Monday, December 31, 2007

Logo #141: Black Flag

Created for Black Flag by Raymond Pettibon (born Raymond Ginn on June 16, 1957) in 1978. It's free and it's completely its own being at this point - and, like the man said, black is beautiful, baby. Not to confused with "Hoisting the Black Flag," but the spirit is essentially the same. Which is to say: livid and vivid.

That this year in music was singularly beige and whelming is like saying that a transvestite has "a little bit extra." The round-up for ought-7: the government in the former Soviet satellite of Georgia assaults the leftists with sonic weaponry, the Japanese build roads that make music as you drive on them and what does the inscrutable West offer? The circus-act-on-a-runaway-train that is Amy Winehouse, the marching band stylings of Arcade Fire, and the Mayberry Machiavellis of a music industry who make clueless housewives from Getmethefuckouttahere IA pay $9000 per stolen and contaminated song. That buys a lot of Juice Newton records. High points: the endlessly beautiful talent of Mr. James Franks and his German disco hit "Screwing You on the Beach at Night"; getting an e-mail from Karlheinz Stockhausen; being hailed by VICE Magazine as "the world's most foremost expert on experimental, conceptual, and all-around-obscure weirdo-art- noise music"; Norman Mailer smiled at me; continued exposure to random cats that always turn out to be greebles / tufted twice-mice / saintly bonks (circle one or more); apples continue to fear me; fresh milk in glass bottles with cream at the opening. Low points: being cast out of Paradise after my previously perfect girlfriend fell off a cliff and died on impact. Sort of.

And so we raise a similar flag in hopes of a better year in 2008 - because 2007 was so deeply and satanically wretched in many aspects that, well, it can always be worse.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Logo #140: Guana Batz

Pip Hancox from UK psychobilly band Guana Batz: "Our logo was designed by a female follower of the band named Pepper in about 1983. I don't think we appreciated at the time how good it was, but it still always outsells any other t-shirt design we produce. I don't even think Pepper was her real first name, but that's all I knew her by. Cute girl, though!" Pepper, what moves you today! If you're wondering why the name "Guanabatz" wasn't excised, just think of it as guano that the bat has so artfully left behind before flying away. A fairly extensive history of the band can be found here; most of the members of the band have decamped for San Diego and occasionally collaborate with members of Stray Cats as Guana Cats(!). Here they are now, performing "Night Watch," their signature yelping taking them places more vividly than any echolocation could.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Logo #139: A Certain Ratio

A Certain Ratio's logo was designed by Peter Saville and Tony Wilson in 1979 ($5 and a tip of the hat to Martin Moscrop for that). This image comes courtesy of the infinitely entertaining site maintained by the people behind the Better Badges (begun by staunch old hippie Joly MacFie) house of DIY design and commerce; many of the punk band pins which you or your grand-dad likely have on your jackets or in your jewelry cases right now. A Certain Ratio promise a new album in the coming year; it's almost been thirty years since their "All Night Party" 7" (Factory), which famously featured a photograph of the deceased, toilet-bound Lenny Bruce on its cover. "Forced Laugh" is a rather good track, as is "Do the Du." A Certain Ratio do urban paranoia like nobody's business; almost as well as most dub does, really. That they remain as "underrated" (and I'm sure there's a pound note thrown into a hat at ACR Central every time they read that word in the press) as they have for all this time is inversely proportionate to the sheer creative output they enjoy as they soldier ever-onwards.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Interstitial #3: Whitehouse

William Bennett of Edinburgh writes: "I know it fucks up the cute intro rather, but the Come Org. logo was designed in early '82 (subsequently retired along with the label in early '85). Also, to describe the logo (that was for example present on releases by SJ, MB and several others, also in Kata magazine, and on but a single Whitehouse LP) as a "Whitehouse logo" is definitely misleading ("inextricably linked" is a cop-out) - Whitehouse never had a "logo." Nevertheless, it's nice to have #100, so I thank you for that." - WBx

In other, more obvious plaudits, Fimoculous has bestowed upon this humble Internet pipe the honor of place #25 in their "Best Blogs of 2007 That You Maybe Aren't Reading" year-end round-up. Although, if you're reading this, maybe you just aren't reading more into it. Project early and often! If not for morbid and gnawing narcissism, I'd have never known about it to begin with, so thanks to Rex Sorgatz at Fimoculous for the gentle tug.

Logo #138: Corrosion of Conformity

Another dystopian masterpiece by Brian "Pushead Lamort" Schroeder for the North Carolina hardcore band's "Eye for an Eye" LP in 1983. How many of these bands' names, in the euphoric slur of an altered moment, become all one word, concert after concert, embrace after embrace? Coachformdy! That's what the people in the streets call COC (have they ever opened up for BÖC?) after almost a quarter-century. And yet, mired in the stultifying, tobacco-choked wilds of Raleigh, four guys in 1982 (cf. the evolution of Bad Brains a few states away that might as well have been galaxies apart) truly and sincerely wanted a corrosion of conformity. They wanted substantive change - to paraphrase Kafka: to use their music as "an ax to smash the frozen sea of the heart." What's the alternative? A mutated radioactive skull, that's what - and really, without the prehensile tongue to go with it, who wants to be that on a Saturday night? Incalculable are the number of jackets upon which this design have been emblazoned. More than there are stars in Heaven, probably.

