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  • Writer's pictureJeff Barrett

a bohemian 'Pig-Pen'

This is a guest column written by Jeff Barrett, founder of the Heavenly record label - regarded as one of the key British independent record labels of all time. He was the introduction point between Paul and the music industry, and has been extremely helpful in filling some blank spots in the Paul timeline. This is a brief excerpt of what he has told me - and covers him meeting Paul initially.

I met Paul through Des Penney, the manager of the band Flowered Up.

Flowered Up were one of the first groups signed to Heavenly when we started back in 1990.

One day Des told me that, through a friend of a friend ( sadly the memory of who that person was exactly has been lost in time), he had met this artist guy, “a hairy little fella” ,whose paintings he described as being “dark and paranoid” and therefore he'd quite likely have a suitable image for the sleeve of the next FU single which was a song with the title (and theme of) ‘Phobia’.

Des brought Paul round to my flat to introduce us. It was one morning and Paul brought with him a huge artists portfolio - a large envelope stuffed with random sketches and small oil pantings but also a ton of photographs showing larger works, big oil paintings, some that appeared to be the size of a wall of a big room (and indeed they were).

'a Bohemian Pig-Pen'

My first impression was that Paul was a lovely, likeable character. He was a scruffy, dusty lad, a bohemian ‘Pig-Pen’ (as in the C.M. Schultz character from Peanuts). He had a great smile - half curiousity, half mischief. I liked him instantly and Des was right, his work was a perfect match for the band, so much so that cover of the ‘Phobia’ single was a detail of one of Paul’s existing paintings which suits the song perfectly. Paul did have a dark side but it was a depression thing, not a nasty trait, I can’t say that I ever saw or heard Paul do anything nasty, like I say, he really was a sweet man who was always thinking, always doing something, he couldn’t keep still.

Art of any description (pretty much) is interesting to me and to meet an artist who has created work with such purity and who who had travelled from Romford to Acton in the hope of impressing someone enough to have their work featured on a record cover interests me even more. He didn’t come with a sales pitch, he wasn’t about that, he was straight up 100% an artist.

Jeff's record label is now celebrating it's 30 year anniversary - with a book about their history called 'Believe in Magic - Thirty Years of Heavenly Recordings' releasing in November.

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