Sad to learn from Jim Thirlwell that artist The Pizz has passed away. He was of the Ed ‘Big Daddy’ Roth school of custom cars and monsters, very much in the vein of Robert Williams, Savage Pencil and the whole ‘Lowbrow’ movement. I’ll always remember him best for the Steroid Maximus and Garage Monsters artwork he did for Jim.
Cliff Robinson has been knocking out some stunning Judge Dredd pieces for 2000ad over the years and the cover of The Mega Collection #15 (on sale now) is another – a similar riff to a Mike McMahon cover for 2000ad back in the late 70s. He’s also recreated another McMahon, complete with surrounding graphics, below for a commission some years back. Keeping with the homages he referenced the poster for Clint Eastwood vehicle ‘The Gauntlet’ for the Lille Comic Con poster recently too.
My good friends, Sarah ‘inkymole’ Coleman and Leigh Adams have made a short film about working creatives called Stupid Enough (the reason for the title becomes evident when you watch the film). They talked to friends in a multitude of different creative industries about how they work and each give a glimpse into how they started, got to the position they now occupy and impart their personal knowledge of how to make it on your own in worlds with few rules or guides. I feature alongside rapper Sage Francis, director Gareth Edwards, gallery owner Jonathan Levine and more and its got some great advice buried in it.
Interviews were conducted over a period of six months in New York and at locations around the UK, including a Bristol barber’s shop, gallery space; a Manhattan apartment, hen-filled workshop, steamy kitchen and Battersea Park. Where possible, they filmed people in their working environments – and any background noise was just part of the atmosphere on the day.
It’s being premiered at creative event ‘Schmiede’ in Austria, on Thursday 10th September, and shown again at a historic cinema ‘across the river’ near Salzburg on Sunday 13th September.
The film was made with the purpose of touring it to colleges and universities here and abroad, presenting and engaging in lively discussions about the nature of creativity in business, and installing (hopefully) enthusiasm and optimism among people about to embark on their creative careers. If you are a lecturer or tutor; student president or keen student about to enter your final year and want to show the film – then let them know, they are reaching out to these educational sorts over the next few months.
On Saturday 12th September I’ll be at the Portico Gallery (23a Knights Hill, West Norwood, London, SE27 OHS) to play one of my Future Shock DJ sets of space music after a screening of ‘Jodorowsky’s Dune’ – the documentary of the unmade sci-fi classic. This is part of their regular FEAST Film Nights where they show a rarely seen film with sympathetic music selections afterwards and my set will be accompanied by the amazing geometric animations of Ameet Hindocha. The price is £5 and I’m excited to be part of this in an arts space that’s local to me, supporting people doing interesting things in less obvious spots in the city. 7.30pm Doors open – 8pm Film screening – 9.30pm DJ set
A double whammy of flexi’s from Japanese band Plastics this week courtesy of Steve Cook who gifted me these from his excellent collection before heading for the sunny climbs of LA in a few weeks time. It’s not often you see a full colour ‘picture disc’ flexi but that’s one right there (pressed more than a little off-centre it must be said). Given away free only with UK copies of their 1981 album, Welcome Back, they cover The Monkees with a bizarre bontempi version of ‘Last Train To Clarksville’. As with the first track on the disc, ‘Paté’, the band come on like an electropop ‘Rock Lobster’-era B-52s with a bouncy, slightly hysterical style that relies on a minimal drum machine to propel them along. Here’s a live version with the top lyric, “Chinese ping pong big pink tits”.
The gold ‘Diamond Head / Peace’ flexi was given away free to customers at record shops like Our Price in 1981 to help promote their Welcome Back album, in the same manner as the Joy Division and Durutti Column flexi’s I featured last week. In the early 80’s music papers like Tony Mitchell in Sounds were pushing Japanese techno pop as a new fad and record labels were clamouring to sign and promote these acts for a moment off the success of bands like Yellow Magic Orchestra. Plastics fitted the bill although were far from serious or sombre, ‘Diamond Head’ sounding not far off Piero Umiliani‘s ‘Mahna Mahna’, made famous by the Muppets meeting Devo.
