Alex Bartsch – Covers book kickstarter

COVERS – a book by ALEX BARTSCH from Alex Bartsch on Vimeo.
Sometimes someone comes up with an idea so simple it has ‘surefire hit’ written all over it. Here’s one coming now; photographer Alex Bartsch is taking the sleeveface craze to the next logical stage (‘sleevescape’ anyone?) by matching architectural aspects of London with record covers that feature them. Specifically it seems, reggae records, and the results so far are excellent. A Kickstarter for a book of the photos has just launched, you can pledge here and there’s an exhibition in the planning. Follow Alex on Instagram too buk-in-hamm+V.2 Rain Musical+Doctor_0024171+copy

Tim Walker does Hieronymus Bosch for Love Magazine

Photographer Tim Walker has channeled Hieronymus Bosch for this new shoot for Love Magazine‘s Spring issue. These are the more ‘safe for work’ images but there are loads more here.

Bosch is back in the news at the moment as there is a major exhibition of his work at the Noordbrabants Museum, ’s-Hertogenbosch in the Netherlands at the moment with paintings and drawings assembled from across the globe to mark 500 years since his birth.

tim-walker-for-love-ss-2016-1hh-620x810 tim-walker-for-love-ss-2016-1s-620x817 tim-walker-for-love-ss-2016-1yy-620x809

Sephora ad campaign


I came across these at the weekend in a window of a shop in Lyon, they were so striking I had to take a photo. A quick google reveals they’re for a campaign for Sephora makeup from a few years back and there are more in the series. A great example of how a simple visual idea can attract the attention & subvert the usual clichés.

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Roger Perry ‘The Writing On The Wall’ reissue

Arriving the morning after the recent UK election result, finally holding the reprinted, expanded edition of Roger Perry‘s ‘The Writing On The Wall’ was a bittersweet experience. In George Melly‘s original introduction he says; “With the ballot box effective why spray walls?” a statement a fair few people would most likely have a bone to pick with right now. Looking through the beautifully printed pages at the replica version I cherry-picked a few shots that struck a chord and prove that not much changes when it comes to public opinion of those in charge.

It’s not all socio-political commentary though, there are oddities, messages of love, the inevitable football allegiances and more bizarre offerings. Often there are some poignant juxtapositions on either side of a spread, the ‘God Is Love’ / ‘Clapton is God’ example below being just one of them. New forewards by Bill Drummond and George Stewart-Lockheart (who organised the whole project via Kickstarter last year) bring context via hindsight to the photos. and while Drummond is the name you’ll recognise, Stewart-Lockheart’s essay is a fascinating, expertly-researched history of much of the content, something the original book lacked.

Expertly laid out by Pearce Marchbank – the original designer and Time Out art director in the 70s – the reprinted facsimile of the book has a yellowed, off-white tint to the pages which distinguishes it from the clean white of the new material. The end section features profiles of those involved in the making of the original volume as well as a host of newly discovered images and negatives from the archives which expand on and reveal how the book came together. It’s a lovingly put together edition with its cloth-bound, foil-blocked front cover and I highly recommend it to anyone with an interest in seeing 70s London and the marks made by ordinary people in the days before the art of Hip Hop graffiti writing came to these shores. More info about where you can obtain a copy is here at the rogerperrybook site or you can buy it direct.


More archival work on the Pleasuredome box set

Another look behind the scenes at some work I’ve been doing on the Frankie Goes To Hollywood box set for the 30th anniversary edition of their ‘Welcome To The Pleasuredome’ album. Earlier this year I visited photographer Steve Rumney who took a set of photos backstage at the London launch party of ‘Relax’ at the Camden Palace (now Koko) back in November 1983, one of which ended up on a promo poster, cassette and sheet music.

FGTH backstage AOZTT restoration © Steve Rumney

We looked through boxes of negatives and found very little aside from some prints and one badly damaged negative strip. Nevertheless, on that strip was an image that I recognised from the inside sleeve of the original album and he graciously let me take it away. After having it scanned at a professional lab I took the digital files and proceeded to repair all the dust and scratches it had incurred over the years. See above the 5-step cleaning and cropping process, this will then be used on the inner sleeve of the new version of the album. Quite a bit of work for one small 4 x 5.5cm image.

Scenes from the Easter weekend

Two views of Lisbon; inside my hotel and out on the street by the MusicBox club where I played on Thursday night.

Sun through the clouds in Switzerland, driving towards France on Friday afternoon.