Conversely, Belle and Sebastian's "Electronic Renaissance" is the Song of the Moment.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Logo #137: Bad Brains

Designed by David Lee "Dave Ratcage" Parsons - a.k.a. Mir - for the cover of Bad Brains' self-titled debut 1982 LP on ROIR, the concept of which was suggested by ROIR label boss Neil S. Cooper (June 15, 1930 - August 13, 2001). Crystallizing the feelings of a lot of people for whom wealth had yet to trickle down, it's a logo that these days could be seen at the very least as incitement to terror for those peace officers who haven't familiarized themselves with '80s hardcore punk rock apart from that one "CHiPS" episode. If you got hit with a sudden frisson of recognition on seeing this logo, you know way more about Bad Brains than do I. I never "got" reggae, although I do rather like that one reggae song where they talk about "Jah" and "rasta" and "Africa" and "ganja." Which song is that? In an ideal world, we would've had vastly more speed-reggae-dub offspring from Bad Brains' example but instead of course we got 311 and Sublime - speaking of which, am I really the only music critic who found the lyrics for Sublime's "Caress Me Down" to be vile and repellent on multiple levels?

"You hate me 'cause I got what you need / a pretty little daughter that we call Mexie / and if you wanna get beat physically / it will be over in a minute if you...when I kiss Mexie it makes me feel horny / 'cause I'm the type of lover with the sensitivity / when she kiss my neck and tickle me fancy / she give me the right kind of love on Sunday morning..."

Logo #136: Coheed and Cambria

This "keywork" was created by graphic designer Wes Abbot in 2004 for the American prog band's debut CD "The Second Stage Turbine Blade." There's also a comic book that reveals what you may have missed had you not been listening to the record as intently as theoretically you should have. A saga of the Universe in reverse, it's somewhat lost on us dinosaurs who still have wax cylinders and telephones and get our milk in bottles and have far less time to watch four hours of DVD extras than once we use to.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Logo #135: Bad Religion

Designed by Brett Gurewitz in 1980.

"SCROOGE: Bah, humbug, every body.
CHORUS: Good morning, Mr. Scrooge!
SCROOGE: Well, the meeting will come to order, if you please. Are all the advertising people represented here?
CHORUS: Everyone except Amalgamated Cheese!
SCROOGE: Well, if they're not here for the Christmas pitch, I can't help them find new ways of tying their product in to Christmas. That's why I'm chairman of this board! Let's hear it for me!
CHORUS: Hear, hear!
SCROOGE: All right, Abercrombie, what are your people up to?
ABERCROMBIE: Ahhh, same thing as every year. Fifty thousand billboards showing Santa Claus pausing to refresh himself with our product.
SCROOGE: Mmm-hmmm, well, I think the public has come to expect that and...
ABERCROMBIE: That's right. It's become tradition!
SCROOGE: You there, Crass, uhh, I suppose your company's running the usual magazine ads showing cartons of your cigarettes peeking out of the top of Santa's sack?
CRASS: Better than that! This year we have him smoking one.
SCROOGE: Um-hmmm...
CRASS: Yes. We've got Santa a little more rugged, too. Both sleeves rolled up and a tattoo on each arm. One of 'em says "Merry Christmas."
SCROOGE: What does the other one say?
CRASS: "Less tar"!
SCROOGE: Great stuff!
CRATCHIT: But Mr. Scrooge...
SCROOGE: What? Who are you?
CRATCHIT: Bob Cratchit, sir. I've got a little spice company over in East Orange, New Jersey. Do I have to tie my product in to Christmas?
SCROOGE: What do you mean?
CRATCHIT: Well, I was just going to send cards out showing the Three Wise Men following the Star of Bethlehem...
SCROOGE: I get it! And they're bearing your spices. Now that's perfect.
CRATCHIT: No, no... no product in it. I was just going to say, "Peace on Earth...Good Will Toward Men."
MAN: Well, that's a peculiar slogan!
SCROOGE: Old hat, Cratchit! That went out with button shoes! You're a businessman... Christmas is something to take advantage of!
SCROOGE: A red-and-green bandwagon to jump on!
SCROOGE: A sentimental shot-in-the-arm for sales! Listen!"

-Daws Butler and Stan Freberg, "Green Chri$tma$" (1958)

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Logo #134: Whitesnake

This Holist design, in which the sum is greater than the whole of its parts, was created by Jim Gibson in 1978. Whitesnake dropped the snake logo in favor of a vaguely Romanesque representation of their name that said absolutely nothing. At least with the Gibson logo, they could've branched out into the lucrative custom heavy metal pasta market that doesn't even exist yet. "Here I Go Again" is a rather snazzy track, if only because it reminds me of trying to beat Crazy Climber at the little arcade in an RV park in Pismo Beach in the '80s - come to think of it, this logo is dedicated to the poor guy who got fired in 2002 for playing this song before a game at Comiskey Park in which Indians pitcher Chuck Finley got mad because he was getting a divorce from Tawny Kitaen at the time.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Logo #133: Con-Dom

