Future Shock 2000AD art at the Cartoon Museum photos

I finally got a chance to see the Future Shock exhibition of 2000AD classic original art the other day at the Cartoon Museum, tucked away in the back streets near the British Museum. It costs £7 and once you’ve navigated past some of the most miserable/bored looking staff you’ll ever see you can peruse the galleries of comic and political art.

As far as pieces by key artists of essential stories and characters go, this is one of the best collections of art you’ll see aside from Rufus Dayglo‘s blink-and-you’ll-miss-it exhibition this coming weekend at Geek 2017 in Margate. The bulk of it comes from long-time collector Wakefield Carter who runs the Barney database and regularly trades or sells original art. All the major names are here, with examples from some of the classic stories too (Dredd Cursed Earth and Dark Judges to name but two) and there’s a lot of it. Shown here are just a few of my personal highlights.

CM_StrontiumDog CM_Gruber CM_DreddCEspreadCM_Dreddcloseup CM_McMahonCEDreddCM_Bolland DarkJudgesCM_BollandAndersonDreddCM_BollandPunksCMEwinsDeath CM_RobinsonDreddCM_ONeillNemesis CM_ONeillNemesisdetailCM_NemesisHinklentonCM_FlintNemesis CM_Robohuntercover CM_Halo CM_America CM_DavisSlaineCM_FabrySlaineCM_DreddMcMcover

Upstairs, the regular exhibition is full of classic images, characters and artists too inc. Dave GibbonsLichtenstein-baiting ‘Whaat?’, Watchmen, Batman, Dan Dare and V For Vendetta art and original Leo Baxendale pages.

CM_Whaaat CM_Watchmen2 CM_Watchmen1CM_BollandBatman CM_DanDare CM_VCM_WillyTheKid

An Ambient Evening with the Orb and friends

ORB-RFH-1600x630-3FEB17-V0.4-REVISION-4 Kev revision
I’m very pleased to announce that I’ll be part of The Orb‘s ‘An Ambient Evening…’ at the Royal Festival Hall on April 21st alongside The Orb (of course) Youth, Roger Eno, Metamono, Gaudi, George Holt (Cakelab), Micheal Johnson (The Book & Record Bar) and more. As part of the ever-growing local South London crew that have gravitated to the West Norwood Broadcasting Company (WNBC) operating out of The Book & Record Bar, Alex Paterson invited us to be a part of the evening to showcase some of the people within this community. Tickets are on sale now .

Not only that, Pete W (Out Of The Wood radio/WNBC) and myself will be unveiling the first outing of our new venture into sight and sound: Further.

Further letters logo
We’ve been kicking this idea around since last summer, wanting to create a space where music and visuals come together in different social settings to form an environment with as much emphasis on the visual as the musical. We’ve gathered an arsenal of analogue kit to make this happen, multiple slide and oil projectors, 3″ cassette effects and all manner of antique controllers to trigger them, with the aim of going back to some of the pre-digital practices that are being lost as we advance into a virtual world. It’s also a chance to showcase the kind of music we’ve been playing in the record shop, on the radio show and in venues like Spiritland over the past year or more – a willfully obscure blend of anything goes from the deepest, unexplored corners of our record collections.
Further logos x10
The idea is to install Further into different places, working with different layouts to make each one different and fresh. Musical and visuals guests will be invited and given space to do their thing and and we’ll provide the environment for them to fit into. Think the 60s UFO club meets a 70s Arts Lab meets the 90s Land of Oz nights with a leftfield audio/visual agenda. We’re currently talking to various different people about the possibilities of staging one of these events in their venue so if you think this could work for you then please get in touch: [email protected]

Further poster 2.1

Touched / De:tuned ‘Covert II’ EP

Covert II_Press Picture
Today 04.02 is World Cancer Day, Belgian label, De:tuned have got together with Touched (first ever vinyl release for them) to bring the ‘Covert II’ EP with all proceeds donated to Touched – Music for Macmillan Cancer Support. The five artists on the EP are all unnamed, can you guess who they are? Order digital or limited vinyl here
All artists, The Designers Republic & Matt Colton at Alchemy Mastering offered their work for free.

Swifty Book launch at the Exposure Gallery

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.

