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  • davidwills 11:49 pm on July 26, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , music,   

    Aten sends a scan of his dad’s painting for an Indian restaurant 

    Barney Bubbles’ son Aten Skinner very kindly sent us this scan of his dad’s work, for which we all thank him sincerely. Aten said, “Hope the viewers like it.”

    I know nothing about the history of this painting other than that it was painted by  Barney for an Indian restaurant in London. I would guess it to be painted about 1974. I could make up a story, about how Barney paid for a vindaloo and popadoms with this painting, but I won’t. If any astute reader, and there are many hereabouts,  has any other knowledge, please do tell.

    • R and M 10:02 pm on July 28, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      A BIG thanks to Aten for sharing this. It is great to see it.

      Visually it feels really close to the 1974 Hawkwind tour programme Barney Bubbles did; the background in particular is an exact match. The tour programme was featured on this blog a while back. To save everyone searching and searching, here’s a link to it so you can make the comparison. https://davidwills.wordpress.com/2008/12/06/mucha-blonde-in-bbubbles-heist/
      So David, your 1974 date for this painting is probably a good guess.

      Very interesting to see a BB monogram on this, given the whole ‘anonymity’ thing Barney had going on.

    • Lia 4:00 pm on July 30, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      Thanks and hello to Aten. I first met Barney when he stayed at out house in San Francisco. In those days we spent a lot of time at the Avalon and the Filmore but one summer evening we came up with a recipe for Sara Seagull (Barney’s name for me in those days) Soup:
      1 c orange juice, fresh
      1 c yogurt
      1 pt fresh strawberries
      sugar to taste

      Blend ingredients.
      The first smoothie?

      The recipe was published in 1971 in the vegetarian cookbook, The whole Wheat Heart of Yasha Aginsky by Carrie Rose (E P Dutton)

      • davidwills 4:16 pm on July 30, 2010 Permalink | Reply

        Hi Sarah, and thank you so much for the interesting food item. If you have any more memories to tell, a thriving industry of Barnologists is awaiting your every word.

        We are particularly interested in who Barney met in San Francisco, and what he did when out and about. I particularly recall his delight in the sweet (candy) wrappers he saw. But he was not impressed by the creativity of the light shows he worked with. They were nowhere near as advanced as he was, his freewheeling approach to the art took him places they thought not true to the form. If he could do it, he did. Anything is of interest – our readers are fanatics.

        Wiki and others say inaccurately that Barney was influenced by Mouse and Kelley, not true. They were stuck in an old rut as far as he was concerned, nothing to learn from them. They were reshuffling old ideas that had already been done. Mouse (or was ir Kelley?) went back to the US and told John Goodchild who was at that time working at Rolling Stone, that Barney was just another scraggy hippie. (possibly true if you saw him, but hidden under that hair was a noddle of gold.)

        (I wrote about much of this somewhere back in the older posts.)

    • David Wills 5:12 am on August 22, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      Hi Folk
      David Wills tells tales: I’m out here in the wilds of Clayton Street, far from the old folks at home on Ashbury. All the folk are sad and weary,.. sod that. We havin’ fun. Bought me a new wooly zip coat from Tibet, warm enough to heat a witch’s. Cat Bell and Richard my hosts like my green tomato, cabbage and baked tofu, no roots (Jain influence), vegan soup, with artisan bread. I hear that the seventeen-year-old, fair-haired willow pattern Aless (she’s making a movie today) and Lynn the fabulous tip-typist poet are whorling away on the paperwork for our 10 10 10 International Binary Day at the Ashbury-Haight Block Party. The bands including Lynn and the Thunderground, The Jug Town Pirates, Galaxxy Chamber, and the Screamers All the homesteaders on Ashbury are for the block party. I know, I asked them all. This approval is important ’cause the city wants to know that we have the OK of the nabe. And we do.

    • acrobat reader x pro 2:28 pm on January 7, 2013 Permalink | Reply

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  • davidwills 8:39 pm on April 25, 2009 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: 1979, 7 inch, , , church, , cracking up, , dentist, , fetish, flag, guitar, hammer and sickle, , labour of lust, litho print, music, , 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

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    • 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.”

  • davidwills 5:02 pm on March 31, 2009 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , genius, , , , music, ,   

    Blimey – Barney Bubbles! 





    David Lowbridge who sent us these nicely imaged sumpturies says: The reverse of the inner sleeve (shown above) with three different shaped/sized ellipses is entitled: ‘BIG MAN’; ‘TALL MAN’; ‘EXTRA WIDE SHORT MAN’.

    Long-time reader Steve Kirkendall writes:

    Hi David, Hope all is well. As promised, here’s some words about why I’m a big fan of Mr B, with a little story about my fave Bubbles-werk.

    Blimey – Barney Bubbles!

    Barney Bubbles was a major influence on my work as I made the transition from illustrator to full blown designer in the early eighties. As we all know, he was incredibly versatile, moving from one style (and medium) to another, often employing styles that other designers would base an entire career upon, but which he would use to make a graphic statement, then move on.

    My favourite Bubbles-werk would have to be his Elvis Costello packaging. And because I was such a huge EC fan, the music became the soundtrack to those wonderful graphic trips Mr B would take me on, as I stared at every detail of the sleeve design. And the press ads, posters and buttons for EC and the A’s carried the same level of invention and attention to detail. 

    In the face of stiff (no pun intended) competition, my personal choice of top Bubbles graphism would have to be the the sleeve for ‘Get Happy’. It is the only piece of graphic design that made me stop dead in my tracks and utter ‘Bloody Hell!’ out loud. This was swiftly followed by a speedy purchase, then back home to listen to the album and more importantly, drool over the sleeve. The reason this piece of work stands tall above any other Bubbles output for me is that scuff mark on the front. (Although, my not-entirely-reliable memory seems to tell me that there was a larger, 12″ sized, scuff on the reverse too). 