Created by Mike Dando in 1983. Dando's noise assault unit Con-Dom has been active for almost 25 years, not so much pushing the envelope as destroying and utterly mutilating it. This logo depicts a stress position in which captives are placed so that their captors may better annihilate their wills; in his MTV/MySpace appearance on 4 December 2007, presidential candidate John McCain described this technique's use on him as a hostage of VietCong elements during 'Nam. From my review of the Con-Dom live action on 6 August 2005 in San Francisco at the San Francisco Bay Area Harsh Noise Fest: "Con-Dom employs two vocal microphones and projections of films of Martin Luther King Jr., KKK rallies and the civil rights struggle. He strips to the waist and smears white- and black-face over his body – then over the faces of aghast concert-goers. Confronting the audience directly with emotional trigger-words crawling along the more racial end of the spectrum, he's attacked by a petite girl who doesn’t want to take his shit. He keeps on going regardless, rampantly frottaging another girl as the shrieking feedback mounts and the hateful coda of NIGGER, NIGGER, NIGGER, NIGGER, NIGGER plays on in a loop. Regrettably, sound problems preclude the nuances of what he has to say, and yet it must be remembered that Con-Dom = control-domination and all the mediation, ironically enough, thereat."

Friday, December 14, 2007

Logo #132: Queens of the Stone Age

This singularly beautiful, poetic logo for Queens of the Stone Age was designed by longtime Kyuss producer / engineer Patrick "Hutch" Hutchinson in 2002 and dates from the "Songs For the Deaf" double LP that was released in the U.S.

Logo #131: Sigue Sigue Sputnik

Sigue Sigue Sputnik's logo was created by an unknown terrorist and appropriated by lead singer Tony James in 1984. Neal "X" Whitmore: "The inspiration for the logo was Cellules Communistes Combattantes. They were a Belgian communist terrorist organisation from the early '80s. How could we not have been influenced by the beautiful, dangerous, stark imagery of their logo??? And we had the name Sigue Sigue Sputnik already...all that needed to be done was to change the letters...and deal with the reprisals!" The CCC even has a website. I should write and ask who designed the original logo. Can't be any worse than the time I wrote the founder of the SPK and asked him what's what.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Logo #130: The Young Gods

Chiseled in stone (so to speak) by Young Gods founder Franz Treichler in 1987.

Logo #129: Napalm Death

Nicholas Bullen, Napalm Death founder, bassist and vocalist: "I designed both the logo (with the 'stick' lettering featuring the 'inverted cross') and the symbol of the ND initials in the circle... Both were designed in early 1982 (around March) and featured in band leaflets and fanzine articles at that time (I have clippings and copies in my collection from that time that feature both the logo and the symbol)... The symbol was partly inspired by the symbols used by Crass (UK), Rondos (Holland) and The Ex (Holland)... By the way, this image is a "bootleg" image (probably made in the early 1990s) - it isn't the actual cover of the "Hatred Surge" demo cassette." Before Merzbow, the acid test of how "with-it" someone was meant mentioning Napalm Death and letting the (chocolate) chips fall where they may. Here's Napalm Death in 1987. Where were you in 1987? Bullen's latest band is Monium and is eminently worth a listen.

Also: the Napalm Death family tree. "The physician can bury his mistakes, but the architect can only advise his clients to plant vines." - Frank Lloyd Wright

Monday, December 10, 2007

Logo #128: Scissor Sisters

Designed by Scissor Sisters' guitarist Scott "Babydaddy" Hoffman in 2001. Hoffman: " was sort of the first couple of days (together as a band), and we decided to record music, and Jake {Shears} had the name on the tip of his tongue. He told it to me, and I made the logo the next day. It was sort of done and made sense. And then we performed." Elegant in its simplicity and faintly chortlesome in its double-entendre (the band is named for a particular sexual position not involving genital mutilation), it's a logo for a group who are, we are told, infinitely more popular in Europe than the United States - which is fine, because as with most artists who are prophets in their own time, the bread's better, the natives are more interesting and they have more money. Not that our nail salons and frozen yogurt stands aren't lovely - and there's Disneyland on both coasts now. It's happenin'!

Allegations surfaced online in 2008 as to the provenance of the Scissor Sisters' logo: "Actually, this logo is a rip-off of an Argentine cartoonist named Quino (who is adored by millions of Spanish-speaking folk outside of the U.S.). In the cartoon - circa 1978 - a group of censors are cutting film with furrowed brows. One of the censors looks mortified as he imagines his scissors with babe legs. The Scissor Sisters' logo is the drawing in the censor's thought bubble."

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Logo #127: Apoptygma Berzerk

More Norwegians, this time those of the up-tempo electro variety - this "crop circle" symbol, designed by Christian Bloom, Halvor Bodin and band founder/lead singer Stephan Groth in 1999, first appeared on the cover of the Apoptygma Berzerk album "Welcome to Earth" in 2000. "Shine On" is really a rather good track, with its references to Placebo, Nam June Paik and one of Iggy Pop's better songs, "The Endless Sea," as is their utterly brilliant cover of Kim Wilde's "Cambodia," which fits really well on a mixtape between New Order's "Love Vigilantes" and Paul Hardcastle's uplifting hit "19" (not to be confused with the single about Edgar Allan Poe's wife, "13").

