British Underground Press of the Sixties at the A22 Gallery

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Just opened at the A22 Gallery in Clerkenwell is an exhibition supporting the British Underground Press of the Sixties book by Barry Miles and James Birch that collects the covers to all (big claim I know) the major magazines of the late 60s and 70s together. The exhibition features much more than just the magazines though with archive posters, badges, promo material and memorabilia collected together in a mass of psychedelic colour and badly registered print.

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Oz, International Times, Frendz, Gandalf’s Garden, Black Dwarf, Ink, cOzmic Comics and more all feature and it’s a wonder to behold. Some of the covers verge on pornographic and serve to remind of more anarchic and sometimes unsavoury times. The book is spectacular, highly recommended at £35 from Rocket 88 and is also available at the gallery with a deluxe edition containing vintage copies of original undergrounds for a silly money price too.

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Under the Radar – Underground Zines & Self-Publications 1965–1975

unterdemradar_de_object_0I was sent a copy of this fantastic book a few months ago and now i’ve seen it appearing in a few of the better books shops over here (Magma has them I believe).

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Designed in collaboration with students of the HfK Bremen it’s a 368 page B&W and colour publication from Leipzig, edited by Jan-Frederik Bandel, Annette Gilbert, Tania Prill and Prill Vieceli Cremers

unterdemradar_de_4_0unterdemradar_de_5_0Packed full of underground press magazines, fanzines and comics from West Germany, showing them in the context from which they emerged. A collection like this is priceless, you would never track down some of these publications even if you knew they existed.

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Editor Tania Prill will talk about the project at Printed Matter’s NY Art Book Fair this Saturday, September 23rd at 12:00 am, at MoMA PS1, 22-25 Jackson Ave, Long Island City, NY 11101

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More (animated) covers by Henning M. Lederer

More Covers from Henning M. Lederer on Vimeo.

More of these faboulous animated covers by Henning M. Lederer – Sourced from the excellent Julian Montague Projects instagram account

Also check out his mesmerizing video for OMD‘s track, ‘Isotype’– properly hypnotizing

OMD – Isotype from Henning M. Lederer on Vimeo.

Welcome To The Dark Ages Pt.4 – Friday: Toxteth Day of the Dead and MuMufication

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Friday – the day of The Great Pull North, the Day of MuMufication, the Graduation Ball and many other things. At 2pm I was to be at The Florrie, a community centre / flourishing arts lab in the heart of Toxteth to complete my task as ‘Skull Painter’. Trying to second guess what I’d be doing all week I’d run through several scenarios: they had built a huge skull effigy that needed to be decorated? Badger Kull needed a backdrop painting? The JAMs had 400 Toxteth Day of the Dead masks that we would wear that needed customising? I was almost correct with the last one, not masks though, faces – I and 22 others had to face paint skulls onto the 400 and we set to work transforming many friend’s and stranger’s faces alike.

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The Ice Kream Van was parked up outside, now with looped rope attached to the front and graffiti’d Dalek on wheels* behind – so that’s what we were going to pull North then, but what fate lay at the other end? (*Update: see comments below for Dalek origin)

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At 5pm we were ushered upstairs to a church-like auditorium with seating arranged either side, three vertical video screens framed by an arch above the stage at the far end. A ‘hymn book’ was on each seat which contained the words to ‘Justified & Ancient’ inside but on a quick scan some of the words had been changed. “They called me up in Sheffield town, they said ‘Jarvis, stand by The JAMs'” – surely not? Was Jarvis Cocker going to join the JAMs? The room fell silent and all phones were ordered to be turned off (hence no photos for this part), this didn’t deter some people as you may well have seen by now on the web but it did mean that one of the highlights of the week was captured at least in part.

We were treated to the 23 minute version of the film ‘2023’, a triptych of dark, menacing imagery and iconography that was beautiful, disturbing, baffling, unnerving and loaded with symbolism, the soundtrack mostly ambient industrial sounds and radio noise finishing with Nilsson‘s ‘Everybody’s Talking ‘Bout Me’ over the end credits.
I’ve yet to read the book so most of the imagery has little context at the moment but I noticed revolving grapefruit and Yoko Ono as the Starbucks logo (already seen on some of the merch and the free paper cups when you bought drinks at the Dead Perch). These are both surely a reference to Yoko’s book ‘Grapefruit’ and could allude to the ‘Grapefruit Are Not The Only Bombs’ book we all contributed to the day before, itself an allusion to Jeanette Winterson‘sOranges Are Not The Only Fruit’ maybe? The Shard blazed, black pyramids turned above seas and rolling corn fields, stormy skies filled with black clouds, a fox padded the London streets and four bullets from North, South, East and West collided in slow motion in the final scene.