Swifty_crowdSwifty_Flyers1Swifty_sleeves1 Swifty_sleeves2 Swifty_logos1 Swifty_logos3 Swifty_logos2 Swifty_John Coltrane2Swifty_John Coltrane1 Swifty_Flyers2

What is The Delaware Road?

Delaware poster2
The Delaware Road currently exists in several forms; an actual road in London where the BBC’s Radiophonic Workshop was originally situated, a compilation released in 2015 by the Buried Treasure label and a multi-faceted performance piece based around a story created by the label’s founder, Alan Gubby and David Yates aka Dolly Dolly. The Radiophonic connection is no coincidence, being that the piece that ties the music contained on the album and play together is loosely based on two key figures working at the BBC Workshop at the height of its powers. Gubby describes it as, “…a work of fiction based on actual events & some unusual anecdotes gathered whilst researching for archived electronic tape music albums released in recent years”.

The story is situated in London, the possibilities of technology and tape are being stretched by inquiring minds and the swinging sixties are upon us. “Two pioneering musicians compose electronic themes for television & radio. They discover a recording that leads to a startling revelation about their employer. Fascinated by the occult nature of the tape they conduct a studio ritual that will alter their lives forever.” Add in dashes of psychedelics, orgies, spirits summoned via stone tape theories and the relentless march of progress and you have the ingredients for a wild ride through the middle of 20th century London, from analogue to digital as the 80s approach and new ways replace old.

The live staged version of the concept album is narrated by the incredible Dolly Dolly, sitting stage right at his desk throughout the performance, suit and tie in place, illuminated by a single anglepoise lamp. His earnest delivery ties the acts together that sonically illustrate the different chapters in the piece, his speeches becoming more animated as the story progresses, enhanced by oil and video projections. The first performance was held at the South Street Arts Centre in Reading and featured a host of acts using tape manipulation, analogue synths, ancient percussion and home-made electronic devices, each in roughly chronological order as the years played out. There was even some jazz on the menu and the whole thing was book-ended by Jonny Trunk and Pete Wiggs playing suitably-themed tunes for the occasion, I covered the night for Shindig! magazine at the time and you can read my review here.

Delaware poster +CD

The album suffered distribution problems upon initial release, as did other Buried Treasure output, but a new deal should mean greater availability and a re-release is planned, there’s even talk of some kind of illustrated version too with various artists being commissioned to bring scenes to life. I can’t recommend the record enough as it perfectly soundtracks the piece put together to showcase it and there’s nary a bad tune in its 20 tracks. Listen to it and buy via Bandcamp.

Which brings me to the reason I’m writing this now as a second performance will be taking place on July 28th, this time at the Kelvedon Hatch Nuclear Bunker site in Essex. Tickets are on sale now but places are limited, there’s even a chance to book a place on a double-decker bus that will take you to the venue from the nearby Brentwood station and discounts for groups of four people. I’m also delighted to reveal that I will be opening and closing the event in a DJ capacity too! I’ll be bringing visuals and delving into my collection for a suitable selection to mark the occasion.
Follow the event and the bands playing it on Facebook, this is going to be a very special evening.

Delaware poster

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.

UNKLE titleUNKLEbot2 F2T1 F2T2 F2T3 F2T4 Futura ring
UNKLE toys1 UNKLEbears UNKLEbot1 UNKLEbottopUNKLEbotbottom UNKLEbotTVUNKLEbotlegsscreen1UNKLEbotlegsscreen2


Expo Worlds

Expo Worlds is a programme of World’s Fair short films assembled by Ian Helliwell over the past 20 years. These mainly 8mm films take the viewer on a journey from the Brussels Expo in 1958 via Seattle 1962, New York 1964/65, Expo 67 and Expo 70. All originally silent, Helliwell has composed electronic music to fit each one, evoking the spirit of the experimental nature of these gigantic world events.

