David Klein, illustrator

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Whilst combing the web for something else entirely I stumbled across the work of the late David Klein. I’ve always been envious of artists who can seemingly use every colour in the palette and not make the result look like a dog’s dinner and there are some wonderful combinations here. His travel posters are lushous examples of a bygone era that occasionally resurfaces when illustrating period pieces like Mad Men. His psychedelic version of Alice In Wonderland is one of the best I’ve seen and there’s an oddity of what looks like six unused prelims for The Exorcist in there too. Visit his website to find out and see more…

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Beyond 2000AD exhibition glimpse

Beyond2000_poster Beyond2000_progs Beyond2000_records1 Beyond2000_records2 Beyond2000_TimeOutI finally got time to pop into Orbital Comics and see their small but packed exhibition of 2000AD offshoots, tie-ins, cash-ins, memorabilia, music, magazines, toys and so much more. Not having an opening party because it would clash with the comic’s own 40th celebration a couple of weekends ago they’ve decided to have a closing party on Friday March 10th where there will be a podcast recording and music by yours truly among others.
I also just guested on the Big Mouth podcast pre-record, talking about the comic’s legacy which will be available online this coming Sunday. More details as I have it.

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The Delaware Road At Kelvedon Hatch Audio Apocalypse Survival Kit on OST

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(Mark, Robin, Dan, Chris, me, Ian – out of shot Zoe, Hannah and Alan – who was taking the photo)

On Saturday I was invited to be a guest on the OST show on Resonance FM – this time with Robin The Fog ably sitting in for an absent Jonny Trunk (away on Basil Kirchin business in Hull). Joining us in the studio were Alan Gubby (Buried Treasure), Mark Pilkington (Strange Attractor Press), Dan Wilson (Radionics), Hannah Brown (Kvist), Ian Helliwell (Tape Leaders book and so much more), Chris Sharp (Concretism) and Zoe ‘Lucky Cat’ Baxter who stayed on after her show beforehand.

The reason was twofold – to try and present a sonic picture of all the artists who would be contributing / playing at The Delaware Road event at Kelvedon Hatch Nuclear Bunker on July 28th. If you’re not up to speed on exactly what The Delaware Road is then please go here.

The gathering was also to highlight a very special prize bundle assembled from all who’d be taking part that’s being auctioned off in aid of Resonance FM’s annual funding drive. Here’s a photo of most of the items to be included:

Delaware Road bundle

Here’s a link to The Delaware Road At Kelvedon Hatch Audio Apocalypse Survival Kit auction in aid of ResonanceFM

Here’s a link to buy tickets for The Delaware Road gig on July 28th

and here’s a link to the 2 hour show featuring music from a lot of the prizes featured above.

Swifty Book launch at the Exposure Gallery

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Ian ‘Swifty’ Swift and Gamma Proforma launched the book they’d been working on for 2 years last night at the Exposure Gallery on Little Portland Street, London (opposite the Heavenly Social). Packed to the rafters with faces I recognised from over the years (Ross Allen, Neville Brody, Chris Allen…) it was a resounding success even though I couldn’t stay long. The book in question is huge and everything you’d want in an overview of the man’s career – go get it here now before it sells out.

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Daydreaming with UNKLE exhibition at the Lazarides Gallery

F2T5The James Lavelle-curated Daydreaming with UNKLE show opened last night at the Lazarides Gallery in London. Full of original Futura 2000 and 3D canvases, prints, toys and record sleeves, video rooms and virtual reality headsets. The last was heavily oversubscribed so I didn’t get a look but Doug Foster’s arched videos accompanying new UNKLE material were beautiful, enhanced by a mirrored floor which gave the work another dimension. Favourite exhibit was the robotic Pointman figure from the 2010 video to ‘Runaway’. The show is on until February 23rd, worth it just to see the many iconic Futura pieces that have graced so many MoWax sleeves.

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You Say You Want A Revolution exhibition at the V&A, London

GrannyNewly opened last weekend, the Victoria and Albert Museum in South Kensington plays host to a celebration of the latter part of the psychedelic 60s under the banner, ‘You Say You Want A Revolution: Records & Rebels 1966-1970’. It’s an often stunning and inspiring look back at a small section of the counter culture that we now think of as ‘The Swinging Sixties’, encompassing music, art, fashion, politics, advertising, product design, expos and the space race. What was interesting, in the light of the recent drug-related deaths forcing Fabric to close, was that LSD was mentioned copiously in the quotes as you entered the exhibition and kept popping up throughout, as a catalyst for the many strands of the hippy movement. One national institution celebrates drug-fuelled counter culture in the heart of the richest part of the city just as another is closed in the East End – the irony.

