Subtitled "50 Years of Rock Posters, Flyers and Handbills", "The Art of British Rock" by Mike Evans with Paul Palmer-Edwards is a new book, published on September 23rd 2010 by Frances Lincoln, that will be a fascinating read for Pink Floyd fans, music fans as a whole, and those interested in contemporary art alike.
From the temptingly tactile cover, through to the multitude of rare, evocative images promoting concerts and albums over the years, this book will be pored over by keen musical historians.
Prefaced with a passage by Evans which puts posters, flyers and handbills into a historical perspective, the book explains how they arose, developed, and how the rise of the concert as the current "moneyspinner" for most musical acts over and above album or single sales has seen a return to the thoughtful, eye catching designs which were in danger of dying out.
Split broadly chronologically, the book proper kicks off with the rock'n'roll era. Early exampes are dull, stretching to just two colours and plain type, but by the time the Beatles were headlining, early advances in offset-litho printing were starting to appear, with many more colours and even photos of the various acts. Things would never be the same again...
The early posters almost uniformly display astounding multi-act line-ups, in small venues with corresponding ticket prices - when you see The Rolling Stones as third at the bill at the Bournemouth Gaumont, performing two shows (a matinee, and a 'proper' evening slot), it makes you stop and think.
The rise of the UK beat and R&B boom of the early to mid 1960s saw a dramatic rise in small clubs and venues, all vying for custom, and starting to see the value of really eye-catching posters. Many of these, from the examples in Evans' book, seem to focus on experimenting with fonts and colours.
The turning point seemed to be early 1967 when the posters changed quite dramatically, courtesy of the rise of so-called psychedelic acts and the associated "trippy" artworks. It's at this transitional stage we start to see some good examples of early Pink Floyd posters, including the incredible bill at May 67's "Barbeque 67" which saw them on the same bill as Jimi Hendrix, Cream, Geno Washington and The Move - all for £1!
The psychedelic "explosion" (as Evans has it) was responsible for some of the most detailed and colourful posters, not bettered to this day, and Evans has some wonderful, and extensive examples, from the likes of Hapshash & The Coloured Coat, and Martin Sharp, who worked extensively for Oz Magazine.
Within this section, there's a special part looking exclusively at Hipgnosis, and specifically at their output for the Floyd. Roger Dean, best known for his extensive work for Yes, also gets special focus.
The punk and new wave era showcases some excellent examples of DIY artwork, taking things very much back to basics - but no less striking for that, and many of the ideas and concepts that came from those days has carried over to present day artwork in influence, and even homage.
The final major section looks at a wide spread of examples from mainstream pop and rock of the 1970s, through to present day examples, taking in dance and club music along the way.
We've often seen books focusing on one band, or one artist or design studio, so it is rare, and quite eye-opening, to have inclusive, widespread examples which give a proper sense of perspective and development to the arena of music poster design. This book will be enjoyed by a wide cross-section of music fan, and for the Floyd fan there should be enough specific content to prove of interest.
The book can now be ordered through the following special links to Amazon UK, Zavvi, and Play.com, saving up to 45% off the recommended retail price.