Showing here are short sections of each of the eight films in the programme; the complete Expo Worlds is available to hire for screening from Ian directly. Check out his extensive site and work, from music to film and beyond, a truly unique man of many talents, his exhaustive ‘Tape Leaders’ book was one of my favourites last year.
Expo Parade
The Brussels Exhibition
Seattle World’s Fair 1962
New York World’s Fair split-screen
Expo Prepares
Expo 67
Man and His World 1970
Expo 70 Funland

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Future Shock 40 years of 2000ad poster

2000AD40thCartoon Museum
Two different 2000AD original art exhibitions mark the comic’s 40th anniversary this coming Feb. The first opens at the Cartoon Museum  in 13 days for 3 months. The second is on for a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it 3 days mid Feb at Geek 2017 at Dreamland in Margate and, I believe, is mainly culled from Rufus Dayglo‘s incredible collection – certainly one of the best I’ve ever seen.2000AD40thMargate

and that was 2016


For some reason I started writing my review of the year back in January, determined to keep a record of it as I went along so that I could just press the ‘publish’ button over new year weekend and not sit around for a day trying to remember what I’d seen, done, listened to or read. I couldn’t have picked a worse year, let’s get the bad stuff out of the way first…

“2016 (‘the year that just keeps on taking’ was how someone later referred to it) was a shit year that I will want to forget“. I wrote that in April, just after Prince had died and I was ready to see the back of it before we’d even reached June. I now know I wasn’t alone in this sentiment. No two ways about it, good, creative, innovative people passed away, seemingly on a daily basis while greedy, immoral, ignorant people in positions of power got away with murder at the same rate. If only a few of the bad ones had been taken as well, if only to even things out.

In June (half) the UK voted to exit the EU and the fallout, cop out and subsequent reshuffle in the aftermath defied belief and went beyond satire. Labour’s backstabbing and in-fighting to oust Jeremy Corbyn from the party when they should have been calling the Tories to account just showed them up to be as inept as those in power. The closure of Fabric in September* put yet another nail in the coffin of the city I love, one that’s rapidly having it’s center squeezed of any creativity, individuality and relevance as big business moves in and any form of alternative culture is forced out. Things change, I know that, it’s progress and it has to happen, but when that change feels more like a regression I start to look elsewhere.
* thankfully set to re-opened under new conditions

As the beginning of the lead up to Brexit began and the pound sunk to an all time low, it was hard to feel anything but despair at the idiocy and blatant greed of those in positions of power playing games whilst lining pockets and taking from those who need it most. A friend left for LA over a year ago and I feel he got out in the nick of time.

I had my own family problems this year too and I lost my mother to cancer in early July, a year after she was diagnosed. The photo above was taken the day she died, the last second of the day, a blink of the eye later it was 0.00. A new day, everything reset, now I had one parent, not two. Thankfully I’m very lucky to have a great group of family and friends close by for support and without them things would have been very different. 2016 brought a massive phase of my life to an end and 2017 will see it take a new turn, don’t expect a new record too soon I’m afraid, I don’t have the head space.

And then the unthinkable on Nov 9th (9/11 by our calendar, how ironic)Trump
There have been several times when I’ve woken up to a day when everything has changed, a mental shift in world events which means that nothing will be the same again. The day after 9/11 was one, the birth of my children, Brexit, my mother’s death… Now Trump gets added to that list, sadly my friend jumped from the frying pan into the fire. Early reports show that the youth voted for Clinton while the elderly voted for Trump, much the same as Brexit in the UK then. Satire is no longer a comfort, you couldn’t make this up and it’s certainly not funny anymore.

But despite this, there was plenty of good to be found everywhere, the cliché of the arts flourishing under oppression and depression seemingly true. Looking back over posts from this year, both here and on my Instagram, all I can see is a vintage year for music and a great year for the visual arts. There was SO MUCH great music everywhere that it was a job to get through it all and I seemed to be buying both new and old on a daily basis with a real need to dive into the bins and discover continuing over from last year. So many genuinely great records came out this year with the new easily outnumbering the old, vinyl overtook downloads in sales at one point (largely due to Sainsburys starting to stock it again I suspect) and we’re still being spoilt for sleeve and packaging design too.


