Posts Tagged ‘Red Dirt’

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.

New edition of the Barney Bubbles book out now

Tuesday, October 26th, 2010

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The enhanced, revised and updated new edition of Reasons To Be Cheerful is published in the UK this week.

With a remixed cover, the fully illustrated 224-page second edition of the acclaimed biography features many new elements.

There are nearly 60 fresh images in the new book: letters, postcards and photographs as well as sketches, designs and finished artwork for record sleeves, posters, stickers, drumheads, etc.

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Paul Gorman has written a new author’s note and afterword summing up the impact of the first edition, and the commentary now includes a chat with foremost US designer Art Chantry about the relevance of Barney Bubbles’ artistic legacy to contemporary design. The new edition is published in the US in spring 2011.

A host of new contributors have been interviewed, from Wreckless Eric to “Record John” Cowell – Bubbles’ one-time room-mate and the half brother of Simon Cowell.

All chapters have been updated with freshly researched information, including never-previously published facts and quotes about Bubbles’ time at art school and his first full-time job at leading British commercial art studio Michael Tucker + Associates.

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As an EXCLUSIVE, we are offering signed copies of the new book only from this blog, priced £18.99 plus £5 p&p UK.

Mail for info on postage to continental Europe and rest of world.

To buy your copy click on the button below or visit HERE for details.

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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.