Blow Up Press Exhibition

33-45 Parr Street
Until January 2007

Reviewed by Amanda DeAngeles

This is an exhibition of mostly black and white, quality lithographs by four celebrated photographers. All prints measure 400mm x 500 mm. They cost from only £150 each. Email mail(at) for a discount voucher of £10 very kindly donated by 33-45.

Photographer: JOHN “HOPPY” HOPKINS

* A waltz in the dark with tuning pegs and a flirtatious glance with someone or something. George Harrison is alone. He covets his guitar here; hiding it like a secret.

* John Winston Lennon (1964) looks to the religious head of his Rickenbacker in a close-up. The gingerly held, ash-end of his cigarette points to salute him. I wish I could see his speculative eyes behind those shades. This image tells me there is no smoke with fire.

* The Rolling Stones pose like young brothers. It is possible the five are trying to look rock-hard in this photograph, but each Stone manages the task with a varying degree of success.

* Marianne Faithfull; pictured in London 1966, looks as sweet as chocolate, and far too innocent to be wearing rings on those particular fingers of her delicate hands.

* Brian Jones stars, licking his top lip as he plays. Photographed from the stage backdrop at Alexandra Palace, Brian has turned away from the crowd of blurry people packed tightly inside the hall. This image has an unusual vantage point, and is an absolute treat. I like the follow-on, opposing image, of an almost empty Palace at 5 am: a young man holds on to his girl as if he lost her earlier. Dusty floorboards are visible!

* Thelonious Monk moves the exhibition to jazz. Only his left index finger is pushing a piano key, the rest of his fingers curve up like smiles. (Birmingham Free Trade Hall in 1965)

* Roland Kirk is playing with the Stan Tracy Trio at Ronnie Scott’s in 1963.
Roland has two brass truncheons of sound; the saxophonist belts out his music to the ceiling with one, as the other hangs from his neck as though waiting its turn open-mouthed.

Photographer: IAN TILTON

* A futuristic jump forward to show The Stone Roses at Granada Studios in 1989. A white room is a field of craning microphone stands and twisted cables. A striped shirt is suggestive of colour for this image of a classic quintet.

*. Robert Smith is presented for a sole, colour lithograph framed for this exhibition. Upon first glance he seems menacing, but as I peer closer to the rat-tails curtaining his face and the tie-dyed fusion that his head pops out from, I view a fragile sensitivity in this unusual man; cured of his cosmetic fetish.

Photographer: PHILIPPE CARLY

** Next is a jewel in this exhibition’s crown. The late Freddie Mercury is standing theatrically, banana-like, with his hips thrusting and his head to the ceiling. His vocal sound literally glows.

A second image of Freddie shows him beneath a ceiling of spotlights. The angle of this photograph adds interest; revealing part of the drum-kit. Freddie is bare-chested, save for hair and jewellery.

** Ian Curtis’s face lights up as he looks up. His pale eyes give him an angelic quality. He grips the mic close to his mouth as though addicted. In the second image, Ian looks nervous, but still holds the mic as if it lends security.
Plan K in 1979

*Bernard Sumner in Brussels 1981. Bernard occupies the bottom right-hand division of darkness as a joyful glow shoots through the black to an orderly head and shoulder shot.

*Iggy Pop stares as though he wants to fight. He looks like he could do with a shoulder rub. Plenty would be quick to offer.

*The Jam (Follies). Lighting strobes diagonally on a wall behind and strikes a cymbal and Weller simultaneously. He lets the crowd know in a seemingly thunderous wail.

Photographer: STEVEN WRIGHT

*Steven Morrissey pictured with Johnny Marr - a gleaming white guitar separates the two as they queue and eye an unseen fan.

*The Smiths: The four lads pose outside Salford Lads Club on what appears to be a miserable northern day.

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