The exhibition isn’t just about the beautiful flower children chanting ‘hari krishna’ and wearing threads from the Kings Road via India either (*slight spoiler alert!*). A middle section brings you down to earth with a bump, confronting you with the more political side of events at the end of the decade, the Vietnam War, racism, The Black Panthers, police brutality, feminism, gay rights and more. The starkness of this section, largely in monochrome, against the multi-coloured blossoming of earlier rooms, is a reminder that it wasn’t all peace and love man, and that the curators weren’t wearing rose-tinted spectacles the whole time.

It was worth the price of admission alone to see Mati Klarwein‘s original ‘Grain Of Sand’ painting up close. I’ve always loved this piece, never thought I’d see it in the flesh but there is was, nestled behind the entrance as I walked in. Absolutely wondrous.

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There is a LOT to see and take in, an associate who works at the museum confided that the curators wanted ‘everything’ but were restricted by time and conservation rules. There was some padding in parts, a section about consumerism and advertising sees corridor walls plastered with ads, interspersed with huge mirrored sections which give the impression of much more in the reflections but ultimately can’t conceal that not much is actually on display. Film and TV is given fairly short thrift aside from a section about Blow Up, a selection of experimental shorts in a walled-off cinema area and the Woodstock footage (although it has to be said that the Woodstock room is very well put together). Underground comics were almost entirely missing aside from one interior spread used to comment on the Manson murders, no Robert Crumb, Zap, Furry Freak Brothers... The Oz trials were mentioned but I didn’t see any copies of the magazine, or IT, or Ink. There was a lot in it but some omissions were glaring.

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Leaving, to the strains of Lennon‘s ‘Imagine’ and a fast cut montage zooming through the decades up to the present day, you’re depressingly but inevitably taken via the gift shop where you’re confronted with sanitised, consumable versions of the era to take home. Most of it is utter tat and the price tags are enough to burn a huge hole through the Levi jeans they seem to think were a good idea to have on sale. Cleverly, and as a sign of the vinyl-resurgence times we currently live in, they’ve released a compilation album alongside the usual book of the exhibition. Unfortunately the cover – a denim jacket covered in band logo badges – is so horrendous it looks like the kind of three quid compilation you’d find in a service station. There are some beautifully executed repro posters but the prices are so exorbitant I’d rather seek out an original, they’d probably only be a little more.
Still, there may not be many revelations or things you’ve not seen before in an era that’s been to widely celebrated already but it’s well worth the entrance fee. It runs until Feb 26th 2017 – more info here.

 

Record Roulette #17: What did the Hippie have in his bag? 45

Hippy7front I picked this up a few weeks back, a short book with a record by Cornershop called, ‘What Did The Hippy Have in His Bag?’. It’s a lovely little thing with a simple song going through the content of said bag (not what you’d expect), perfect for kids and with an instrumental on the B side you can learn it and then sing your own version. Released a few years back on the band’s Ample Play Records’ Singles Club, you can still find copies in their shop for £12.
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Cake Lab and Out Of The Wood today

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Today, 2 hrs before The Orb‘s Alex Paterson starts his new Cake Lab residency at the Book and Record Bar in W. Norwood, I’ll be on the Out of the Wood Show hosted by WNBC.LONDON https://m.facebook.com/outofthewoodradioshow/  after which….

“From 2pm a new Sunday ambient club called Cake Lab launches. Dr. Alex Paterson and George Holt take you back to the good old days of the Ambient Club Room, circa 1987 with a free Sunday afternoon club… Expect an eclectic mix of Electronica, Dub, World, Jazz, Dance and every genre in between… and there will be cake.. and coffee and tea, and beer and cider and wine and spirits….”

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The Cake Lab set up Alex & George brought along was amazing; delicious cakes, crazy decor, T-shirts and most of all, great music. Pete W, Hannah Brown and I were playing on the Out Of The Wood show beforehand. Photos by Pete and Hannah from across the afternoon. In fact the whole of FEAST in West Norwood is really worth checking out, food, drink, retro goods, craft stalls, sound systems and live bands, first weekend of every month.

