Cover of the “Warm Leatherette” single by The Normal

Daniel Miller on his song which is based on J.G. Ballard’s novel  Crash:

“Warm Leatherette” got a much better response than I thought. I didn’t think anyone would like it at all, and I did it as a hobby, really. It was in l978, right after Punk had started. The music at the time was quite unusual — apart from a few groups like Kraftwerk, that kind of electronic music wasn’t really being used. It was before the Human League. The people who’d read the book recognized the imagery of the lyrics instantly, and the rest just thought I was some kind of sicko. I made up a few hundred copies of the single, which was all I expected to sell. I would have been pleased to sell them all! But a reviewer at Sounds, which was the most forward-thinking magazine of the time, called it “Single of the Century” and the demand grew. It sold a few thousand and then it got to America and all these strange radio reports started filtering through. It got on K-ROCK and Grace Jones did a cover of it. It never was a huge hit — it became a cult record.

And J.G. Ballard on Grace Jones.

R/S: Surrealists have also influenced photography in the direction of inventive manipulation and juxtaposition —
JGB: There was a feature in Time Out about — I don’t know whether she’s American of Jamaican — the singer Grace Jones, who’s a black singer with a sort of robotic appearance — a very powerful character. She sings a song called “Warm Leatherette,” which I gather is based on Crash. Her manager, eminence grise (Jean-Paul Goude – Ombres Blanches), is a photographer who has lived with her for five years. He gave her her image. He takes photos of her in, say, a running pose, and then cuts the photo at various points so that each thigh and leg and arm is cut; next he puts in little inserts that make her arms longer and legs longer, then retouches them so that the woman, in reality, would have to be about nine feet tall. But you don’t realize this, because she’s posed against naturalistic backgrounds like hotel rooms, and because it’s so beautifully done. He’s published a book of photos on Grace Jones, and they’re extraordinary. She’s sitting on a chair or lying across a bed, with an extra three inches of thigh or leg. Bizarre….
From Re/Search # 8/9: J.G. Ballard


4 Responses to “MUSIC TO READ CRASH BY”

  1. 1 Vaucanson's Duck

    “It called forth nearly all the constituent powers of the century. It revealed the century as it liked to relax when wearing none of its masks.” –Siegfried Giedion Mechanization Takes Command

    “Poem to Read Crash By”

    The Operation
    Market Street Cinema

    a girl at work came in
    one morning with gouges all
    up and down her left arm
    she said she thought there
    was a worm living
    under the skin and
    wanted to see for herself
    there were a bunch of us
    hanging out on the stairs
    putting on makeup and
    nobody paid a
    whole lot of attention to
    the girl with the gouges
    who pulled on a pair of
    elbow length gloves and
    announced that she
    had always wanted to be
    a surgeon

    (by Danielle Willis 1990)

    Winsor McKay, Ballard, Grace Jones, Duchamp, Croatia and Sylvia Bataille all on one page… brilliant.

  2. Hi Vaucanson’s Duck

    nice to meet you at my blog.

  3. 3 Leddy

    video deleted on Youtube

  1. 1 A tear of petrol is in your eye « Jahsonic

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