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Logo #126: Turbonegro

Turbonegro's leather-daddy cap was (possibly) designed by founding rhythm guitarist Rune "Rebellion" Grønn in 1988 or so {he left the band in later October of this year}. The Management in Norway: "I managed to speak to Rune about this and it turns out that there is no interesting story about the logo - he can't even remember where/when it came from, but it was back in the '80s when they were pretty new..." How many of these logo designers' identities and stories will be lost to the sands of time? How can one know that seemingly minuscule effects of one's actions at the time will still be interesting and impactful decades later? And why is Asian Dub Foundation so deeply recalcitrant to tell me who designed their logo?

One option is to consider almost every gesture and action as something grandiloquent and worthwhile. For example, touring Norway in 2001, I was the first person in recorded history to introduce the throwing of shoes tied by their laces over telephone wires to the city of Oslo. Now it's a pointless, hilarious practice sweeping a puzzled and gorgeous nation. Oaks, acorns, etc.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Interstitial #2: Karlheinz Stockhausen

I got an e-mail from him once, concerning a piece he gave to the Sonic Arts Network compilation titled "Otherness" that I curated earlier this year. He died at home on December 5 - peacefully, we are led to hope. He was 79. He had no logo. He didn't need one. He was mystical and angered people with new music. He was deathlessly brilliant. He was Stockhausen. It makes me very sad that now he's "ascended with joy through Heaven's door in order to continue to compose in Paradise with cosmic pulses in eternal harmony." No! Stay here! Make things better here! Shane! Come back!

Logo #125: Biohazard

Biohazard's logo, originally proposed by Charles Baldwin in 1966, was borrowed by Ed Repka in 1990. From a 2001 New York Times Magazine interview: "Every time I go into the doctor's office or the dentist's office or a hospital anywhere, I've always got my eye out for it. Naturally, I'm proud of the fact that I was able to come up with something, or direct a program that evolved into this symbol that's so widely recognized, so helpful. But I ran into a peculiar situation one time a couple years ago when someone was putting on a seminar on biohazards. As gifts for the participants, he devised a beautiful tie with little biohazard symbols all over it. This got me upset, and I sent him kind of a nasty letter saying this symbol was not designed to be used sartorially.'' More specifically, in a paper presented at the 6th Annual Technical Meeting of the American Association for Contamination Control, Washington, D.C., 18 May 1967: "Biohazards Symbol: Development of a Biological Hazards Warning Signal During investigations of biological control and containment conducted under contract for the National Cancer Institute, the need for such a symbol became apparent to the Dow biohazards research and development team, A search of the literature revealed that, while certain biological warning signs are used by various agencies, a universal symbol to warn of danger from infectious or potentially infectious agents - a symbol whose immediate significance is known to all - does not exist. Colleagues in the field of biological research concurred, in reply to direct query, that such a warning symbol is needed."

And here you thought you'd get a tattoo of it on your stomach because you get bad gas and that it looked cool.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Logo #124: Dio

Murray, Ronnie James Dio's mascot, was designed by Randy Berrett and Gene Hunter in 1983 to grace the cover of the "Holy Diver" LP. The "Dream Evil" tour souvenir book in 1987 published a more evocative account of his origin. Apparently he's the inspiration for most of Dio's recorded output! And here I thought it was all about chasing women. We reproduce it here in its entirety for your delectation now.

"Aeons and aeons ago, when the Earth was still young, there were two tribes who lived on the planet: giants, known as Malacovians, who ruled with much benevolence - and the Cyclops, a tribe of one-eyed monsters whose evil was a constant threat to the peace and contentment that existed.

Roncador was the head of the Malacovians, and his reign yielded a golden age, with his people feasting on an abundance of fruits and fresh spring waters, spending their days dancing, laughing, and singing in the magic of the forests and meadows. Meszrio, the leader of the Cyclops, wanted to rule the earth, so he prophesied to Roncador a lie that brought an abrupt end to the Malacovians' happiness. Meszrio told Roncador that he would die by the hands of a son.

As Meszrio had hoped, Roncador went completely mad when he heard this prophesy, and consequently had each of his male offspring brutally killed as soon as they were born. However, one escaped, Murralsee, thanks to the ruse of his mother. Murralsee was hidden in the Cave of Feneralia, ostensibly until he reached the age of maturity, whereupon he could be returned to what would be his birthright as head of the Malacovian tribe. Murralsee's mother was the only living soul who know of his existence and whereabouts, yet instilled in him a fear of his father so great he would never leave the confines of the cave. To further insure his safety and life, Murralsee's mother fed him a strong, magical sleeping potion made by the Fakreddin Faeries. Murralsee slept, completely oblivious for nearly a trillion years. When Murralsee awoke, he had no idea how long he had slept or of the changes that had occurred in the world. He did not know that Meszrio had indeed, taken evil possession of the Earth. He did not know of the ensuing decay and degeneration that held the descendants of the Malacovians trapped in misery. Nor did Murralsee know that his father, Roncador, had long been dead. Murralsee was also unaware of the horrible mutations that had taken place while his body grew from that of a young child as he slept. Where should have been a magnificent and beautiful (albeit giant) creature, was instead a frightful monster, disfigured apparently by the dank and stale environment of the cave. Murralsee's eyes had become an eerie blood-red color, and his skin tone had discolored.

