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  • davidwills 8:38 am on November 27, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: 2012, , , , , , , , jake riviera, 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: , , , , , , , , jake riviera,   

    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 6:29 pm on August 17, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Book design, , , Directory 1979, jake riviera, John Cooper Clarke, journalist, Mark Ellen, New Musical Express, NME, , rock, Smash Hits, Word   

    Barney Bubbles – Damned Review in NME 

    Seems like not all folks thought much of Barney Bubbles’ work at the time, particularly NME journalist Mark Ellen who in a review of the ‘John Cooper Clarke Directory 1979’ book which Barney designed, slammed it with criticisms such as “dreadful punk-chic composition”, “cheap geometric artworks”, “hung at irritating angles”, “simplistic overtures”. Surprised readers of this blog will be happy to hear that four years later, the NME did write Barney a glowing obituary.
    Further. This review reminds me of all the other space blind writers and publishers I’ve worked with, who payed cash for paper or space and proceeded to waste it.
    Thanks to the ever-helpful R&M for a copy of the original article that can be read below.
  • davidwills 3:18 pm on July 25, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , , , , jake riviera, , , oz 12, , oz12, ,   

    David Wills and Barney Bubbles – Blow Up Oz 12 

    Welcome to a digitally inflatable copy of Oz 12. Click on an image once, and then when it has opened in a new screen click on it again and it’ll go supersize XXXL as never seen before on the world-wide-web.

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

    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.
  • davidwills 11:20 pm on June 23, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , F Beat, Hops, ian mclagan, jake riviera, Jim Bunker, , , , , Strongbow, Twickenham Art College   

    A few observations

    I’ve been recalling that graphic wiz Colin Fulcher (AKA Barney Bubbles) in 1959 (or it may have been before art school in 1958, possibly could be) worked with his Twickenham art school friends, Roy Burge, Bax (1st name ?), and Jim Bunker in the Kent hop yards picking the ingredients to flavor beer. This is/was a traditional summer job of gypsies and their caravans and London Eastenders who camp, or used to, in growers’ tents or modified old WW1 prisoner of war shacks.

    If he didn’t have all the three Bs with him in the hop fields, I know for certain that he did pick hops and told me about it. I have a feeling he got the idea for the job from his dad, who may have been an Eastender hisself.

    Fulcher said he didn’t get along with the other ‘traditional’ workers, they probably picked on him because he was not of their ilk and easily riled. The living conditions were awful, cold hard beds and lousy food. But he did like the fact it was a real working class hero sort of experience. They had “a regular knees-up” of an evening “round the camp fire” said Fulcher. The Eastender pearly kings and queens may have put on a show too
    After the Hop picking, Bunker, Burge and Fulcher went off to the Norfolk Broads and looned about. Next year they went to Cornwall and King Arthur’s whatsit? Tintagel Castle.

    His three friends, Burge, Bunker and Bax were the impetus for him to find a name beginning with B, which gave rise to the idea for ‘Barney’ but which he didn’t start to use use ’till 1966. The ‘Bubbles’ was even later, in ’67.

    Bax left school fairly early, Jim B went on to be art ed of Mayfair, perhaps he might contact us. Roy Burge (see Inspector Burge Investigates) went into video and seems to prefer being silent, most likely because Fulcher/Bubbles most definitely wasn’t the ‘sweet’ person that some have described him as in this weblog, and he treated Burge to the skilled malevolent slow burn of Fulcher Fury. Having experienced the gnarly acid of the Fulcher wrath myself I can see why Burge may prefer to forget about it. As for me I got over it easily enough with passing time, although the full Fulcher Fury did sting when it happened to me in in 1968.

    Barney’s relationship with beer was mixed, he hated the idea of business meetings in pubs, but designed the Strongbow Beer label, was into PubRock – but mostly disliked drinking the stuff, acid was his brew.

    In Marianne Faithfull’s excellent bio she talks of the misogyny of the ‘boys club’ rockers and ain’t that true, In one of Barneys letters to me (see the post on it somewhere back in the older posts) he mentions “getting over misogyny” or similar, and I think that although he may have been surrounded by beautiful women, they were a problem for him. Lady Wordsworth recently described how at school he was a “sharp mod,” but when she met him later in about ’65 at an art galley he appeared to be a “slow druggy.” He told me at the time he did that act just to annoy her. Yup Barney was a real piece of work all right.

    I just read that often the principal reaon for suicide is to get back at those who have crossed you and, boy, can I see that at work in Barney’s case, watch out Elvis and jake! (Not to mention a certain author who is haunted by the ghost of Barney, taunting him at night with snidely put-downs for printing such a bodge job rip-off of the Muleskinners ‘Lorry’ T-shirt design.

    Moron the ‘re-created’ T-shirt thing – I’m riled. Here’s what I have to say about it.

    This attempted reproduction of the award winning and brilliant Muleskinners ‘Lorry’ T-shirt by some Johny-come-lately rip-off person was a flaccid dry-bob cock-up.

