Saturday, December 6, 2008

Weller's style councillor

Record sleeves by the Modfather's favourite designer have been brought together in a new book about the former Jam frontman. Ian Burrell looks at the career of Simon Halfon, who has also worked with Oasis

When a young Simon Halfon, then one of only three mods at Durham University, went backstage to meet The Jam at a gig at Bridlington Spa Pavilion, he didn't think he was forging a relationship that would define his career.

But the conversation with Paul Weller in 1979 stood him in good stead. After Halfon dropped out of university, and returned to his native London to pursue a career in the music business, the Modfather remembered him. A quarter of a century later he is sitting on a portfolio of record-sleeve designs that span Weller's career from The Jam, via The Style Council, to his solo work.

In an era when record shops are closing in droves, as sales plummet in the face of digital downloading, smart design plays a vital role in slowing that decline. Halfon's work is so distinctive that he has been sought out by Noel Gallagher to produce Oasis covers, and has also worked for The Who and George Michael.

Certainly it is something that Weller himself takes seriously. He has deployed Halfon's services on solo albums As Is Now, Heavy Soul, Modern Classics, Stanley Road and Days of Speed. The same designer composed the artwork for The Style Council's Café Bleu and Our Favourite Shop, and for The Jam greatest hits album Snap!.

"Artwork for me is very important, and it's only a shame that it's becoming less important to people in the era of downloading," Weller says. "I've worked with Simon for decades, and he's a stickler for detail and has an excellent eye for order and interpretation." Much of this work has been included in A Thousand Things, a photography-based book on Paul Weller's career in which the musician and designer have worked closely with music specialists Genesis Publications.

(Via the Independent. Read the rest here.)

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