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Karel Zeman ‘Invention For Destruction’

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Czech this out (sorry, couldn’t resist) via Jonny Trunk’s fabulous weekly newsletter comes a trailer for a remastered mix of live action and animated collage from 1958 (!) Think Jules Verne meets Terry Gilliam.

The launch party for Jonny’s new book, ‘The Music Library’, last night was excellent with a bit of celeb-spotting going down (Jarvis, Matt Berry) and a storming reggae cover version set from Jerry Dammers. The book is an expansion of the original version he released 10 years ago, this time with twice as many covers and a nifty, if pricey, slipcased edition with a 10″ record. There is of course a reasonably priced version without either of those two as well, get them both here.

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The First Book of Jazz

First book of Jazz

The First Book Of Jazz (1955) is the third of five books that Langston Hughes (1902-1967) wrote for the Franklin Watts First Books series. “When boys and girls FIRST start asking why?…what?…and how? FIRST BOOKS are the first books to read on any subject.”

Cliff Roberts (1929-1999) was a cartoonist and animator. His cartoons appeared in magazines such as The New Yorker and Playboy. He worked as an animator on Sesame Street, and wrote and drew the short-lived Sesame Street newspaper comic strip.

Image and text cribbed from Ariel S. Winter’s Flickr where he has the full book scanned. For more information see this blog post

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Rough Trade 40 book

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I’m very chuffed to have an interview with Savage Pencil aka Edwin Pouncey in the new Rough Trade book celebrating 40 years of the shop and associated labels. Just published by Thurston Moore‘s Ecstatic Peace imprint it’s packed with scrapbook-like anecdotes, photos, poems, drawings and interviews by a who’s who of the independent scene.

My piece runs to five pages and covers SavX‘s career from aspiring cartoonist and early employee of the Portobello shop to Blast First cover artist and abstract painter with Battle Of The Eyes. The interview was so long that I had to cut it down by more than half so I’ll publish the full thing here with many illustrations once the book has been out a while.

*Also – there’s a free John Grant one-sided 45 with etched B side if you buy the book from Rough Trade shops

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X-Ray Audio book and new film

X-Ray AudioBookcoverI know I’ve written about this before but I’ve finally finished reading Stephen Coates ‘X-Ray Audio’ book, about how underground bootleggers from the Soviet Union used to cut forbidden music onto old X-Rays. It’s a fascinating read in a time when we have pretty much any media we desire at our fingertips. It tells of a time where just possessing certain records could get you in serious trouble or even thrown in prison. Having to buy forbidden songs for huge amounts of money that were sometimes not even on the disc or of a fidelity so bad that they were virtually unlistenable.

But what it highlights most of all is the power of music, what lengths people will go to to hear it and when they do, the effect it can have. This quote from an interview with Kolya Vasin really stood out, he became known as ‘The Beatles Guy’ and he recounts first hearing ‘All My Loving’.
“When I heard them I felt something so phenomenal, even the great Little Richard whom I had adored faded for me. They enlightened me, it was insane. Little Richard was atomic happiness but The Beatles were insanity, something else, the limit, something unexplainable. And I understood everything… I felt in them a holiness. It was freedom.”

The Vinyl Factory also recently premiered a new short film about the phenomenon that they’d made with Stephen

Alice In Wonderland exhibition design

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Went to the British Library yesterday to see the Alice In Wonderland exhibition, a collection of many vintage books illustrated by various artists over the last 150 years as well as puzzles, cards, posters and ephemera featuring the characters. Also present were some of Lewis Carroll‘s original notebooks, letters and photos plus printing blocks of John Tenniel‘s original illustrations, used for the first edition.
Interesting as all that was though, it was the design of the exhibition that wowed the most, with playful typography riffing off quotes from the book and that fantastic logo hanging from a balcony on a giant tag. I would have got more of it if there hadn’t be an over-zealous security guard warning people from taking photos. Nevertheless, it’s free as it’s in the foyer and it’s worth your time if you’re in the Kings Cross area plus there’s a pop up shop separate from the main one with about 20 different Alice book versions, loads of merchandise and the swirly floor seen in the last photo.

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150 Years of Alice In Wonderland at the British Library

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Absolutely love that logo by Fiona Barlow, shouldn’t work but it does. To celebrate 150 of Alice In Wonderland there’s a small exhibition at the British Library with art from various versions of the book over the years, including John Tenniel’s original illustrations as well as examples from Ralph Steadman, Salvador Dali and morel.