David Bowie – Blackstar (ISO/RCA/Columbia)
Kosmischer Laufer – The Secret Cosmic Music of the East German Olympic Program 1972-83 Vol.1-3 (UCR)
Cosmic Ground 2 (Deep Distance) (technically 2015)
The Heliocentrics – From The Deep (Now Again)
The Allergies feat. Andy Cooper – Rock Rock (Jalapeno)
Cavern of Anti-Matter – Void Beats/Invocation Trex’ (Duophonic UHF Discs)
The Comet Is Coming – Channel The Spirits (Leaf)
Synthi A – Ignition of the Sun (EBV)
Vactrol Park – II (ESP Institute)
Brain Machine – Peaks (Emotional Response Recordings)
Lost Idol – Chrome Machine Tales (EOE Recordings)
Various Artists – Cosmic Machine The Sequel (Because Music)
S’Express – Enjoy This Trip (Needle Boss Records)
Videodrones – Mondo Ferox (El Paraiso)
Various – I Love Acid 010 (Balkan Recordings)
Om Unit – Underground Cinema (feat Krust) (Cosmic Bridge)
King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard – Robot Stop (Flightless)
Peter Thomas & Mocambo Astronautic Sound Orcestra – Space Patrol (Raumpatrouille) (Mocambo)
Radiohead – The Numbers (XL Recordings)
Foetus on Triple J interview from 1986 (Mixcloud)
DJ Supreme – R.I.P. feat Son of Noise (Backbone Records)
F.S.O.L. – Environment Six & 6.5 (FSOLDigital)
Clipping. – Splendor & Misery (Sub Pop)
Vanishing Twin – Choose Your Own Adventure (Soundway)
The Pattern Forms – Peel Away The Ivory (Ghost Box)
Barry Adamson – Know Where To Run (Central Control International)
The Karminsky Experience Inc. – Beat! (Patterns of Behaviour)
Howlround – A Creak In Time (psyche-tropes)
Graeme Miller & Steve Shill – The Moomins OST (Finders Keepers)*
*technically released next year but I got an early copy

Honourable mentions:
Electronic Sound magazine going from digital to physical – filling a gap somewhere between the highbrow avant gardisms of The Wire and the retro 80s fest of Classic Pop – clean design and original angles + free CDs.

Andrew Harrison and Matt Hall‘s Big Mouth podcast – a weekly look at pop culture from music to TV to comics to films to books, great line up of guests and plenty of good tips to follow up.

The El Paraiso label – everything about it, from the music to the artwork, is spot on, a beautiful roster and catalogue. Hard to pick a favourite release but when I stumbled upon them in May I wanted everything and barely found a dud in the whole roster.


Clipping. – the trio really knocked me out when I ran across them in October, three albums and a handlful of EPs into their career, taking in all that was a sensory overload. The pure electronic noise coupled with the razor sharp delivery of Daveed Diggs‘ raps felt like someone was operating on my brain while I was conscious. The sonic palette and arrangements felt so fresh in the context of 99% of other hip hop records that they immediately made everything else seem stale. With repeated listens their Splendor & Misery LP revealed just what a stunning concept album they’d created, layers and themes interwoven to perfection, I only wish there was a full film to go with the two promo videos already out there. Album of the year in a year that was awash with great music.

Peter Williams for all his quiet energy, enthusiasm and organisation in and around West Norwood, his great music taste and for being a catalyst for change, hopefully we’ll do good things in 2017…

Lego for severing ties with the Daily Mail, opening a great new shop in central London and making that fab Beatles Yellow Submarine.

Spiritland for making me stretch out and indulge in the musical side of me that rarely gets an airing in my club sets.

Pete Isaac, Scott Hendy and Greg Belson of 45 Live for continuing to build a worldwide brand in clubland and on the radio.


Another year over and what have I done?
Designed the De:tuned Records 6xLP Brainbox set + forthcoming spin-off 12″ and rejigged a bit of Frankie Goes To Hollywood‘s ‘…Pleasuredome’ LP for reissue. Hosted Jonny Trunk‘s OST show on Resonance FM, written for The Vinyl Factory and been published in the Rough Trade 40 years book,. Performed with Howlround at the Museum of London, done instores in Rat Records and The Book & Record Bar as well as several appearances on the Out of the Wood radio show. Remixed Divine Styler, appeared at The Force Awakens holographic vinyl launch at Abbey Road Studios and created two different mixes of Acid House 45s for the I Love Acid and 45 Live radio shows. Designed and illustrated a brochure for the stage production Songs of Immigrants & Experience and the cover of the next Loka LP (without label deal at present). Plenty more mixes for Solid Steel, GCASFM, Spiritland, Looselips, Near Mint and 45/7 shows – most of which are available on my Mixcloud page. There have been a load of gigs (4 for Big Fish Little Fish alone), plenty of digs and a few things going on in the background but I’ve been too preoccupied with family things this year to add much to the portfolio.

