I've just picked up a copy of the seldom seen hardback edition of Richard Neville's counterculture classic Play Power. Neville was one of the founders of Oz, first in Australia and then in the UK. And in the same year as Play Power appeared - 1970 - the schoolkids' issue of Oz got Neville and his two-co-editors in a heap of trouble. They were prosecuted under the Obscene Publications Act, went briefly to jail and all got a regulation short-back-and-sides haircut.
As with most harebrained attempts at censorship, it only increased interest in Neville and in Oz, and gave an enormous boost to sales of Play Power.
The big treat of the hardback is Martin Sharp's strikingly psychedelic cover design. He also designed some of the more memorable of the covers of the Australian Oz - not to mention the ultra cool cover of Cream's 'Disraeli Gears' album.
The Paladin paperback edition of Play Power sold many more copies - and its cover, depicting a becapped Richard Neville in school uniform, was clever, but nothing like as striking as the Sharp original.
And the book? Well, according to Private Eye it's the 'human story of a young Australian who comes to London and finds happiness by bringing out the worst magazine in the history of the world.' Ha ha ha!
The hardback copy I managed to pick up is ex-library (Basingstoke, since you ask) and a bit battered but it does the job.
What it doesn't have is the 'Headopoly' folded poster which came with the hardback edition and which so annoyed the authorities in Australia and the US. You can sort of see why!
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