Illustrator and Cartoonist Ralph Steadman brings his thought provoking talents to the Vinyl Medium in an amazing partnership with Philthy Phonographic Records.
Article by Joseph Timmons, IndiePulse Music Magazine
Ralph Steadman is renowned for his political and social caricatures, cartoons and picture books. Awards that he has won for his work include the Francis Williams Book Illustration Award for Alice in Wonderland, the American Society of Illustrators’ Certificate of Merit, the W H Smith Illustration Award for I Leonardo, the Dutch Silver Paintbrush Award for Inspector Mouse, the Italian Critica in Erba Prize for That’s My Dad, the BBC Design Award for postage stamps, the Black Humor Award in France, and several Designers and Art Directors Association Awards.
Ralph Steadman was voted Illustrator of the Year by the American Institute of Graphic Arts in 1979. Steadman had a long partnership with the American journalist Hunter S. Thompson, drawing pictures for several of his articles and books. He accompanied Thompson to the Kentucky Derby for an article for the magazine Scanlan’s, to the Honolulu Marathon for the magazine Running, and illustrated both Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail ’72. Much of Steadman’s artwork revolves around Raoul Duke-style caricatures of Thompson: bucket hats, cigarette holder and aviator sunglasses. In his time, he has produced art with an imagery that moves from the fantastic to the horrific, often seeing the dark and the evil just lurking underneath the skin, exposing truth in that which others often ignore or fail to see out of ignorance or apathy.
Now, which for some would be the twilight of their lives, it would be that Ralph Steadman would take his words and prose to music, which he has found a partner that would not only deliver music that is , like Ralph Steadman’s art, haunting and phantasmal, visually stunning and mirrors the genius and historical artist legacy.
Philthy Phonographic Records is a “DIY” independent record label that is in whole a “one man operation run by “Philthy Phil” and he has created some very impressive, short run / limited quantity albums that are much sought after by fans of the label and the record collecting pubic as well. Recently, Sly Vinyl and The Vinyl Factory, as well as other well-known Record Collector and Audiophile enthusiast sites have been praising this single for it’s wonderful and talented composure, but the imagery in the Vinyl itself, each single is hand poured and hand pressed by the labels founder himself, each one becoming a work of art, ominously becoming and forming audio versions of the Ralph Steadman’s visual art.
“Philthy Phil” said “Gotta Groove Records invited me to come in and personally press some records. I got to work with Heather Gmucs by my side. She showed me some of the stuff they were doing with their custom vinyl pressing and I asked if I could try making a few of my own. She said yes, and we collaborated on what types of interesting things we could come up with. I learned a lot from her and she mentioned I had tried a few things she hadn’t thought of before. Approximately 20 records were done.”
“My brother first began collecting Ralph Steadman’s work when he was in high school, almost 20 years ago, and over that period of time he was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to meet him on a several occasions. They somehow were able to keep touch over the years and when I began Philthy Phonographic Records in 2012, the two of us thought how great it would be to have the opportunity to collaborate with Ralph on such a project. We both knew that he had participated and recorded various musical projects over the years, and sang and played the guitar and ukulele on occasion as well. So we decided to approach him about putting together and EP. An inquiry was sent and a response was not received for some time, and then a song just happened to arrive in my brother’s inbox with the note, “…sending you one of my songs, FYI…” At first it was just one song, but through email and further discussion, Ralph sent a few additional songs as a possible side B. The songs were records in 1984 to generate an interest in the musical based on the publication of the award winning book “I, Leonardo.”
“Ralph was very open-minded about through the entire project and basically gave us the freedom to run with it however we saw fit. He was enthused throughout the process and could not have been more pleased with the final result. As for the two of us, we were beyond thrilled to be able to collaborate with such an influential artist.”
In fact this was a very limited run, between the times the project started and not, most of the records created have been sold. Some of the most unique copies produced were issues that had torn up shreds of artwork by Ralph Steadman literally mixed into the vinyl, some are unplayable due to this, but as far as for the rabid collector in all of us, this is a treasure. The shredded art editions have an original silkscreen and are signed by Steadman himself.
The remaining was pressed in association with Wax Merge, which also works with Gotta Groove. Wax Mage Records specialize in hand poured, hand pressed, one of a kind records.
The single, Ralph Steadman – The Man Who Woke up in the Dark / Striped Paint was limited To 200 Red Opaque, 75 Red w/Black Splatter, And 24 Art Variants on 7″ Vinyl, so with most of that already sold, this is a very hot single to have.
At IndiePulse Music, we love reporting stories like this, the big record label industry as a whole commercially is faltering, unable to really produce great music as it once did and has little or no interest in the artists out there that have true talent, often choosing what can be quickly packaged for sale and inspire the teeny boppers and boy band lovers. But from the muck of the self-centered music biz has come the indie label, small run, mostly home based labels run by people that want music to truly live again and support the musicians that really live and breathe their stories and songs, the music they create is drenched with their blood and sweat and is a work of love for their talents.
I encourage you to visit Philthy Phonographic Records and see for yourself the records they have produced and get your copy of Ralph Steadman’s single, I am sure you will enjoy the master’s work!