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The pop art that should never have reached the recording studio

18 March 2016

Introducing Rakewell, Apollo’s wandering eye on the art world. Look out for regular posts taking a rakish perspective on art and museum stories.

Rakewell’s eyes are drawn to online music store Boomkat, which has revealed that Turner Prize winning artist Mark Leckey is to release a soundtrack album to accompany his latest film, Dream English Kid 1964–1999AD. According to the site, the vinyl-only album will be a ‘mixtape-like reverie of half-cut memories and abstracted, e-motif flashbacks gelled together by swooping, plasmic subs, smoke-clogged filters and uncannily psychoacoustic detail that really comes to life in headphones or with proper amplification.’

‘The piece has a deeply miasmic, febrile sensuality,’ it continues, ‘which, when separated from the visual content, provides an oneiric side-effect all of its own, one which pays testament to the most subtle, psychedelic aspects of Leckey’s genius and broad appeal.’

Groovy. Leckey, though, is far from the first artist to try his hand at pop. Ever since avant-garde maven Yoko Ono dropped galleries for guitars and started producing inscrutable records instead, contemporary artists have been unable to resist the lure of musical stardom. If Leckey is in need of inspiration, he could do worse than take a look at the musical misadventures of his artistic forebears…

Joseph Beuys

AKA the grandfather of the art pop spinoff. His 1982 single ‘Sonne Statt Reagan’ was a new wave-tinged political protest song that is most kindly described as ‘brave’. If shamanistic chansonnier Beuys set a bad precedent, believe us, worse was to follow…

Jean-Michel Basquiat (& Friends)

New York in the ’70s and early ’80s was a Mecca for pop/art crossovers. George Condo played in a punk group, Patti Smith was inseparable from Robert Mapplethorpe and Warhol befriended everyone from Bowie to Blondie. Sadly, all it proved was that musicians and artists should stick to their respective day jobs. Basquiat’s short lived experimental band Gray were the best of the bunch. This isn’t saying much.

Damien Hirst

Hirst has a long history of musical moonlighting. He directed a music video for the band Blur and also designed an album cover for them, a favour he also paid to Brit-rock also rans The Hours. But the pop adventure we all remember is Fat Les, the novelty band Hirst founded with Blur’s Alex James and actor Keith Allen in the mid ‘90s. The track that sticks in Rakewell’s mind is the football anthem ‘Vindaloo’. He wishes it didn’t.

Dinos Chapman

Rakewell once witnessed middle aged shock merchant Dinos Chapman play a two hour set from his ‘Luftbobler’ album in an east London club. The name is apparently Norwegian for the bubbles found in Aero chocolate bars. The less said of the music, the better.

Got a story for Rakewell? Get in touch at rakewell@apollomag.com or via @Rakewelltweets.