Listen to the Colour of Your Dreams: Part Three

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Continuing the psychedelic mega-mix based on Jon Savage’s list of “100 mind-expanding masterpieces” (see this post). The third of the six mixes is the final visit to the UK, with songs from the years 1967 to 1969. As before, the selections from the Savage 100 are in bold, and I’ve added a few notes about my additions or amendments.

By late 1968 different musical trends were becoming apparent in pop music, all of which would develop into distinct movements of their own in the 1970s. Some of the strands are evident here, notably heavy rock, progressive rock, and the first stirrings of electronic music. Savage didn’t include any electronic songs in his UK listing but I had to have something from White Noise, an obscure group at the time whose first album, An Electric Storm, has since proved very influential. That album is infused with the psychedelic spirit, especially on Your Hidden Dreams, one of the many songs of the period that conflates dreams with drug experiences. An earlier version of this mix did include Your Hidden Dreams but I’ve ended up going with Love Without Sound, the first piece the group recorded.

The most surprising entry in all six mixes is probably the song by Cilla Black, an artist whose name seldom (if ever) appears in discussions of psychedelia. This was a discovery via another list for Mojo magazine compiled by Rob Chapman, a collection of novelty hits, comedy songs (Dick Shawn’s Love Power from The Producers), and various obscurities. Cilla’s song was included for featuring yet more lyrics that may or may not be about drugs. The faux-Arabian arrangement is by George Martin. If I ever track down all of Chapman’s songs I may upload them as well.

UK Psychedelia, Part Three by Feuilleton on Mixcloud

The Rolling Stones — 2000 Light Years From Home (The Stones at their most cosmic.)
The Nice — Flower King Of Flies (The Savage 100 has Diamond Hard Blue Apples Of The Moon, a B-side that’s also very badly recorded, hence this substitute.)
Status Quo — Pictures Of Matchstick Men
Big Boy Pete — Cold Turkey
The Pretty Things — Talkin’ About The Good Times (Another marvellous single from a group at the peak of their powers.)
Julie Driscoll with Brian Auger and The Trinity — This Wheel’s On Fire (Julie Driscoll also did a great cover of Donovan’s Season Of The Witch. This gets included for the modish phasing and for being the theme song for Absolutely Fabulous on which Driscoll also sings.)
Nirvana (UK) — Rainbow Chaser
The Rokes — When The Wind Arises (An English band recording for the Italian market.)
Boeing Duveen & The Beautiful Soup — Which Dreamed It? (Hank Wangford in an earlier guise. A Lewis Carroll poem set to music, this was the dreamy B-side of the group’s Jabberwocky single.)
The Mirror — Faster Than Light
Fairport Convention — It’s Alright Ma, It’s Only Witchcraft
The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown — Fire
Pink Floyd — Jugband Blues
Cilla Black — Abyssinian Secret
The Jimi Hendrix Experience — 1983 (A Merman I Should Turn to Be)
White Noise — Love Without Sound
The Apple — The Other Side
Kaleidoscope (UK) — Faintly Blowing
Jason Crest — Black Mass (A Satanic obscurity that pre-empts Black Sabbath by several months.)
The Open Mind — Magic Potion (By late 1969 it was much too late to still be writing drug songs but that’s what you have here. The heavy riff points to the future.)
Blind Faith — Can’t Find My Way Home

Previously on { feuilleton }
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

Haçienda ephemera

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Haçienda Members’ Newsletter IV, 1982. (The head collaged onto the male figure is from RanXerox by Tanino Liberatore.)

Searching through some papers at the weekend turned up something I’d completely forgotten about: a members’ newsletter for Manchester’s Haçienda club. When the place first opened you needed to be a member to get in, unless you already knew a member in which case you could be signed in as a guest. One reason the place was so empty in its first couple of years was the restricted access, a policy they later dropped.

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I paid for my membership in September 1982 since I was eager to see William Burroughs appearing in the Final Academy event on October 4th. I think the newsletter must have arrived with the nice Peter Saville-designed card. If there were any other newsletters after this I never received any but then I was never a conscientious club-goer and only went there if there was a decent band playing.

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And speaking of decent bands, I also found this flyer, the only one I have from that period. Einstürzende Neubauten played the Haçienda twice, in August 1983 and February 1985, and I saw them on both occasions. The flyer is for the second event and is a lot more typical of Haçienda products than the fanzine-style newsletter. Neubauten’s first appearance there was sparsely attended but remains one of the best events I’ve witnessed. This was at the tail end of their metal-bashing period, and the performance that night involved a lot of hammering, flames, showers of sparks and broken glass flying into the audience. The climax came when one of them picked up the pneumatic road-drill they used for their noise-making and drilled straight into the concrete wall at the side of the stage. The machine was left hanging there to the consternation of the club staff. A few months later they staged their notorious performance at the ICA in London which was cut short when they started dismantling the stage. The second Haçienda gig drew a larger crowd but was a more subdued affair which would have disappointed those who were yelling for destruction between the songs.

The Haçienda is demolished now so that drilling incident may be seen as a precursor of the inevitable. But the history persists in exhibitions like the recent one at the V&A in London which recreated some of the decor. The typewritten and photocopied members’ newsletter shows a more humble origin than the usual “design classic” label that gets endlessly recycled. Further page scans follow, or you can download a PDF I made. The last two scans in this post are a sheet of guest passes for members to fill, and that ultimate low-tech item: a handwritten and photocopied events list for late 1982. I don’t remember Jah Wobble playing the day after the Burroughs event; I would have liked to have seen that one as well.

