Posts Tagged ‘John Muggeridge’

Talking Teenburger: J.Moonman meets Bishi

Monday, December 13th, 2010

moon-teenburgerpaper8″x8″. Livery, Teenburger Designs, 1969.

It was a pleasure to take tea in Soho last week with John Muggeridge, Barney Bubbles’ friend and colleague at Conran and Teenburger Designs.

Muggeridge has long been a resident of Bolivia, and his visits to the old country are rare. This didn’t, of course, hinder his contributions to Reasons To Be Cheerful, but it was fab finally to meet the man credited on Quintessence’s In Blissful Company as J. Moonman (he and Bubbles contributed the album design including a 12-page booklet).

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12″x12″. Page 5, booklet, In Blissful Company, Quintessence, Island Records, 1969.

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Page 6, in Blissful Company booklet.

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Page 7, In Blissful Company booklet.

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Page 8, In Blissful Company booklet.

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Page 9, In Blissful Company booklet.

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Page 10, In Blissful Company booklet.

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Booklet detail: Muggeridge-inscribed lyrics for the track Ganga Mai.

A graduate of the London College Of Printing, Muggeridge joined Conran’s design department in 1966, where he worked with Bubbles (then the company’s senior graphic designer going by his birth name, Colin Fulcher).

As described in Jonathan Aitken’s 1967 book The Young Meteors, the Conran studio was at that point at the cutting edge of the global design business, with 35 employees at its offices in Hanway Place, central London.

Muggeridge became Bubbles’ assistant when the designer launched Teenburger from 307 Portobello Road in the spring of 1969, and worked with him on a run of record sleeve designs, as well as pitches for the opening sequence credits for two or three films.

“The only one I can remember was Women In Love,” says Muggeridge, who has a clear memory of himself and Bubbles sat in an otherwise empty Soho screening room viewing a rough-cut of Ken Russell’s movie. Their proposal didn’t make the cut.

Having studied calligraphy at LCP, Muggeridge’s Teenburger responsibilities included hand-lettering; his italics adorn the In Blissful Company credits.

“I was really Barney’s apprentice,” says Muggeridge, these days involved in the food business. “It was amazing to watch him apply concepts. Ideas emerged fully-formed on the drawing board. Quite often we would work together silently in the studio; there wasn’t a great deal of talk. We just got on with it, while US draft dodgers and all sorts of people traipsed up and down the stairs outside.”

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12″ x 12″. Front, Cressida, Vertigo, released February 1970.

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12″ x 24in. Inner gatefold, Cressida.

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Back, Cressida.

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12″ x 12″. Front, Red Dirt, Fontana Records, released April 1970.

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Back, Red Dirt.

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12″ x 12″. Front, Gracious!, Vertigo, released August 1970.

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12″ x 24″. Inner gatefold, Gracious!.

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Back, Gracious!.

As well as the Quintessence album, the pair produced the designs for the eponymous debut albums by Cressida, Brinsley Schwarz, Red Dirt and Gracious!.

In 1970 Muggeridge was laid low by peritonitis and, after recuperation in Ireland, embarked on the hippie trail with his girlfriend Virginia Clive-Smith (who had also worked with Bubbles at Conran), by which time Teenburger had closed.

During our conversation at Patisserie Valerie, the performance artist Bishi approached us. She had just been one of the crowd of 50 contributing silence to the anti-X Factor single 4’33” in a nearby studio, and was intrigued by our conversation and the RTBC cover.

There ensued a fantastic cultural exchange: Muggeridge talked about the Barney Bubbles Light Show, which was inspired by a visit he and Bubbles made to UFO while working on an all-night job at Conran, while Bishi enthused about the work of contemporary light-show designers.

She has been performing in Nicholas Immaculate’s “Hindu Tron” suit, which helps her control light and sound by voice and movements.

Call The Tiger – Performance from Bishi TV on Vimeo.

Muggeridge was delighted. “I’m sure Barney would have approved,” he said.

Kicking up the dust on Teenburger’s Red Dirt sleeve

Thursday, January 28th, 2010

The current issue of The Word covers former Radio One DJ Mike Read’s sale of his huge vinyl collection.

12in card. Front cover, Red Dirt, Red Dirt, Fontana, 1970. Pic: John KosmicKourier.

A notable item in Read’s glorified yard sale (also discussed on The Word’s excellent website) is the 1970 eponymous album by blues-rockers Red Dirt. Released on the Fontana label, this went as soon as it arrived, ignored by punters and press alike.

Since the 80s collectors’ boom in prog and associated genres, copies of Red Dirt have become increasingly valuable; vinyl authority (and one-time colleague of Barney Bubbles) Phil Smee points out that they are currently go for at least £600 a pop.

Back cover, Red Dirt, 1970. Pic: John KosmicKourier.

Red Dirt’s music has been derided, unfairly we believe. Though sometimes workmanlike,  the quartet’s vigorous brew kept it short and sweet, shining on such tracks as Mellotron and dirty slide-laden opener Memories, the Beefheart stomp of Death Letter, acoustic bottleneck blues Song For Pauline and the mournful I’ve Been Down So Long. Sonically, it’s in line Rod Stewart’s first couple of solo albums as well as those he did with The Faces; this could have something to do with the presence of engineer Mike Bobak (who worked on Never A Dull Moment and Long Player among others).

Red Dirt is blessed with a wonderful cover by Barney Bubbles, whose Notting Hill design studio Teenburger receives the credit.

Barney launched Teenburger Designs at the beginning of 1969 from his abode at 307 Portobello Road; for headed paper he reproduced burger wrappers, with a brown burger in a bun printed on the back. We’ll be revealing an example as one of the additions to the new enhanced edition of Reasons To Be Cheerful; above is the header.

305-309 Portobello Road, London, W11, 1970. Photo: Unknown.

Red Dirt is one of a handful of album sleeves attributed to Teenburger; some were executed in conjunction with Barney’s pal from Conran Design in the 60s, John Muggeridge.

The cover image is taken from a wanted poster of Geronimo, the Apache chieftain reputed to have magical powers (though it’s clear the photo was staged – a shackle is visible around one leg) . The Apache stem from the south of the US: Arizona, New Mexico and Oklahoma, where there are federally recognized contemporary Apache tribal governments to this day. Geronimo’s remains were thought – until recently – to have been buried under a stone pyramid monument at Fort Sill in Oklohoma, the state renowned for the presence of – guess what? – red dirt across more than a million acres, in 33 counties no less.  Sand, siltstone and shale weathering account for its hue, apparently.

7in sleeve. Back and front, One Chord Wonders/Quickstep, The Adverts, Stiff Records, 1977.

Barney’s brutal enlargement of the deliberately ragged crop of Geronimo’s face brought out the half-tones, while  the dramatic contrasts are heightened by the sparing  use of the  red “blood” trickles seeping from the bullet holes emblazoning the band’s name on the design.

Poster, 60" x 40". The Damned, Stiff Records, 1977.

This technique really came into it’s own seven years later when applied to the monochrome imagery of early punk, as evinced by Barney’s 7in sleeve for The Adverts’ Stiff single 1977 One Chord Wonders and his large poster for The Damned that same year.

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.