Brokaws snazzy kicks and effects pedals
  • K.C. Fennessy
  • Brokaw's snazzy kicks and effects pedals

Composer Chris Brokaw (Codeine) and director Roddy Bogowa came to the Northwest Film Forum last Saturday to present Taken by Storm: The Art of Storm Thorgerson and Hipgnosis as part of the annual ByDesign series (now based in Houston, former NWFF programmer Peter Lucas put the series together).

More pics, cover art, and information below.

Syd Barretts first solo effort (1970)
  • Capitol/EMI Records
  • Syd Barrett's first solo album (1970)

From the trailer, which needs to be re-cut (it's too long), I couldn't tell whether I'd like the documentary or not, despite my interest in Thorgerson's work, but I loved it. If you're a fan of Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, or Peter Gabriel, it's pretty essential since Storm discusses his art for several of their releases, including A Saucerful of Secrets, Dark Side of the Moon, The Madcap Laughs, Houses of the Holy, In Through the Out Door, and Gabriel's first three solo recordings.

Roddy Bogowa introduces the film
  • K.C. Fennessy
  • Bogowa introduces the film (t-shirt by Storm's wife, Barbie)

As it turns out, Thorgerson went to school in Cambridge with Barrett and Roger Waters. To this day, his mother and Roger's—both in their 90s—remain the best of friends, and still meet regularly for tea. At the Q&A, I asked if Rogers doesn't appear in the documentary due to the animosity between him and the remaining Floyd members, but Bogowa said he was happy to participate; he just didn't have time due to The Wall tour (David Gilmour and Nick Mason represent the group).

Zeps In Through the Out Door (1979)
  • Atlantic Records
  • Led Zeppelin's In Through the Out Door (1979)

Bogowa shared some humorous asides during the Q&A. Storm warned him, for instance, not to speak with Robert Plant. "That guy's a burnout," he said. Bogowa found the singer to be perfectly lucid, and that's exactly how he comes across in the film, though he does allude to some dark, drugged-out times during the making of 1976's Presence, possibly my least favorite Led Zeppelin record (Plant appeared to be referring more to himself than to his band mates).

  • K.C. Fennessy
  • Brokaw played a solo set after the Q&A

Aside from the insights into his largely effects-free designs, Storm comes on as quite a character, with plenty of funny stories about the flower-power era. The profile also includes commentary from his longtime Hipgnosis partner, Aubrey Powell, but Peter "Sleazy" Christopher is notable by his absence. Possibly best known for his participation in Throbbing Gristle, Psychic TV, and Coil, the musician-designer-video director passed away under mysterious circumstances in 2010. As for Storm, he continues to plug away, even after suffering a stroke in 2003. Some of his more recent clients include Steve Miller and the Mars Volta.

The Scorpions Lovedrive (1979)
  • Island/Mercury
  • The Scorpions' infamous Lovedrive (1979)

If you missed last weekend's screening, you may not be able to see Taken by Storm on the big screen again. Bogowa said he was concentrating on a DVD/VOD release rather than a conventional theatrical deal, though the film may play a few more festival screenings over the next six months, by which point he hopes to have ironed out the details. In the meantime, he's been working on a book with Storm, who has a backlog of works that have never—or rarely—been seen, like a series of Rolling Stones photographs (the band opted not to use his services).