Sunday, 15 July 2018

12 x 12 - Big Gold Dream by Fire Engines

Washing Powder and Meat, Heston is that you?
This band are the epitome of a Cult band, only existing on short bursts of activity but leaving such an imprint. This was what turned out to be their last single, an attempt to follow up the success of Candyskin and it fell flat (or so the internet tells me) and the band broke up.

Although sounding nothing like their first LP, it's an impeccable single; Antithetic chords, rattling toms and funky. If this came on in a club people would be dancing and not give a monkeys who it was by, "The Fire Who...?" they'd say. The B-sides go back to a bit more of the sound we are used to hearing from the scratchy, up tempo percussive work outs that brought them to my ears the first time with tracks like "Get Up, Use Me" and their amazing cover of "(We Don't Need This) Fascist Groove Thing"

Like this hear the full story on the film Big Gold Dream, It's awesome

12 x 12 - Elepant Stone by The Stone Roses

Original pressing worth £13, My Version £3
Let's start with the positives and work backwards (much like Full Fathom Five, which we'll get too), the 7" version of this great track by The Roses produced by Hooky himself is amazing, Really like this gem since discovering it on an odd CD version of their debut I've got (maybe I can discuss another time?). The 12" mix has dated horribly with these really stiff drum machines opening it for reasons I don't understand, the guitars don't sound in time, a little washed out when layered over such a pounding drum machine and the main bit of the song sounds like a different band. Avoid.

Full Fathom Five, I assume is a test case for what would become a trick they use on Don't Stop on their S/T debut, doesn't stop it being awful and The Hardest Thing is the World is a really cool little track which is very much of the bands sound without being over dramatic.

Sunday, 8 July 2018

12 x 12 - Bedsitter by Soft Cell

99p from Cash Converters, Noice
Those who saw that it was a bedsit you were correct. in that it was a photo of one. Did it look like Marc Almond's that he wrote this song about probably in some capacity but I can't exactly get him on the blower and ask him. Bedsitter (Reached number #4) surpassed Tainted Love (their no #1 single) in the charts but not in the songwriting. Admittedly Marc didn't write Tainted love, but his take on the nightlife in this track is much more impressive. Dave Ball does an outstanding job on the instrumental too.

Always liked the 7inch version, the 12 inch does the drop out a few instruments and I'll spit some bars and bring it back into the chorus and it rather works well as it's not a rehash of any previous parts of the track, these are fresh lyrics. Facility Girls isn't much of a track, I suppose that's what the B-side was for but it goes on  long and doesn't really go anywhere.

Sunday, 1 July 2018

12 x 12 - Mini Series announcement

I've always wanted to be a music journalist. I love writing about design, honest, but if you said which one came first it'd be music. I used to watch a program called "freshly squeezed" on channel 4, an orange pun I assume, when my dad went out to work on a morning and it would play the newest music videos discovering The Ordinary Boys, Kaiser Chiefs and Bob Sinclar.

 This coupled with a friends obsession with Green Day, a regular viewer of the free music video channels and a music obsessed family; it was hard not to be unless of course I am missing the link in the chain where I discovered the works of Herbert Bayer at the age of 3 and forgot about them.

No orange puns, kinda sad now
Herbert Bayer's sweet layout

Why am I telling you this? Well I have a rarely visited section of my record shelf that I would like to explore. It's the 12" singles collection. Now their are masters of the 12" format and then their are some who sound like the 12" release was an after thought. Not naming names yet... that is for this mini series 12x12; 1 record and 12 lines of text to review it.

I mean clearly I bought the record so I am not going to think that it is terrible but I have made some bad buying decisions and this might show me up a little bit but hey ho. We are all music lovers here. 

Here is a teaser of the first single >

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

a Fruity Fruity day of music

Short Version >

The guys at work wanted to put together a festival.
So they put together a festival.
I did the poster.

Lunchtime read version >

Taking inspiration from Kate Moross, who is a personal fave since I got her book, Make Your Own Luck. I drew out the posters layout with pen and then scanned it in and this is when the fun began. Colours were cranked up to eleven and added. The drawing was centered. It was live traced so that it could be scaled and manipulated.

Progress being made, it was still looking a bit bare so was asked to supplement it with illustrations of some kind. I wanted a fruity version as that is what you make punch with and they wanted to appropriate an illustration they had already commissioned for a previous project. It was an illustration of Newcastle done for the Hit the North festival. So I did both to please both parties.

With the preference going against me, I coloured the illustration of Geordie town as the line up was being finalised (all band names were place holders beforehand) and it announced last Friday with early bird tickets as cheap as £3 to see 11 of the hottest North East music has to offer and were available on that day.

Below is the final artwork and the Punch logo >

This post is not available in a long read format.

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Good Type, Unknown Band: Part Two

Up and coming bands are often more unknown to my ears but it doesn't mean that you can't make a good poster. So here in a small series, I am gonna highlight some of these.

