portrait of this blog's author - by Stephen Blackman 2008

Saturday, March 31, 2018

because . . . . . 

  • Vicious
  • Lou Reed
  • Transformer

  • Satellite Of Love
  • Lou Reed
  • Transformer

  • New York Telephone Conversation
  • Lou Reed
  • Transformer

  • Goodnight Ladies
  • Lou Reed
  • Transformer

Produced by David Bowie and Mick Ronson

Lou Reed: Lead Vocals / Guitar
Mick Ronson: Lead Guitar
Klaus Voorman: Bass Guitar
John Halsey: Drums
Backing Vocals: The Thunderthighs:
                                                             Karen Friedman
                                                             Dari Lalou
                                                             Casey Synge

 Sgt Pepper's Lonely Heart's Club Band

On this day in music history: March 30, 1967 - The album cover photos for The Beatles’ “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” are staged and photographed in London. With the “concept of Sgt. Pepper” set, the next issue is what to put on the album cover. The main idea comes from Paul McCartney, who initially sketches some pictures of The Beatles in uniform receiving keys to the city by the mayor flanked by a group of famous people behind them. McCartney discusses his ideas with his friend, art dealer Robert Fraser who puts him in touch with graphic artist Peter Blake and photographer Michael Cooper. Once the wheels are set in motion, Blake gets right to work on the project. He asks the band what persons they would like to be in the collage behind them. They make their choices along with Blake. The bands roadies Mal Evans and Neil Aspinall go to various libraries around town and find prints of the various people in books, which Blake has blow ups made of, and then hand tints each one. A few of the subjects including Adolf Hitler and Mahatma Gandhi are not included in the final product. It will take Peter Blake and his wife Jann Haworth eight days to assemble the collage and other props for the actual photo shoot. The photo session takes place at Chelsea Manor Studios at 1-11 Flood Street in the Chelsea district of London. With The Beatles wearing their satin military styled band uniforms (designed by British theatrical costumers M. Berman, Ltd. of London), the photos for the cover, center spread and back cover are taken by photographer Michael Cooper. The cost of the staging and photo session comes to £3,000 (approximately $10,643.00 USD today), which in 1967 is considered an extravagant amount since EMI normally would budget album cover art at the time at around £50 (approx. $76.00). Upon its release, the album cover becomes an instant pop cultural icon, and among one of the most copied and parodied of all time. In 1968, Peter Blake and Jann Haworth win the Grammy Award for Best Album Cover Graphic Arts.

Jann Howarth
Peter Blake and Jann Howarth with a Jann sculpture
Artist Jann Howarth
Peter Blake and Jann Howarth working on Pepper cover figures
Pepper photo shoot with Mike Cooper

1. Sri Yukteswar (guru) 2. Aleister Crowley (occultist and author) 3. Mae West (actor) 4. Lenny Bruce (comedian) 5. Karlheinz Stockhausen (composer) 6. W.C. Fields (comedian) 7. Carl Jung (psychiatrist) 8. Edgar Allan Poe (author) 9. Fred Astaire (actor) 10. Richard Merkin (artist) 11. Alberto Vargas pin-up girl 12. Huntz Hall (actor) 13. Simon Rodia (artist) 14. Bob Dylan (musician) 15. Aubrey Beardsley (artist) 16. Sir Robert Peel (British statesman) 17. Aldous Huxley (author) 18. Dylan Thomas (poet) 19. Terry Southern (author) 20. Dion (pop singer) 21. Tony Curtis (actor) 22. Wallace Berman (artist) 23. Tommy Handley (comedian) 24. Marilyn Monroe (actor) 25. William S. Burroughs (author) 26. Mahavatar Babaji (yogi) 27. Stan Laurel (actor) 28. Richard Lindner (artist) 29. Oliver Hardy (actor) 30. Karl Marx (philosopher) 31. H.G. Wells (author) 32. Paramahansa Yogananda (guru) 33. Stuart Sutcliffe (original Beatle) 34. Anonymous 35. Max Müller ( philologist) 36. George Petty pin-up girl 37. Marlon Brando (actor) 38. Tom Mix (actor) 39. Oscar Wilde (author) 40. Tyrone Power (actor) 41. Larry Bell (artist) 42. Dr. David Livingstone (explorer) 43. Johnny Weissmuller (actor) 44. Stephen Crane (author) 45. Issy Bonn (comedian) 46. George Bernard Shaw (playwright) 47. H.C. Westermann (artist) 48. Albert Stubbins (footballer) 49. Lahiri Mahasaya (guru) 50. Lewis Carroll (author) 51. T.E. Lawrence (...of Arabia) 52. Sonny Liston (boxer) 53-56. The Beatles (wax figures) 57. Albert Einstein (physicist) 58. Bobby Breen (singer) 59. Marlene Dietrich (actor) 60. Diana Dors (actor) 61. Shirley Temple (actor)

Friday, March 30, 2018

Jonathan Olley, Golf Five Zero watchtower - British Army Watchtower (Borucki Sanger), Crossmaglen, South Armagh, Northern Ireland (1997) - did anyone ever see these? Don't think it was widely understood that such constructions were prevalent in Northern Ireland over here . . . subtle stuff

