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  • davidwills 6:38 pm on January 1, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: 4000 Weeks Holiday, Album Art, art, , , , Bob Bromide, , Definitive Biography, , , , , ,   

    Barney Bubbles – Ian Dury, 4000 Weeks Holiday 

    Barney Bubbles orginal (almost) design for Ian Dury's '4000 Weeks Holiday': Front

    Barney Bubbles original design for Ian Dury’s ‘4000 Weeks Holiday’: Front (photo on cover by Bob Bromide)


    Barney Bubbles original (almost) design for Ian Dury's '4000 Weeks Holiday': Back

    Barney Bubbles original design (almost) for Ian Dury’s ‘4000 Weeks Holiday’: Back

    Hello New Yearers, Happy New Year! To kick off this season’s delights, here’s a little-seen item from the repertoire of my old friend Barney Bubbles.

    Late 1983 Barney designed a cover for Ian Dury’s ‘4000 Weeks Holiday’ LP, only for it to never really see the light of day. I say ‘never really’, because nearly everywhere across the world a different artwork solution was used, but Barney’s original design did make it onto the cover of the Portuguese issue (amongst a tiny handful of other seemingly random places I am reliably informed). Check out the pics above. The photo that Barney used on the front cover is by Bob Bromide.

    My English friends RandM (Barney boffins of extraordinary detailedness) are quick to point out that even the Portuguese version is not totally true to Barney’s original artwork; apparently only a copy of the original UK test pressing complete with test sleeve is. Why so? By the time the LP came out to the public (after Barney’s tragic demise), the record company changed the tracklist by removing ‘Noddy Harris’ and adding ‘Inspiration’, and so the record company had dutifully tweaked the design of the tracklist accordingly. But, this Portuguese issue is pretty darn close to Barney’s original design, so here it is goddamit!

    Pondering why the tracklist changed? The company execs feared the legal ramifications of upsetting Enid Blyton’s estate with the ‘Noddy Harris’ lyrics “Winnie The Pooh is having a wank. And what are you up to? Said Thomas the Tank…Fuck off Noddy you stupid prat. Fuck off Noddy in your rotten hat”.

    Keep smiling and see you all again later for more tales of daring-do.
    IanDuryRAM1983

     
  • davidwills 7:44 pm on February 1, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: 1983, art, , Buddy Holly, , , , Heartbeat, instant records, , line records, Phillip Goodhand Tait   

    Barney Bubbles – Heartbeat 

    Heartbeaaat
    With Valentine’s Day approaching, and matters of the heart coming to the fore, here displayed for your timely appreciation is Barney Bubbles’ sleeve for Phillip Goodhand-Tait’s 1983 single ‘Heartbeat’. A track originally recorded by Buddy Holly, an icon Barney was happy to often parody in his graphixeffex. My London correspondents (whom I thank for the image) tell me this was one of the last sleeves Barney designed.

     
    • Rooksby 10:41 pm on February 13, 2013 Permalink | Reply

      David, I’ve been visiting this site on a semi-regular basis since the 1st edition of Reasons to Be Cheerful appeared, & I just wanted to say that – several years on – it’s as fascinating & inspiring as it ever was. More power to you, sir – keep it Bubblin’. 🙂

  • davidwills 6:59 pm on November 1, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: art, , , , , Get Happy, , , , , Prog Rock, Psychedelic, , Roadhawks   

    Barney Bubbles – Progressive's Progressives 

    What is this cornucopia of visual soda-pop we see below I hear you thirsty readers ask. It’s several Barney Bubbles posters, each shown in their successive stages of printing. Gasp in delight as you observe the inks being added one-by-one to create the final artistic vision. Pics hunted out by Barney boffins R&M (yes, them again) and shared here for your delight. Labels have been added to the pics to explain the ink build-up. Stay tuned for more inky tales…

    The colors in the progressives were borrowed from the Victorian era original copy of the Encyclopedia of Design and Decoration, 1885 or so, that I have mentioned before. Barney re-ownershipped the book when it was decomissioned from Twickenham art school use, and regularly used the multiplicity of extraordinary color combinations shewn therein in his works. The color-combination for the first Hawkwind poster was from a Moorish fabric design. The book was printed in something like 32 self-colors, some of which I’m sure were vegetable derived. The book is now worth a lot in the original printing.

    Progressive print stages of Barney Bubbles Hawkwind poster. 1970s.


    Progressive print stages of Barney Bubbles Hawkwind poster. 1970s.


    Progressive print stages of Barney Bubbles Elvis Costello poster. 1980s.

     
    • D.Cheema 10:01 pm on November 2, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      Thirsty work!