Wesley Gonzalez is another artist I know nothing about. I think he was in a band at some point and now he is not and is going his own way. Seems like a possibility to me.

Occasionally I get art direction from agents because there is a distinct lack of trust that we as the promoter will somehow tarnish the bands image. So I was supplied with this...

'please have all info in a box around this image using Helvetica font.'

so I took this direction to mean this...

I must of done something right because it got approved. Yes, I know it doesn't look original and the kerning is awful on 2017 (every font has trouble with this year). But it is nice. Clean, Clear and something a bit different.

Monday, 19 June 2017

Good Type, Unknown Band: Part One

Not all the bands that come through the SSD Concerts doors are that well known. I was asked this week if I'd ever listened to David Gray. A co worker defended me by saying I listen to Post punk not pop singer songwriters from the nineties. Thanks Dom.

On a lower scale, up and coming bands are often more unknown to my ears but it doesn't mean that you can't make a good poster. So here in a small series, I am gonna highlight some of these.

Wedding are a band I don't know anything about. When it was added to the system we all thought that it was a wedding, that someone was actually going to get married. But one day when it had to be announced a press photo was put my way. It looked like the Velvets.

Not provided with a logo, I chose to use one font. Univers. This is an amazingly varied typeface and makes for a dynamic type layout.

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

and the name of the band was The Jackals

The Libertines broke up. Carl formed Dirty Pretty Things. The Libertines Reformed. The Libertines Broke up, Carl Barat did a solo album. The Libertines Reformed but not before Carl Barat formed The Jackals made up of ordinary musicans via auditions. Great story James, what's next I hear you cry?

Well when it was first confirmed that the good ship Barat and his merry Jackals were coming to Newcastle. I did one of my 'unique posters' as I call them in the office, as they are free from the control of press photos or nonsense rubbish like that. I am sure they are there for a reason agents etc but they do not make very good posters do they. (see all of the posters I am not sharing with you this month.

So James, instead of doing the very creative thing of going what does a Jackal mean? what could I symbolise to represent a Jackals? I just took the step of taking an image of one and making it front and centre. bam!

What are some eye catching colours, yellow and pink great. Fonts? Nah, I'll just scribble on it with my macs track pad.

Process over! present poster!

In the Mood for Ska

Few bands assume legendary status without deserving it. The Skatalites are one of those bands. Legends of the music they pioneered. Not always the centre of attention themselves, they would be the backing band for many heavyweights of the Jamaican music scene, accompanying Delroy Wilson, Desmond Dekker and Laurel Aitken.

None of the founding members are alive today but the music still lives on under The Skatalites banner. Probably most well known for their Guns of Navarone track which to this day has all of us dancing our socks off.


I present my poster for this band. Taking a modern press photo and mocking it up to look like a vintage show poster with scuff marks and everything. The colours are bright to drawn the eye and because they are symbolic of genre. One of the few chances, I have had to bring a style to a poster but it works.

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

The Name of the band was LVL UP

It's hard when your visual pun is this good and the agent doesn't like it. It really hurts my soul.

This literally took me ten minutes to knock up and got knocked back three times by the agent.

This is one of my favourite posters, that never was. I guess it will sit the the James Reay gig poster archive which is available here. Depending on which, computer, browser or what not depends how broken it looks.

Will be updated soon. 

Monday, 5 June 2017

Power in the Darkness

Tom Robinson is a man I greatly admire. Throughout his career in music, he has given the world some great tunes and given the chance to younger musicians. He has been political and outspoken on mental health, sexuality and racism. So it gave me great pleasure to do a gig poster for him when he came to Newcastle. Adding pressure was the fact he is touring for the 40 year anniversary of 2-4-6-8 Motorway and doing a benefit for Motor Neurone disease, this had to cool.

The Power in the Darkness fist was supplied and I made it looks like he is standing as the power in the darkness as I cut round the image of him. I supplemented this with some simple typography, not one to over complicate it or use an inappropriate typeface. I tried several ways of showing that it was a benefit show but the one me and the boss liked was the little banner on the bottom with the supplied charity logo.

Tom if you are reading, I hope you like it. Plus I am a huge fan and my dad saw you play the City Hall, Newcastle and you came on to play Waiting for the Man as the roadies were clearing away the gear.

Sunday, 4 June 2017

My Hip Hop font

Now I know what you are thinking, how does that work. I have tried it on a number of gig posters for the hip hop genre and it works everytime. Before my unannounced break from blogging I showed y'all my KRS One Poster which used the font Compacta, a tall bold sans serif. Now it is the font I use for hip hop posters.

The latest poster to feature it is Pharoahe Monch. It just seems to make. There is no great trickery to this, just a colour corrected image but the typography just makes it stand out. The weight variations in it too stack really well and form a solid type brick.