BRIAN GRIF­FIN

You know his er­adefin­ing early ’80s cov­ers for Depeche Mode and Echo & The Bun­ny­men. Now the snap­per re­turns with a ca­reer-span­ning pho­to­book, and un­seen im­ages of Iggy, Costello and Kate Bush.

Mojo (UK) - - Contents - Ian Har­ri­son

Pho­tog­ra­pher/enigma Brian Grif­fin col­lects his mu­sic im­ages of the Bun­ny­men, Depeche and more in new book ‘POP’.

As well as be­ing a time of ram­pant mu­si­cal cre­ativ­ity, the post-punk pe­riod gave us much out­stand­ing record sleeve art. One of the time’s key pho­tog­ra­phers was Brian Grif­fin, whose era-doc­u­ment­ing clas­sic cov­ers in­clude early re­leases by Echo & The Bun­ny­men and Depeche Mode, plus fur­ther un­for­get­table frames for Ian Dury, Peter Ham­mill, The Teardrop Ex­plodes and oth­ers. Th­ese im­ages, press por­traits and un­seen out­takes are in­cluded in his com­pen­dious new hard­back ‘POP’, which will be pub­lished in Oc­to­ber. A purely stu­dio-based op­er­a­tor (“I’ve never pointed a cam­era at a band on-stage, ever,” he says), Grif­fin was raised in the Black Coun­try and started work as a cor­po­rate pho­tog­ra­pher in 1972. Af­ter mov­ing into the rock arena, ‘POP’ finds him in the late ’70s tak­ing por­traits of The Clash, The Pop Group and Peter Gabriel, and the Stiff and Radar la­bel ros­ters; ma­jor la­bel cover com­mis­sions like Joe Jack­son’s Look Sharp! and Iggy Pop’s Sol­dier al­bums fol­lowed. “That was a mas­sive ex­pe­ri­ence,” says Grif­fin. “I went to meet Iggy at a re­hearsal stu­dio in Lon­don Bridge. He got a plas­tic bin and pee’d in it in front of me. I thought, I’ve got to win this.” Work­ing out of his Rother­hithe stu­dio, the first half of the ’80s were busy for Grif­fin. Along­side the book’s por­traits of Kate Bush, The Spe­cials, Bryan Ferry, Talk Talk and Siouxsie Sioux, his role as des­ig­nated pho­tog­ra­pher for the Bun­ny­men and Depeche Mode is il­lus­trated by out­takes from nu­mer­ous al­bum sleeve shoots. The pic­tures re­tain their abil­ity to im­press: tech­ni­cally ac­com­plished and im­me­di­ate, they have a filmic, sto­ry­telling qual­ity, with one foot in the world of dreams. His meth­ods of ma­nip­u­lat­ing light – mak­ing the out­doors look like the in­doors was one tech­nique – were cen­tral, says Grif­fin. “Work­ing for mag­a­zines I’d learned how to mix light and to light out­doors, and I started to em­ploy that in the stu­dio,” he adds. “It’s how you play with the hu­man mind a lit­tle bit. Peo­ple wanted shafts of light, so I started to use knicker elas­tic and to twang it in front of the cam­era, and have a long ex­po­sure with light hit­ting the white­ness of it. We were ex­per­i­ment­ing a lot. I was full of cre­ative spirit and I loved what I was achiev­ing. You don’t know that things can’t be done. I think that brought some magic.” Though he con­tin­ued to pho­to­graph sub­jects in­clud­ing Queen, John Cale and Brian Eno, his mu­sic work slowed in the later ’80s, af­ter, says Grif­fin, “An­ton Cor­bijn took the Bun­ny­men and Depeche Mode.” He worked in film and ad­ver­tis­ing from 1991 to 2002, and re­mains ac­tive as a pho­tog­ra­pher. “I’d love to do cov­ers again, but I never get asked,” he says. What would he do with the Bun­ny­men or Depeche Mode in 2017, wonders MOJO? “I could still make them amaz­ing,” he says. “In fact, I’d make them bet­ter now.”

‘POP’, which is ded­i­cated to design ge­nius Bar­ney Bub­bles, will launch in Oc­to­ber at the Soundedit fes­ti­val in Lodz, Poland. See bri­an­grif­fin.co.uk for info

“IGGY GOT A PLAS­TIC BIN AND PEE’D IN IT… I THOUGHT, I’VE GOT TO WIN THIS.” Ex­plod­ing frames: (from left) Echo & The Bun­ny­men Heaven Up Here LP sleeve out­take, Porth­cawl Beach, 1981; Elvis Costello in Hol­ly­wood, 1978; Kate Bush in Fri­eth, Bucks, 1982; Iggy Pop, Sol­dier out­take, Not­ting Hill Gate, 1979.

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