Heston Blumenthal’s The Fat Duck Cookbook

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It was my better half’s birthday yesterday and a friend of ours got her this lovely Heston Blumenthal cooklbook. The big difference between this and any cookbook I can think of it that it’s illustrated by Dave McKean, he of Arkum Asylum, Signal To Noise, Cages and the Sandman comic covers amongst many others. This has to be a first surely? The book is gorgeous both in content and quality and very heavy too! Check the gallery for some of the spreads, there are many more although I’m not sure how much my wife will actually be attempting to serve up.

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Starting tomorrow, because it’s Record Store Day, a week long, series of daily posts on vinyl worth buying for both the cover and content.

Posted in Art, Books, Design, Oddities. | 2 Comments |

One November Monday

Back in the winter of 2009, on a bleak, windy Monday, I died and went to heaven.

two-tribes-poster.jpgActually, I tell a lie, it was Slough.
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When I think of Slough I see the opening credits to the UK comedy The Office which was supposedly based there. It’s all industrial buildings, dull office blocks and council estates, absolutely nothing to write home about (sorry any Slough dwellers reading this). I’d been invited by my friend Ian Peel to visit him at an address owned by the record label ZTT – home of Trevor Horn, his associated productions as well as the back catalogue of Stiff records, which they acquired in the mid 80’s. Arriving at the address revealed a nondescript ‘premises’ – it wasn’t a house or office in the conventional sense and – while searching for an entrance round the back – Ian popped his head out and beckoned me inside.

I’ve known Ian for a few years now, initially through a shared love for the Zang Tuum Tumb (ZTT) label and it’s golden period in the 80’s, but also for our fondness of the music of that decade. He regularly writes for the Guardian, Record Collector and the like as well as co-ordinating reissues and releases for ZTT, Stiff and occasionally his own label Karvavena. On occasion he picks my brains for something and disappears back into the ether although this time I’d provided him with much more than a soundbite for a magazine feature. An email arrived one day from Philip Marshall who was helping Ian with the reissue of a deluxe 2 CD edition of Frankie Goes To Hollywood‘s Welcome To The Pleasuredome album for ZTT. Could I help with sourcing images for the release?

For those unaware, (probably most of you) Frankie Goes To Hollywood, and more importantly the whole aesthetic of the ZTT label in the 80’s, had a huge effect on me in my formative years. Most people have one or two bands that they ‘grew up’ with, moments where a bands rise to fame and the mania that surrounded them dovetailed with your own musical tastes and that group becomes forever linked with your memories of the period. For most of ’84 and ’85 I bought little else than the bands on the ZTT roster, Frankie, Art of Noise, Propaganda, Grace Jones‘ incredible Slave To The Rhythm LP, even venturing into contemporary classical waters with Andrew Poppy, and of course, the Frankie Say… T-shirts.

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Jumping 20 years forward in time I was perusing a ZTT fan forum when I chanced upon someone selling the original artwork for the ‘Welcome To The Pleasuredome’ album. To cut another digression short, I ended up buying the paintings of the front, inner gatefold and back from the original artist Lo Cole and they now hang proudly in my studio. Another jump, 5 years to the present, and Ian is trying to source unique images for the 28 page booklet that will accompany the reissue. The ZTT archive is incomplete, a lot of it having either been binned over time or destroyed in a fire at an Island records warehouse over a decade ago and this was where I fitted in.

Being a fan, over the years I’ve been trawling eBay and used magazine shops for copies of the music press from the 80’s and collecting the ads for all the releases – mini graphic masterpieces in themselves that had influenced my design tastes greatly. Ian had seen this collection and asked if I had any more including the scans of the Pleasuredome preliminary sketches and paintings Lo had sent me when I’d been discussing the purchase of his work. I did and photographed various promo and fly posters too big to include in the folders as well as details from the cover paintings. Then he dropped the bombshell. He was spending a couple of days a week in a property owned by ZTT, sorting out all the master tapes from their archive – the fabled ‘ZTT cupboard’ as it’s known to collectors. Because the artwork required from my collection was so valuable, we agreed I should should drop it off in person to Ian whilst he was working there.
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The thought that I would be in a room with boxes of master tapes all connected directly to the label and music I loved was thrilling but nothing prepared me for the sight I saw upon stepping into the room. It was the whole downstairs floor of the building, the size of a small office or a very large living room. Boxes covered nearly every inch of floor space and were piled up to chest height, Ian had started to sort them into stacks relating to each artist and there was a small warren of footpaths between the piles. Half of the room was barely touched and the sheer volume of boxes was overwhelming.