Sound check in La Rodia, Besancon, France with our new banner featuring every artist sampled on the ‘Paul’s Boutique’ LP.

The not-quite-finished hotel in France the next morning – note the 2 stars – it was actually OK inside. Next, a fantastic view on the road back to Geneva.

Saturday night back in London – Adam & The (original) Antz do ‘Dirk Wears White Sox’ at the Hammersmith Apollo.

Beastie fans get ready for the 3-Way Mix at the Moon Club in Cardiff on Sunday night and we premiere our new picture disc controller records from 12InchSkinz during the set.

Dust & Grooves Book out RSD 2014

I’m pretty thrilled to see this book, by photographer Eilon Paz, make its way out into the world. If you’re not familiar with his Dust & Grooves site and you’re a vinyl collector then it’s a must. Not only am I featured in it as a collector (a full photo feature, interview and mix will be online some day after the book is done) but I also contributed to the text by interviewing Kieran Hebden aka Four Tet for a chapter of it. Here’s the blurb for the book:

“Eilon Paz’s 416-page coffee-table book illuminates over 130 vinyl collectors and their collections in the most intimate of environments—their record rooms. With a foreword by the RZA, compelling photographic essays are paired with in-depth interviews to illustrate what motivates record collectors to keep digging for more records.

Readers get an up close and personal look at a variety of well-known vinyl champions as well as a glimpse into the collections of known and unknown DJs, producers, record dealers, and everyday enthusiasts. The book is divided into two main parts: the first features 250 full-page photos framed by captions and select quotes, while the second consists of 12 full-length interviews that delve deeper into collectors’ personal histories and vinyl troves.”

US Street Date: Record Store Day, April 19, 2014
Worldwide Street Date: Saturday, May 10, 2014

Sophie’s World exhibition opens this Thursday

Can never resist a bit of orange! Here’s the original teaser image for Steve Cook‘s ‘Sophie’s World’ exhibition which opens this Thursday at the Orbital Comics Gallery in London. Sophie is Sophie Aldred aka Dr Who companion Ace from way back when Sylvester McCoy was the current incarnation of the Doctor.

Steve once worked as a designer for the Doctor Who magazine and was one of the first people to photograph Sophie and the show will feature many unseen images plus some surprises. Seeing as it’s the 50th Anniversary of Doctor Who this year it’s a trip back in time in more ways than one.

The exhibition runs from September 5th – September 30th and Sophie will be signing on Saturday, Sept 7th, 12pm – 3pm. There will be prints for sale of several of the images too and you can find out more about the event on the Facebook page and from Steve’s Secret Oranges site.

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Photos from A Few Old Tunes last night

Photos by Emma Gutteridge from last night’s Boards of Canada-inspired do, ‘A Few Old Tunes’.
A great time was had by all, the atmosphere was relaxed, unhurried, the DJ booth set up shambolic at times, people drank and chatted, some even danced. A hell of a lot of great music was played with enough decent visuals to draw attention away from the fact that we were in a very basic bar in the middle of Shoreditch.
Of the four of us playing, Mach V, Tom Central, Josh Posthuman and myself, there were absolutely no expectations, no money involved and no idea how it would be received. Which is what made it so nice when people turned up and stayed, some until 2am, and packed the place out with smiles and familiar faces everywhere. Some had come quite far, I heard of people trekking from Oxford and Kent, one guy was in town with friends from the West Coast too. Complete ambiance and spoken word skits were dropped in the middle of the dance floor and no one batted an eyelid, there were no requests for Daft Punk and it was one of the most enjoyable London gigs I can remember since the old Solid Steel days at Ruby Lo.

Posted in Gigs, Photography. | 7 Comments |

A Case of mistaken identity with AJ Barratt Pt.1

Below is a post from my ‘other’ blog – – where I post artwork relating to the ZTT label and interview the people who made it.
I arrive early, at a pub just outside Hither Green station in deepest South East London, to meet Tony ‘AJ’ Barratt, renown music magazine photographer and key ingredient in the early days of ZTT image-making. His photos of spanners, statues, masks and landscapes gave an identity to (the) Art of Noise as well as gracing the first release from the label, ‘Into Battle’. He also did many live shots, promo and video stills for Frankie Goes To Hollywood and Andrew Poppy.

