Tag Archives: album sleeve

February 14th 1973

*valentine* / “Got Bandstand – Family off of Martin S – It jumps as well – must be needle, gonna get a new one” / “carried on wiv jigsaw” / “went up nigs”

The word “valentine” was printed in the diary. I chose to highlight it by making it look as if it was exploding from the page.

Was this to somehow remind me? Crap, I wish I could remember. Did I send Angela a secret card? Did she send me one? Oh brain, why must you continue to taunt me this way!

I’ve already over-pontificated at some length about Family and my love for their compilation album “Old Songs, New Songs“.

Bandstand” – their sixth studio recording – is the only other album from the group that has really stayed with me in the interim 35 years. I think that was because – musically – it was something of a departure for them, being more mellow and mainstream than their prior releases.

The opening track was the hit single, Burlesque, which ranks as one my favourite Family tracks ever. It’s quite a standard rocker about drinking at a bar, but it cranks along at a marvelous pace and includes the fabulous lyric “Well, drinking and sinking, I’m feelin’ alright, right down to my snaky spat shoes

Burlesque reached Number 13 in the UK charts. An acoustic cut “My Friend the Sun” was chosen by the band’s record label as the follow-up single, but it (surprisingly) sunk without trace. A big shame. It’s a beautiful little ballad with Chapman’s usual sheep warble contained.

Coronation” became a fan favourite for years to come – and I can remember it was this track that skipped, as a result of what I was quickly suspecting was a duff needle. We always called it a needle in those days, even though the correct name was a stylus. In fact, years later when my Dad’s CD player started going wrong and he tried to fix it, he called the laser a “needle”.. much to my amusement.

Along with the contents, I was probably equally drawn to the LP because of its magnficent die cut sleeve which was shaped like a a vintage TV set. The photos below give a much better idea of how it was done than any description I could give.
 

It felt like something very special. Moreso than Alice Cooper’s paper knickers inside School’s Out or even the Rolling Stones’ infamous “Sticky Fingers” cover. 

Bandstand became one of the hundred or so vinyl albums I have kept and moved across the world with me! (So it must be special, right?)

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January 31st 1973

Pete lent me In Search of Space” / “Dun another Martin silly tape” / “Had an ‘aircut” / “Got Pictures at an Exhibition back from Dave”

There it is again – a reference to “a silly tape” for Martin. Whoever the hell Martin was. There’s obviously something ‘artistic’ going on, but nothing so memorable to….well, allow the 50-year-old me to bloomin’ well remember what I am banging on about!

However, the most important mention in this somewhat dysfunctional diary entry is the one that tells me that Pete loaned me Hawkwind’s ‘tour de force’ album “In Search of Space

I have spoken of Hawkwind in these diary corridors before, as well as as applauded their 1972 hit single “Silver Machine“.

“In Search of Space” was Hawkwind’s second album, first released in 1971. It contains just 6 tracks, fifteen minutes of side one swallowed up by the hypnotic rhythms and cosmic repetitiveness of “You Shouldn’t Do That” (fyi, link goes to vastly inferior live – and curtailed – version), where bass, drums and fuzzy guitar are punctured by sax breaks and Dave Brock mumbling “should do that, shouldn’t do that” over and over. I LOVE this cut so much that it almost overwhelms the rest of the album for me.

As if by complete contrast “You Know You’re Only Dreaming” has an almost traditional blues feel to it, albeit one with a psychedelic bent.

Side Two’s opener, “Master of the Universe” is a permanent fan favourite, representing for many the true sound of 70’s-era Hawkwind, starting off silently before slowly building to its mind-numbing dope-enhanced riff. (People always said that Hawkwind sounded much better if you were on drugs – really?)

We Took the Wrong Step Years Long Ago” is a so-so chugs-along acoustic effort, whilst “Adjust Me” sounds like the band are merely improvising a spacey electronic ‘nothing’ song that includes unnecessary chipmunk-style vocals.

Children of the Sun“, the album’s closer, builds to its climax and contains a riff that sounds suspiciously like a slowed-down version of T.Rex’s “Children of the Revolution” and you do have to wonder if Marc Bolan (consciously or unconsciously) co-opted it.

However – and I think this will become a repeated theme as this diary blog continues – it is the LP’s sleeve that drew me to the album as much as the contents.

The 12″ album cover offered a perfect canvas for artists and designers to flourish. Something that is almost impossible to achieve with CD sleeves (too small) and impossible with MP3 downloads. Us kids of the seventies used to pore over each and every element of the record sleeves, soaking up even the smallest printed details

“In Search of Space” was designed by the ‘infamous’ Barney Bubbles, a graphic designer (real name Colin Fulcher) who became – for many years – Hawkwind’s permanent ‘artistic collaborator’. Not only did he design the band’s album sleeves, he was also responsible for their logo, posters, stage sets, stage lighting and special effects.

Bubbles later went on to design iconic sleeves for the likes of The Damned, Elvis Costello, Carlene Carter & Ian Dury, as well as becoming a music video director (his finest moment being The Specials’ “Ghost Town“). He was also responsible for creating the logos for the NME and Strongbow Cider.

The world lost him -sadly to suicide – in 1983, but his influence over record art & design will stick around forever. There is a book of his work entitled “Reasons to be Cheerful” (itself an Ian Dury song title) for anyone interested in this art form.

For “In Search of Space” he produced a striking die-cut interlocking fold-out sleeve (inside, opened, shown on right) which contained not only the vinyl in a straightforward white inner sleeve but also a 24-page book entitled “The Hawkwind Log“, supposedly telling the story of the spacecraft “Hawkwind”, found abandoned at the South Pole. It’s a pamphlet style compilation of pictures, spacey quotes and sci-fi data, written by Bubbles in collaboration with Hawkwind’s ‘space poet’ Robert Calvert.

Here’s an example of the writings…. Space/time supply indicators near to zero. Our thoughts are losing depth, soon they will fold intro each other, into flatness, into nothing but surface. Our ship will fold like a cardboard file and the noises of our minds compress into a disc of shining black, spinning in eternity…..

OooooooKaaaaaay?

Good job I had a haircut today or someone may have mistaken me for a drug-fuelled hippy when I walked around mumbling “should do this, shouldn’t do that“!

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