What followed was a long presentation / sales pitch by ‘green undertakers’ Claire and Rupert Callender – a very dark, depressing, occasionally humorous but deadly serious meditation of death that served to bring the mood down to rock bottom. The assertion was not to be afraid but that we were already dead, that The JAMs were now in business with them as undertakers to the underworld and we were all invited to take part in ‘MuMufication’. In a nutshell this meant that they had engineered their own house bricks (stamped with the words ‘Mu Mu’) which each participant could have part of their ashes poured into when they died. These bricks would be collected annually on November 23rd which was now designated ‘Toxteth Day of the Dead’ and a ‘People’s Pyramid’ would be built, year on year, until it was 23 feet high. The pyramid will be situated in Toxteth (site yet to be determined) and it will take 34,592 bricks to build it. Participants who sign up pay £99 and get a brick plus Certificate of MuMufication – this is all real, anyone can do it, check out www.mumufication.com for more info. IMG_5118

The ‘MuMufication’ sticker I’d snapped a few days earlier on the side of the Ice Kream Van suddenly made sense, and the 99 Mu Mu Bricks, the signs had been there all along. This was the one point where the internet jokes that we’d all be committing some Jim Jones-style suicide pact by the end of things started to gain some credence and I started to wonder if there was anything in the face paint we’d just all applied. I pity anyone in the crowd who had recently lost a loved one or was preparing for a funeral. It was wrist-slashingly sombre.

But Lo! Suddenly a procession sweeps into the room, standard-bearers holding a Toxteth Day of the Dead banner, monks in Mu Mu gowns, coffin-bearers carrying two no-frills bare wood coffins, gravediggers, I also remember traffic cones worn on heads, a choir, there were more but it’s all a but of a blur. Also a blue robed, hooded figure in their midst, face concealed, who mounted the stage behind the congregation and started to speak; ‘They’re Justified, and they’re Ancient, and they drive an ice cream van’ in a soft northern brogue that could only belong to Jarvis Cocker. As the choir mournfully intoned the lyrics the cloak was pulled back to reveal the man himself, brilliantly hamming it up for all his worth in a slow, understated gospel version of their 1991 hit. The videos on the web don’t do it justice without the proceeding events described above, the song lifting the mood higher and higher as the incredulous crowd joined in with the end chant of ‘All Bound For Mu Mu Land’ before exiting the hall in a procession that followed Jarvis, the choir and all performers from the stage and out into the street.

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Outside the crowd spilled onto the road and a small gaggle of locals had gathered to watch, Gimpo quickly got the first team to man the ropes of the ice cream van and we were underway on the three mile pull North to The Invisible Wind Factory. Heading the procession were a bagpipe and drummer duo, standard bearers, the pullers, the van with Drummond & Cauty inside, the choir, assorted Mu in robes and sacks and then the rest of us spilling out on both sides and behind. Ragwort was thrown from shopping carts at the front and then collected by more carts at the back and run up to the front again.

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The police turned up within half an hour to escort us along the busy riverside road and contain traffic, at one point trying to stop the procession but failing – did they have a permit to march? FUUK knows.
Halfway along the route a car parked up and helpers proceeded to throw yellow kagools out to the marchers, emblazoned with the pyramid blaster and JAMs logos and the legend ‘Delivering Sustainable Death’. The sea of yellow with black and white skull masks moved forward at a brisk pace…

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Finally we reached a waste ground, opposite the Invisible Wind Factory, the sunset earlier was a blazing orange sky which would have framed the occasion all the better had we arrived an hour before. A wooden pyramid / pyre was erected in the centre of a circle and the wooden coffins in the back of the Ice Kream Van (I did mention those didn’t I?) were ceremoniously loaded into it. Bill and Jimmy, Mu Mu horns now on their heads, wasted no time, lit long torches and quickly set fire to the structure, it catching almost immediately, going up in a yellow blaze against the night sky as the robed 400 watched and cheered. I’m not going to lie, I was hoping they’d pile the Dalek, the T-Speaker and the van onto the pyre too, cleanse their past in one fell swoop and put the lid on it once and for all but it wasn’t to be.

