Posts Tagged ‘Kevin Coyne’

Barney Bubbles, July 30 1942 – November 14 1983: A celebration in rare and previously unpublished images and artworks

Thursday, November 14th, 2013

//Barney Bubbles with poster/programme for Elvis Costello & The Attractions’ Armed Forces tour, west London, 1979. Photo courtesy Chalkie Davies//

In celebration of the creative legacy of Barney Bubbles – who died on this day 30 years ago – here is a selection of rare and previously unpublished images and artworks.


//Drawing of Odeon cinema facade, Richmond, south-west London from early 60s student sketchbook. © Barney Bubbles Estate//


//Credit to “the magnificent Barney Bubbles”, Oz 38, 1972//


//Ident for Kevin Coyne’s 1973 LP Marjory Razorblade. © Barney Bubbles Estate//


//Photobooth shot from Stiff Records day out, 1977//


//Bubbles (left) with Suzanne Spiro, Jake Riviera, Cynthia Lole, Paul Conroy and Dez Brown at Stiff Records offices, from Melody Maker, August 6, 1977. Photo: Barry Plummer//


//Single sleeve proofs for Elvis Costello & The Attractions’ giveaway 45 Talking In The Dark/Wednesday Week, December 1978//



//FBeat Records letterhead, 1980//


//Profile, pen and ink on art board, 1983. © Barney Bubbles Estate//


//Profile, pen and ink on art board, 1983. © Barney Bubbles Estate//


//Pen and ink on art board. The sparkplug, along with the lightbulb, was one of the recurring motifs of Bubbles’ later work. © Barney Bubbles Estate//

Read here for recent examples of Bubbles’ pervasive influence.


Virgin’s world domination – blame Barney Bubbles!

Sunday, January 31st, 2010

A 12-year-old trade magazine clipping has revealed that Barney Bubbles even played an (admittedly indirect) role in the formalisation of Richard Branson’s business interests, with one of his invoices setting in train the perma-grinning bearded entrepreneur’s journey to worldwide domination.

An issue of US music industry weekly Billboard published in 1998 carried a special section celebrating Virgin Records’ 25th year.

From Billboard, September 5, 1998.

Among those interviewed was Ken Berry, seen by many as the architect of Virgin’s financial framework and by the time of the Billboard feature, president of EMI Music. But back in 1973, Berry was a 21-year-old drifter keen to break into the music industry.

Berry recounted asking Virgin co-founder Simon Draper on his first day about the new label’s royalty payment system. “Simon said, ‘I don’t know but I’ve got something here,’ and he pulled a piece of paper from his desk. It was this yellow invoice from a guy called Barney Bubbles – he used to do the album artwork – and Simon had written various numbers on the back. These were the various royalties we were supposed to pay people.”

12in sleeve. Front cover, Marjory Razorblade, Kevin Coyne, 1973.

This was doubtless Barney’s meticulously prepared invoice for the design provided for Kevin Coyne‘s incredible double album Marjory Razorblade, one of Virgin’s earliest releases following its debut in May that year with Mike Oldfield’s Tubular Bells

Artwork, Marjory Razorblade, 1973.

Marjory Razorblade contains many of the late Coyne’s greatest songs, including his musing on his time as a psychiatric nurse House On The Hill, the single Marlene and the storming Eastbourne Ladies (championed a few years later alongside tracks by Peter Hamill, Can, Big Youth and Neil Young by Johnny Rotten on Capital Radio’s summer 1977 broadcast A Punk & His Music).

Another client of Barney’s, Wreckless Eric,  recently played a set of Coyne songs with his partner Amy Rigby and Coyne’s son Eugene  in Germany; Eric says they might do some KC songs when they’re in the UK this spring – a must-see we reckon.

And Coyne seems finally to be receiving the widespread recognition he deserves with the release of a I Want My Crown, an anthology of his work between 1973 and 1979 for Virgin.

So, the next time you’re waiting for a Virgin Train, working out at a Virgin Active or checking your Virgin Mobile bill, think of Barney’s small part in the transformation of a scruffy hippie label into a global business empire.

Fun for all the family at Howies

Saturday, February 7th, 2009

Tommy The Talking Toolbox would have been proud.

Fun for all the family was had at Howies store in Bristol on Thursday night as our pals at the Barney-mad company hosted an evening to celebrate the publication of Reasons To Be Cheerful.

With the invaluable support and assistance of Howies mainmen Nick Hand (who also took these photos) and Tim March, we mounted a mini-display in a hitherto unused upstairs room as the first in a series of monthly events the guys are organising.

The core of our little taster was a collection of 24 of the 27 variations to the cover of Do It Yourself by Ian Dury & The Blockheads.

Pic: Nick Hand.

This seemed particularly appropriate since the site was once occupied by a Laura Ashley branch; some of the walls in the until-now disused upstairs space are still covered in her divinely daft and dated flowery wallpaper.

Part of the original artwork for 4000 Weeks Holiday (c) P. Kennedy/Reasons 2009

To keep the ID/BB theme going, we also displayed original artefacts and artwork, including the paste-up for what later became the cover of Ian’s 1984 album 4000 Weeks Holiday.

Thought to be among the very last projects Barney worked on, this has been contributed to the Reasons archive by our friend Pauline Kennedy. In her previous incarnation as Caramel Crunch, Pauline was Barney’s assistant and continued his work at such labels as Go! Discs.

  • Presentation in Howies’ denim room.
  • With a book signing and talk about Barney, complete with power-point presentation of images from the book, the evening was capped by Paul and Caz mixing up the aural medicine with DJ sets of Barney-related sounds. These, we’re happy to tell you, went down a storm.


    Here’s a selection of 10 of the Barney best to warm the cockles (click on the links to download/buy):

    Eastbourne Ladies – Kevin Coyne (Marjory Razorblade 1973)

    Inbetweenies – Ian Dury & The Blockheads (Do It Yourself 1979)

    Lipstick Vogue –  Elvis Costello & The Attractions (This Year’s Model 1978)

    Fung Kee Laundry – Quiver (Gone In the Morning 1972)

    Love My Way – The Psychedelic Furs (Forever Now 1982)

    Opa-Loka – Hawkwind (Warrior On The Edge Of Time 1975)

    Post-War Glamour Girl – John Cooper Clarke (Disguise In Love (1978)

    Darling Let’s Have Another Baby – Johnny Moped (Cycledelic 1978)

    Just Can’t Get Enough – Depeche Mode (Speak & Spell 1981)

    Ghost Town – The Specials (single 1981)

    These are just a few examples of how the BBSS can get the joint jumping. For a playlist from Caz’s set see Howies’ blog  Brainfood.