The band UFO is not really the usual artist to be featured here on Discipline Mag, but they do have interesting ties to some of the greats from industrial music – that of Genesis P. Orridge and Cosey Fanni Tutti of Throbbing Gristle, COUM, and their various other projects.
As far as UFO’s music goes, it delivered streams of boogie-infused riffs and suggestive lyrics. The kind of rock outfit that turned heads in the mid-70s for their sexually charged rock-cum-heavy metal anthems. The sort of band who planted the DNA for the likes of Bon Jovi and further contemporaries.
But what do they have to do with ¾ of Throbbing Gristle?
On UFO’s 1975 album, Force It, the album artwork features none other than Genesis P. Orridge and Cosey Fanni Tutti standing in a bathtub engaging in some sexual behaviour that looks curiously like it’s about to race past the stage of foreplay. Shot in a grimy white-walled bathroom, the room is full of faucets for an added effect, and cheeky play on words (faucet – force it – get it?).
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Adding another element of the Gristle to the mix was Peter “Sleazy” Christopherson who, according to Cosey Fanni Tutti’s book ‘Art Sex Music’, was the photography assistant to the photographer on shoot.
Sleazy’s contribution came by way of his involvement with Hipgnosis, a photo studio famed for creating various album covers of the era (and the subject of a recently released documentary Squaring the Circle (The Story of Hipgnosis). With some notable designers in their roster such as Storm Thorgerson and Aubrey Powell, Hipgnosis were responsible for the album art of Pink Floyd, Black Sabbath, Peter Gabriel, and Led Zeppelin amongst others.
Unsurprisingly, the sexually charged content of the album proved controversial. This was due in part to the breaching of certain decency standards, and due to the ambiguous nature of the sexes of those depicted on the cover (it was only revealed years later that the models were in fact Genesis P. Orridge and Cosey Fanni Tutti). Subsequently, the album cover was softened for the American audience, with the two models faded out.
“The artwork was risky for the time and because of the amount of flesh on display was almost banned—well, it was the 1970s, a non-PC age, but also surprisingly prudish too. It was toned down for the USA release, where they were even more prudish. One point of interest, is that the gender of the couple remained a cause of debate amongst UFO fans, but the couple turned out to be Genesis P. Orridge [sic] and his then girlfriend Cosey Fanni Tutti.”
The triggering of indecency standards is amusing given how tame this was in comparison to what else Genesis P. Orridge and Cosey Fanni Tutti were up to in 1975. At this time, they were in the midst of their COUM Transmissions project. Their performance art shows included everything from public sex acts, urination and misuse of bodily fluids. Their most infamous show, Prostitution, consisted of explicit photographs of lesbians, assemblages of rusty knives, syringes, bloodied hair, used sanitary towels, press clippings and photo documentation of COUM performances in Milan and Paris. Effectively, when it came to Genesis, Cosey and COUM Transmissions more generally, a bit of nudity on an album cover was the least of a censorious society’s worries.
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