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Some said the plan was to drive the van into the Mersey but I don’t think that happened. After this events got confused, Daisy Campbell, megaphone in hand, struggled to make herself heard to the widely assembled crowd, some of who wanted to eat and drink after the fun and games and some who made for the toilets nearby. The undertakers were in the Ice Kream Van signing up people for ‘MuMufication’, bricks on display, but now wasn’t the time for this on a dark patch of wasteland with the light gone and the temperature dropping. A huge queue formed but with only a small window to explain the process from they were fighting a losing battle.

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I retired to the club opposite to set up the decks for my set later on and grab some food backstage. Pete Wylie was there in the dressing room, having schooled Badger Kull half the week and we could see the gathering outside winding down from our high vantage point on the top floor. Punters started arriving at 10pm, a mixture of the 400 and paying public who could also buy tickets, you could tell who was who from the face paint. Greg Wilson was on stage whipping the crowd up with pumped up versions of electronic classics like Gary Numan‘s ‘Cars’, The Human League‘s ‘Being Boiled’ and ‘The Message’ and Kermit from Black Grape was dancing around in bunny ears.

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The T-speaker was behind the merch table, selling Badger Kull T-shirts to the faithful and the bemused and it was all about their impending one and only performance at 23 seconds past midnight, a fitting end to the proceedings. The mood was electric as they took to the stage, four guys, all on bass guitar, in face masks and robes with yellow and black warning tape decorations, playing their one note riff over and over to strobes, chanting ‘Toxteth Day of the Dead’ repeatedly, leaving the stage three minutes later to a squall of bass feedback. It was never going to win any prizes for subtlety but it was all the crowd needed.

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Lastly it was my turn, pretty daunting to step up to the decks after that performance to a club packed to the rafters with JAMs fans on a total high after what they’d just witnessed I can tell you (I took the photo above as I stepped up). When Jimmy asked me to play at the Ball my first question was, ‘Should I play any JAMs / KLF?’ and the answer was an unequivocal ‘no’, which was fine. Bill wanted ‘no revisiting of one’s acid house days’ and gave me a superb brief to play dangerously, wide and lateral. They also provided me with a glimpse at a page from ‘2023′ where it lists the line up for a fictitious Xmas day episode of Top of The Pops.

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(photo by George Stewart-Lockheart)
I took that list fairly literally and decided to source as many original samples that The JAMs, Timelords and KLF had used as possible, I wouldn’t be playing their records, just the records they’d played with. I opened with the MC5’s ‘Kick Out the Jams’ (of course) and proceeded through Abba, The Monkees, Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, various TOTPs themes, Tommy Vance spoken word, The Sweet, the Dr Who theme, The Human League‘s version of ‘Rock n Roll’, themes from Jesus Christ Superstar, Sly & The Family Stone, James Brown and more before dropping a ton of club classics and a full final hour of downtempo tunes including ‘Wichita Lineman’ and ‘War Is Over If You Want It’, ending with ‘In The Ghetto’ at just shy of 3am.

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(photo by George Stewart-Lockheart)
As gigs go, it was a milestone in my career that I’ll never forget. As an event it was a success on so many levels I doubt the participants will ever fully get their heads around it. As a comeback it was unparalleled, everything and more that a fan of this duo could have wanted but never dreamed up. As an exercise in the closing of one chapter and the opening of another, with the fans helping to write that chapter from the building blocks the JAMs had put in place, it was genius. That they closed the event with the opportunity to eventually place part of those fans and others inside the blocks and build a People’s Pyramid to commemorate the event on the very ground it took place in was another nice touch. Best graduation party ever…

 

Saturday, the aftermath:

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Some graduated early that night and received their certificates at the club, for most though it was one final trip to the Dead Perch Lounge on Saturday morning to be met by an unexpected series of posters that had been plastered up outside overnight. Someone had expressed their displeasure at the events in a very JAMs-esque way, enough to make most question if these weren’t an elaborate double-bluff by Drummond & Cauty themselves.

