While interrogating materials for Rethink/Re-Entry – the monograph of artist Derek Boshier I am editing – I’ve come across many delights, including these sketches in the Flowers Gallery archive for one of the most visually striking documents of the post-punk era, CLASH 2nd Songbook.
Artist Derek Boshier’s practice is marked by his engagement with contemporary culture; this has been a consistent aspect of his work since the earliest days of the British Pop movement.
When popular music has invigorated the wider world, Boshier has been present, incorporating Buddy Holly into his painting I Wonder What My Heroes Think Of The Space Race? in Ken Russell’s defining 1962 Monitor piece Pop Goes The Easel, and providing one of the most vivid visual documents of the punk and post-punk era, Clash 2nd Songbook.
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This portrait of David Bowie was taken by Kate Simon at Olympic recording studios in Barnes, west London, on January 14, 1974.
Simon’s photograph captures a man on the cusp; furiously occupied in the studio, Bowie was tying up loose ends ahead of his departure for America 10 weeks later. He hasn’t lived in Britain since.
Three days before this was taken, Bowie’s production job on Lulu’s version of The Man Who Sold The World was released as a single. Applying himself to finishing Diamond Dogs, Bowie also recorded such eventually unreleased tracks as Take It Right (to become Right, a “plastic soul” anthem on Young Americans) and a try-out of Bruce Springsteen’s Growin’ Up.
Sessions with vocal trio The Astronettes – including paramour Ava Cherry – had proved inconclusive, though an olive branch recently extended to erstwhile producer Tony Visconti soon bore fruit in the form of renewed collaboration.
A month after the shot was taken, Rebel Rebel was released ahead of the marathon US touring schedule over 1974/5 which marked the severing of business relations with Tony Defries and the faltering of his marriage to Angie.
I wanted to talk to Simon about the stories behind this image and others which deliver an emotional charge yet retain the reportage stance of the cool documentarist.