Nevertheless, with a great sense of trepidation and an overwhelming hunger (and still ever-fearful of his father), Murralsee took his first steps outside of the Cave of Feneralia. This first venture out proved not to be an enjoyable experience whatsoever. When the now tiny creatures of Earth (called Human Beings) saw him, they screamed in horror. Over the years, further chance glimpses of Murralsee provided the same reactions, and legends were born of a great monster who inhabited the hills. And then, one day about five years ago, something special happened.

Ronnie James Dio was a singer in a rock'n'roll band who held a great fascination for the magical myths sprung from the Earth's past. On this particular day, he jumped into his car and set off in search of a myth or two. The sun was still high when he pulled the car off to the side of the road, and then began to walk deep into the forest. That's when he stumbled upon the gigantic creature, Murralsee. At first, Murralsee figured that this Human Being creature would run away in horror as all the others had done. But this one did not; in fact, Ronnie James Dio was the first Human Being creature who DIDN'T run away.

At first, their conversation was tentative. Murralsee wasn't actually used to talking, so he was a bit difficult for Ronnie to understand (Ronnie never did properly hear Murralsee's name, and to this day, calls him "Murray"). But Ronnie James Dio, the Human Being, singer in a rock'n'roll band, and Murralsee, the only living giant Malacovian, became friends. Ronnie James Dio frequently returned to the place deep in the forest where he would meet "Murray." During these visits, he would delight Ronnie with stories of what he remembered from when the Earth was young, and Ronnie would go home and write songs about them. As a tribute to his new friend, Ronnie asked if he could put "Murray" on the covers of his solo albums, and "Murray," quite flattered, agreed.

Since doing this, Ronnie has discovered that the Human Beings are still horrified by the sight of Murray. This is why he has just decided to tell the story of Murralsee/Murray and let people know just who and what he is. It hadn't been a very happy life for Murralsee here on Earth, out of his own time and space, until he met Ronnie. Since then, Ronnie has introduced Murray to hundreds of thousands of Ronnie's fans around the world, and Murray has become quite a celebrity himself. As Ronnie found out, even today, in 1987, the Earth still holds many magical surprises. It just goes to show you what interesting and different things you can find on the planet if you're not afraid to have an adventure."

Contrary to popular belief, "Rainbow In The Dark" is not about Rob Halford.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Logo #123: Throbbing Gristle

"The TG flash was Genesis' suggestion, based - he claims - on the "Warning! High Tension Cables" signs on electricity pylons. I was pissed off when it appeared he knew it was already used by Bowie for one if his "Ziggy Stardust" tours. If I had known I would have been against it. TG used the flash logo from before the first record - around 1975 when we started practicing at Martello Street. I would say it would be unfair and incorrect to credit it exclusively to Gen. It certainly wasn't his in the first place (see above) - TG as a group would be marginally better, as we all contributed to its wider use and all the variations that subsequently came along." - Peter "Sleazy" Christopherson

Monday, December 3, 2007

Logo #122: The Sugarcubes

Me Company designed this sperm motif for The Sugarcubes in 1992, starting with the "Hit" single from the Icelandic pop band's "Stick Around For Joy" LP. Björk herself was occasionally seen sporting a sperm necklace - so to speak! - throughout the '90s, until "Post" in 1995 at least. During the U.S. tour in support of this album, I was called a "mass-murderer" on two occasions because of the copious masses of flowers that I threw on stage in jubilant adulation of their incredibly enjoyable performances. Being a staunch Morrissey fan is not without interesting side effects: for about two years, going to live actions in the greater metropolitan Los Angeles area afforded me a wealth of opportunities to throw flowers at various bands. The surreality of sentimentality. John Flansburgh (the fat one) of They Might Be Giants was not best pleased at the gales of miniature carnations cascading around him during his performance; dispensing ultimately with the flower roadie, he upbraided me directly and was rewarded with an inadvertent bouquet to the nuts. On another occasion, Pete Shelley of Buzzcocks made much ceremony of placing flowers carefully on the edge of the drum riser. Ever the romantic, he! Transvision Vamp broke up after I hit the lovely Wendy James at an almost cosmologically precise moment: as she sang "I Need Your Love," on the word "love" my carnation hit her square in the mouth. Sorry, Wendy! I sometimes forget what great aim I have - I do in fact have really brilliant timing because during The Sugarcubes' live action at the Wiltern Theater in Los Angeles, I threw my entire lot of flowers on stage just when Björk sang "She's got a chain of flowers" during "Birthday." If anyone has a bootleg of that Wiltern action, I'd love to have a copy.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Logo #121: Cypress Hill

Designed by Dante Ariola and Mike Miller for Cypress Hill's 1991 Columbia Records debut. South Gate, home base for the hip-hop fusion band, also has a fairly active punk rock scene, centered around the remains of the Allen Theatre. Regardless! The Cypress Hill "joint" "I Ain't Goin' Out Like That" will see you through times that ordinarily may present themselves as humiliating, prideless and base. Yes, the lyrics are outwardly just about smokin' lotsa dope - with the shooting, and the killing, and the revenging - but just think of it as a metaphor. What's a metaphor? For making you think, of course.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Logo #120: Sodom