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Inside, The JAMs were handing out signed Certificates Of Graduation with stern handshakes and little banter and we stayed for a drink and an explanation on how exactly The People’s Pyramid was going to be constructed by the architect who had drawn up the plans, now displayed in the gallery. Finally we were ushered into a previously hidden back room where a tower of TV sets showed video loops whilst the choir’s A cappella from Friday’s ‘Justified & Ancient’ quietly played in the background.

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Whether Bill and Jimmy ever do another event, make another record or create any more art together ever again (and there were rumours that this could happen elsewhere in the future) doesn’t matter. They and the team around them pulled off an incredible experience that could have crashed and burned (pun intended) so many times and in the process must have inspired many of the participants to go forth and continue this kind of work and thinking in their daily lives from this point on. There were rules, there always is with Drummond, but these were also guidelines to break out of conventional thinking and you have to know the rules before you can break them – always accept the contradictions with The JAMs. Worth the £100 ticket price? Many times over. The experience was priceless and SO much more thought-provoking, entertaining and genuinely life-changing than most of what’s happening in current music, literature and art at the moment.

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Travelling back home, to ‘real life’, was surreal, what had happen constantly churning around in my head, the NEED to get this all down and make some kind of sense of it for my own selfish reasons of paramount importance. The desire to talk to people about it burns bright, to those that were there and friends who witnessed it secondhand via the web. The urge to look further into The Kindred of the Kibbo Kift, the Green Funeral Company and, of course, read ‘2023’ – things that were completely alien to myself and many others a week ago – is strong and will no doubt point to other people and places as The JAMs begin a new chapter…

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Welcome To The Dark Ages Pt.3 – Thursday: The Day Of The Book

ChurchThursday – dubbed ‘The Day Of The Book’ – started with drama. At the Dead Perch first thing I was passed by Jimmy who was holding a tin of white paint, his face and shoes flecked with spots of it. Upon arriving at 10am at the Bombed-Out Church (originally the Church of St Luke – a stone’s throw from the Dead Perch), word quickly went round that he and Bill had painted Phil Blake‘s Ford Timelord car white, erasing the JAMs and KLF logos, much the same as they did in The White Room film. Footage was already on YouTube, dubbed The Death of Ford Timelord’ in which a smiling but obviously mortified Phil turns up as they’re finishing and, seeing they mean to cover the whole car, drives off before they can quite complete the task. It was a strange way to start the day and one which wasn’t mentioned again save for one request for film or photos of the deed from those who’d witnessed it.

Later the web was aflame with keyboard warriors proclaiming it was a premeditated stunt, set up by those involved and that the paint was emulsion and could easily be washed off. I’ve known Phil for years and spoke to him later and I can assure you it was no stunt, he was absolutely gutted that two of his heroes were erasing his tribute to their past and it was not emulsion. He drove it away and immediately set to work with white spirit to undo the damage, managing to get most of the paint off before returning and making sure he parked well away from proceedings from that point on. Phil is one of the mellowest people I know, he’s just not the sort of guy to fly into a rage, especially at two people he admires so much despite what they were doing to his property. For all the armchair commentator know-it-alls out there watching from the outernet – he bought a ticket like everyone else and he’d have much rather not have had this happen despite the incident now placing him firmly within the Liverpool events for all eternity.

Why did they do it? Erasing their past maybe? Blotting out what they saw as an object that threatened to upstage them and didn’t fit into their plan? They certainly weren’t afraid to reference their past throughout the proceedings with the T-speaker, the Ice Kream Van, the Mu Mu gowns and the Dalek from the ‘Doctorin’ The Tardis’ video present at various points. The act left a bad taste in the mouth and I felt sorry for Phil, hoping it hadn’t ruined his enjoyment of the event. The JAMs have never shied away from pissing people off, defacing other people’s property or doing the unexpected and this seemed like a spontaneous but cruel reaction. For all the acts that they’ve perpetrated over the years there’s never been a direct victim in the way there was here. Perhaps Phil got off lightly as rumour went round that they were planning to steal it and drive it into the Mersey.