Another Japanese band, Spoozy’s, covered ‘Diamond Head’ on a Plastics tribute album in the late 90s and made it into a fantastic surf rock tune.
A year is a long time but when you’re working for the love of it and trying to pull together nearly 40 artists and writers to make a free comic that showcases the wealth of talent in the UK for children’s comics it can go in the blink of an eye. A year on from the first issue Moose Kid is back, helmed by Jamie Smart (who draws Bunny vs Monkey and Looshkin for The Phoenix amongst other things).
Among the old faces back from issue one like Gary Northfield (Gary’s Garden, Julius Zebra), Tom Paterson and Alan Martin‘s Young Tank Girl there are new faces too. Jonathan Edwards and Felt Mistress contribute a photo story of their character Tippy and one newcomer, Aisyah Stevens, is only 15 and was discovered at a Moose Kid comics workshop last year. You can read the new issue, as well as the first one, for FREE over on the Moose Kid website. Any parent with children who love comics should read this and, like The Phoenix, no adverts, no tie-ins to films, computer games or TV shows, all original content.
A new record from Ghost Box is always a cause for celebration on this blog but this next one is actually celebrating their 10th anniversary so congratulations are in order. It’s a double album of highlights from the back catalogue on CD and LP with thirty one re-mastered tracks, heavy with The Advisory Circle, The Focus Group and Belbury Poly as you would expect. Graphic design as ever is by Julian House and extensive sleeve notes are by music writer, Simon Reynolds (who coined the term ‘Hauntology’).
Only one track is new – from the forthcoming Hintermass album – and you can hear clips from the compilation here. They promise a double CD with booklet or gatefold LP with DL code. Available on 9th October 2015, (pre-orders in the Ghost Box shop from 19th September). I’m really looking forward to listening to this in one sitting, from one of the most consistent labels out there and a constant inspiration.
Love the psychedelic background, the way Brian has signed ‘Lewis’ bottom right and just look at that 3D op-art typeface on the book cover below. I found this book for £4 in the Notting Hill Book exchange last week after being alerted to it by members of the Brian Lewis fan page on Facebook.
A real oddity of a book, cobbled together under different themes with random images from artists as diverse as Giger, Achilleos, Burns and Foss etc. held together with a narrative from Harrison. Several Star Wars concept paintings by Ralph McQuarrie feature as well for some reason and Lewis illustrates several weapons from the film as well. Here’s another image by Brian that was posted on the group, taken from David Kyle‘s ‘The Illustrated book of Science Fiction Ideas & Dreams’, Hamlyn 1977.
Don’t miss Jonny Trunk sitting in for Jarvis Cocker on his BBC 6 Music Sunday Service from last weekend. It’s available to listen to (region permitting) for another month or so and is well worth it. Photo by Eilon Paz from the Dust & Grooves book launch party in London last year. The record was a John Rydgren Silhouettes 45.
A couple of flexi’s from Factory Records this week and The Durutti Column one from 1988 is a thing of beauty that I bought purely for the design by Mark Holt of 8vo. It references their sleeve for ‘The Guitar and Other Machines’ and slyly changes it to ‘…and Other Marketing Devices’. From David Sultan‘s excellent FactoryRecords.net catalogue site:
“10,000 of these flexi’s were pressed and put in special countertop boxes to promote the Durutti Column album, “Guitar and Other Machines”. Mark Holt repeats his superb design, a three dimensional four foot high collage of image and text on the flexi and it looks amazing. Almost all went out to shops and were never seen again. The counter top container/box was an 8vo classic in itself and might attract serious interest amongst Durutti fanatics.”
Weirdly, the album that this was supposed to promote was released at the end of 1987 but this flexi didn’t arrive until the summer of 1988, another case of classic Factory lateness?
The second disc is by Joy Division, featuring outtakes from their Closer album. What’s interesting about this flexi is the uncredited third track called ‘As You Said’ from the time the band went under the name Warsaw. It’s a short, electronic instrumental reminiscent of Kraftwerk and has a certain late 70s charm.
