Ptooff!

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There’s a sub-genre of the psychedelic album cover in which florid, unfocused and vividly polychrome doodles by friends of the band are used as the principal artwork. (The cover of The Parable Of Arable Land [1967] by The Red Crayola is a typical example.) The art which decorates the fold-out sleeve of Ptooff! (1967), the debut album by British group The Deviants, isn’t quite in the doodle league but it treads a narrow divide between drug-addled scribbles and American comic-strip art à la Jack Kirby. Someone named “Kipps” receives the art credit. Viewed today the swirls and explosions on the sleeve’s outer panels also seem to predict the graffiti art which would flourish a decade later.

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The Deviants were the first musical vehicle for writer and singer Mick Farren who died last week. At the time Farren was known as a journalist for International Times which explains the disembodied head of Theda Bara (from the paper’s logo) floating in the top right-hand corner of the front cover. The lysergic wildness continues inside with an incoherent scene and the promise that “APSARAS—is an Epic forthcoming—a marvel of the Universe—an illustrated saga of a Godwoman. On sale soon.” John Peel provided some sleeve notes. See the artwork at larger size here.

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Charles Shaar Murray penned a memorial note for Mick Farren last week. My favourite track from Ptooff! is opening song I’m Coming Home, a song which demonstrates the group’s ability to combine humour with hard-rock freakout.

Elsewhere on { feuilleton }
The album covers archive

Previously on { feuilleton }
International Times archive

ICA talks archived

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I’ve linked to the British Library’s sound archive before but it was only recently that I had a browse through their collection of talks from the Institute of Contemporary Arts, London. The public discussions cover the period 1981–1994, and while there’s a wide range of contributors the lion’s share of interviewees are writers. Most of the talks run from 60–90 minutes. The following is a selection from some of the contents:

JG Ballard and Matthew Hoffman in conversation, 1984. Ballard discussing his latest novel, Empire of the Sun.

Derek Jarman and Ken Campbell in conversation, 1984. Jarman discussing his autobiography, Dancing Ledge which was also published that year. (A revised edition appeared in 1991.) If Ken Campbell seems an unusual interviewer it should be recalled that he appeared in Jarman’s 1979 film, The Tempest.

Alan Moore and Charles Shaar Murray in conversation, 1987. Mr Moore caught in the year when the world at large became aware of comics in general and his work in particular.

Whose Fantasy? Hosted by Neil Gaiman (uncredited) with M. John Harrison, Terry Pratchett, Geoff Ryman & Diana Wynne Jones, 1988. One of a series of events examining British genre fiction. Neil Gaiman was the host of each discussion but is uncredited on the site for several of the talks. This one concerns fantasy and science fiction.

Whose Fantasy? Hosted by Neil Gaiman (uncredited) with Clive Barker, Ramsey Campbell, Roz Kaveney & Garry Kilworth, 1988. The following day’s discussion was oriented more towards horror.

Laurie Anderson and Sarah Kent in conversation, 1990. Laurie Anderson’s latest album (and one of hers I like a great deal) Strange Angels is discussed.