  • davidwills 6:31 pm on November 1, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: andre the giant, art, , Barrack Obama, , , giant, , , , obey, obey the giant, , , , Shepard Fairey, , Street Art,   

    Obey The Bubbles 


    Welcome thrill-seekers to an impromptu Barney Bubbles / Shepard Fairey mash-up. Made possible by reshuffling some of Shepard Fairey’s LPs that appear as part of his current exhibition in London. Cunningly created onsite by my London correspondents R&M.

    All “Shepard who”? He’s the Obey Giant guy; Barrack Obama’s Hope street artist of choice.

    Show is at The Stolen Space Gallery, The Old Truman Brewery, Off Brick Lane, London E1. Closes on November 4th.

     
  • davidwills 6:43 am on June 2, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , art, , , , , gaye advert, , , one chord wonder, one chord wonders, , , the adverts, , tv smith   

    Barney Bubbles – The Adverts 

    A recent documentary about punk rock band ‘The Adverts’ features TV Smith, the band’s singer/songwriter talking about the sleeve that Barney Bubbles created for them in 1977 (using a photo shot by Phil Franks who sometimes comments on this blog).

    TV Smith: “I had no problem with Stiff Records, even when I thought I was being done over. I could see the point of it, for example, the cover of One Chord Wonders. They put Barney Bubbles onto designing the cover, then when we got invited into Stiff to see what he’d done, well, I felt like I’d been stiffed. But, what can you say, it was a brilliant cover. They created an icon out of Gaye and they put The Adverts firmly in punk rock history. There was no question that that cover – which I would definitely not have agreed to – was a massive step forward for the band.”

    Cover of The Adverts’ ‘One Chord Wonders’, by Barney Bubbles, photography Phil Franks.

    Photo of Barney Bubbles from ‘The Adverts’ documentary.

    Watch the whole documentary HERE, fast forward to 11.50 for the Barney Bubbles bit.

    (Info provided by Barney Xpurtz R&M)

     
    • D.Cheema 3:40 pm on June 3, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      TV Smith did not go into why he had reservations about the cover – despite its brilliance and why he thinks he felt stiffed. Stiff knew what they were doing which was to sell records. I would like to see if there was any comments made at the time. They moved to another record label for their follow up – which was a minor hit.

      • davidwills 6:13 pm on June 23, 2012 Permalink | Reply

        I ‘spect that TV Smith thought, like me, that the cover was a rippoff of the IT newspaper logo that used a coarse half-tone of Theda Bara, the It girl, but which was the inspiration, not the source.

      • Rebecca and Mike 9:32 pm on June 25, 2012 Permalink | Reply

        We spoke to TV Smith a few years ago about this. TV Smith’s reservations stem from the fact that The Adverts were a band of four members (3 male, 1 female), but only one of them (Gaye Advert, the female member) was pictured on the front of the sleeve.

  • davidwills 8:51 am on March 11, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , art, , , dave robinson, , , if it ain't stiff, , original, , shirt, , t-shirt, vintage   

    Barney Bubbles – Stiff Records Stiff Sentence 

    Classic Barney Bubbles Stiff Records “If it ain’t STIFF, it ain’t worth a fuck” t-shirt.

    This t-shirt illustrates nicely the music hall/vaudeville aspect of Colin Fulcher/Barney Bubbles’ work and is probably influenced, if not actually composed or passed on by his dad, who was a working class man of the people sort of bloke. Dad had a fairly extensive mental joke book. He was a fan of Max Miller the radio joker who was banned from the BBC for 5 years for telling a bawdy tale of which Lord Reith (founder and director of the BBC) did not approve. Goes like this, ” I was walking along a narrow mountain pass, so narrow that nobody else could pass you, when I saw a blonde walking towards me. A beautiful blonde without a stitch on, yes lady, not a stitch. Cor blimey. I didn’t know whether to toss myself off or block her passage. ”

    There is some confusion as to whether it was a Max Wall or a Max Miller joke, but I’m fairly certain it was Miller. Don’t matter either way, Mr. Fulcher, a News Of The World sort of man, liked ’em both. I can remember the day in 1962 when Barney showed me his Paolotzi lookalikes standing in the entry to their house on Tranmere road, and ol’d man Fulcher telling that very same joke along with the story as how Miller got banned by the Beeb.

    (I got my copy of this t-shirt in ’83 when I swapped with Barney for my T-shirt celebration of the repeat integers date 7 7 77.)

    Note to readers unfamiliar with colloquial English, “Cor blimey” is a cant phrase derived from the medieval curse “God blind me if I tell a lie.”

    It is amusing that until recently there was no Googlable picture of this t-shirt except for an inferior Bowdlerized knock off.

     
  • davidwills 10:13 pm on February 13, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: art, , , , death, , , , in search of barney bubbles, , ,   

    Barney Bubbles – In Graphic Detail 

    Barney Bubbles artwork (detail)

    Revelations.