    The type was the wrong, the logo of the circle and heart graphic was wrong, and wrong was the fact it was done at all.

    More wrongnesses are that it was printed in white text on a black t-shirt whereas the Lorry t-shirt, as photographed by Barney, was black text on a white T-shirt, and when it appeared on the final printed poster it appeared as white and orange text on a blue t-shirt.

    Out of respect for Barney’s memory and his original intentions, you might think that any ‘re-creation t-shirt’ would be done in either one of these two ‘original’ ways, with white and orange text on a blue t-shirt being the more sympathetic way.

    So why did the ‘recreation t-shirt’ get done in white text on a black t-shirt? Why? I think the thing was based on a black and white picture of the muleskinners poster instead of a colour one, with cheapness of production and modern convention as futher unimaginative reasons.

    Of course it may all have been a ruse to change the design so that any copyright claim by whoever owns the copyright can’t sue, but that just shows how pig-ignorant the perp is of copyright law. So there. Grrr.

  • davidwills 5:35 pm on October 6, 2009 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Advert, , , Brian Ferry, Canada, Chris Gabrin, , ElvisCostello, , , ick Lowe, InnerCityUnit, jake riviera, KeithRichard, , Love, Motorhead, N, , RadarRecords, RollingStones, Roxy Music, Sphynx, Thalidomide, TheAttractions, ThisYearsModel, Valium, Xitintoday   

    Nik Turner pictured and Lemmy named in Elvis Costello advert 

    pic: courtesy of Rebecca and Mike*  To see it up big, click on’t.

    hi David. well, we plunged into the Barney Bubbles tombola and pulled out this item for you. hopefully your readers will enjoy seeing this.

    okay… so… this is an advert Barney designed for Elvis Costello’s LP ‘This Years Model’ 1978. this is one of a series of adverts that Barney designed for the LP, all were on different themes. this one (as you can see) is themed ‘Drugs’. the pic is big enough for you folks to be able to read the labels and have a go at decoding it; we can argue between ourselves in the comments department over who is who and what means what, and warm Siberia up a bit.

    of immediate interest to Hawkwind readers might be that Nik Turner and Lemmy both make an appearance in this Elvis Costello advert (that’s Nik in the top middle picture, and Lemmy is name-checked under the top right picture).

    David W writes: Down in the comments dungeon it is explained that the top right picture is of Little Tony, not Hawkwind’s Lemmy although that is what the caption implies.

    I would expect that this was designed as a center spread with no split, and got shoved elsewhere by Jarvis in production, I don’t think Barney would have designed an everything-centred layout if he had known it was going to be split. Factis, if I recall aright, it was a bit unusual for the Ol’boy to center anything if he could help it. So prove me wrong. I remember having some circles with type in them, I asked “Flush left or centred?” and he answered quick as a spark, “Flush left!” with the implied “Of course, you idiot.”

    *Who may, in due course, resend another shot of this ad, perhaps with a sheet of glass on top for extra flatness, with the full-frontal of Nik showing in the across-the-back split at the fold so that our Nik T fans can admire his charm.

    Outraged Barnophiles gibe: there’s a lot of centred barney texts, like there’s a lot of ranged left (or right) texts.

    there’s also a lot of barney design that is willfully designed to not fit the format…

    DW: And so it is that wise things are said that refute my mumblings and wise me up – especially when used with the word ‘wilfully’ to describe The B. Wilfull is of the essence.

    RM: glass?

    DW: Ok, no glass then, how ’bout showing all the ink that is currently hid by overlapping pages?

    RM: words split by a fold?

    boy, you is gettin old and cranky

    DW: Got that right. I called myself ‘Eric Stodge’ for a reason.

    RM: but, we are still friends okay! LOL! 🙂

    • Phil Franks 5:41 am on October 7, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      That top right image looks nothing at all like Lemmy.

      Could it be Little Tony?

    • rebecca and mike 6:44 am on October 7, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      you’re right phil, top right is definitely not Lemmy, but underneath the pic it says ‘Lemmys sulphate’: that’s what we were referring to when we said Lemmy makes an appearance by being name-checked under the pic. we didn’t mean the actual pic itself. apologies for any unintentional confusion!

    • rebecca and mike 7:04 am on October 7, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      the bottom right image is the Canadian flag and it says ‘Keith Richard’ underneath it. got this explanatory text from Wikipedia:

      “The most serious charges Richards faced resulted from his arrest on 27 February 1977 at Toronto’s Harbour Castle Hote, when the Royal Canadian Mounted Police found him in possession of “22 grams of heroin”. Richards was originally charged with “possession of heroin for the purpose of trafficking” – an offence that under the Criminal Code of Canada can result in prison sentences of seven years to life. His passport was confiscated and Richards and his family remained in Toronto until 1 April, when Richards was allowed to enter the United States on a medical visa for treatment for heroin addiction. The charge against him was later reduced to “simple possession of heroin”.