So, back to the plan for the day, we lined up either side of a central pathway inside the church and were given the designation ‘even’ or ‘odd’ by Oliver and Daisy again, depending on which side we were on. Drummond & Cauty arrived and then proceeded to tear out a page of their ‘2023′ book and present it to each of the 400, if you were in the odd line your page was the odd number and vice versa. We were instructed to respond to anything on our given page within the next eight hours and report back to the church at 6pm to present our findings. Whoever got the first page of the chapter you held the page from was the Chapter leader who we reported to and who would collate the creations for later.

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At this point proceedings started to take on the air of an art project and I was getting flashbacks to the days of Camberwell college and an impending crit. People leapt at the challenge though and were creating posters and banners before we’d even left the church and we observed little clusters of ‘Chapters’ working out what they would do. I spent part of the day helping paste up my friend’s one-off single cover for a fictitious band, Flies In The Maelstrom. They were sworn enemies of Badger Kull (due to a love of badgers presumably) and who’s name, song titles, label and lyrics were all taken from page 205 of ‘2023′.

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We pasted ‘their’ single cover over existing Badger Kull street posters and hash-tagged ‘KillTheKull’ on the web. The artwork was pasted over an existing Mike Oldfield record and sellotaped into a huge book provided by Daisy Campbell entitled ‘Grapefruits Are Not The Only Bombs’. This held descriptions and examples of the day’s work by all who decided to submit it and was later presented to The JAMs. But not before we’d convinced Ian Shirley – editor of the Record Collector Rare Record Guide and new KLF history ‘Turn Up The Strobe’ – that it was an original, one-off lathe cut single which we’d recorded and got pressed that afternoon. A message was even hand etched into the run out groove.

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Each chapter had to present their day’s work to The JAMs at 6pm inside the church grounds and some had really gone to town with the conceptual nature, factoring wordplay, numerology and symbols already present into their poems, plays, songs, conceptual pieces, posters and sculptures. At one point we all found ourselves throwing tangerines at an effigy of Donald Trump, emblazoned with the words Tangerine Nightmare – a fictitious group from the book.

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Some of the work was of course toe-curlingly cringeworthy, resembling the worst excesses of student juvenilia, BUT! everyone got into the spirit, got on with the task at hand and didn’t question the instructions despite no clue being given as to exactly what this was all for. In hindsight it had the effect that I imagine punk had, saying, ‘you can do this, NOW, don’t wait, get on with it, who says you can’t? get off your arse and make or do something, ANYTHING, and see what happens’. It was liberating, taxing and frustrating, it made you competitive, collaborative and use the resources to hand without worrying about the finish or making excuses. It made us, the 400, the focus of the day rather than the passive observers of the night before and, again, the work was done by others and then observed by The JAMs at the end of proceedings with little comment although Drummond seemed to be enjoying this a lot more than the hearing. It was becoming increasingly apparent that other people were making The JAM’s comeback happen after they had put the pieces in place.

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Postscript: Speaking to Phil Blake about the car incident at length when I returned home, he told me this anecdote about the aftermath of the painting. After driving off he parked a couple of roads away and purchased bottles of white spirit and rolls of cloth with friends, then set about cleaning the car as best they could. Nearly three hours later they’d got most of it off and he drove back round the block to the bombed-out church where the proceedings were ending as people went off in their groups.
Suddenly he spotted Jimmy walking down the road so he put on the siren and shouted, ‘Thanks Jimmy!’ across to him whilst driving by. He said Cauty’s jaw dropped and he later heard that they thought he had a second car as a back up, not believing that he would have been able to clean it all off so quickly and thoroughly.

Part 4 here

Welcome To The Dark Ages Pt.1 – Tuesday: 2023 book stamping

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Ok, I’ll attempt to get this down while it’s still reasonably fresh, there will be gaps, there will be questions raised that are never answered, there will be confusion, joy, hilarity and sadness plus everything in between. The reasons why are pointless to debate and the amount of pre-planning, effort, co-ordination and just plain luck that went into the events I just took part in may never be known. The truth is also irrelevant as everyone will have their own version and perspective on it, you’ll have to take my word for it and if you were there you may understand it better than those who weren’t. That’s not meant to sound elitist but you’re ultimately reading an account and looking at highlights of what went down from one perspective out of 400. I’m betting that if all the participants told their stories, each would differ quite radically in places, such were the multitude of experiences, tasks, responses and reactions to what unfolded over the last five days in Liverpool.