German thrash merchants Sodom had their mascot drawn for them by Johannes Beck in 1987. His name is Knarrenheinz. Founding vocalist / bassist Tom Angelripper originally began the band in 1982 to escape the grind of the coal mines of the West German city of Gelsenkirchen for a grind of another kind entirely. As the Cold War was in full frost at the time, the concept of the faceless, gas-masked soldier drifting through war-torn, apocalyptic landscapes doubtlessly made sense on multiple levels. It's a heavy metal mascot with context, relevance and personal investment - hampered slightly by the general overall peace of the '90s - but now invigorated through a whole new series of conflicts. Sodom's latest album, "The Final Sign of Evil," appeared in autumn of 2007. One of their recent visual memes, that of a chainsaw and chaingun aiming from the darkness from their self-titled 2006 SPV LP, produced by Eroc(!), the drummer from Kosmische(?!) band Grobschnitt(%), is very powerful indeed. Great stuff!

Whither goeth cover band Gomorrah?

Logo #119: Sisters of Mercy

Drawn by Henry Gray in 1858 for the "Gray's Anatomy" textbook of relevant medical matters. Appropriated by Andrew Eldritch in 1980. Sisters of Mercy have about six really and truly great songs. Former Sisters of Mercy bassist Patricia Morrison was Pat Bag of Los Angeles punk legends The Bags in a former life; she married Dave Vanian from The Damned and they had a little baby and lived happily ever after. Big money, no Whammies, etc. Sisters of Mercy haven't had a new album out in years, but that's inversely proportionate to the devotion with which fans have lavished upon them for almost three decades. Somewhat similarly, the arrows on the head on the logo are the direction in which the flesh can most easily be peeled away during removal from the body.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Logo #118: The Beat

1980 was a great year for logos: Bad Religion, Hüsker Dü, White Spirit, and so on. This lovely lady was drawn for The Beat by Hunt Emerson that year. Emerson: "You know the story about the old '60s photo I spotted in a newspaper of Prince Buster dancing with the Beat Girl. I don't know who she was - she was never identified by us. I wonder where she is now - probably fat with six kids... The Beat wanted a logo and I wanted to do something to rival Jerry Dammers' Walt Jabsco; I was so envious of that perfect bit of design and marketing. Well, the Beat got their logo, which is still very much recognised, but I don't think she was as good as The Specials...but of course, not many were as good as the Specials, were they?" Dave Wakeling of The Beat, speaking to Positive Energy of Madness, remarks on the trouble with skinheads, "That’s why The Beat invented the Beat Girl. When we used to see a lot of the skinhead fights, I said it is because the Two-Tone Man hasn’t got no one to show off to other than his skinhead's mates. You know what it is like, when you’ve got a room full of blokes showing off to each other, you end up with a broken nose contest. But if you’ve got a nice-looking girl in the room, you’ll be so busy showing off to the girl, you won’t have time to break each other’s noses. Within 3 months of inventing The Beat Girl, we got loads of girls in Beat Girl costumes at our gigs. With all the skinheads showing off like crazy to the girls, we hardly had any fights after that." Emerson's much wilder, slightly less Nobel Peace Prizeworthy work these days appears in the always entertaining pages of the terminally worthwhile Fortean Times.

Logo #117: Amebix

This stylized version of an Austin Osman Spare painting was appropriated by Amebix founder Rob "The Baron" Baron in 1983. Noted Osman Spare expert Robert Ansell: "The title of the picture is "The Vampires are Coming" and it was most probably item no.152 in Spare's exhibition at the White Bear Tavern in 1953. That show was not successful and the picture reappeared as item 132 in his final exhibition at the Archer Gallery in 1955. Spare usually worked through the summer for a winter show, so yes, I would suggest 1953 is the likely date it was produced. It is currently in the private collection of Kenneth and Steffi Grant."

Logo #116: Kraftwerk

Created in 1970 by Kraftwerk founder Ralf Hütter, the traffic cone appeared on "Kraftwerk 1," "Kraftwerk 2," and countless bootlegs. Well, you could probably count them if you really wanted to. Kraftwerk occupy a rare, precious space in global pop culture consciousness in terms of popularity, influence, legacy and singularity of vision. Frank Sinatra, The Sex Pistols, Beethoven, Neil Young and The Carter Family inhabit that same space - but beyond that, it's an extortionately short list. Speaking of which, Kraftwerk only speak of desire in "The Model"; practically everything else is an abstract. But they make such beautiful concrete abstract music that no one notices. And they're just really square German guys who ride bicycles and go to the discotheque and drink coffee and make incredibly soulful, relevant and human music that just gets better with age. Their recent "Elektrokardiogramm," performed on their recent series of tours, is gorgeous, ironic (the song ends in a visual flat-line), and downright funky. They're also hugely influential on the Literalist style of composition, but that may be because they're rather literal about the things they present (cf. the musique concrète stylings of "Autobahn"). The first time I saw them live, at the Palladium in Los Angeles in the late '90s, the line stretched double around the block. It was so crowded that when they did "The Man-Machine," this guy gently and rhythmically pushed people out of the way who were obstructing his view. That guy was Ernie Sabella, a noted character actor who played Leah Remini's dad on that episode of "Saved by the Bell" where Slater and Preppie and the rest of the gang went to summer camp. Kraftwerk! The great equalizer! I shall love them always; they make me happy and they make me cry and they are my spiritual and aesthetic godfathers.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Logo #115: MxPx

The cartoon punk kid mascot was drawn by John Nissen in 1994.

