Posts Tagged ‘The Faces’

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.

New Knockout R&B tee

Wednesday, March 4th, 2009

To mark the launch of this blog we’ve produced a limited edition t-shirt based on the one in Barney Bubbles’ award-winning poster Knockout R&B Here Tonight.

Women's tee. (c) Reasons 2009

As originally modeled by Barney’s friend, the “mod queen” Lorry Sartorio, the tee name-checks Twickenham art school band The Muleskinners, whose ranks included Ian McLagan, superstar keyboard player with the Small Faces, The Faces, the Rolling Stones and Bob Dylan.

T-shirt detail. (c) Reasons 2009.

And, to seal the connection,  the back of our new tee has a reproduction of the “Cossack” ticket for a Muleskinners’ performance on Eel Pie Island (or “Eelpiland” as Barney called it).

We’ve given tees to Barney’s family members as well as some of his close friends, including Mac and Lorry, who were suitably knocked out when we presented them. 

Custom made tags. (c) Reasons 2009.

To cover the costs of production we are now making available a very limited number in Men’s L and Women’s M sizes. These come with tags with a potted history of the shirt and a reproduction of a frame of Lorry from the photo-shoot.

For more info and to buy, click here.

Knockout R&B Here Tonight!

Tuesday, February 3rd, 2009

Today we present previously unpublished images and information surrounding one of Barney Bubbles’ key early works, the stunning poster Knockout R&B Here Tonight.

Winner of British Poster Design Award, double/four-sheet category 1964/5

In 1965 Colin Fulcher – as he was then – won a national design award for the poster, which stemmed from a photo session the previous year with his girlfriend, fellow student and artist Lorry Sartorio.

Design magazine August 1965.

Lorry met Barney during his final year at Twickenham College Of Technology (now Richmond Upon Thames College ). “It was a couple of terms in but I soon became part of his gang,” says Lorry. “I think Barney really liked my look; I’ve always been into the beatnik thing, loads of black clothes and loads of eye-make-up, though I don’t iron my hair anymore!”

The photo-shoot took place at Barney’s home in Whitton, Middx, on Sunday July 12 1964. In a letter to Lorry providing specific instructions and sketches for suggested poses, Barney explains that consumer magazine publisher Fleetway had given him a chance to produce a booklet of photographs “based on Mods and Rockers gear”.

Barney’s sketches for the photoshoot.(c) L.Sartorio/Reasons 2009

 The letter reveals Barney as an already assured art director a couple of weeks shy of his 22nd birthday, though he frets over the tone. “On rereading this letter it seems a bit bluff and hard day’s night. Sorry. But I would appreciate it if you would do it,” he says.

Barney supplied his own denim jacket for the shoot as well as a t-shirt to which he had applied dry transfer lettering spelling out the phrase: “Them Mule Skinners Knockout R+B Here Tonight”. A mod targeted love heart was positioned between the first two words.

Lorry Sartorio models for Barney Bubbles July 1964.(c) L.Sartorio/Reasons 2009

“Barney had put these giant Letraset  letters onto a plain white t-shirt,” says Lorry. “I remember I had to be really careful when I was putting it on and moving around in front of the camera.”

The Muleskinners were Twickenham’s college band, led by the keyboard-playing graphic design student Ian McLagan, who writes fondly of Barney in his excellent memoir All The Rage.

The college’s social secretary, Mac had booked the Rolling Stones as their career was shifting into overdrive for the “Twickenham Design College Dance”, held on July 12 1963 at the dilapidated Eel Pie Island Hotel.

Mac had been turned onto the Stones by another Twickenham student, Mick Finch. When Mac witnessed his first Stones gig – at the Richmond Crawdaddy – he later wrote that “it was a turning point” which set him on a path away from graphic design and into music.

The “Twickers”  group were a typically tight-knit  group of music fans; in another letter to Lorry, Barney warns her not to be late for an assignation since they are meeting Mac in the King’s Head in Twickenham, venue of many other early Stones performances.

In fact, Barney designed the poster for the Stones’ appearance at the July 12 college ball,  and went on to produce fliers and other artwork for the Muleskinners, using Cyrillic script for a “Cossack” themed event they played at “Eel Piland” in December 1964.

Russian invite to Christmas dance (c) L.Sartorio/Reasons 2009

At the end of his final year, Mac also booked the “graphic design Twickenham dance”, held on July 9 1965 at Eel Pie’s so-called Steam Laundry.

This featured Rod Stewart and Brian Auger’s Trinity just before the lanky vocalist formally threw in his lot with Auger, Julie Driscoll and Long John Baldry  in the short-lived Steampacket. Mac and Rod were to be reunited within a few years as members of one of the greatest rock bands of all time, The Faces.

Flyer for Rod Stewart/Brian Auger end-of-term ball(c) L.Sartorio/Reasons 2009

Lorry does not recall whether the mods and rockers booklet for Fleetway materialised. We do know that Barney took a frame from the photo-session to develop the poster which won him the award.

“It was red and blue, printed on glossy paper,” recalls Lorry of the poster. Barney’s dynamic treatment of the base image effectively solarised the lettering, while the words “Them”, “Knockout”, and “R&B”, as well as the love-heart roundel appeared in half-tone.

Announcing the award in the August 1965 issue of Design magazine, the judges described Knockout R&B Here Tonight as “a good hard-hitting poster. The design is exactly suited to it’s subject matter; lively, up-to-date, youthful and vigorous; excellent use of colour”.

The original shot used for A Bunch Of Stiffs, Stiff Records 1977.

Such was Barney’s affection for the image that it was a component of one of his first new wave designs, the compilation A Bunch Of Stiff Records (released April 1 1977).

The album’s inner sleeve features contributor shots and bios. For contractual reasons Dave Edmunds’  version of the The Chantels’ 50s hit Maybe – which had also been covered by Janis Joplin – was credited to “Jill Read” (with the vocal track sped up to further disguise his identity). To complete the mystery surrounding this “little known Welsh songbird” Barney playfully placed an X to mask Lorry’s face.