I do like these little messages on the label area, clearly Factory deemed flexi discs as worthless. This disc was pressed up in two batches of 25,000 and sent out to record stores to be given away from the counter. Later on it was also given away with a fanzine (with Factory’s permission) called The Other Sound. Easy to find but far from free, try telling that to the record stores charging a tenner for them today.
As far as I know, Factory only did four flexi discs during their day, sadly I don’t have a copy of the 1980 Martin Hannett ‘Test Card’ disc that was inserted into The Return of the Durutti Column album with the sandpaper cover or the ‘Merry Xmas From The Haçienda and Factory Records’ one by New Order from the same year.
I found this the other day, Vortex #2 from February 1976. Lovely Rodney Matthews cover and there’s a 5 page interview with him inside as well as short stories from Michael Moorcock and others. The pages are all watermarked and the cover was filthy with all sorts of grime stuck to it, I’d wager that it had been skinned up on many a time over the years. Still a thing of beauty and I love that Vortex typeface.
A very productive weekend of digging uncovered these sci-fi paperbacks among others including three with covers by Richard M. Powers to add to the collection (I’m not so interested in the content, just the covers). The SF-18 cover artist is uncredited but a quick web search reveals that it’s by Dean Ellis and the original art is actually available to buy from this site if you have $5.5k! I’ve screen-grabbed the original below.
UPDATE: It seems that the image used on both the Ellison and Elecktriktus albums was originally by Raymond Kirby Martin, entitled ‘Watch it’ and was printed as one of the first ever posters from the Big O Poster company.
My article on The Dragons is in issue #49 of Shindig! Magazine – out now, 6 pages too. New interviews with Doug & Dennis Dragon plus Donn Landee who produced their BFI album. After their recent publisher troubles the mag is back and as good as ever, you should be able to find it in most WH Smiths and decent record shops. If the article piques your interest and you want to hear the music they made then Ninja Tune still has digital and CDs in stock although the vinyl is long gone.
We’ve all seen this by now, right? Original master movie poster painter Drew Struzan was persuaded out of retirement to create a new poster for Episode VII. Harrison Ford (because that’s all I can see here, not Han Solo) looks well haggard and seems to be thinking, “Let’s get this over with!”. I’m wondering, with the odd crop and lack of lettering (or space for it) whether this is the full image. I lightened it up a bit because it seemed so dark.
I just made it in time to see the end of this exhibition at the 5th Base Gallery today, 12 classic scenes from the first three Star Wars films, each cut from a single sheet of A4 paper. The process is called Kirigami – rather than purely folding paper as in Origami it involves cutting as well – and artist Marc Hagan-Guirey has created these 12 dioramas over a period of three years.
Beautifully displayed in colour sensitive light boxes with mirrored surfaces they are quite simply stunning and are all apparently hand cut rather than laser cut. The circles are perfect the straight edges are perfect and the level of detail in such miniatures is nothing short of incredible. They are now going to be sold off to the highest bidders from the Kickstarter than Marc initiated to bring the exhibition to the public so this was probably the last time they’ll all be seen together.
Painted covers for the UK weekly magazine/comic Look-In from a huge online collection over at Comic Vine.
I used to get this in the late 70s and early 80s although I’m not sure I had many of these issues. The mag was full of tie-ins with TV, film and music with features, comic strips, interviews and posters. They sure had favourites as well, Steve Austin – The Six Million Dollar Man was on so many covers and DJ Ed ‘Stewpot’ Stewart seemed to rule for a period in the 70s (check for two of him inside the gallery below).
Joanna Law herself posted this on Facebook earlier today, a page from the book The Woman Who Went To Bed For A Year by Sue Townsend who passed away last year. For those not familiar with the title 70 Minutes of Madness, it’s the name of the Coldcut Journeys By DJ mix that myself and PC helped out with back in 1995.
Two very different mixes feature on Solid Steel this week – black channels offer up a whole heap of spooky electronica including new material of their own in a mix called ‘Around You is The Machine’.
Mr Armtone’s ‘Σmotions’ collection goes for the dancefloor and adds a full AV mix to go with his selection