Logo #114: Dream Theater

Created for Dream Theater by Charlie Dominici in 1989.

Logo #113: Gogol Bordello

Created for Gogol Bordello's "Gypsy Punks" meme (the slingshot is the "y" in "Gypsy") by Cindy Heller in 2005.

Logo #112: Atari Teenage Riot

Nic Endo: "Alec Empire designed the logo with graphic designer Henni Hell in 1991 in Berlin. It morphed over the years. When it first appeared on the ATR DJ releases, it looked more like a mix between a socialist symbol and corporate design logo. This was Alec's concept: a left-wing political unit in the capitalist music industry. Later on, the logo changed into a more Asian-looking throwing star, which symbolized a weapon.

Carl Crack's birthday was on the 5th of May, 1971."

One of the better songs to come out of the DHR stable was Shizuo's cover of The Cramps' "New Kick."

Logo #111: Aphex Twin

Aphex Twin's logo was created, not by Dan Parkes as some sources assert, but by designer Paul "Terratag" Nicholson in 1992. Nicholson: "Dan Parkes was the illustrator of the artwork that appeared on the "Ventolin" release. A s far as I know, that is the only artwork that Dan created for Richard. A little piece of trivia about the logo: at the time I met Richard, I had being doing artwork for a San Francisco-based skatewear label called Anarachic Adjustment. Their 'thing' at the time had been the whole "alien" vibe (remember, we are talking 1991). So, I had been creating loads of designs based around the letter 'A' which got knocked back. Richard, having seen the work in progress, liked where I was going with the amorphic shape and from these I developed what is now the Aphex 'A.' The logo was finished early 1992, in time to appear on the "Xylem Tube" sleeve."

Monday, November 19, 2007

Logo #110: Black 47

Black 47's chained fist logo was designed by Larry Kirwan and Brian Mor in 1990. Mor: "I came up with the concept of the B47 logo and it was designed by Brian Mor who does a lot of murals in New York City. The idea was much like the Jewish slogan "Never Again. " The name of the band Black 47 (comes from) the greatest disaster in Irish history: the Great Hunger. The fist crashing through the chains is to symoblize that all peoples should refuse to accept injustice."

Logo #109: Sleep Chamber

The forwards-backwards E logo was created by Sleep Chamber frontman - and sometime railway conductor - John Zewizz in 1983. This particular design was around by the time of the 1990 cassette "Sweet Dreams Sweet," but possibly used some years earlier. For most of the '80s, Boston's Sleep Chamber were the public face of many types of phenomenon now labeled "alternative" and "primitive": piercings, transgressive sex, occult studies, BDSM and fetish manifestations and couture. And this is back when such things were essentially frightening and sincerely bizarre to the world at-large. Restless and incessantly ahead of their time, they're largely forgotten now despite dozens of releases and just as many band members. Paradoxically, their instrumental work has aged remarkably well while their more song-oriented work has rightfully languished in no small part because of the intensely hokey (albeit earnest) lyrics. Their CD "Symphony Sexualis" is in large part responsible for this blahg and everything surrounding my interest in interesting culture and I shall be forever fond of the big terror and creativity Sleep Chamber once wielded. Zewizz is currently incommunicado but reports circulate that he was seen at the PTV3 live action in Boston in mid-2007 and promises new Sleep Chamber material any minute now. Seriously. Any minute now. Just you wait. You'll see.

Somewhat relatedly, "Born With A Nervous Breakdown" by Phantom/Ghost is the Song of the Moment.

Logo #108: Kataklysm

This heavy demon was created for metal merchants Kataklysm by Anthony Clarkson in 2006.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Logo #107: Missing Foundation

Infinitely simpler than Eddie is this "the party's over" logo for the band Missing Foundation, created by Pete Missing. Missing: "I created the logo in 1982 when I was in a band called Drunk Driving . Then, in 1984, it was attached to Missing Foundation and the logo is on the 5 albums released on Restless." Missing currently runs a gallery in Hamburg called Nanometer.

Logo #106: Iron Maiden

#1 heavy metal mascot Eddie here was drawn by artist Derek Riggs in 1980.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Logo #105: Civil Death

Designed by Charles T. Coiner in 1939 as the emblem for the coming Civil Defense program, guitarist Zach Hitner borrowed it in 1981 for popular Tucson hardcore band Civil Death until their dissolution in 1984. A fortuitous year to dissolve, come to think of it. Vocalist Lenny "Mental" Mello: "It was first used on our early flyers. I also have the logo tattooed on me." Mello currently plays in Sophistifucks and spent some time in G.G. Allin's universe. Coiner, the art director of the N. W. Ayer advertising agency, also designed the National Recovery Administration’s blue eagle.

