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“Bring me your dented and bent out of shape”: Johnny Moped documentary is on the way

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//Johnny Moped, Dave Berk, Fred Berk, Slimy Toad, 1977. Photo: Chiswick Records//

In an age glutted by boil-in-the-bag popular music documentaries, I’m looking forward to Fred Burns’ Basically, Johnny Moped, about the unpredictable outsider who emerged via associations with The Damned and Chrissie Hynde during the post-punk period to strut and fret his hour upon the stage.

Moped and his band – Dave and Fred Berk and Slimy Toad – were out and about a lot in 1977 and 1978; I caught them a couple of times, once as part of a bigger bill at Camden Town’s Music Machine (now Koko) and another time in the West End (possibly The Marquee).

Their single Darling, Let’s Have Another Baby was (and remains 35 years later) a stand-out song of the period and Barney Bubbles’ artwork for that and other Moped releases and promotional material sealed the deal.

//Front cover 7in sleeve: Darling, Let's Have Another Baby/Something Else/It Really Digs, Chiswick Records, 1978. Design: Barney Bubbles//

//Back cover, design: Barney Bubbles//

Music business legend Jake Riviera memorably summed up their relationship in my Bubbles monograph Reasons To Be Cheerful: “”Barney loved Johnny Moped. It was a case of ‘Bring me your dented and bent out of shape’.”

//Front cover, 12in sleeve: Cycledelic, Chiswick Records, 1978. Design: Barney Bubbles//

“Breaking out of misogyny”. Artwork for music press advertisement, Barney Bubbles, 1978//

//Poster, 750mm x 500mm, Barney Bubbles, 1978//

Bubbles also directed two unreleased promo videos which captured the Mopeds’ peculiar presence; I screened these along with Bubbles promos for such songs as The Specials’ Ghost Town at my 2010 exhibition Process: The Working Practices Of Barney Bubbles.

Start of Barney Bubbles 1978 promo for Incendiary Device:

Bubbles’ footage appears in Basically, Johnny Moped, which is being screened for the first time at next week’s Sheffield Documentary Festival.

Burns – the son of The Damned bassist Captain Sensible (whose real name is Ray Burns) - was introduced to Moped by his father in 2009. “The legends of the band were hilarious,” says Burns. “I had just come out of film school and had a camera on me so captured some of the stories with the intention of making a short film some day. Here I am, four years later with a feature film on my hands.”

//Moped and pushchair, 1974. Photo: Dave Berk//

//Chiswick records press shot: Fred Berk, Slimy Toad, Dave Berk, Johnny Moped, 1977//

Contributors naturally include Sensible, as well as Hynde, Shane Magowan and artist/poet/performer Billy Childish.

Details of the film’s inclusion in Sheffield Doc/Fest here.

See more designs for Johnny Moped and read about the connection to thespian Simon Callow at the Barney Bubbles Blog here.

Buy signed copies of Reasons To Be Cheerful for £25 + postage – order with location here.

All together now: “Darling, let’s have another baby…”

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“Bring me your dented and bent out of shape”: Johnny Moped documentary is on the way

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