Favourite gigs:
Cavern of Anti-Matter @ The Moth Club
The Soul-Inn
1st birthday party, Brussels
Record Store Day @ The Book & Record Bar, West Norwood
Rat Records instore with Jonny Trunk, Camberwell
Adam Ant Kings of the Wild Frontier @ Brixton Academy
My first gig at Spiritland, Kings X
The Pattern Forms @ Rough Trade East
Turntable & tape machine improv with Howlround + Jonny Trunk @ The Museum of London
The Karminsky Experience LP launch, Blue Posts
Pascal Savy / Steven McInerney / Howlround @Iklectik
Vanishing Twin / Cherrystones @The Others
Clipping. @ Corsica Studios

Favourite exhibitions:
Alan Kitching @ Somerset House
KAWS / Eduardo Paolozzi @ Yorkshire Sculpture Park
Thierry Noir @ Howard Griffin Gallery
You Say You Want A Revolution @ V&A Museum
Star Wars Identities @ the O2
Secret 7s @ the Sonos Building
Jimmy Cauty‘s New Bedford Rising in America St.


Favourite comics / books:
B.P.R.D. Hell On Earth
– Mike Mignola / John Arcudi / various (Dark Horse)
Empty Zone – Jason Shawn Alexander (Image)
Heavy Metal – Various
Black Science – Rick Remender / Matteo Scalera (Image)
Low – Rick Remender / Greg Tocchini (Image)
Island – Various (Image)
2000AD – Various (Rebellion)
Saga – Fiona Staples / Brian K. Vaughn (Image)
Drawn To Drawing – John Vernon Lord (Nobrow)
Prophet: Earth War – Brandon Graham / Simon Roy / various (Image)
The Music Library 2nd edition – Jonny Trunk (Fuel)
Tape Leaders – Ian Helliwell (Sound On Sound)
Covers – Alex Bartsch (Kickstarter)
Zentropa – John Mahoney (Heavy Metal)
Pencil Head – Ted McKeever (Image)

Favourite film/TV:
Flowers, Upstart Crow, Rogue One, Steven McInerney‘s A Creak in Time

David Bowie, Mark B (technically 2015 but it broke over New Year), Paul Bley, Pierre Boulez, Alan Rickman, Clarence Reid aka Blowfly, Andy ‘Dog’ Johnson, Terry Wogan, Maurice White, The Independent newspaper, Harper Lee, Umberto Eco, Bruce Lacey, George Martin, Ken Adams, Keith Emerson, Phife Dawg, Ronnie Corbett, Zaha Hadid, Tony Conrad, Victoria Wood, Prince, Richard Lyons (Negativland), Isao Tomita, Muhammad Ali, Jo Cox,  Bernie Worrell, Caroline Aherne, Alan Vega, Jack Davis, Kenny Baker, Bobby Hutcherson, Gilli Smyth (Gong), Gene Wilder, Richard Neville (Oz magazine founder), Prince Buster, Don Buchla, Rod Temperton, Steve Dillon, Pete Burns, Jean Jacques Perrey, Leonard Cohen, Robert Vaughn, David Mancuso, Sharon Jones, Fidel Castro, Pauline Oliveros, Colonel Abrams, Andrew Sachs, Al Brodax, Greg Lake, Dave Brubeck, John Glenn, Rick Parfitt, George Michael, Alphonse Mouzon, Carrie Fisher, Debbie Reynolds.

Wisdom: “Morph man, morph!” – Otis Fodder

Looking forward to:
The next phase…
Ghost In The Shell
The ongoing unearthing of lost collage works from Australia by DJ HDD
Eduardo Paolozzi @ The Whitechapel Gallery
Pink Floyd @ the V&A Museum
XX book by Rian Hughes
The Delaware Road live in a nuclear bunker
The return of the KLF?…
Blade Runner 2049
Star Wars VIII

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Star Wars Identities comes to London

The Star Wars Identities exhibition opened last month in London at the O2 in Greenwich. Over 200 props, models, costumes, paintings and designs are collected around a 10 step trail based on building your own personal characters within the Star Wars universe. There have been a few additions and subtractions since I first saw it in Montreal four years ago but it’s essentially the same. Just check some of the pictures below and you’ll get the idea, absolutely essential for any Star Wars fan and very child-friendly. So nice to go into an exhibition that doesn’t discourage photography too. It’s on until September 2017 and you can buy tickets HERE.