Logo #104: Pixies

Designed by Chris Bigg in 1991 for the "Alec Eiffel" single.

Logo #103: Clowns For Progress

"Theatrical punk" band Clowns For Progress had their emblem designed by frontman Deano Jones in 1997. Jones: "The "Clown Eye," as we called it, was actually the second installment of our logo. We had been using the simple words "Clowns for Progress" (I cut out the letters from the Village Voice myself) from around 1992. But when we changed the line up in 1997, I designed the Eye. I thought I was cleverly iconifying our clown face into a logo, but mostly got asked if it was an amplifier tube - although Jimmy Gestapo of Murphy's Law thought it was great that we used the "Lincoln hood ornament"!" Conceivably there could be a Clowns For Progress / Insane Clown Posse / The Adicts / Lower Class Brats package tour stuffed to bursting with all sorts of mirth and ribaldry. Conceivably.

An inconceivably long week with no logo writing, but this week my review of Orhan Pamuk's collected essays appears in the L.A. Weekly. Pamuk is the most widely read author in all of Turkey. What did you do this week?

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Logo #102: Battalion of Saints

San Diego punk rock band Battalion of Saints resident artist "Mad" Mark Rude appropriated this design by a currently unknown artist in 1982. Singer George Anthony, speaking in Flipside: "The original logo came from a religious comic book titled "Signs to Avoid." It had pentagrams and other symbols like that in it. Mark re-worked the sign into - like the B of S, the Bat. We like it. Basically, like Battalion is a band, and we're standing there (on the "Second Coming" EP) as skeletons and skulls and shit because if there was a war that's what we'd be: a pile of skeletons. You're not gonna have time to take a shit...but no horror business here, thank you."

Logo #101: Anti-Flag

Designed by John Yates in 2002.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Logo #100: Whitehouse

Designed by William Bennett and Steven Stapleton in 1980 - year of Channel 4, the Falklands War, the ascent of The Weather Channel and King Fahd (though not simultaneously), the slasher film joys of "Friday The 13th Part III in 3D," the premiere of "Knight Rider" and the deaths of The Amazing Criswell, Jack Webb, and Paul Lynde, found dead after a few days with the heart of an 80-year-old, generosity notwithstanding. This design comes from the insert of Whitehouse's 1982 "New Britain" LP. Mr. Bennett will be the first to tell you that this was in fact the logo for his record label Come Org. - but, as seen with the cover to Joy Division's "Unknown Pleasures" LP, sometimes the design transcends its original purpose and becomes inextricably linked with the public image of the band. Whitehouse are one of my favorite bands of all time, forever and ever. It's because of their inescapable sense of humor, really. "Thank Your Lucky Stars" is in reality a very funny song.

This is the hundredth logo in our survey of rock band logos. There are in fact over 900 more. That there are so many either means that I'm exceptionally thorough, or that I am exceedingly adept at scraping the top of various barrels hither and yon.

Here's a lovely and/or frightening Song of the Moment, "Gravity," for Natalie Portman for your delectation and entertainment while you wait for those other 900 logos to walk by in that proverbial pageant of life's riches.

Logo #99: Insane Clown Posse

Created by Joey "Shaggy 2 Dope" Ustler in 1992. Shaggy: "The Hatchetman was designed by me in 1992 when the era of the Carnival of Carnage started (the first of the six Jokers cards), We've had it ever since. The place I see it most is in Detroit because that's where it was first seen (that's where I and [Violent] J are from). It feels good to see how many people like us and everything. I (almost) can't even use any words to tell you how I feel, knowing how many people love us and our music. But we don't think of 'em as fans - to us, they're a family."

Logo #98: Fear Factory

Designed by Burton C. Bell in 1991.

Logo #97: Carpathian Forest

Designed by Eivind Kulde in 2002.

Logo #96: Bauhaus

Per Bauhaus bassist David J (Haskins, brother of drummer Kevin Haskins): "'Twas I who stole that logo (in 1978) & also came up with the name 'Bauhaus' which was shortened from the original 'Bauhaus 1919'.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Logo #95: Dire Straits

About this holist 1977 logo for the band, bassist John Illsley recalls, "The original red guitar logo came from the fact that Mark (Knopfler) was playing a red Strat at the time and we needed a logo, as you did in those days. The record company, Phonogram at that time, got someone in their in-house (art) department to make it happen. There were little red guitar badges being given away at the time to all and sundry - these were the idea of the band. God knows where they all ended up! I asked Mark about this and apparently the record company came up with a rather large-ish cardboard version which we thought could be improved by making them into a badge size (made) out of metal. So I suppose the original idea came from the record company - a rare thing these days!"

Monday, October 29, 2007

Logo #94: The Black Crowes

About his black crows created for The Black Crowes, designer Alan Forbes reveals, "They first showed up in 1989. It was the band's idea - also, my first commercial job. At the time, the band and I wanted to make them as dirty as possible, I guess in a "'70s rock excess" kinda way. I think in the end it worked out to be a real nice logo. I have continued to work on and off since then, working it in and out of various designs." You can buy a numbered silkscreen of this particular image (done for the band's two nights of live action in Philadelphia in 1999) here for a paltry $50.