    Genius is an over used word, but if Barney Bubbles wasn’t a genius, who was?


    David Lowbridge says: Yes, there was 12″ scuffing on the reverse too — be interesting to hear any recollections of the reaction this got at the time, any returns for instance!? This is the record where Barney used VAT numbers for the credits:

    Photography VAT 239 7568 14, Artwork VAT 245 4945 42

    • David Lowbridge 6:26 pm on March 31, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      Yes, there was 12″ scuffing on the reverse too — be interesting to hear any recollections of the reaction this got at the time, any returns for instance!? This is the record where Barney used VAT numbers for the credits:

      Photography VAT 239 7568 14
      Artwork VAT 245 4945 42

      The reverse of the inner sleeve shown above (middle image) is also great with three different shaped/sized ellipses entitled: ‘BIG MAN’; ‘TALL MAN’; ‘EXTRA WIDE SHORT MAN’.

    • rebecca and mike 9:03 pm on April 16, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      strangely enough, in the book ‘Reasons to be Cheerful’ the outer sleeve of the Get Happy LP is shown, but the fake ringwear on the back has been photoshopped out! (it’s been removed). there’s probably a funny story in that somewhere 🙂

    • David Lowbridge 10:15 pm on April 16, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      Crikey… not spotted that!

      Strange really as, in my humble opinion, the scuffing on the back looks slightly ‘mannered’ (you could equally say ‘deliberate’) in comparison to the front — the way the scuffing breaks around the E of ‘ELVIS’ for instance. Small detail, and maybe I’m missing something, but…

    • rebecca and mike 6:55 am on April 17, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      it’s interesting to note what happens in the advert Barney did for this LP. the design incorporates a pic of the front cover, but it is shown without ringwear. this is a nice touch as it helps make the fake ringwear more believable when you come across actual copies.

      a similar thing happens with the press packshot for Elvis Costello’s ‘This Years Model’ (another sleeve Barney designed); most of the time a properly cropped version of the sleeve gets used (as opposed to the mis-cropped version with printer registration marks appearing on the front – as per the actual sleeve design).

    • David Lowbridge 7:21 am on April 17, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      Very interesting to hear. Is that deliberate with ‘This Years Model’, the corrected packshot I mean? Always thought it might have been ineptitude/ignorance on the part of whoever is re-releasing it.

      I wonder if the cassette tape release (if there was one) of ‘Get Happy’ omitted the ringwear too, or had two lots where the spools would be!

    • rebecca and mike 8:00 am on April 17, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      when we talk about the packshot used for ‘This Years Model’ we’re not talking about anything in relation to re-releases, we’re talking about the picture of the LP cover that was doing the rounds in most press and magazines for the purposes of illustrating reviews and chart positions etc (and even some retailer promotions). we’d like to think distributing a ‘corrected’ packshot to third parties was all part of the grand plan! on the adverts Barney did for ‘This Years Model’ no packshot was used, although the photo of Elvis-with-camera was used as some kind of approximation.

      the ‘Get Happy’ cassette? that’s a whole different story… we’ll give pics to David Wills to post up on this (his) blog.

    • David Lowbridge 8:35 am on April 17, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      Understood… look forward to seeing the cassette.

      [It’s indicative of the games being played that I often feel the need to couch the language I’m using when taking about BB work — using alot of ‘scare quotes’ too. The fact that I feel the need to phrase things in a certain way, which I’m sure I’m not alone in, says alot about the effect of the work and its different layers of meaning.]

  • davidwills 11:15 pm on March 29, 2009 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , music, ,   

    There were two different covers Barney Bubbles did 


    Talking about the Ian Dury song-book covers, Rebecca and Mike reveal an astonishing breakthrough in Barnology that, yes –  there were two different covers Barney Bubbles did! Two completely diff  flat-arts for the same song-book.

    David Wills says: SInce I have nothing to top that. Hold, yet – are those the artist’s ink-and-pen tests on the right of cat and boot, or is it a wacky script? Aha! I pushed the magic buttons, enlarged the words – and they sprung out clear – “London-calling.” The grid reminds me of Barney’s yellow scarf with a red, 0.5 inch square grid on it, Rupert Bear style back in ’63.

    David Lowbridge: I’d not seen the one on the right before — are they from the same pressing of the book (which I assume) or different editions?

    rebecca and mike: regarding the two versions of the Ian Dury Songbook: they are the same publisher, same year, same ISBN

    David Wills: I’d guess the second song-book cover was by another hand with the guidance of Barney. Who was his assistant at the time?


    David Lowbridge: That grid is reminiscent of the Lives catalogue too (although it’s easier to see on the poster) which must’ve been done in the same year.

    Great to see this, and your ‘London calling’ spot too.

    David Wills: For our younger readers,, we should perhaps explain that use of the grid, as does Barney here, was not then quite a viz-cliche, a graphic tick used by every Tom, Sylvia and Brian in town. Barney did’t mind if somebody’d been there before him, but def he’d be the first to use it well.

    • David Lowbridge 8:10 am on March 30, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      I’d not seen the one on the right before — are they from the same pressing of the book (which I assume) or different editions?

      That grid is reminiscent of the Lives catalogue too (although it’s easier to see on the poster) which must’ve been done in the same year.

      Great to see this, and your ‘London calling’ spot too.

    • David Lowbridge 8:13 pm on March 30, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      Here’s the Lives poster I mentioned (sure you all know what it looks like anyways!) http://tinyurl.com/cmwsvy

    • rebecca and mike 7:29 am on March 31, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      regarding the two versions of the Ian Dury Songbook: they are the same publisher, same year, same ISBN

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