I’m going to have to post this in parts as there’s just too much to tell and here’s a quick recap for those who don’t have a clue what this is all about. The JAMsBill Drummond and Jimmy Cauty – aka The Justified Ancients of Mu Mu, The KLF, The Timelords, The K Foundation, K2 Plant Hire and more have reached the end of their self-imposed 23 year hiatus following the burning of £1 million of their own money back in 1994. To mark the occasion they are staging a series of events in Liverpool where 400 tickets have been sold at £100 a head and each ticket holder is a volunteer who will take part in the events that unfold over the days 23rd-25th August 2017. I was one of the 400 but I was also taking part in the event at the request of the JAMs, but more of that later. Just one more thing before we begin, even though I was asked to perform, I had no idea what was going to happen at all, I probably had two or three scraps of info that others didn’t but had no idea how these fitted into the jigsaw puzzle that was constructed over the following days.

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Tuesday 22nd: I departed for Liverpool, arriving to my hotel close to the Static Gallery, now rechristened The Dead Perch Lounge – the base of operations for the week. On my way up the street I passed a fly poster for the Graduation Ball, happening that Friday night, featuring myself and Greg Wilson on the decks and the unknown band Badger Kull performing their one and only gig. Inside was a bar and a wristband collection point where we signed in and gave names and telephone numbers, receiving a menu for the week with times, places and info on what would lie ahead. Each person was presented with a list of eight different tasks that they had to pick one of whereby their names were written next to the number and then put into a bucket for later. These tasks ranged from ‘Are you a strong swimmer?’ to ‘Can you tell people “no”?’ to ‘Are you strong and exactly 5’5″?’. I chose number seven, ‘Can you draw?’.

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By the bar was the merchandise area – run by the L-13 Light Industrial Workshop: T-shirts, mugs, posters and more – all priced at £20.23 each regardless of their size – with a couple of mystery items to be revealed at the end of the week on the price list. Most of these items are now available from L-13 at these prices – just go here.

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At 23 seconds past midnight (technically Wednesday) the JAMs were to drive their Ice Kream Van down Bold St to the News From Nowhere bookshop to stamp hardback copies of their new book, ‘2023′. In the window was the infamous ‘T-speaker’ from ‘The White Room’ LP cover – now with the addition of a small TV with single roving eyeball video on top, giving it a more religious, crucifix-like shape – and a list of rules for the event that forbade the signing or memorabilia, the taking of selfies or jovial conversation with the band.

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The queue had formed hours before and by midnight half the street was full with the 400, onlookers, press and organisers with the odd taxi struggling to get through the mass. Super-fan Phil Blake was one of the 400, arriving in his customised Ford Timelord police car, complete with siren. At the appointed time the JAMs arrived in their van, blaring out the ‘Just One Cornetto’ theme alternated with their own ‘What Time Is Love’ in classic ice cream van distorted bell form. The media scrum around the van was unlike anything I’d ever seen, fans and paparazzi alike rushed the van as it made its way down the street and chaos reigned for 10 minutes while they tried not to run anyone down and were quickly ushered into the bookshop.

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Each book was stamped with a variety of different insignia ranging from ‘Built By The JAMs’ to the pyramid blaster to the new ‘Toxteth Day of the Dead’ skull that I’d spotted earlier stuck to the back of the speaker and was now plastered over the van outside with another mysterious 99 Mu Mu brick sticker. Channel 4 News were doing pieces inside and outside of the shop and you can just see me above getting my book stamped with the Moody BoyzTony Thorpe to the right. People hung out until 2am at least, catching up with friends, new arrivals and speculating what we would be in for during the week. Rumour was rife, faces were spotted and names bandied about, this very much seemed to be a coming together of the original crew again save for the few who had since passed on like Ricardo da Force and plugger Scott Piering. It was an exciting start to the three days we would be taking part in, the JAMs were back, there were more questions than answers but we’d soon be finding out what the FUUK was going on… part 2 here

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British Underground Press of the Sixties book and exhibition

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Forthcoming exhibition and book from Rocket 88 publishing with a lovely looking book of all the UK British underground press covers and associated memorabilia including (finally) some of the underground comics of the era associated with them (CoZmic Comics, Nasty Tales etc.). Pre-order the book now and find out more at britishundergroundpress.com

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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