All About Being Loud

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Photo by Motorcycle Irene.

It was very loud. The crowd roared and some yelled “It’s not loud enough!” Lemmy said “Oh” and turned his amp up more, before they went into Keep Us On The Road which was very loud until Lemmy’s amp gave up its internal struggle and was replaced on the run while Eddie (Clarke, the guitarist) played the riff over and over. At the end of the number earlier complaints bellowed “Turn it up, it’s not loud enough!” to which Lemmy rejoined—”I can’t get it no damn louder, shut your trap”. Never the less, the new amp was miked up thru the P.A., so Lost Johnny was very, very loud and The Watcher was louder still. At the end of it Lemmy apologized for being so quiet and said the band were as disappointed as everyone else about not being louder. Then they played Iron Horse, which was as loud as a Tube train running through your inner ear or as loud as the First World War if they crammed the whole thing together and held it in a phone booth.

Paul Sutcliffe, gig review, Sounds

Paul Sutcliffe’s quote is on the back page of a Motörhead tour programme from 1978, a publication that’s also the source of the moody signed portrait above. Despite hanging around with metal-heads and bikers in my idle youth I never got to see Motörhead live, the tour programme—signed by all three band members, and aptly titled All About Being Loud—was a gift from a friend. Years ago I scanned the whole thing and turned it into a PDF to send to another friend so I’ve uploaded it here. Most tour programmes are rather pedestrian affairs but the Motörhead one shows the band’s sense of humour, being a collection of quotes testifying to the loudness of their shows with the page backgrounds filled out by ads for hearing aids. The Q&A notes for each band member are also revealing for mentioning three songs from the psychedelic 60s. Lemmy always spoke of his fondness for classic rock’n’roll (Motörhead covered Louie Louie in their early days) but it’s a surprise seeing him list Sour Milk Sea by Jackie Lomax as his favourite single. His album choice—Back In The USA by The MC5—is more the kind of thing you’d expect. Eddie Clarke’s favourite single is Purple Haze, while the late Phil Taylor has Itchycoo Park by The Small Faces listed with Anarchy In The UK.

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Art by Joe Petagno.

So I never got to see Motörhead play but in 1984 I did provide the cover art for Hawkwind’s Night Of The Hawks EP, a 12-inch single that featured Lemmy as guest bassist and vocalist on his first recording with the group after being sacked following a drug bust in 1975. I may no longer like the artwork but the EP was also dedicated to Barney Bubbles so it was a good thing to be involved with. As for Lemmy, everyone will be (and is) linking to Ace Of Spades but I’d offer Capricorn from the Overkill album as a memorial number. I always liked Jimmy Miller’s reverberant production, and the lyrics make it a musical self-portrait.

Rock shirts

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Arriving in the post at the end of last week was this T-shirt for British Doom band The Wounded Kings. The Shadow Over Atlantis (2010) was the band’s second album, and they asked permission a while ago to use my Cthulhuesque De Profundis piece on this limited edition shirt. Permission was granted happily enough, my only concern was that the fine detail and dark tones might not reproduce well on black fabric. The printing is remarkably good, however, and the circular design and type layout works very well. The shirts are on sale here.

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All of which reminded me that I have a couple of shirts from the Hawkwind era in the 1980s. I’ve not aired these designs before, mainly because the Earth Ritual design is one of my many pieces of Hawk-art that I find amateurish. I used to put considerable effort into the cover designs (some of them, anyway; a few were pieces of art sent to Dave Brock as samples that were later used as official covers); but much of the art I produced for the tour programs and merchandise was done in haste, and should have been a lot better considering it was being used for costly souvenirs.

Earth Ritual was the title of an EP released in 1984 that was notable for having Lemmy as guest bassist, his first appearance on a Hawkwind record after being sacked from the band in 1975. I did the cover for that one but I don’t like it very much. The 1984 tour was named after the EP, hence the shirt, although the show was nothing remotely like the elaborate Space Ritual concept. The triangle with a bar on the skull is the alchemical symbol for Earth, a detail the band used in their stage set. I’ve never liked that skull which is very badly drawn, I’d have been better off using a photocopy of the skull on this drawing from the same year. The design was drawn in black ink on white paper; I had no say in the colouring which was done by the merchandise company. From the same drawing they also made small enamel badges (where the skull looks even worse!), and a sew-on patch which looks much better since they dispensed with the skull.

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This was the shirt design for the 1985 tour, one of the final designs for the Chronicle of the Black Sword project, and one of the very last pieces I did for Hawkwind. The design of this one is a little more successful although once again the colours weren’t my choice.

These aren’t the only shirts I’ve done for the music world, in addition to other occasional work for metal bands I produced many exclusive designs for Cradle of Filth from 2001–2005 but they never sent me any of those. To return to De Profundis, I ought to note that the artwork is available as a print from CafePress.

Previously on { feuilleton }
The Cosmic Grill
Void City
Hawk things
The Sonic Assassins
New things for July
Barney Bubbles: artist and designer

Metropolis!

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Design by Boris Bilinsky (1927).

The restored version of Fritz Lang’s Metropolis (1927) was released in the UK this week by Eureka Video and my head is still spinning from having finally seen the missing scenes I’ve read about for years. There’s little I can say about the film itself that hasn’t already been said at length elsewhere, dramatically it’s not Lang’s best—M (1931) is a superior work on that score—but it’s still essential viewing for anyone interested in cinema history.

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Brigitte Helm as cinema’s greatest robot: a screen grab from the Blu-ray edition at the Eureka site. Click for full-size.

The 25 minutes of restored footage add as much to the film as was claimed, especially in the longer sections, the removal of which rendered the motivations of several characters nonsensical, as well as creating disjunctions in the story. The plot thread concerning the dead woman Hel, wife of the master of Metropolis, Joh Fredersen, and idée fixe of the inventor Rotwang, was excised when it was felt that American audiences would laugh at the woman’s name; distributors allowing their low opinion of an audience’s intellect to ruin a work of art is nothing new. That cut at least had an excuse, however misguided. What’s more surprising about the restored version is seeing the minor cuts which were made throughout, many of them occurring in places which makes it appear that the negative had been attacked at random and for no good reason. The new material suffers next to the old which has better photography than many films made years later but the disparity isn’t so jarring once you’re used to it. A short but crucial scene is still missing but intertitles are used to describe the action. For now this is the most complete version of Lang’s film to date, with far more returned to it than I ever hoped to see.

Watch the trailer
The film restoration site
Metropolis Robot: The Maschinenmensch Project
Metropolis Film Archive: A Bibliography and Checklist of Resources
Metropolis (1978) by Kraftwerk | Metropolis (1979) by Motörhead (apparently written after Lemmy had watched the film)

Previously on { feuilleton }
A Secret Wish by Propaganda
Metropolis posters