Friday, 3 June 2011

Music for Movement and Poetry for the Mind

Some great old BBC schools programme LPs came into Oxfam recently and have been put online (by me). For some reason, the photos have failed to make it onto the site, but you can see them here anyway (addendum - should now be ok). Apologies for my rather inexpert photographic skills. The Music, Movement and Mime cover was chosen as the favoured cover in The Wire magazine’s Inner Sleeve feature a few years ago by Julian House, who himself is a fine graphic designer and one of the masterminds behind the Ghost Box label (and also the man behind the music of the Focus Group). He has designed many of the Ghost Box covers, as well as having from the beginning provided sleeve designs for Broadcast. It has to be said, our copy seems to be in rather better condition than the one which Julian owns. The second side features some classic Radiophonic Workshop pieces by Delia Derbyshire and John Baker (not David Cain, as I wrote in my accompanying blurb, although to be fair, the mistake was on the cover). All of these also appear on the 'pink' Radiophonic Workshop album. Movement, Mime and Music’s hypnotic sleeve cover pulse of concentric circles within which the dancing children’s bodies are carried was the work of Roy Curtis-Bramwell, who also provides the cover for the Let’s Join In LP, which gathers songs, rhymes and stories traditional and new from 60s BBC schools broadcasts. My photograph of the cover catches the glare of the scorching sun which was blaring down outside the back of the Oxfam shop today, glancing off the yellow bands radiating out from the central BBC logo. Curtis-Bramwell was also the co-author, along with founder Desmond Briscoe, of the 1983 book The BBC Radiophonic Workshop: The First 25 Years, subtitled the Inside Story of Providing Sound and Music For Television and Radio 1958-1983. If you live down this way, you can ask the good folk at Exeter Central library to fetch it out of the Stack for you. The Toys and Techniques blog also has some extracts over here (in addition to more from the Play School LP I’ll get to in a sec). As mentioned in the Toys and Techniques post, you can find Johnny Trunk's Music and Movement page over here.

The other LPs are Poetry Corner (featuring the lilting Welsh tones of Nerys Hughes and the music of Jon Rollason) and Play School, both from 1971, and both featuring sleeves with distinctive graphic designs by Andrew Prewitt. Poetry Corner features a frozen oscilloscope pattern on a blue background, and Play School a bold red outline of the familiar house containing the title in a kind of tubular font which looks like it could be recreated by a skilful balloon folder, all laid over a cheerful orange background. The Play School LP features the peerless line-up of Cant, Chell, Ball, Silvo (the same singer who made a record with Sandy Denny) and others. Although regrettably, the beguilingly witchy Toni Arthur and the irrepresibly cheerful yet slightly mysterious Fred Harris just miss out by a year or so. There’s also a bit of background Radiophonics by Workshop maverick Malcolm Clarke (he provided the remarkably dissonant and strange sounds which permeated the Doctor Who story The Sea Devils) adding an extra dimension to the story Splodges. So, put on the music and movement record, take in the suggestions for individual or group work on the back cover (but don't feel you have to obey them - feel free to follow your own inspiration) and let's all pretend we're floating in space, evading oncoming asteroids with the aid of our jet packs. Or just grow into tree, branches swaying in the wind, leaves spiralling to the ground. This is a lesson for freeform expression - there are no limits to what you can be.


Keith Seatman said...

What a wonderful find. I would love to own them.
I am now in jealous overload. They all look so bloody good. Thanks so much for this post

Jez Winship said...

Yes, someone snapped them up pretty much immediately (not me, I hasten to add). I'll keep an eye out for any other goodies that come in and put them up. We have had some great folk LPs donated recently, including the BBC Folk On Friday LP from 1970, with Dave and Toni Arthur and Robin and Barry Dransfield and others, Bridget St John's Songs for the Gentle Man on John Peel's Dandelion Records, and the 4th volume of Ewan Macoll, Peggy Seeger and Charles Parker's Radio Ballads on Topic Records, The Big Hewer (Peggy seems to have signed this one, too). I should imagine that they will be headed for the shop floor, though.

Keith Seatman said...

I have now got The Oxfam online store in my favorites.
In fact have already found a Seekers album I have been after for a while, so will order that later.