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I looked down and saw a stack marked ‘Grace Jones’, in it were various master tapes for the ‘Slave To The Rhythm’ LP and single, duplicates for different territories but no session tapes, yet. Several boxes of Art of Noise reels revealed 24 track tapes of various ‘Moments In Love’ versions, the ‘Beatbox’ and ‘Into Battle’ 12″s, an early, unreleased version of their first album entitled ‘Worship’, already split into an A and B side for the cutting house. Fairlight discs and studio session sheets where inside the boxes too, containing info on what was recorded when, by whom and, no doubt, the original samples used on the tracks. One had the words “I never want to hear this ever again – A. Dudley” on it, another “Anne in tears” written on the metal reel itself.

AON Beatbox 12" master AON Beatbox diskette AON box 1 AON box 2 AON early tape AON Moments master AON Worship 1 AON Worship 2

“Here’s the Frankie pile”, offered Ian, pointing to about 50 boxes, each stuffed with reels of master tape, cans of film used for videos, VHS, Hi-8, DAT and cassettes. There were session tapes for the ‘Liverpool’ album, I think I saw at least 50+ reels, mixes upon mixes, vocal sessions from actors like Joanna Lumley, Pamela Stephenson and Jeff Palmer. A version of ‘Two Tribes’ finished on my birthday in 1984 marked ‘mix 115’. The reels of an unreleased 7 & 12 inch remix by Paul Morley of their last single, ‘Watching The Wildlife’, ready for the cutting house to master. A ‘Welcome To the Pleasuredome’ ‘continuous wacky jam’ between Trevor Horn Steve Lipson and JJ Jeczalik entitled ‘the shit mix’. This was like entering one of those lost temples in Raiders of the Lost Ark, the ultimate digging in the crates session with the added appeal of teenage nostalgia.

FGTH Pleasedome shit mix FGTH Pleasuredome Palmer vox FGTH Rage Hard Lumley vox FGTH Rage Hard Stephenson vox FGTH Relax 7" master FGTH Relax Sex mix master FGTH Two Tribes mix 115 FGTH Two Tribes Video destructo master FGTH Wildlife Morley 7 & 12" mixes FGTH Wildlife Orchestra mix FGTH Wildlife:Waves 12" mixes

After four hours my hands were black and I had to get back to London but I felt I’d barely scratched the surface. A couple of boxes were filled between the two of us, full of interesting or important tapes that needed to be baked and transferred to DAT for future compilations. Pleasuredomes indeed as an old Paul Morley-penned sleeve note read.

The deluxe reissue of Frankie’s ‘Welcome To The Pleasuredome’ is out April 12th from ZTT / Salvo / Union Square Music. It comes with a second CD of unheard works in progress, rare alternate 12″ and cassette only cuts including a completely unheard extended version of ‘Ballad of 32’ from the original album. Included is a 28 page booklet featuring text by Ian, design and layout in the style of the original releases from Philip and many picture contributions from myself. Ian even let me have a hand in the track selection and order on the bonus CD, running it past me and taking on board suggestions for inclusions and omissions. Last but not least, I get a nice credit inside :)

Buy it here

More design, visuals and tape shots in the gallery below, click to enlarge. I’ve been writing and researching a long piece entitled ‘Who’s Afraid of the Art of ZTT?’ for about 5 years now, it’s nearly finished and will make an appearance someday…

Posted in Design, Event, Music, Records. | 25 Comments |

There was an old lady…


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Bought this book for my boys yesterday (I’m a sucker for beautifully designed childrens books) Such a unique way of presenting the old tale and at the end her eyes close after she eats the horse. We also have another version by Jan Pienkowski (who did Meg & Mog and the classic Haunted House pop up book) in which she turns into a ghost on the last page!

This book though is illustrated by Jeremy Holmes and available from Chronicle Books from San Francisco, presumable available online but I got mine from Tales on Moon Lane in Herne Hill who have re-installed part of my Where the Wild Things Are Window display.

Posted in Books, Design, Oddities. | No Comments |

Ah yeah…

I was in the Ninja office today, sifting through boxes of press archive, found some amazing things, hilarious photos of old and some situations I don’t even remember. Lots of weird and wonderful people have passed through Ninja over the years and there are a lot of memories attached to it for me. I’m currently deep into the design and ongoing picture research for the Ninja Tune book which will be published this summer by Black Dog Publishing.

