May 08

SHOWADDYWADDY – “Under The Moon Of Love”

FT + Popular146 comments • 8,029 views

#397, 4th December 1976

A recurring theme on recent Popular comments threads has been the idea that one track or another represents “why punk had to happen”: a feeling – easy, perhaps too easy, to identify in hindsight – that pop and rock had stagnated or slipped into irrelevance. The phrase is slightly weaselly – it suggests that bad or dull records somehow caused punk, whereas more likely they provided the background conditions for it to be embraced. Anyway, here’s another candidate, at Number One when the Sex Pistols were first nosing into the charts and when John Peel was publically embracing the new music.

Showaddywaddy’s rock and roll revivalism – covering obscure numbers like this and more fondly recalled classics – is bouncily riskless, a jolly dead end. It’s the culmination of a turn back to rock’n’roll that’s been gathering pace for most of the decade, from the half-remembered inspirations of Roxy and T Rex, through the muscular callbacks and pantomime references in glam, and ending up at Showaddywaddy’s honks and vamps and put-on voices.

But the problem is that punk is also born – in part – out of that opening up of rock’n’roll and the 1950s as a well to draw on: viewed through a particular lens the back-to-basics, DIY spirit in punk is skiffle run through the greaser aggression of the Teddy Boys and rockers. Showaddywaddy are as effective an alternative to progressive “bloat” or complexity as punk was – they just seem like a less honourable one.

Their alternative won in the end, though: making soundalikes for 20 year old (or older!) records isn’t disreputable any more, far from it. I’ve seen pop-loving comrades digging tracks this year by Duffy, Alphabeat, and Annie which keep the revivalist spirit burning bright. Turns out it’s a Showaddywaddy world after all.



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  1. 61
    Kat but logged out innit on 20 May 2008 #

    I cried when Daphne got run over by that car, but then was still alive and hung on long enough for Des to say goodbye…

  2. 62
    and everybody elses Mark G on 20 May 2008 #

    There were eight, now there are five, plus the brother of the guitarist out of Diesel Park West.

  3. 63
    Tim on 20 May 2008 #

    p^nk s at #5: “new hormones (and/or stiff)? when did they begin? the oldest one i own is — i am fairly sure– elton&kiki (which i imagine is my sister’s swallowed up in among all my records)”

    I clearly recall a Smash Hits feature, in the v early ’80s I suppose, which credited Chiswick and Stiff with introducing picture sleeves as standard (as opposed to being either v v limited or for EPs or something). And if Smash Hits said it, it must be true.

    The article started with a “once upon a time all record looked like THIS” and showed a picture of a 7″ single with a plain white sleeve. The single they chose was “Bright Eyes” and that annoyed small me because I knew full well that that had come out with a picture cover. It made me doubt the truth of the Stiff/Chiswick claim also, but I can’t think of a better candidate. It seems to me that Chiswick’s pic sleeves must have been fairly limited – I can’t immediately recall anything other than the die-cut standard label sleeve.

    I often think, while reading Popular, how much I’m looking forward to seeing sleeves I recognise (I hope imagemeister SteveM is planning to make the switch when that time comes).

  4. 64
    Erithian on 20 May 2008 #

    I got “I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday” in a fantastic gatefold sleeve with a cartoon of Roy Wood as Santa on his sleigh. I doubt that was the first either.

  5. 65
    a logged out p^nk s lord sukråt wötsit on 20 May 2008 #

    that’s how i have it filed in my head, tim — that big record companies with lots of cash to spare sometimes made “special edition” fancy releases, but that the pic-sleeve as we came to know it (by 1977) began as a rogue’s semi-scamster move — a borderline put-on, except with a lot of verve and wit, and this opened the eyes of a generation of just-out-of-tech young designers eager to pimp their wares and their talents and DELIGHTED at all this lovely SURFACE they were being PAID TO COVER hey presto fast product etc

  6. 66
    Tim on 20 May 2008 #

    “How can I make this Count Bishops single stand out from the rest in the shop?”