It’s Friday evening and the place is filling up, the only photo of Tony I’ve got for reference is 30 years old and he’s told me to look out for ‘a hairless Glenn Gregory, ex of Heaven 17 lookalike’. After about 10 minutes a guy comes in who might fit the bill and I catch his eye, ‘Tony?’, ‘Yes’, he says, shaking my hand but with a very puzzled expression on his face. ‘Tony Barratt?’ I enquire, ‘ah, no, you’ve got the wrong person, he says, ‘but my name IS Tony though’. With perfect timing, the right Tony walks through the door holding a copy of the Ambassadors Theatre program for ‘The Value of Entertainment’.

He does indeed look like Glen Gregory, albeit without hair, and is instantly warm, engaging and candid about his early experiences in the music business. We’re joined by his partner, Jan, and after a couple of pints we repair to his house nearby where I notice the 12″ picture discs for both ‘Relax’ and ‘Two Tribes’ amongst the many pictures hanging on their walls.

FGTH War Hidden 12" Pic Disc AFGTH Relax 12" Pic Disc AHow did you get it touch with ZTT? Presumably you knew Paul from working at the NME or was that later?
No, it’s much more personal than that, I moved down to London with Paul’s sister, Jayne (they were an item). I knew Paul in Stockport, vaguely…
Is that where you’re from?
Yeah, and he bought out a fanzine – ‘Out There’ – sent it down to the NME and they said, ‘you’ve gotta come down and speak to us as soon as you can’. He went down and started off his career, this must have been early eighties so that kind of fits in. I moved down to London with Jayne in ’83 and I was a photography student at Harrow. In my second year there, obviously Paul Morley was (at) the NME and he was doing all this great stuff, (so) I took my stuff to the NME. This was before the Art of Noise or whatever. I was shown the door.
I went to the Melody Maker and started doing work there, concert stuff and photos and things, and then as time went by, Paul suddenly started to get involved with… I’ve no idea how that whole thing came to be – that he met with Trevor Horn, you might know a bit more about it or it might be mythologised by Paul or whatever.

The accepted story is that he interviewed Trevor when he was in the Buggles…
Yeah I remember that.
…he slated them, but when Trevor got the opportunity from Chris Blackwell (head of Island records) to start a label, he remembered Paul and got in touch. That would have been at some point in ’82 or ’83 presumably so you would have done those Art of Noise photos in the summer?
(Laughs) It’s awful to say but I have no memory of when or how, you have to remember that I was coming to the end of my photography course, I don’t think I’d actually left and there was this vague idea of some vague photos that might be needed for this vague idea of a group. And it was never something that was kind of like, ‘here’s a brief, we would like you to go out and do this’. The record label started and there’re all very exciting PAs at the Camden Palace with the Frankies, all sorts of bands were signing and people were interested and it was going to be the artist event of the… which it turned out, in some ways, to actually be.

AJ, PM +friends 1AJ (with cable release), Paul Morley (with phone) and friends circa ’83 – AJ: “I took this from across the room with the cable release, if I remember, Paul was on the phone to Trevor sorting out the ZTT thing.”

But I can’t actually remember. I remember it being a great time, I’d moved down to London, I was on the guest list of these great parties and it was free drinks and I thought, ‘oh my god I can’t believe this’. And then there was this record label and there was the Frankies and this vague idea of this thing called The Art of Noise and it was never like a… Because the members were so busy all the time, it was never like, ‘the group are going on tour now, etc.’ So there was no real sense of urgency.

They weren’t a group in the classic sense were they? They were producers, studio engineers and arrangers, which is commonplace today, but back then… They were ‘the music’ and Paul was ‘the image and the words’ and he knew how to present them.
Yeah, I’m not sure how you’d describe it, and he would chuck things in, he really did chuck things into the mix there, but there was never any sense there of… a plan. I got the impression that the music they made was at the end of a hard day producing whoever the hell it was.

The initial ideas for the Art of Noise apparently came from producing Yes, they stole a drum track which was going to be wiped, which then became the basis for ‘Beatbox’.
Well, if you listen to ‘Owner Of A Lonely Heart’ by Yes, there’s a bit in the middle where it kind of flips up and I remember that being crucial to the Art of Noise. I think that’s when Morley kind of went, ‘that’s what the Art of Noise should be’.

