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The Clash: Rare Sketches For CLASH 2nd Songbook

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ketch for songbook cover, 13 x 9″. Derek Boshier 1979 courtesy Flowers Gallery

ketch for songbook cover, 13 x 9″. Derek Boshier 1979 courtesy Flowers Gallery

 

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.

 

Drawing for songbook, 12 1/4 x 8 3/4″. Derek Boshier 1979 courtesy Flowers Gallery

Drawing for songbook, 12 1/4 x 8 3/4″. Derek Boshier 1979 courtesy Flowers Gallery

Boshier taught The Clash’s Joe Strummer on a foundation year course at London’s Central School of Art & Design in 1970-71.

Then 18-year-old John Mellor and styling himself “Woody” after his hero Woody Guthrie, the student admired Boshier (at that time a Troskyite); Boshier recalls liking Woody Mellor in return, and giving him and his classmates such appropriation exercises as replacing the stations on a London Underground map with images and names of their choice .

 

Drawing for songbook, 10 1/4 x 8″. Derek Boshier 1979 courtesy Flowers Gallery

Drawing for songbook, 10 1/4 x 8″. Derek Boshier 1979 courtesy Flowers Gallery

Drawing for songbook, 10 x 8 3/4″. Derek Boshier 1979 courtesy Flowers Gallery

Drawing for songbook, 10 x 8 3/4″. Derek Boshier 1979 courtesy Flowers Gallery

When Boshier next bumped into Strummer on a west London street in the autumn of 1978 The Clash had recently sacked their Situationist slogan-spouting manager Bernie Rhodes. He had been replaced by Caroline Coon, the journalist and founder of drugs charity Release who had also studied under Boshier, at Central in the 60s.

Boshier was promptly tasked with producing a songbook as a companion to the release of the group’s second long-player, Give ‘Em Enough Rope (for which Coon had designed the poster Global Revolution).

 

Drawing for songbook, 12 1/4 x 8 3/4″. Derek Boshier 1979 courtesy Flowers Gallery

Drawing for songbook, 12 1/4 x 8 3/4″. Derek Boshier 1979 courtesy Flowers Gallery

Drawing for songbook, 13 x 8 1/2″. Derek Boshier 1979 courtesy Flowers Gallery

Drawing for songbook, 13 x 8 1/2″. Derek Boshier 1979 courtesy Flowers Gallery

With spiky lettering and harsh graphics, Boshier’s 60-page paperback in 12” x 9” format proved as visually startling as the aural aggression communicated by The Clash in concert and on record and as impactful as the designs produced by Punk’s leading graphic designers, including Jamie Reid’s work for the Sex Pistols, Linder and Malcolm Garrett’s for Buzzcocks and Barney Bubbles for The Damned.

 

Drawing for songbook,12 x 8 1/4″. Derek Boshier 1979 courtesy Flowers Gallery

Drawing for songbook,12 x 8 1/4″. Derek Boshier 1979 courtesy Flowers Gallery

 

Finished artwork, front cover CLASH 2nd Songbook, 12 x 9″. Derek Boshier 1979 courtesy Flowers Gallery

Finished artwork, front cover CLASH 2nd Songbook, 12 x 9″. Derek Boshier 1979 courtesy Flowers Gallery

 

These sketches provide a keen insight into the artistic development of the project and demonstrate Boshier’s considerable powers of engagement with mass culture and in particular popular music, as he was soon to show again with his collaboration with David Bowie and Brian Duffy on the sleeve of Bowie’s 1979 album Lodger.

Visit Caroline Coon’s site here.

Derek Boshier: Rethink/Re-Entry is to be published in autumn 2015 by Thames & Hudson.