    “it’s not pressed in red so they buy The Lurkers instead”


    “our art is the entire package and we must take control of every aspect of what we do”.


    “they said we’d be artistically free when we signed the piece of paper” whine whine.

    Er um guess the absence of theory.

  7. 67
    a logged out p^nk s lord sukråt wötsit on 20 May 2008 #

    in particular i spose i’m pushing back a bit against wichita lineman’s contention that all the white sleeves were a lack of effort or energy: bcz i think it required a genuine leap of imagination to go conceptual on single sleeves when you were surrounded by the lame ugliness of a lot of rock gatefold sleeves — where the sleeve real-estate was all being exploited, but really REALLY not in a good way

    for the manchester school (haha economics gag right there) to realise turning yr single sleeve terrain into a billboard for designers who knw what semiotics meant… well, the weird thing is that the deour was via a clutch of delboy-esque geezers up to sell you ANYTHING (ok that’s a bit of a scandalous redux as regards some of the london pioneer indie-ists, who were idealists also, in their doggedly retro way — antiques barrowboys rather than mere rip-off merchants — but i STILL think the jump that wichita is dissing the music industry for not making was not an obvious jump; in fact, it was a very strange and unexpected one, right over the head of bad hippy art into the world of smart promo-design) (and RIP barney bubbles who was great on both sides of the divide)

  8. 68
    a logged out p^nk s lord sukråt wötsit on 20 May 2008 #

    artistic control was the problem of course: that’s why a lot of the “hippy” sleeves were so horrible, the bands had gained too MUCH creative input!

    (exception that proves the rule: gong)

  9. 69
    SteveM on 20 May 2008 #

    Tim re 63
    I’ve mainly just used ChartStats and RateYourMusic sites for grabbing pics of sleeves recently. In cases where there’s more than one to choose from I go for the ‘most interesting’ or ‘most attractive’ one imo.

    It’s interesting how so many of them are later-issue sleeves (the ‘#1 hit in England’ obv a big giveaway here). I can only hope that the sites the images are sourced from do feature the original sleeves for #1 hits from hereon as 1976 seems to be the year that original 12″ pressings for singles started to really take off (feel free to school me here, it’s not something I’d thought about much prior to this point).

    For any entry (past or future) if anyone wants to post or submit the original UK release artwork for any single please feel free.

  10. 70
    LondonLee on 20 May 2008 #

    Well punk rock gave you “punk” sleeve design: forward-thinking in attitude but often backward-looking for inspiration (eg: Malcolm Garrett and Peter Saville plundering revolutionary 20th century art and design styles like Constructivism and Bauhaus)

  11. 71
    SteveM on 20 May 2008 #

    Not that we’ll be seeing much of that on Popular sadly. If ’77 can be the year that single sleeve art starts to be taken seriously, I wonder if there’s a cut off point for that (what with downloads etc. altho yes indie 7″s still sell alongside pushed-back-underground dance 12″s) and in a 25 year period there’s any agreement to be had over the best (however you define it!) sleeves.

  12. 72
    a logged out p^nk s lord sukråt wötsit on 20 May 2008 #

    garrett and saville is who i wz cheekily callin the “manchester school” — and actually i think the plunder charge is a wee bit unfair to garrett isn’t it? (not so much for saville): i never saw the buzzcocks sleeves as backward-looking (possibly bcz i consider linder a way better collagiste than john heartfield haha urk)

    but yes, there’s a REAL thin line here between barrowboy ethics and radical modernist art — posterchild m.mclaren and his trousers shop — that’s absolutely the most fascinating thing about the sea-change now on us

  13. 73
    SteveM on 20 May 2008 #

    scanning ahead (using ChartStats website list), i don’t see any particularly novel sleeves coming up for another 3 years yet. most will follow the ‘get the promo photo, use 2-3 distinctive fonts and as many colours as you can get away with’ template. but i will endeavour to obtain original sleeves for our perusal.

    also according to ChartStats
    previous #1 single sleeves that the artist’s face or body does not appear on:

    Lee Marvin – Wandrin Star
    Matthews Southern Comfort – Woodstock
    Pipes And Drums And The Military Band Of The Royal Scots Dragoon Guard – Amazing Grace
    Lieutenant Pigeon – Mouldy Old Dough (missed a trick there or what)
    Suzi Quatro – Can The Can (ditto i guess)
    Peters And Lee – Welcome Home
    Slade – Merry Xmas Everybody (only Noddy’s hat makes the cut)
    Rubettes – Sugar Baby Love
    Ray Stevens – The Streak (altho artist does feature on Popular entry pic)
    Ken Boothe – Everything I Own (altho artist does feature on Popular entry pic)
    Chicago – If You Leave Me Now

    illustrated version of artist:
    Middle Of The Road – Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep

    still can’t find a cover for this one:
    Windsor Davies And Don Estelle – Whispering Grass

    but i’m quite sure variants exist which do feature their lovely/ugly mugs. in addition:

    Alvin Stardust – Jealous Mind

    *more cats on sleeves please – also note that the name Kitty Bonus is now copyright moi and i will be using it for a character in my next crime novella

  14. 74
    a logged out p^nk s lord sukråt wötsit on 20 May 2008 #

    steve you should pitch more often in with your considered designer’s-hat-on opinion of the sleeves you post (and the ones you find but don’t post) (everyone else should too obv but steve is QUALIFIED to HAVE VISUAL OPINIONS) *opens can of worms and deliberately empties it into everyone’s nice chutney*

  15. 75
    LondonLee on 20 May 2008 #

    I’m a designer too but I have nothing interesting to say.

    Garrett’s work was heavily influenced by the likes of Rodchenko and El Lizzitsky, all those geometric shapes, angular type arrangements and bold colours.

  16. 76
    SteveM on 20 May 2008 #

    Lee that was interesting!

    one of my favourite sleeves so far (posted on Popular) has actually been ‘Love Me For A Reason’ just for the great (you might say ‘definitive’) photo direction/band outfits and only one white-coloured typeface (classic 70s poster style – v similar to the one Showaddywaddy is written in above but i’m not good enough to know the name). it avoided anything potentially naff by being so straight-forward (and indeed you may argue the naffness was catered for by the song itself, just do not speak ill of their attire).

    my enthusiasm for sleeve art really only goes so far as i found myself quite happy to consume music in it’s increasingly common ‘invisible data’ format at the start of this decade. but like many i would happily hang great sleeve art on my wall in those nice black frames you can get only i never get round to it and they ARE expensive…

    so others comments on sleeves as they become more and more “high-concept” or expressive beyond functional norms will be most welcome by me (and hopefully most regular readers) as i’m sure i could learn more from it.

  17. 77
    LondonLee on 20 May 2008 #

    Sadly I don’t think we’ll be bothered by any Saville, Garrett, or Neville Brody sleeves here, though there will be a Barney Bubbles coming up in a couple of years, say no more.

  18. 78
    Billy Smart on 20 May 2008 #

    We do get a Vaughan Oliver one in 1987, too…

  19. 79
    Billy Smart on 20 May 2008 #

    And Peter Blake in 1984!

  20. 80
    a logged out p^nk s lord sukråt wötsit on 20 May 2008 #

    yeah it was just the word “plunder” i was a bit taken aback by: where saville lifts stuff straight off other designs more or less unchanged and wholesale, so that “plunder” is perfectly fair, no one would ever mistake a garrett design FOR a rodchenko or a el lissitsky i don’t think (for one thing, he has a totally different colour sense than either of them) (i think i would argue MG has a fairly different sensibility and feel for visual dynamics generally, once you get beyond the “using simple geometries and lines” thing, ie that he used them importantly differently, hence noit really “plunder” at all — but the thing i’d be arguing would a bit hard to prove, as it kind of rests on MY sensibility and feel for visual dynamics)