AON Spanner 2

When you took all the images like the hand with the rose and the spanner, that was just you on your own or did Paul come with you, did he give you those props?
My memory of that is that, at that time, I would just go out and take photos. When Paul was talking about the Art of Noise, what kind of came into my head was like Russian Constructivism, FuturismThe Human League did an EP called, ‘The Dignity of Labour’ and I always thought of this idea of labour being a fantastic idea to get into, you know, the ‘strength through joy’ kind of thing.
I know what you mean, like SPK, imagery of spanners and hammers, almost acting out Russian Constructivist posters.
So, I would just go out on a Saturday afternoon, go down to parts of London that I didn’t know and I’d just wander about, climb into things and take photos of things and mess about. Where those photos were taken, where that crane was that I climbed into, the same place as the van (from the ‘Close Up’ sleeve). It has obviously been a scrap metal yard at some point but you can see Tower Bridge in the background and when you think about London 30 years ago, there’s a piece of scrap land that you can see Tower Bridge from, that’s unbelievable.

It’s fascinating for me to see the contacts for the original Art Of Noise spanners etc., just seeing the outtakes or different shots. (AJ had provided me with original contact sheets for some of these shots).AON232 Spanner 1
The spanner photo (above) is my favourite of all time because it’s my arms, I set the shot up and I judged how high up I should put the spanner and I did the cable release with my foot. Strange but true, when I saw it, I just thought, ‘wow’. It’s very rare that, you know yourself as a graphic designer, that you do something and…‘bosh’, it works. I was fairly pissed off when Morley didn’t put it on the cover. The one with the van is at a completely different time when I took my mate Phil down.

AON Close Up 12" front
I’d figured that, I was going to ask, who was that in the mask?
(Laughs) In those shots it’s a friend of mine from college called Phil Priestman, where is he now?
Because you’d assume it was Paul.
Really? Do you think so?
Well, if there’s an image of the group, he was presenting that so you’d assume (that). It doesn’t matter who’s behind it though. Was that the same with the figure on the beach?
No, that was Jayne (laughs)
I’m not sure I want to explode any of these myths (laughs). This is the thing, I’m very aware that by explaining all this stuff it could just sort of pop the bubble. I don’t necessarily want to do that.
Well, I think it’s all well and good actually, the shots on the beach were at a place called Birling Gap, up between Brighton and Newhaven, very nice because of all those rocks and things. Me and Jayne went for a nice day out and…
“Put this cloak and mask on love…’ (laughs)
It was a cape actually, Jayne used to work at the National Theatre as a dresser and she borrowed it (laughs). If memory serves I was given the mask at ZTT and we took it down with us, or Paul dropped it around to where we lived back then. It had never crossed my mind that people would take for granted that that was Morley.
Well, who could it be? No one knew who it was… it was The Art Of Noise in some respects.
(raucous laughter from Tony) Trevor Horn?

AON seaside 1AON208
You would assume he’s the guy in the cloak, you know? ‘Don’t look behind the screen’, kind of thing. So there’s me thinking it’s Paul and it’s actually his sister!
That’s great.
I didn’t know who it was, there’s one on the back of ‘Close Up’ and there’s someone holding the mask and you can see some slicked back hair…
Yeah, that’s Phil Priestman (laughs). Who happened to have the same kind of haircut but that’s really interesting, I’d never thought of that.
In all the Art of Noise sleeves – their greatest visual asset (to my mind) was the masks and they dropped that completely once they’d moved to China records.

AON Close Up 12" back

‘Close Up’ is my favourite Art Of Noise 12″ bar none. For everything about it – the music, the cover, the photos, the colours – that epitomizes them for me.
I’d say you’re right actually.
I would stare at that record, like many other ZTT sleeves, and just try and find clues because that was what ZTT was about, it never gave you the answers it just posed the questions and that was half the fun of it.
Well that was part of Morley’s…mystic.
Because he got so much stick over other things, he hasn’t really gotten the credit for the art direction.
Having known him since… when I first met Paul he had hair parted down to here. Tangerine Dream, Nick Drake, reggae, he loved all that. I have the utmost admiration for him, but having said that, I have watched him chance it and throw it out there so much, actually to the detriment of his health. Like all his heroes, he believed that if he kept that up, he could keep throwing out those great ideas, ‘their fourth number one’, let’s put sperm on the cover, this’ll go. And it got to the point where actually, Jill Sinclair and Trevor were saying, ‘well look, we need to make some money here’.
You can kind of see that in the sleeves and such, that playfulness, ridiculously indulgent whilst the coffers are filling up from Frankie’s success. He had a couple of years of ‘the dream’, the honeymoon period, if you like, and then he was reeled back to reality.
AON240 statue mask