    Today I’m in a mixed time awareness of the ages, reading a slew of overlapping novels, from 1948’s 1984 Orwell to the 1996 or so Ladbroke Grove of M. Amis. I’m also reading Northanger Abbey, by the eighteen-year old Jane Austen of 1799 and sitting on a fold-out mattress in the company of my eighteen-year old daughter Alessandra and her Chinese friend Dghzou here in 2012. The young women discuss the boys in the Occupy Oakland demo they were at last night, “They should have left when we did. No sense those men. I expect they got arrested. Let’s send them pictures of our food.”

    As they chat, I listen to the now six week old recording of The BBC Radio-4 programme about Colin Fulcher, alias Barney Bubbles, on Dghzou’s lap-top, a show about how my ol’ friend Barney went nuts.

    It’s a clever and emotional piece of detective reportage from the front lines of Barney’s life.

    Such a revelation, I had no idea he was so troubled. We were the best of friends but in the style of blokes of the time we shared no intimacy of the sort that might lead to telling it all in such a forthright way. Not like in California today when every body tells their woes.

    During my visit to his place in Islington in May of 1983, six months before he died I didn’t hear his hidden voice telling me his troubles. Not so hidden in retrospect, he said it to me out loud, something like, ‘I have a date with death.’ But I took it as metaphor at the time.

    No matter that death stared us down, that both of our parents had gone in a moment, his the year after mine, we’d never admit such a sentiment as loss to each other, no, not cool. No, he wryly looked away as I asked, “So. How did your parents die?”

    He dismissed me with, “They just died, di’n’t they.” Not a flicker of emotion.

    But he went on to say that the Australian Aborigines had given him a death, had put a stone on him and that he would die to protest the ways of the world, did I believe such things?

    “Yeah, they work, I’m sure.” We both agreed that how killing stones worked was that they were believed in, and that objects were alive, like shapes, a conversation we’d had over the years.

    On the radio show Fulcher’s sister, Jill, was astonishingly and appealingly forthright, so dramatically different than my remembered youthful fear of her, of what I imagined was her dangerous wrath and disapproval of me, her brother’s odd friend. No, Jill showed, through her clear telling, some of her brother’s hidden emotion. She sounded so real and poignant, with that radio sound effect of a ticking clock in the background, giving off a powerful whiff of the suburban, glassy-tiled fireplaces of Whitton, as I sat eight-thousand miles away on a fold-out here in San Francisco.

    What a great piece of BBC magic, of emotional and you-were-there detective work this is. I grew up listening to the radio and this show is as good as it gets. Now all this telescoping of time muddles the world of radio and novels into a confused memory, with Cassandra Austen, Jane’s sister, editing a movie of Barney Fulcher slicing his face mask, all the while adding adding bits of Burrough’s Naked Lunch to the mix.

    A minor point of fact about the radio programme, I don’t think ‘Colin Fulcher’ become ‘Barney Bubbles’ in 1963, He adopted ‘Barney’ in maybe ’66(?) and it wasn’t until 1967 when he started his light show that he adopted ‘Bubbles’. Hmm, I seem to recall I am wrong by a couple of years.

    Another thing of which I’m less certain, but do feel, is that I don’t think Barney was ever really in ‘fashion’, so I don’t think he ever really went ‘out of style.’ He was always too far out in front to be really accepted for the seer he was by his paymasters. I think the reason he got used so much was because his employers were connived at by Barney’s force of personality. His “Cheap and Cheerfiul,” won the day despite their misgivings about his ideas. But when things went wrong for him in ’83, probably I now realize because of a bad cocaine and speed habit, he was less able to cope, and so off he flew with the Australians.

    Colin Fulcher went in a ritual which was Barney Bubbles’ ‘Look what you made me do’ to the music industrial-complex. Plus I think warmonger Margaret Thatcher had just been or was going to be re-elected. His arch-enemy, Town mag publisher Michael Heseltine, then Minister of Defence, was weaseling for PM. Elvis Costello. HM Govt. There were many reasons to protest but his seedy metaphor turned deadly. It wasn’t just the disease, as Wiki calls it, that killed him, he was saying something. The bag and the cuts were masks in a performance.

    Stupid idea. Don’t do it Barney.

     
  • davidwills 8:38 am on November 27, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: 2012, art, , , , , , , , january, , , radio   

    Barney Bubbles – Turned On, Tuned In, Dropped Out 

    Barney Bubbles artwork detail

    Mark Hodkinson’s BBC Radio 4 documentary about Barney Bubbles now has a broadcast date: 2 January 2012 at 16:00 GMT. Or for us folks in California, 8:00 PST. Also available at other times in other locations around the world. Turn on, tune in, drop out. The visual accompaniment to this newsflash shows two antennaed daschunds, and are of course, a product of Barney’s tripped-out imagination.

