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.
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.
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.
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: