Weekend links 442


Orgasm Addict (1977). Design by Malcolm Garrett; collage by Linder.

• RIP Pete Shelley, Buzzcock and Homosapien. Shelley is celebrated for being in the vanguard of Britain’s punk movement, of course. (Buzzcocks’ Spiral Scratch was the UK’s first independent single.) But he also loved Can, recorded an album of electronic drones (Sky Yen), and in 1983 successfully blended home-computer graphics with his own brand of superior electronic pop music. Related: Malcolm Garrett’s Buzzcocks band logo at Fonts In Use; B’dum, B’dum: Tony Wilson in 1978 talking to Pete Shelley and Howard Devoto about Buzzcocks and Magazine.

• Winter demands ghost stories so Adam Scovell suggests 10 great winter ghost films. Related: Alexandra Heller-Nicholas presents an A–Z of Women’s Horror Filmmaking.

Carey Dunne on the rise of underground LSD guides for psychotherapy. Related: “Psychedelics change the perception of time,” says Shayla Love.

• Ex-Neu! guitarist Michael Rother receives the box-set treatment early next year when the Groenland label reissues his early solo albums.

Jodorowsky, an exhibition devoted to the writer and director, will be staged at El Museo del Barrio, New York, from February next year.

• “From Georges Méliès to Bill and Ted, movie hells remain seriously in hock to the Judeo-Christian playbook,” says Anne Billson.

The Owl’s Legacy, Chris Marker’s 13-part documentary series on Greek culture, receives its debut DVD release.

Topic II (1989), a short film by Pascal Baes of pixilated dancers in the night streets of Prague.

• Mix of the week: Secret Thirteen Mix 274 by Koray Kantarcioglu.

• We are the first humans to hear the winds of the planet Mars.

• Patrick Magee reads The Third Policeman by Flann O’Brien.

• At Dennis Cooper’s: Jean-Louis Trintignant Day.

• Mongolian biker rock: Wolf Totem by The HU.

The Quietus albums of the year.

Hell (2001) by Techno Animal ft. Dälek | Hell’s Winter (2011) by Earth | Hell A (2017) by The Bug vs. Earth

Odilon Redon and Magazine


Shot By Both Sides (1978). Design by Malcolm Garrett. Art: La Chimere regarda avec effroi toutes choses (1886) by Odilon Redon.

The first two albums by British post-punk band Magazine have been soundtracking the inner landscape here for the past couple of weeks. Looking at some of their cover art on Discogs reminded me that two of their early singles came dressed with drawings by Symbolist artist Odilon Redon (1840–1916) so these covers may well have been the first place I saw any of Redon’s work at all. This was an unusual choice at the time which makes it typical of a group that stood slightly apart from much of the music around them, often being regarded as too proficient and too clever. (Pop music and politics are the only places where incompetence and stupidity are virtues.)


Give Me Everything (1978). Design by Malcolm Garrett? Art:The Cactus Man (1881) by Odilon Redon.

Magazine’s golden era runs from 1978 to 1980 and for me their music and that of fellow Mancunians Joy Division remains inextricably connected to memories of Manchester in the late 1970s, a place I visited sporadically before moving here in 1982. The city then was a lot more grimy and run-down, filled with the disused mills and warehouses of the collapsed cotton industry, blighted by the failed architecture of the 1960s and polluted by endless convoys of orange buses. This photo from 1978 fixes the mephitic ambience, as does some of M. John Harrison‘s fiction from the period, notably his short story Egnaro. Unlike Joy Divison, Magazine haven’t been burdened with an increasingly inflated reputation which makes revisiting their works all the more enjoyable. They pull you back to those gloomy times then take you off elsewhere, into the cajoling and neurotic imagination of that Nosferatu-in-a-leather-jacket, Howard Devoto.


No Thyself (2009). Designer unknown. Art: Le polype difforme flottait sur les rivages, sorte de cyclope souriant et hideux, Les Origines (1883) by Odilon Redon.

