(from the new compilation ‘Children of The Mist – The Best of Design’ (Market Square; MDMCD206).

Teetering into summer, what music better sums up the light, the warmth, those night-long parties on the beach, than sunshine pop? 

So let that light in with ‘The Minstrel’s Theme’, taken from the group’s self-titled debut album from way back in 1971 …

Listen now at  (some fab period images!)  


Six-piece vocal ensemble DESIGN championed the genre in Britain back in the ‘70s when they, more than any other act of the day, guested on countless  family TV shows, rubbing shoulders with the likes of stars Eric & Ernie, Benny Hill, Tommy Cooper and Val Doonican.

Cute and clean-cut in their loons and floaty dresses, the close-harmonising vocal ensemble were weekly staples on the small screen, even if they didn’t ever score a chart hit.

“Probably a mixture of over-exposure plus we didn’t really get the airplay back in the day,” reflects singer Barry Alexander. “But then we were up against glam!”

DESIGN on the radio

Fast-forward 40 years and DESIGN’s catchy, melodies coupled to lush orchestral arrangements are drawing interest all over again with that elusive airplay being picked up by the likes of Johnnie Walker on BBC Radio 2 while Barry himself has become something of a star turn on local radio.

Says Barry: “With the new Best-Of album out this year, BBC Radio Solent asked me in to talk about our TV days and that spilled over into another show and now they’ve asked me back for a third interview with Alex Dyke, and I guess the anecdotes are winning the day!”

Lampooned for wearing chinos last time he was on the show, Barry gamely sported Levi’s (and a ‘loud shirt’) for this latest half hour with Alex covering the band that was the hippy version of The New Seekers (Barry was their manager for a while); recording ‘The Laughing Gnome’ with David Bowie; being the son of famous dad, cricket commentator, Brian ‘Johnners’ Johnston (who upon seeing his long-haired son in beads and bells back in 1967, remarked “I think you’d better leave those hanging in the hall…”); playing piano in Italian restaurants (and, dressed as a leopard, for Zsa Zsa Gabor) in LA; working as a radio DJ on Californian station KLOA FM; plus of course, more fabulous DESIGN music!

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