SWI_Falconguns SWI_Falconradar SWI_FalconcockpitSWI_Slave SWI_SDestroyerSWI_CCity SWI_Dagobah SWI_SandcrawlerSWI_Han SWI_Vader SWI_Helmets2 SWI_Jawa SWI_JJ SWI_Droids SWI_BobaTroopers SWI_R2BB8 SWI_Boba SWI_Stormtroopers SWI_Mouse

The new Design Museum opens

Science Museum Paolozzi
I visited the new Design Museum off High Street Kensington at the weekend and the permanent collection was full of lovely bits and pieces, including a new film by The Light Surgeons. Perhaps it was because it was teeming with people but the gallery spaces seemed very small and cramped next to the yawning atrium and the cafe was hidden round a corner, almost embarrassed to be seen but packed nevertheless. People were being told to queue as they ascended up the levels to the top floor but we just got in the lift and bypassed all this. An oddly disfunctional design of a space for a Design Museum.

Science Museum Science Museum Kennard Science Museum olivetti3 Science Museum olivetti2 Science Museum olivetti1DesignTLSDesignformats Science Museum TV Science Museum Braun Science Museum timeline Science Museum User Science Museum logos Science Museum shapes Science Museum S

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The vinyl reissues we actually want this Black Friday

8Slightly late as I had a crazy weekend but still relevant as the consumer chaos and pressing plant queues will testify. I canvassed opinion from various DJs, collectors, sellers and artists as to what their top reissues/represses would be come the next Record Store Day and presented them to The Vinyl Factory.

You can see and read our choices HERE

Beastie Boys’ Licensed to Ill samples mix by Bobafatt

It seems anniversaries are everywhere these days, this week alone sees three decades since the release of both The The‘s ‘Infected’ LP and the Beastie Boys‘Licensed To Ill’ album. DJ Bobafatt has put together a little sample mix of the latter complete with original samples and interview snippets to mark the occasion.
Whilst never my favourite Beasties album, I was a fan and saw them on the Raising Hell tour opening for Whodini, LL Cool J and Run DMC in ’86 as well as the Licensed to Ill tour in ’87.
Looking through old sketch books this morning in search of something else I ran across this, done May ’87 during ‘Beastie Mania’. D-Vice was my first graffiti tag at the time and 3DGrafX was our crew (it was the 80s).

Black Friday releases


Now that Black Friday (25th Nov) seems to be ‘a thing’ in this country we have what’s become known as ‘Record Store Day 2’ creeping in just before the Xmas rush with yet another date to cram the pressing plants as the vinyl reissues keep flowing. The list got released this week and I’m very pleased to see these two on it.
Timothy Leary, Ralph Metzner and Richard Alpert‘s hard-to-find-cheap outing ‘The Psychedelic Experience’, originally on Broadside Records and later, Folkways, and chock full of spoken word that has been plundered by many over the years in sampled form. Pressed on magenta splatter vinyl apparently.

GET 52720_LP_jungle bros_jacket_4.14.16_JR
A great-looking reissue of an underrated but utterly essential hip hop classic is the Jungle Brothers‘Done By The Forces Of Nature’ from Get On Down. Originally released in 1989 and featuring a post ‘3 Feet…’ De La Soul, Queen Latifah, Monie Love, Q-Tip and DJ Towa Tei (just before he found worldwide fame with Deee-lite), this is the whole crew at the height of their powers and possibly the moment that the Native Tongues posse were most united. It’s a sample smorgasbord too from a time when you could still ransack the past for the finest funk, jazz and afro beats imaginable. For me, this is up there with De La Soul, Beastie Boys and Public Enemy as one of the finest rap albums of all time. Originally pressed on a weedy single disc, it always suffered from poor sound quality and a new double vinyl edition has been a long-standing want within the hip hop community.

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.

GrainOfSandfull GrainOfSand GrainOfSanddetailGrainOfSandcentreGrainOfSandMarilyn

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.

Cooks poster
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.