  21. 81
    a logged out p^nk s lord sukråt wötsit on 20 May 2008 #

    ps and saying abt only steveM being qualified to comment on visuals really WAS a joke designed to annoy everyone, esp.as i am babblin on here w.no such qualification — tho i DO think there’s a stepping up of visual literacy on the part of everyone involved which is just beginning to make itself felt, so it would be fun to hear more about it

  22. 82
    SteveM on 20 May 2008 #

    sorry i read the ‘steveM being qualified to comment on visuals really WAS a joke’ bit of #81 and became too upset to read the rest ;_;)

    face value design crit is one thing but i’m v lacking in general GD history knowledge in terms of key individuals and movements but Lee, Billy and several others will cover us I’m sure.

  23. 83
    a logged out p^nk s lord sukråt wötsit on 20 May 2008 #

    i guess i’d like to ensure that “face value” and “how we’re taught the movements work” get to clash nicely! everyone ever is wrong about everything ever <— popular starting point

  24. 84
    wichita lineman on 20 May 2008 #

    p^nk, I was commenting on how 45s looked much better in company sleeves – Parlophone w/their Miners make-up ads, Decca and Deram’s stripes/swirrls – as opposed to plain white bags which I can remember creeping in when music got similarly sluggish and non-progressive in 75/76. Art didn’t come into it in a Linder sense, but true pop-art certainly did.

    Pic sleeves were always a rarity prior to ‘the new wave’. Don’t want to sound older or wiser but Davids Cassidy and Essex had pic sleeves, presumably because they were pretty. Going back further, there’s a UK p/s for Traffic’s Hole In My Shoe (1967), and singles on Ember, notably Miss X’s saucy government-baiting trifle in ’63.

    So… they didn’t become standard til Stiff/New Hormones (can’t include Chiswick much as I’d like to cos they were such nice people). And no one here has yet explained why/how labels decided to issue pic sleeves prior to December ’76.

  25. 85
    wichita lineman on 20 May 2008 #

    SteveM, not sure how UK-biased we’re being. But seeing as it’s a UK no.1 thread, virtually none of the records prior to ’77 or even ’78 came in art/picture sleeves in this country. Almost always did in Europe, but not over here. Is yr list based on previous Popular postings?

  26. 86
    SteveM on 20 May 2008 #

    Oh thanks for clarifying that WL, I had no real idea. My list was based on the Chart Stats website #1 list which is presumably all European issues/re-issues up to a certain point (I’m not sure where). Still, the ‘Top hit in England!’ and it’s subtext (‘and they know their pop, for sure!’?) seems to be deemed endearing enough to make their inclusion worthwhile.

  27. 87
    Snif on 21 May 2008 #

    Speaking of Barney Bubbles, there’s a book covering his work coming out around October/November.

  28. 88
    Chris Brown on 21 May 2008 #

    Apparently the only original Beatles singles to have picture sleeves in the UK were ‘Strawberry Fields/Penny Lane’ and ‘Let It Be’ neither of which crop up here. Coincidence, or something more sinister?
    They all reappeared in 1976, due to the expiry of their record contract, and were then re-released again in picture sleeves on their twentieth anniversaries.
    Oh, and that ‘Merry Xmas Everybody’ sleeve I think is from 2006, although I don’t know wht the previous ones looked like.

  29. 89
    LondonLee on 21 May 2008 #

    Re: #87

    About bloody time!

    Is that really true about The Beatles sleeves? So all the nice picture sleeves from the 60s (and The Stones, Kinks, Small Faces) were either European or American?

  30. 90
    rosie on 21 May 2008 #

    I’d never seen picture sleeves, apart from EPs which had always had picture sleeves, until I went to France in 1968 and discovered that there they were the norm.

    I don’t have them any more to confirm but I’m pretty sure my Strawberry Fields/Penny Lane was in the standard forest-green Parlophone paper sleeve; my Stones singles (including Paint It Black, without a comma I swear) in orange-with-white-wiggly-stripes Decca sleeves; Kinks in magenta-and-white Pye uniform; and so on.

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