on 8 December 2008
I've been leafing through a copy of this for the last few days . It's a sumptuous affair , beautifully printed , a real tribute to a artistic genius. Words really cannot do it justice - just get it and wallow in it.
A minor quibble would be that the text isn't concurrent with images. We get all the background story to the Armed Forces sleeve on P.137 but the illustrations don't appear until Pp. 148 -153. Once , however, you get used to that it's alright. That's six pages of slightly larger than A4 pages of reproductions for just one album - the book really is that detailed.
Besides the many specifically Costello related features(I'm a big E.C. fan)I was particularly taken by the bio. detail that Barney - born Colin Fulcher - grew up in Whitton, Middlesex. Since Elvis live there in 1970's I daresay that may have been another bond they had.
New - to me- details about the Armed Forces sleeve is that the main cover image, the elephants etc, are painted by Tom Pogson. Other images in the package are by the 'French design collective Bazooka' , ' led by artists Christain Chapiron and Jean-Louis Dupre ( who worked under the pseudonyms Loulou and Kiki Picasso'. Additionally ' one of the animal prints derives from a pair of Bubbles' assistant Diana Fawcett's knickers'.
And so on. Definitely a book worth getting - short of the original sleeves it's the only way to see these images properly .
This book is an essential purchase for anyone with even a passing interest in any of the following - graphic design, vinyl albums, record sleeves, the art scene in the UK in the 60's and 70's, Hawkwind, drugs, stage management, the Stiff Rcord label, the NME, art and many others.
It is a labour of love that collects together the superb and ever inventive work of Colin Fulcher, or as he was better known, Barney Bubbles. There will be sleeve designs here that you may have forgotten about that were truly works of art, such as Elvis Costello and the Attractions Armed Forces with its ambitious gatefold sleeve for example.
Get this and "For the love of Vinyl" by Aubrey Powell and Storm Throgerson for a real feast of record sleeve art.
on 13 February 2011
Barney Bubbles is revealed as the master designer behind sleeves of artists ranging from Hawkwind to John Cooper Clarke via Ian Dury and specifically Elvis Costello. The book (a revised and updated version of the 2009 first issue) not only tells the story of his tragically ending life but contains beautiful reproductions of many record sleeves, tour posters and other designs by the artist. The highlights to me are his 'borrowing' from a range of art movements and his gift for designing beautiful lettering. Think Generation X's Your Generation 7" and Elvis Costello's Armed Forces LP.
A must for anyone still involved in the habit of looking at record sleeves whilst listening. Warning: reading this book may cause urge to collect!
on 15 August 2011
A truly well done effort in collecting, presenting and putting so much of Colin Fulcher's work in the proper context - and most importantly: it gives him the recognition he deserves (but seemingly never wanted). Not to mention digging up his past: friends, collaborators, employers, admirers et al.
Never sacrificing his own standards, he delivered so much graphic and design that sometimes bordered on art - yet seldom signed his work. That alone must make collecting hard work! From hippie era to post-punk era, there was always a "hint of Barney" to Bubbles' work- to the extent that you can start to wonder what those two eras in the UK might have looked like without him? Never seen the 2nd edition, but the 1st ed was great - and more examples with the same great print is even better news ...
on 13 January 2013
It's hard for the present generation to understand how important record covers were to those of us who grew up in the 70s. As much as anyone Barney Bubbles is the one who reached into my humdrum life and showed me what was possible. I became a designer and broke through to have a more satisfying life, which is more than poor Barney seems to have managed. His designs represent the milestones that marked my own journey, and yours too?