Philip Castle's Airbrushed Retro-fitted 1950s

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1974 Dutch only collection of R ‘n’ R hits on the Arcade label, as seen on TV or ‘Van de Radio en TV-Reklame.’ Clearly an attempt to ride on the back of the American Graffiti phenomenon, which is more than a guess because lead track, side 2, Flash Cadillac’s ‘At The Hop’ is tagged as ‘Featured in the Universal Picture American Graffiti.’ The album’s pulling power is boosted by two commissioned Philip Castle illustrations placed on the inside and the outside of the gatefold.

The originals, unadorned with graphic and track information, are reproduced in his 1980 collection Airflow (Paper Tiger).

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Castle remains best known for the work he did on Kubrick’s Clockwork Orange publicity materials, where his clear affinity with the fetish pieces of Pop artist Allen Jones was put into play [here]. When he wasn’t taking adolescent delight in rendering phallic objects, jets and cars, threatening full penetration with a fifties styled pin-up airbrushed into a hard chrome sheen, he specialised in retro-fitting the decade’s icons, James Dean, Johnny Cash and Elvis, as man-machine conflations for the 1970s. The women, Monroe, Hayworth, Fawcett-Majors, Dolly Parton are offered to the male gaze as android fuck machines.

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Mott the Hoople’s essential 1972 collection of Island era recordings, Rock and Roll Queen, is wrapped in one Castle’s illustrations. The repeating mirror images of Monroe reducing Pop Art iconography to a set of fast-dry, hard, scratch-proof textures that reflects back only its own vacuous surface qualities.

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When the first UK paperback edition of Cohn’s Pop from the Beginning was being readied in 1970, Castle must have looked like the perfect choice to render the flash of the pop moment, five years later with the cover for George Tremlett’s cut n’ paste job, The Who, his work had become all formula.

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Gary Herman, 'The Who' (Studio Vista, 1971)

The first book to be published on the The Who, but one rarely referenced. The author had a column in Let It Rock where he wrote about technical things like microphones and PA systems. That side is lacking here, instead he uses an Eng. Lit. approach to pick apart the themes in Townshend’s songs, which is all so so. In what is essentially a long essay, the best element by far is how he works in a relatively sustained examination of the band’s synthesis of a Mod sensibility into their work and very being - a Mod’s view of life that is as much there in ‘My Generation’ as it is in ‘Sally Simpson’ or any other number from Tommy.

‘Above all, because Mods pursued the end of non-self-alienation, they also pursued collective experience. It is totally inaccurate to describe Mods as “individualists,” for they were only individualist in the sense that the whole group saw itself, and was seen, as a unit separate from the conformities of contemporary society. . . No matter how far The Who have left their original sources of inspiration behind, the jubilation and the triumph of the collective mod experience always manages to reassert itself.’

The book is also thoughtfully illustrated throughout with some brilliantly chosen images and carefully considered page design. David Goard’s otherwise unremarkable cover illustration foreshadows Quadrophenia with its rendering of Townshend’s head combining the band’s four facets.

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Addendum

In the February 1975 edition of Let It Rock, Gary Herman gave the low-down on all things Who since the publication of his book in 1971. Solo albums from Daltrey and Townshend, three from Entwistle and one forthcoming from Moon, seven singles, Leeds, Next and Quadrophenia, and two compilations had followed. A lot of product . . .

In his review of Quadrophenia for Phonograph Review (December 1973), Greg Shaw noted that Gary Herman had written ‘a whole book about Mod, and when it came time to put a title on it, his choice was clear cut, he called it “The Who.”’ Which is kinda true in a way, so it is not surprising Herman is most concerned with the band’s latest studio outing in his Let It Rock overview. He was not much impressed:

But Quadrophenia doesn’t ring true as a simple Mod’s tale. It’s too overloaded with Townshend’s self-conscious and arty interpretations; it’s too much of what he thinks Mods should have felt.