallpaper covers.

12in laminated card. Front cover, Do It Yourself, Ian Dury & The Blockhead, Stiff Records, 1979. One of 10 UK issue.

One of the 10 alternatives printed in the UK, it was the first one I bought (in the week of issue in May 1979).

Crown provided the cover samples on the proviso that each album carried a catalogue number so that impressed purchasers could order designs direct.

Reasons To Be Cheerful contributor Malcolm Garrett is represented by Magazine’s 1980 album The Correct Use Of Soap as is Peter Saville, since the original sandpaper sleeve for The Return Of The Durutti Column was produced on his watch at Factory Records in 1980, though there is dispute as to whether Peter was involved in its creation.

The other designs are, from top left:  God Save The Queen, Sex Pistols (Jamie Reid 1977); Doolittle, Pixies (Simon Larbalestier/Vaughn Oliver 1989); Songs About Fucking, Big Black (1987); Best Dressed Chicken in Town, Dr Alimantado (D.K. James/David Hendley 1978); Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space, Spiritualized (Jason Pierce/Mark Farrow 1997); and Go 2 , XTC (Hipgnosis 1978).