The band reformed in 2009 although I’m not convinced the current incarnation is for me, I’m generally sceptical of such moves and the absence of ace guitarist John McGeogh (who died in 2004) and bassist Barry Adamson means it won’t be the same. No Thyself did refer back to their origins, however, literally so in the title of the Odilon Redon picture on the cover, while the Chimera from the first single turned up on a recent tour poster. Howard Devoto talked late last year to The Quietus about the recent album.

Elsewhere on { feuilleton }
The album covers archive

Previously on { feuilleton }
Odilon Redon lithographs
The eyes of Odilon Redon

Album cover postage stamps


top row: The Division Bell by Pink Floyd; A Rush of Blood to the Head by Coldplay.
bottom row: London Calling by The Clash; Tubular Bells by Mike Oldfield.

The Royal Mail follows its series of British Design Classics postage stamps with a series dedicated to what they call “classic” album covers. The design classics in the earlier series deserved the term—a  Mini motor car, a Penguin book cover, the London Underground map, etc—whereas here we have the word “classic” being used in its lazy journalist sense where it becomes a synonym for “popular” and “familiar”, two attributes which often diminish with time.


top row: Parklife by Blur; Power, Corruption and Lies by New Order.
bottom row: IV by Led Zeppelin; Screamadelica by Primal Scream.

It should be noted that the choice of cover art was limited to releases by UK artists, and the designs had to be readable at the very small size of a postage stamp. Even so, I can’t help but regard this as a missed opportunity. There was no need to feature the Beatles since they’d been given their own set of stamps in 2006, but I’ve never thought of the cover of Let It Bleed (below) as a classic, even though musically it’s one of the best Stones albums. I’d rather choose Andy Warhol’s cover for Sticky Fingers but you can imagine the upset at stamp users being forced to lick a picture of a bulging pair of jeans. As for Pink Floyd’s Division Bell, it’s a typically striking design from Storm Thorgerson but does anyone really think it’s more classic than earlier Floyd covers, not least the Dark Side of the Moon prism which even people who hate the band can instantly recognise? Nearly all these choices seem confused or compromised; the Clash cover is the token punk offering—Royal Mail wouldn’t dare choose Never Mind the Bollocks—but Ray Lowry’s design was copied from an Elvis Presley sleeve; Led Zeppelin’s IV is a great album but other releases had far better covers; Primal Scream, another great album but the whole sleeve design is perfunctory; the Blur choice is merely bewildering.


left: Let It Bleed by The Rolling Stones; right: The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars by David Bowie.

As far as designers go, Hipgnosis (via Storm T), Peter Saville (New Order), and Stylorouge (Blur) are included here but there’s nothing from Barney Bubbles, Malcolm Garrett, 23 Envelope, Neville Brody, Designer’s Republic or any of the other pioneering British designers of the past 30 years. The trouble with those names, of course, is that many of the artists they worked for aren’t popular or familiar enough to the average British stamp purchaser so their work can’t be deemed “classic”. A best of British, then, which could have been a lot better.

Classic Album Covers will be issued on January 10th, 2010.

Elsewhere on { feuilleton }
The album covers archive

Previously on { feuilleton }
British Design Classics
Stamps of horror
Endangered insects postage stamps
James Bond postage stamps
Please Mr. Postman

Who designed Vertigo #6360 620?


Autobahn by Kraftwerk; Vertigo #6360 620.

Colin Buttimer was in touch last week to let me know he’d copied my Barney Bubbles post (with my permission) to his excellent new site, Hard Format, which is devoted to the art of music design. In the intro to that piece he repeats something he’d mentioned to me earlier, namely his belief that Barney Bubbles designed the UK release of Kraftwerk’s Autobahn album in 1974. I thought this unlikely at first but the more I’ve been thinking about it the more possible it seems. So here’s a quick run through the evidence in the hope that someone out there may have more information to either confirm or deny the theory.

Continue reading “Who designed Vertigo #6360 620?”