It’s a gargantuan project and one that we are not taking lightly – don’t expect the usual spread of press shots you’ve all seen before, we’re digging deep for lots of unseen material and it turns up in the most unlikely places. There’s no way it will all make it into the book but I promise to share some of the bits and pieces that don’t make it at a later date via this blog.

Also, these turned up today… :) Better res than Vimeo, I promise.
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Psychedelic Pink

A current big hit in our household are the Pink Panther cartoons from the 60’s and 70’s with variations on Henry Mancini’s excellent theme to by Walter Greene to accompany them. One of my favourite episodes is this tripped out classic from 1968, the Panther goes into a weird bookshop and strange things start to happen. The background designs by Tom O’Loughlin are sublime and show a rare glimpse of the times in a chidren’s cartoon. See the gallery above for more shots…

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Posted in Design, Film, Oddities. | 1 Comment |

7 Up

This arrived this morning, most won’t know or care what it is but for those who do and are expecting a similar package it’s the end of months of waiting and speculation.

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Another Ashley Wood/3A toy production, pre-sold with a few prototype shots last Autumn to a rabid fanbase – seven 1/12 scale Bertie droids and their Square companions – all in packaging that won’t have you throwing the box away and not half the price you’d think.

Proper pics of the actual bots soon…

Posted in Design, Robots, Toys. | 1 Comment |

10 favourite sleeves / packages for 2009

Looking at my favourite records for 2009 made me think of my favourite sleeve designs as well, as several were represented in the selection. I’ve noticed a definite resurgence in sci-fi imagery this year, particularly of the 70’s Roger Dean / Heavy Metal / Moebius fantasy variety. Dan McPharlin is probably the best exponent of this style and has two designs in the selection. Julian House is still mining the collage aesthetic although seems to be leaving the Penguin cover design style behind more and more. Warp’s 20th boxset was a beautiful piece of work, making for a great celebratory object in the age of the download and Jeff Jank continues to innovate over at Stones Throw.

12 x favourite covers 2009 650

Oasis -Falling Down (Amorphous Androgynous remix)(Big Brother)
Designed by Julian House

Various Artists – The Byg Deal (Finders Keepers)
Designed by Liars

Roj – The Transectional Dharma of Roj (Ghost Box)
Designed by Julian House

Various Artists – Warp 20 boxsert (Warp)
Designed by YES / Bernard Ryan / Metropolitan Works

Anti Pop Consortium – Flourescent Black  (Big Dada)
Designed by Ron Croudy Illustration by Mark Evans

Mr Chop – Light Worlds (Now Again)
Designed by Dan McPharlin

Prefuse 73 – Everything She Touched Turned Amphexian (Warp)
Designed by Dan McPharlin

Madlib – Beat Konducta vol.5-6 (Stones Throw)
Designed by Jeff Jank Photo by Ernesto Yerena

J G Thirlwell – The Venture Brothers vol.1 (Adult Swim /Williams St)
Designed by unknown

Various Artists – Studio G – G Spots (Trunk)
Designed by Flack

Posted in Art, Design, Music, Records. | 1 Comment |

Warp 20

Just arrived at the door, what a lovely package, congratulations to all involved and Happy 20th Warp. My only gripe is that I could have been part of the package as they asked me to do the mix last year but I simply didn’t have the time so I passed them on to Osymyso. Looking forward to digesting it all.

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Posted in Books, Design, Music, Records. | No Comments |

Rinky Dink

My friends Sarah and Leigh at Factory Road sent some lovely custom 45 adapters down the other week. After years of buying up old stocks from US factories they’ve made their own, improved from existing versions and debossed with their logo. They also offer a custom service with your own name or wording on the dinks if you need something special or want some for promo. Contact Leigh at [email protected] if you want more info – they also make records, prints and T-shirts and are lovely people.

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K4 Format 09 compilation from Slovenia

This arrived in the mail today completely unannounced and the packaging immediately made an impression. I recognised the designer as being the same Nina Vrhovec who designed this flyer for my last gig in Ljubljana. The cover image is actually a 3D construction if you look closely which is pretty impressive as it could easily have been made by computer. The CD is a compilation of unsigned Solvenian artists in conjunction with the Dept. of Culture with music ranging for IDM to breaks, even industrial rock on one track and has a high hit rate for music makers without a deal. More info here www.klubk4.org and listen and buy here

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Posted in Design, Music. | 3 Comments |