    (Thanks to R&M for the image.)

     
    • Rebecca and Mike 6:23 pm on January 2, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      The Radio 4 documentary by Mark Hodkinson is currently available online. Go here http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b018wh7h

    • Rebecca and Mike 6:09 pm on January 9, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      Review in The Guardian, 8th Jan 2012:
      “Back to Radio 4, where us grey-hairs should be, for a revealing documentary on Barney Bubbles, the legendary album sleeve artist. Presenter/producer Mark Hodkinson was excellent, sensitively interviewing Bubbles’s sister Gill (sic) and son, asking the hard questions – “How did you feel immediately afterwards?”: to Gill (sic), on finding her brother dying – as well as keeping in telling detail. (“He looked like he came out of the ground,” said Brian Griffin, a friend.) And I liked the blasts of music from Elvis Costello, Depeche Mode, Nick Lowe, without the tedious “and that was…” back announcements. Lovely, careful, touching stuff.”

      Review in The Telegraph 3rd Jan 2012
      In Search of Barney Bubbles (Radio 4, yesterday) was sad and strange. Mark Hodkinson was tracking down a man who designed brilliant sleeves for record albums in the 1960s and 1970s. Barney Bubbles was the pseudonym of Colin Fulcher, clever, inventive, sensitive, influential, born in London in 1942. He did covers for albums by Ian Dury, Elvis Costello, Billy Bragg, Hawkwind, was the in-house designer for Stiff Records. He also did drugs, was a manic depressive, self-harmed, committed suicide in 1983. You could tell how it was all going to end and, to be honest, I did start thinking “oh, I don’t want to hear any more…” but then Hodkinson did that essential radio magic trick. He turned his dreams and memories into something we could share so that, just for a second, you could feel what it was like to be him, a teenager on a Lancashire housing estate, looking up at the night sky, listening to Hawkwind, being taken to unexpected places of the heart and mind’s eye. A second or two is all it takes when the radio is this good.

  • davidwills 8:18 pm on November 2, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: art, , , , , , , , ,   

    Barney Bubbles – Are Y’ Courtin’? 

    Barney Bubbles Chilli Willi sticker (courtesy R and M)

    Here we see Barney Bubbles in cheap and cheerful mode, rapidographing up an image with references.

    There’s Walt Disney’s Pluto’s bent ears – but with four fingers and thumb style hands, deliberately non-Ub Ewarks-like (Ub was the originator of the Disney three fingered hands).

    The Harris Tweed jackets are amusing, each with their own weave. Improbably for a time of experiment in all things garment, we were still wearing such things back then, a tweedy jacket with elbow patches being useful for its pockets. In ’73 I was featured in the Times on the fashion page doing a layered clothing strip tease in Covent Garden by Ed Bell, in which I believe I was wearing two such jackets as well as an overcoat or two, and many underlayers.

    Talking of layered clothing, it was Barney, back in his ‘Colin Fulcher’ days who preached the no-underpants style of dressing, with a view to avoid the presumably unseemly seam lines viewable through skin-tight denim trousers (OK, ‘Levi’s’) that he shrank wearing them in the bath so he said (I don’t believe he did). This was a person at Conran Design inspired piece of fashion sense.

    The border lines are drawn sharp (real sharp!), in contrast to his oft-used wiggly jagged line that was deliberate and not the product of a shaky hand. His ‘shaky hand’ drawn line was evident in the drawings he did for the Book of Egg Cookery in 1967, but which I in my innocence redrew, much to his annoyance.

    Hand lettered, the type seems to vary in weight with ‘Chilli Willi’ perversely appearing lighter, I wonder if that was intentional? It was quite likely a product of not particularly caring if it was or wasn’t, just the way it came out of his fingers.

    The line up of jolly chaps is a tip of the hat to Music Hall’s ounce of flash and wit, which influenced him in his BBC radio Light Programme Arthur Askey “Are y’ courtin’?” mode. He did enjoy that pounding the boards scene.

     
    • davidwills 10:45 pm on November 2, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      Didn’t notice afore, but I like how the Chilli Pepper closest to us has two ears, but to simplify matters the other four have only one ear apiece.

  • davidwills 1:28 am on July 9, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: art, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   

    Many of Colin Fulcher’s (AKA Barney Bubblles) album covers to be seen 

    I just found this
    Which means it’s probably been around a while. ‘Tis a view of much of the Colin Fucher (AKA Barney Bubbles) ouvre, I could correct one or two things in the biography, but a it’s good show and worth a visit.
     
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