A military building forming part of the British Army's defensive strategy to control the landscape and people of Northern Ireland and known to the British army as 'Borucki Sanger', after Private James R Borucki, 19, 3 Para, was killed here by a 5lb remote controlled bomb left on a bicycle. 
Operation Rectify, the rebuilding of Crossmaglen security force base beginning in April 1994, involved the largest British air-mobile operation since D-Day. More than a thousand troops descended on the town, 1400 tonnes of building supplies were moved by the Royal Logistics Corps in huge vehicle convoys along secured routes; another 30 tonnes of equipment were moved by air. The work on the base was carried out by 180 Royal Engineers using 39 pieces of heavy plant, including seven cranes which were double crewed to enable the work to continue 24 hours a day. There were five IRA attacks within the 10 weeks it took to rebuild the base; on one occasion a sapper was injured by a mortar bomb but work was underway again within two hours.
Jonathan Olley's wonderful work Here…

Pablo Picasso - Portrait of Dora Maar

portrait of the real Dora Maar artist photographer and muse - Man Ray

A recent biographic programme on TV [Picasso's Last Stand- BBC] put me back in touch with the work and life of Picasso. Now Picasso is one of those figures in art that I tended to take for granted. A force of nature he is an undoubted master of his art. Towards the end of his  life he was listed as being extremely wealthy largely because of how many Picasso's he owned!! His legendary relationships with the opposite sex are a challenge but with much interview material with his biographer John Richardson (by then in his 90's) Picasso came over as extremely human, full of doubt at times and sudden flashes of lack of self confidence. Threatened at times by the Abstract Expressionism of America he began to falter in his style and fell ill. By the time he recovered he suddenly entered an Indian Summer of his production and went to his grave having produced more large scale works and in my view some of his best work. All phases of his life; the Rose period, the Blue period, the Cubist period etc etc all went to reaffirm what I had always know and always admired, he simply was 'PICASSO' the unique and masterful artist without peer or equal. 

Oh and for those smart-alecs who always claim the features are all in the wrong place and joke about Picasso's distorted views don't assume he couldn't draw.

Portrait of La Scala master of ballet, 1925, Pablo Picasso

perhaps my favourite Picasso - 'Guernica' - in response to the Spanish Civil War

rolling out the finished work

Richardson revealed an endearing detail which was that Pablo carried with him the news clipping of Van Gogh's death in his wallet. A lifelong admirer it would seem, one associates Picasso as beyond such things or rather singular in his ego driven status. Not someone perhaps given to admire the work of others. Nothing could be further from the truth. A deeply sensitive man sometimes vulnerable always loving and caring towards others but consumed by the desire to create.

Vincent - Self Portrait

Van Gogh - the last painting


Part II

  • You Know More Than I Know
  • John Cale
  • Fear

another favourite track and album bought when it came out

and from earlier on . . . . 

  • Big White Cloud
  • John Cale
  • Vintage Violence

  • Hello, There
  • John Cale
  • Vintage Violence (1970)

Wonderful little article reviewing the work of legendary Holgar Czukay (yes I came across him through Brian Eno . . . . oh wait actually through Eurythmics! for a guess French Horn solo! check it out!) 5 album retrospective 

sorry but how gorgeous is Annie here? Sexist observation of the day she is HOT!

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Raymond Roussel, Étoile cosmique
Roussel made this little memento 'Cosmic Star' after he had a lunch on July 29th, 1923 with the astronomer and writer, Camille Flammarion. He saved a curious little star-shaped cookie from the occasion which he encased in a silver pendant with glass. The piece was sold after his death in 1933 and discovered by chance by Georges Bataille at a flea market. Bataille gave it to his then-lover, Dora Maar artist and muse for Picasso and Bataille amongst others. Dora Maar kept it for the rest of her life.

It was due to sell at auction for between 10,000 -15,000 E but reached over 31,000 euros
Curiously not the best track on this 12" ep from John Cale here . . . . . . well not my favourite . . . . but it will do [I preferred 'Heda Gabbler' ] and yes bought when it came out in Sept 1977

This track was in response to guys in the band walking out on Cale when he 'defiled' (sic?) a chicken on stage! After leaving Island John Cale had a difficult period concerning his solo work. Between 1975 and 1979, he would release only one EP, called Animal Justice, our today's post, a rather provocating affair. With it's great cover sleeve, this EP featured 2 cult songs. The first is "Chicken Shit", based upon what is sometimes called the Croydon Chicken Incident (sees below), a live set during which Cale cut the head of a chicken with a meat cleaver* 

  • Chicken Shit
  • John Cale
  • Animal Justice

*Croydon incident

Written as a putdown for the band members who walked after the Croydon incident - with a meat cleaver and a chicken that was already dead.
Released on the Animal Justice EP, released in 1977. Also to be found on the reissue of the Sabotage/Live album. Cale's guitar player Ritchie Fliegler speaks the "Arthur" lines.

  • Guts
  • John Cale
  • Slow Dazzle

Simply I think I bought everything John Cale out out when it was released and have pretty much everything I think . . . . . Slow Dazzle was no exception

'Guts' was and remains a favourite song and is extraordinary in it's storytelling . . . . . . 'The twelve bore that stood in the corner, quite operatic in it's self disgust . . . "
"Blew him all over the living room floor like parrot shit . . . . . . . . 

  • Mercenaries (Ready For War)
  • John Cale
  • Sabotage/Live

So in terms of the Animal Justice tracks I bought them twice as they came with the re-issue of Sabotage/Live which I also bought when it came out and later on CD

This is a towering piece of work and favourite song it sums up everything I think about war then and now!