Listen to the Colour of Your Dreams: Part Six

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The United States of America, 1968. Back, left–right: Joseph Byrd, Dorothy Moskowitz, Gordon Marron; front, left–right: Ed Bogas, Craig Woodson, Rand Forbes.

Concluding the psychedelic mega-mix based on Jon Savage’s list of “100 mind-expanding masterpieces” (see this post). The last of the six mixes is the third visit to the USA, and features songs from the years 1968 to 1969 arranged in chronological order. As before, the selections from the Savage 100 are in bold, and I’ve added notes about my additions or amendments.

The most notable deviation from Savage’s list in this final collection is the substitution of Lothar and the Hand People for two other groups combining psychedelic music with electronic sounds, Fifty Foot Hose and The United States Of America. Lothar and the Hand People were so named because of their use of theremins; they’re often described as electronic pioneers but I’ve never liked their music very much or thought it was as inventive as people claim. Fifty Foot Hose and The United States Of America are better on all levels, the self-titled USA album is a masterpiece that proved an inspiration for Portishead (listen to Half Day Closing) and Broadcast.

Savage ended his UK list with Can’t Find My Way Home, a song that captured the come-down feeling after the psych fireworks were over. The US list lacked an equivalent resolution, hence the choice of Wooden Ships; where Blind Faith’s lament is a personal one, Jefferson Airplane offer something more global, a pessimistic vision of the future that you can tie to all the other crashing dreams of 1969. It’s also a great song, and a fitting way to bring everything to a close.

US Psychedelia, Part Three by Feuilleton on Mixcloud

Radio news — Grateful Dead drug bust
The Grateful Dead — That’s It For The Other One
Nazz — Open My Eyes (The first single by a band with Todd Rundgren on guitar, and another song from the original Nuggets collection.)
Iron Butterfly — In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida
Fifty Foot Hose — If Not This Time (One of several songs whose unusual chord progressions—some of them inspired by Schoenberg—set them apart from their contemporaries.)
Steppenwolf — Magic Carpet Ride
The Steve Miller Band — Song For Our Ancestors
The United States Of America — The Garden Of Earthly Delights (A paean to poisonous love with a title borrowed from Bosch.)
Tommy James And The Shondells — Crimson And Clover
White Lightning — William
Spirit — Dream Within A Dream
Skip Spence — War In Peace
The Youngbloods — Darkness, Darkness
Kak — Electric Sailor
Kaleidoscope (US) — Lie To Me (A last nod to the psychedelic sound from an album very aptly entitled Incredible!)
The Grateful Dead — Mountains Of The Moon
Jimi Hendrix — The Star Spangled Banner
Jefferson Airplane — Wooden Ships

Previously on { feuilleton }
Listen to the Colour of Your Dreams: Part Five
Listen to the Colour of Your Dreams: Part Four
Listen to the Colour of Your Dreams: Part Three
Listen to the Colour of Your Dreams: Part Two
Listen to the Colour of Your Dreams: Part One
What Is A Happening?
My White Bicycle
Ogdens’ Nut Gone Flake
Tomorrow Never Knows
The Dukes declare it’s 25 O’Clock!
A splendid time is guaranteed for all

John Austen’s Little Ape

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British illustrator John Austen (1886–1948) illustrated many classic works of fiction throughout the 1920s, one of which, Hamlet, was recently reprinted by Dover Publications. His other work isn’t so easy to find, however, and I’d not seen Little Ape and Other Stories (1921) until Nick H drew my attention to a copy for sale at silver-gryph’s eBay pages. (Thanks, Nick!)

Ralph Holbrook Keen’s story collection was Austen’s first illustrated edition although you wouldn’t necessarily take it for a debut work. There are the familiar nods to Beardsley—the black-and-yellow cover especially—and possibly Harry Clarke whose influence is more evident in the Hamlet drawings. Clarke and Austen exhibited together in 1925. The skeleton with a floral crown makes me think of the rose-crowned skeleton in Edmund J. Sullivan’s Rubáiyát (1913), although this may be a result of Sullivan’s drawing having been made very familiar by its use on Mouse & Kelley’s posters for the Grateful Dead. One of the many connections between the Golden Age of Illustration and the Golden Age of Psychedelia.

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Continue reading “John Austen’s Little Ape”

Petulia film posters

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Illustration by Bob Peak.

Further examples of those things you find when you’re searching for something else, these posters for Richard Lester’s Petulia (1968) are a good example of just how differently the same film can be presented by its advertising materials. Petulia (“the uncommon movie”) is a fascinating, unjustly neglected gem, a serious adult drama quite unlike the comedies (or comic dramas) Lester was making before and after. Nicolas Roeg photographed Petulia shortly before embarking on his own directing career, capturing San Francisco just after the Summer of Love in a more documentary fashion than the exploitation films of the period. There are nods to the psychedelic scene with party appearances by Big Brother and the Holding Company, and the Grateful Dead, but the narrative concerns the flipside of hippiedom with a group of middle-class professionals ensnared in adultery and marital failure.

A commonly remarked feature of Petulia is Antony Gibbs’ fragmented editing style which flashes backwards and forwards throughout, even showing events that never happen. The technique is usually taken to be derived from Alain Resnais although Gibbs had earlier edited The Knack…and How to Get It for Lester which is often as fragmented, albeit for a more comic effect. What’s notable about the technique is that Gibbs went on to edit Nicolas Roeg’s first two features, Performance (co-directed with Donald Cammell) and Walkabout, both of which take the fragmentation even further, creating the style which Roeg made his own.

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The poster that caught my attention was the marvellous one by Bob Peak who manages to depict the awkward relationship between the two leads—holding hands yet facing away from each other—whilst alluding to the psychedelic backdrop in the details. It’s difficult to tell at a small size but the sheet music design above shows that Peak’s drawing is a complex arrangement of blended faces, the reflected figure of a woman and a pattern of Bridget Riley swirls. If I was still collecting film posters I’d be sorely tempted to buy one of these.

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Illustration by Jean Fourastié.

Compared to which this pair of French designs veer off in opposite and unsatisfying directions. Jean Fourastié seems to have been under the impression that the story concerned a San Francisco flower child not a bored housewife, while Jean Mascii’s painting isn’t inaccurate but is more suited to a romance paperback. Big heads were apparently Mascii’s métier even if there were no people in the film.

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Illustration by Jean Mascii.

Petulia has been available on DVD for a while now, it’s well worth seeking out. Watch the trailer here.

Previously on { feuilleton }
Lucifer Rising posters
Wild Salomés
Druillet’s vampires
Bob Peak revisited
Alice in Acidland
Salomé posters
Polish posters: Freedom on the Fence
Kaleidoscope: the switched-on thriller
The Robing of The Birds
Franciszek Starowieyski, 1930–2009
Dallamano’s Dorian Gray
Czech film posters
The poster art of Richard Amsel
Bollywood posters
Lussuria, Invidia, Superbia
The poster art of Bob Peak
A premonition of Premonition
Metropolis posters
Film noir posters