Programme 1 was to be the second release on Utility, the label launched by music business manager Peter Jenner (Ian Dury, Pink Floyd etc) through Charisma in 1983.
As detailed here, the album purporting to be a broadcast by London pirate radio station BPR was conceived and performed by Keith Allen with appearances by others including the late actor David Rappaport.
Barney Bubbles was on board as Utility’s in-house designer, handling the high-impact, low-cost Penguin Books-based identity and producing the cover of first release on the label, Billy Bragg’s debut Life’s A Riot With Spy Vs Spy.
//Left: Drafts for label design/Right: Label logo, both 1983.//
The BPR sleeve reached proof stage and the album was flagged in a news piece in The Face of June 1983, but the takeover of Charisma by Richard Branson’s Virgin derailed the Utility deal. Jenner subsequently returned to music management by signing Bragg to Andy McDonald’s indie Go! Discs (for whom Bubbles also designed).
The proof copy of the sleeve – which was published for the first time anywhere in Reasons To Be Cheerful – conveys how close the release came to being issued. On the back the text stated that distribution was to be handled by Phonogram, the major which worked with Charisma until the Virgin intervention.
The design was replete with engaging and elegantly executed details which struck chords when Bubbles’ own proof was displayed as part of the 2010 exhibition Process; graphics communications students at Chelsea College Of Art incorporated a couple of them when they staged their response to the show.
And Bubbles couldn’t resist adding one of his trademark deliberate mistakes to the BPR design; the decimal point is missing from the recommended low retail price.
Taken from this post:
From here to hear: Design for Keith Allen’s unreleased pirate radio station album