The cemetery pictures for ‘Who’s Afraid of the Art Of Noise’, was that Highgate with all the statues?
I don’t know which one because there are a few, I think the cover is Anton‘s (Corbijn), that’s nothing to do with me. I used to get really pissed off at it actually because I’d be ‘Art of Noise photography: AJ Barratt’ and then there’d be this image that wasn’t mine – Anton Corbijn. Because there was no real brief… there’s a photo of a statue holding up a mask, I can’t remember what it’s on? (Moments In Love 12″ sleeve). That’s in a Paris cemetery, I thought, ‘mask, statue, that’ll do for me’ and off you go. There’s another one in Paris from the same time where there’s a wall and a bit of graffiti and a statue behind, that’s at the Eiffel Tower, it was the same time. But the whole thing with the Art Of Noise was, if you see a little image like that, from my point of view, ‘take it’ and take it to Paul who would say, ‘I like that, we’ll see what we can do with it’. And the next week it’d be on a sleeve and you’d go, ‘er, alright Paul, should I chuck an invoice in?’, ‘yeah’, ‘alright, thanks’.
So, what would happen with this? Would you ever meet the designers or would you give the stuff to Paul and he would sort it?
I didn’t have much contact with designers – I was a photography student at the time. I remember going to a design studio in Soho in, maybe, Carnaby St. and I’d take stuff in and talk to them about it. They were really nice actually.
That would have been XL
It was XL, it wasn’t Tom though (Watkins) because he was the manager. I remember taking some stuff in and them saying, ‘what was the brief with this?’, and I said, ‘hey, this is ZTT, Paul Morley’..., you know? See if you like it and work around that.
He was famous for coming in with little things like beer mats with scribbles on and then working from that.
He directed the ‘Moments In Love’ video and I remember doing the stills on that and getting a picture of JJ (Jeczalik) who had the make up on, holding a rose. And then going round to Paul’s house once when he was sick to get permission to use it and him shouting, ‘AJ, what were you thinking?’.
You did the shot of the three of them and they’re made up as, almost clown / marionettes? It looks like it’s in a hairdressing salon.

Art+of+Noise+ARTOFTUBE2No, no, that’s backstage at The Tube (80’s TV music show) when they were on it, I did take those, yeah. We flew up to Newcastle, it was a horrible flight, bumpy all the way.
I love that photo, that’s the nearest they came (whilst on ZTT) to ‘being the group’, Anne and Gary have face paint and JJ has a mask. It’s interesting that when the Art O Noise signed to China records they made lots of records with guests – Tom Jones, Max Headroom, Duane Eddy – and they needed a front man because Paul had previously provided that.
I think they suffered from that, there was no guiding voice.

Who has these negatives then? ZTT?
Um, you see, when we moved abroad a lot of stuff got destroyed and lost but I would love to say that everything was filed up beautifully from A to B, but it isn’t. But yes, they did go to ZTT and they might well have disappeared.

At this point we have to disappear too so we’ll end part 1 here having sampled AJ’s memories of the Art Of Noise. Part 2 will be along shortly where we conclude with tales of Frankie tours and frustrating videos shoots.

All photos except the backstage of the Tube scanned from AJ’s negatives, © AJ Barratt. All sleeve and picture disc art scanned from my personal collection, © ZTT. All text © ArtOfZTT 2013.

Postscript:Trevor Horn once told me, every studio in the land has a cupboard, where they’ve nicked all his samples” (laughs).

Posted in Design, Music, Photography. | 3 Comments |

New ‘Art of ZTT’ blog online

I’d like to bring your attention to a new blog I’ve set up about the Art of ZTT Records (or ‘Who’s Afraid of the Art of Zang Tuum Tumb’ to give it its full title).

For years I’ve been collecting everything I can find from the early 80’s incarnation of this label and tracking down the designers and photographers responsible for some of the artwork. It’s a constant work in progress, starting off as a possible magazine article then progressing to a book idea and now, finally, I’ve decided to make it a website.

Inspired by Paul Gorman‘s rehabilitation of Barney Bubbles‘ work into today’s design community I hope the same can happen for the work of ZTT as it was hugely influential on my own desire to design for the music industry. XL, Accident and The London Design Partnership aren’t exactly household names in the same way as Vaughn Oliver and Peter Saville are but I think that the work they produced for the label in their golden age is at least an equal of the Factory and 4AD portfolios.

The site will eventually feature sleeves, promo posters, print ads, photos, exclusive interviews and associated ephemera connected with the label, its artists and designers. At the very least it should be an exhaustive gallery of an innovative label with a host of rare and forgotten imagery.