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Continue reading “Haçienda ephemera”

Harry Clarke’s The Year’s at the Spring

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The Internet Archive seems to be improving as a resource for out-of-copyright books. Browsing there this week it’s become apparent that a number of recent additions include rare illustrated titles which can be downloaded as PDFs or scanned pages. Project Gutenberg has the quantity where free books are concerned but their quality leaves much to be desired when it comes to illustrations. The nice thing about these scans from libraries is that they copy the complete book, including covers and endpapers. In many cases the covers have been spoiled by bar code stickers and other library ephemera but they still give a good idea of the original volume.

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First of the discoveries is this poetry collection, The Year’s at the Spring (sic), from 1920 illustrated by the peerless Harry Clarke (1889–1931). Among the poets featured are WB Yeats, GK Chesterton, Rupert Brooke and Walter de la Mare. This really is a discovery for me since I don’t think I’ve seen any of the illustrations before. The drawings are certainly up to the standard of Clarke’s other work and the colour plates show a possible Japanese influence in some cases, as well as being reminiscent of the colour plates for his Poe volume. There are 21 full-page illustrations in all, with many vignettes.

A couple more illustration samples follow below the fold. I’ll be featuring other titles which have caught my eye over the next few days.

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“I am born of a thousand storms, and grey with the rushing rains.”

Elsewhere on { feuilleton }
The illustrators archive

Previously on { feuilleton }
My pastiches

Paisley patterns

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Kirking shawl design (1850).

December is a month when I normally shun the secondhand shops so as to avoid being taken for a cheapskate trying to save money while Christmas shopping. Sometimes it pays to break your own rules, however, as with this discovery, Paisley Patterns: A Design Source Book (Studio Editions, 1989) by Valerie Reilly. This falls into the class of those books you didn’t know you’d wanted for years until you hold it in your hands, being a marvellous history of the evolution of the Paisley pattern from its origin in Kashmiri shawls to its development among the shawl weavers in the Scottish town of Paisley (and elsewhere) during the 19th century. With 100 colour plates it’s impossible to give a fair representation of the book’s contents but many of the examples are astonishingly abstract and worlds away from what we normally consider Victorian design.

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Silk shawl design (1860).

The pre-psychedelic splendour of Paisley (and its “Oriental” character) was what led to its popularity during the 1960s. There was plenty of Paisley clothing around in the 1970s as a result, I had a particularly garish turquoise tie when I was about 11-years old and I think it was this which first set me wondering what the design was and who invented it. As Valerie Reilly notes, the boteh teardrop shape is a motif that’s as old as civilisation and its original use in patterns can’t be pinned to a single location. One of the nice things about this book is the quantity of shawl designs taken from the Paisley Museum that have sufficient detail for you to see how the pattern makers went about creating a design. The book is out of print but a swift search on Amazon reveals a couple of similar titles. The article below is a good overview of the evolution of the shawls and their designs.

Kashmir and Shawls of Paisley Design at Victoriana.com

Previously on { feuilleton }
Flowers of Love

Watchmen

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This year sees the 20th anniversary of the publication of Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons. This landmark comic book, one of the few to deserve the designation “graphic novel”, remains a particular favourite of mine, and one that still excites today for its consummate command of the comics medium. The following is a very long round table discussion with Watchmen‘s creators from issue 100 of Fantasy Advertiser, first published in March 1988. It’s surprising that this doesn’t seem to have been posted anywhere else on the web as it’s an excellent discussion into some of the details of this great book.

Spoiler warning: this piece discusses in depth just about every revelation in the story so you’d be advised to skip it if you haven’t read the book.

MARTIN SKIDMORE: Alright, let’s have a starting point… just what is it about Watchmen that distinguishes it from other…
STEVE WHITAKER: Cream cheeses?
MS: …superhero comics on the market?
DAVE GIBBONS: Is this in the form of direct questions to us, or…
FIONA JEROME: No, we’re all gonna talk.
DG: Well, I’ll have a schnoozle then…
SW: The thing that I think distinguishes Watchmen from other comics is that the series holds together more like a novel. Your climax isn’t in the last 3 panels in Watchmen 12. There are long quiet tracts with exciting bits or…moderately exciting bits (LAUGHTER) In terms of Jack Kirby Wham! Smash! Pow! it’s all very quiet. There’s a lot of suffering but…
MS: …it’s all emotional rather than physical suffering.
ALAN MOORE: It’s a difficult question for me and Dave to answer, probably one that you could answer better, but if I had to say anything then it’s the degree of structure that me and Dave have applied to it—I can’t think of many examples of that degree of structure, that degree of layering.
FJ: I was going to say: especially visually you don’t get such a use of motif certainly not in American comics.
MS: Doug Moench has used it occasionally.
FJ: But not with the same complexity and not filling-in with written structure as well.
PETER HOGAN: The thing is: you’re given a world. The characters, alright, they’re based on the Charlton Characters but they’re new as of page 1. Even so, they’re characters with a history that comes out over the course of the thing… Their world has a history… it has a cohesion to it.
SW: Something that quite interests me now we’re talking about structure and stuff, is the symmetry—there is a real symmetry to Watchmen and the way the characters are set up.
DG: Two arms… two legs. (LAUGHTER)
MS: Perhaps the Comedian and Rorschach…
SW: I was thinking more of Osterman and Ozymandias.
MS: That’s right—the intellectual and physical, chaos and law…
AM: It’s difficult pinning down what’s symmetrical to what—I mean to me, at least to some extent, there’s an equally good case for contrasting Nite Owl and Rorschach.

Continue reading “Watchmen”