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!"