By Mark Sinclair
In Britain, punk music has been strangely but inextricably linked with the monarchy since 1977 saw a Silver Jubilee and the Sex Pistols’ God Save the Queen. 35 years on, this year’s Jubilee sees an exhibition from collector Toby Mott and The Vinyl Factory which looks at the sleeves of 60 singles that helped form the punk aesthetic…
Jubilee, 2012: Sixty Punk Singles will show some of the most interesting 7″ designs to have come out of the punk scene in the late 1970s, including Headache’s Can’t Stand Still on Lout Records, shown above (art direction: Big Al; photo: Box Brownie).
And among now famous covers by Jamie Reid for the Sex Pistols and Malcolm Garrett for the Buzzcocks, there are plenty of other lesser known sleeves for bands like Menace, Angelic Upstarts, The Wasps and Chelsea, which frequently made use of one-colour printing, black and white photography, and type that came straight out of the fanzines which supported the burgeoning scene.
Here are some of the perhaps less familiar sleeves from Mott’s new show, which will be at The Vinyl Factory, 91 Walton Street, London SW3 2HP from May 30. All tracks are linked to the songs on YouTube.
The Snivelling Shits’ Terminal Stupid featured the late Giovanni Dadomo, an ex-music journalist, on vocals. Billed as a novelty record intended to fool the NME into giving it a Single of the Week (listen out for “don’t use yer sleeve, use an ‘anky” at the end), it stands up as a much stronger track than that. The sleeve used a photograph taken by Brian Randle of a girl watching The Stranglers at a gig in Manchester. The image had first appeared on the front page of The Sunday Mirror, June 12 1977 with the headline ‘Punk Rock Jubilee Shocker’, according to punk77.co.uk.
This no-nonsense, almost-modernist sleeve designed by Hothouse for The Wasps’ Teenage Treats made use of a punk staple: the live shot of the band (photographed here by Dave Clark). The tune itself fair zips along in a kind of proto-Undertones-y way.
Somewhat overlooked these days, despite being on Beggar’s Banquet, Fulham’s The Lurkers released their Shadow/Love Story single in this bright pinky-red sleeve, complete with marker pen type at the top. It featured photography by Wally Davidson and Rod Cartmell.
The Undertones’ Teenage Kicks has become a bit of a classic, thanks in part to DJ John Peel’s famous adoration of the track, but did you know the sleeve lived up to the brilliance of the song? (Sire Records, 1978).
A suitably ominous sleeve for Menace single, Screwed Up/Insane Society, by Jill Furmanovsky and Phil Davis.
Anonymous location; shuttered shop-front; gritty black and white photography: Alternative TV’s dub-influenced Life After Life ticks all the boxes for the British post-punk look. There’s some interesting rehearsal footage of the track, here – with what looks like a young(ish) Jools Holland on the keys.
The Adverts’ Gary Gilmore’s Eyes sleeve in garish yellow, pink and green. Gilmore was the first person in the US to be executed after the death was reinstated in 1976 and he requested that his eyes be donated for use in two cornea transplants. (According to Dan Wieden, founder of ad agency Wieden+Kennedy, Gilmore’s last words as he faced the firing squad – “Let’s do it!” – were the inspiration for the famous Nike slogan, Just Do It.)
Chelsea’s rather bleak, urbanist sleeve for High Rise Living (Step Forward Records). Designed by a ‘Sandra Tiffl…’ (according to Mott the credit has been cut off the sleeve – if anyone can complete the ‘Tiffl…’ let us know). [It’s Sandra Tiffin – thanks to Russ in the comments].
Finally, here’s the cover of The Angelic Upstarts’ The Murder of Liddle Towers. Released in 1978 on Small Wonder and Rough Trade, it made use of the ‘ransom note’ lettering, a technique also used by Jamie Reid on his God Save the Queen cover for the Sex Pistols (and later on the Never Mind the Bollocks album). The song is about the amateur boxer, Liddle Towers, who died in police custody in 1976.
In addition to the exhibition of sixty sleeves a limited edition book, with an essay by Toby Mott and an exclusive 7″ vinyl record of the notorious Sex Pistols Bill Grundy interview, is also published (designed and printed by Ditto Press. Jubilee, 2012: Sixty Punk Singles is available exclusively from The Vinyl Factory Chelsea gallery and vfeditions.com.
More details on The Mott Collection at facebook.com/themottcollection. For details on The Vinyl Factory’s work, go to thevinylfactory.com. The site for their Chelsea gallery is at thevinylfactory.com/chelsea/.
CR for the iPad
Read in-depth features and analysis plus exclusive iPad-only content in the Creative Review iPad App. Longer, more in-depth features than we run on the blog, portfolios of great, full-screen images and hi-res video. If the blog is about news, comment and debate, the iPad is about inspiration, viewing and reading. As well as providing exclusive, iPad-only content, the app will also update with new content throughout each month. Try a free sample issue here
CR in Print
The May issue of Creative Review is the biggest in our 32-year history, with over 200 pages of great content. This speial double issue contains all the selected work for this year’s Annual, our juried showcase of the finest work of the past 12 months. In addition, the May issue contains features on the enduring appeal of John Berger’s Ways of Seeing, a fantastic interview with the irrepressible George Lois, Rick Poynor on the V&A’s British Design show, a preview of the controversial new Stedelijk Museum identity and a report from Flatstock, the US gig poster festival. Plus, in Monograph this month, TwoPoints.net show our subcribers around the pick of Barcelona’s creative scene.