    • Phil Franks 7:25 am on October 7, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      R&M – you do say Lemmy is “name-checked” so any confusion is purely in my own mind.

      The more I look at it the more I’m convinced the photo is of Little T.

      The pills could be Mandrax, widely used in those days…

    • rebecca and mike 6:24 pm on October 8, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      The pills in the bottom left?

      They’re single-scored and have the imprint Roche 2, which according to online drug identification resources would suggest they’re Diazepam, which was first marketed as Valium by Roche. http://www.pharmer.org/images/foreign/diazepam-roche-2

      The phrase under the pic says Valium too, so perhaps this particular image and word combination is one of the more straightforward ones in the advert! We believe that Mandrax was marketed by Roussel, so would never have carried the Roche imprint.

      We’ve read that Valium is used for a variety of conditions; the treatment of panic attacks and the treatment of overdosage with hallucinogens being a couple examples. However, we’re not drug experts, so please always consult a doctor first!

    • davidwills 12:41 am on October 11, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      Barney and I would swap tales of adventure and daring, on the occassions when we met, he’d tell of his latest escapades, and mentioned one time as how he’d used Tony in an ad, that it was amusing and drug related. What year we talking here, 1977?

    • rebecca and mike 6:54 pm on October 11, 2009 Permalink | Reply


  • davidwills 8:39 pm on April 25, 2009 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: 1979, 7 inch, , , church, , cracking up, , dentist, , fetish, flag, guitar, hammer and sickle, jake riviera, labour of lust, litho print, , , nick lowe, , record sleeve, rubber glove, teeth, USSR   

    A story about red rubber, acid-proof safety-gloves hanging on hooks in a row 



    Damn, these are transcendently* chill.

    This reminds me that, Fulcher, as Barney Bubbles then was, said the best thing about our visit to the Fulham gasworks in ’63, was the rack of red rubber, acid-proof safety-gloves hanging on hooks in a row.

    I think Fulcher/Barney’s recurring images of masks and  the use here of gloves (masks for hands), as I’ve writ elsewhere, comes from his visual amusement in ‘change.’ This was the word he chose to answer his teachers, John Kirby and Wentworth Shields’ exercise to choose a significant word and illustrate it graphically.

    It also reminds me of his excitement in 1964 reading Puddin’ Head Wilson, Mark Twain’s book that plays with identity exchange, and how, based on the story, he asked sculptor David ‘Chas’ Chedgey to swap identities with him.

    The grin in the glove with crooked teeth: In his twenties, Barney, like many then in Britain, had rotten, crooked and yellow teeth. His chum, Kate Moon, has said that Barney’s were a recurring problem, that when he had them fixed, at about the same time she cut his long hair, around 1975, they were transformative events in his life.

    I also dimly remember saying to Barney on a visit sometime about then, outside 307 Portobello, that he should get his pegs fixed. I remember for two reasons, one because I suffered from the same problem myself and had had dental work done in San Francisco at great expense by a fairly incompetent dentist called Kirby, but which made a huge difference to my comfort, and two, because it was so unusual for either of us to have such a personal conversation.

    You can see evidence of this dentaphobic behavior in early pictures of Barney where he often has his hand over his mouth to hide his teeth. See us three workers posing to commemorate completing the first Music Video (which co-incidentally features a broken guitar), and deliberately facing away to hide while painting the A1GGz’s bus. Barney generally disliked getting his picture taken. Unless of course he was directing the shoot – see The Erections.


    About this sleeve: This record is not an album, but a seven inch single. The back, where the hammer and sickle is made from the parts of a demolished guitar, is Barney’s take on the flag of the USSR, whose early Agitprop graphics inspired him so. The dots on the labels spell out N for Nick and L for Lowe.

    • I had earlier mistakenly spelled transendental (better than others) as transendentally (cosmic) which is not what I meant, but possibly true if you’re into that sort of thing.
    • Blog Tag 1:30 pm on April 30, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      Hi, you have got a nice blog. I have started a blog too. It’s about reviewing other blogs. This way i place a short description, a snapshot and a backlink to your blog. In return, I ask for a back link from your blog.
      Check it out at blogtag.co.cc .

    • rebecca and mike 6:42 am on May 1, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      hmmm… industrial-strength rubber gloves…
      another one makes an appearance on the inside sleeve of Elvis Costello’s ‘This Years Model’, UK issue 1978.

    • davidwills 6:45 pm on May 1, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      Thank you very much for adding substance to the lore of Fulcher’s Big Adventure. Where is the glove on This Year’s Model? a quick glance at Google images revealed naught.

    • rebecca and mike 6:41 am on May 2, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      on the inner sleeve (not the outer sleeve)

    • davidwills 8:29 pm on May 14, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      Visiting London in ’75, while standing outside 307 Portobello on a sunny day as Barney showed off his new Hawkwind graphics, I told him that, having had some intense dental work of my own, I knew it would seriously change his life if he got his bright-yellow, seriously-crooked British teeth fixed, I go, “You should git yer teef fixed.” He’s all, “Yeah.”

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