More Barney Bubbles


For those who’ve been eagerly awaiting Paul Gorman’s Barney Bubbles monograph, here’s the latest. Readers in the UK may also like to know there’s a feature about the book in the current issue of The Word. By coincidence, if you turn the page in the magazine there’s another feature about the Rob Gretton book I designed recently, 1 Top Class Manager. And for coincidence overload, designer Peter Saville turns up in both volumes.

Reasons To Be Cheerful: The Life and Work of Barney Bubbles
By Paul Gorman

“Barney Bubbles is the missing link between pop and culture” Peter Saville

REASONS TO BE CHEERFUL is a lavishly illustrated celebration of the creative legacy of one of the most mysterious yet influential figures in graphic design: Barney Bubbles.

Bubbles – who died 25 years ago – links the colourful underground optimism of the 1960s to the sardonic and manipulative art which accompanied punk’s explosion a decade later.

Producing extraordinary artwork under the shroud of anonymity and a number of pseudonyms, in the 60s Bubbles created early posters for the Rolling Stones, brand and product design for Sir Terence Conran and psychedelic lightshows for the Pink Floyd.

He was also responsible for the art direction of underground magazines Oz and Frendz and the masthead for rock weekly the NME, and is best known for a plethora of stunning record sleeves, logos, insignia and promo videos for musicians and performers, from counter-culture collective Hawkwind to new wave stars Elvis Costello, Ian Dury, Nick Lowe, Graham Parker, The Damned, Billy Bragg, Squeeze, Depeche Mode and The Specials.

Meticulously researched with 600 images, REASONS TO BE CHEERFUL is the first and definitive investigation into Bubbles’ life and work, with interviews and contributions from family and close friends, college pals and workmates as well as collaborators including pop artist Derek Boshier, author Michael Moorcock and photographer Brian Griffin.

Incorporating many previously unpublished images, REASONS TO BE CHEERFUL is also the only comprehensive collection of Bubbles’ output over a 30-year period: every important record sleeve, poster and advertisement as well as examples of his excursions into abstract portraiture, book design and furniture, supported by student sketchbooks, working drawings, film proposals and personal photographs and correspondence.

Singer-songwriter Billy Bragg has contributed the foreword, graphic designer Peter Saville an essay on the significance of Bubbles’ oeuvre and his contemporary Malcolm Garrett a personal memoir.

REASONS TO BE CHEERFUL is published on December 4 2008.

Trim size: 280mm x 230mm
Binding: Hardback
Pages: 224
Words: 55,000
Images: 600
RRP: £24.99

And while we’re on the subject, Barney Bubbles enthusiasts Rebecca & Mike left news on the original BB posting about a forthcoming exhibition of work by photographer Brian Griffin.

On show will be the newspaper ‘Y’, the books ‘Copyright 1978′ and ‘Power’, and associated posters, including the ‘coat hanger and scarf’ poster for Brian’s photo show in 1980. All of these (apart from ‘Power’) will be available to buy too (we think)… so, if you want to, you can bag yourself an early Christmas present (and help put some turkey on Brian’s table!)

Here’s the details: Brian Griffin, 15 November – 8 December 2008 , Monday – Saturday 11 – 6, at ‘England & Co.’, 216 Westbourne Grove, London W11 2RH.

The ‘Y’ newspaper’s got a real chunky red button on the cover (in a little plastic bag); symbolic of the nuclear button we-thinks, and there’s a great concentric circle graphic on the cover too, which is reminiscent of a few things, like the back of the not-used Dury ‘4000 Weeks Holiday’ LP sleeve design and also the front of the never released ‘Station BPR’ LP sleeve (which was due to be the second release on Billy Bragg’s ‘Utility’ label). There’s also an illustration in ‘Y’ by Nazar Ali Khan of ICU fame.

The ‘Copyright 1978′ booklet is cool too; with nearly every one of Brian’s photos in it being accompanied by thumbnail graphics by Barney, which contain cryptically encoded comments. The one that always sticks in our mind is the one that questions whether it is good or bad to receive awards for your work.

Previously on { feuilleton }
Reasons To Be Cheerful, part 2
Reasons To Be Cheerful: the Barney Bubbles revival
Barney Bubbles: artist and designer