Media

Musical & Magazine Reviews July 2016

All Or Nothing – The Mod Musical

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At The Hawth, Crawley, West Sussex

I always have some apprehension when stage plays based on popular music appear. It either works or it doesn’t. It’s either brilliant or a disaster. So, it was with some trepidation that I went to this leg of the UK tour of this show. Tagging it as ‘The Mod Musical’ really had me concerned. I knew it was about the Small Faces, but if it was going to be a half-arsed concert, I’d rather go to see the Small Fakers who don’t do it half-arsed and they do it better than anyone. The audience was mostly of a certain age and I have to say, the parka, for all its associations with mod, should really be put in the dustbin of history. As a functional item of protection against the elements, yes, I can understand that, but it sure ain’t evening wear ! Rant over and on with the show. I can honestly say, this was really well put together, well scripted, directed and acted.

All the key elements of the Small Faces story were in there, but what really made the show was how the story was presented. Steve Marriott’s ‘ghost’ played by Chris Simmons carried the narrative while the rest of the ensemble played out the story. The choice of songs was a tad predictable, but this show is as much for non-fans who like theatre and may recognise the big hits. Carol Harrison has had much to do with bringing this show to the stage and I guess it is she we should thank for a script that is full of emotions. The aforementioned Mr Simmons, Ms Harrison and an old friend of mine from years back, Russell Floyd who played Don Arden were just superb. The rest of the cast was all extremely good, the ‘band’ all play their own instruments, so there’s no fakery.

If I had one criticism, I felt Mark Newham didn’t quite do it for me as the young Marriott. His acting was good enough, but something seemed lacking when it came to the vocals and performance. That said, it was well worth going to see.

Bananas Magazine

deadbeat_02

Issue 13

With so much online content around these days, it’s a refreshing change to have something tangible that you can actually pick up and flick through. What is left of the mainstream music print media is pretty dire, lacking in innovation, stylistically tired and don’t get me started on the content! Thankfully, there are some very worth-while exceptions available. Shindig and Ugly Things are the obvious choices, but Bananas Magazine sits nicely alongside those publications. There are no frills with this ‘fanzine’ styled mag, but the important bit is the content. If you are a garage/punk/60s/psych fan, this is definitely for you.

What makes it so interesting is the world-view approach. In this edition, we find articles and interviews about bands from Brazil, Denmark, USA, France, Portugal and Russia. Names like The Rosalyns, Missing Souls, Cavemen, Courettes and Karovas Milkshake all get decent coverage. Some earlier editions of Bananas were a little too random in their design and layout, but this is a massive improvement and I can honestly say it has done its job. I’ll be checking out a few of these bands based on what I’ve seen in this mag, so Bananas must be getting it right.

www.bananas-magazine.com
www.facebook.com/bananasmagazine
www.bananasmagazine.bandcamp.com


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Graham Lentz

AKA ‘The Baron’ - Like many of his generation, The Jam started Graham's love affair with all things mod back in 1977. He is the author of 'The Influential Factor - A History Of Mod' which was originally published in 2002. An extract from the book was re-printed in Paolo Hewitt's 'The Sharper Word - revised edition' in 2011. Being a self-confessed 'broad-church' mod, Graham's interests range from Modern Jazz to today's up-coming new bands and everything in between. Although he has a passion for mod history, he also has a passion for the new. Whether it's music, clubs, media of every kind, clothing, scooters or art and photography, Graham supports, promotes and encourages as much as he can, because that's how we keep going. 'Give it a chance' is his motto. If it's not for you, that's cool, at least you tried it.

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July 13, 2016 By : Category : Front Page Literature Music Reviews Tags:, ,
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Interview with Mark ‘Bax’ Baxter about documentary Tubby Hayes: A Man in a Hurry (Part 2)

Jazz for Modernists 6 & 7

11: How did you go about promotion and distribution?

MB: I got so entrenched with making the film, I didn’t think about showing it to anybody. We set ourselves that target (Spring 2015)…we were well short – we didn’t have enough footage, or enough money to finish it. We had to finance it ourselves. An archivist who was helping me find the footage from the BBC said to me one day, “you need a distributor, someone to put this out for you”. I thought that was a really good shout, I hadn’t really thought of that. I found a company called Proper Records, a reasonably sized independent record label, putting out lots of stuff by Nick Lowe and Van Morrison, I think. They had a jazz department and the guy I spoke to used to work for Mole Jazz in the 80s, who were like Ray’s, a destination shop for jazz buyers. He’d put out a couple of Tubby Hayes reissue compilations, one being Mexican Green (1967 LP), which he put out through his own Mole Jazz label. So, it was a done deal. Once I told him about Tubby Hayes, he said “we’ll have that!”. So we knew we could get it out into the shops, Amazon was taken care of, Waterstones etc. He also mentioned Foyles, which was where Ray’s Jazz shop is now.

220px-All_Night_Long_FilmPoster

All Night Long (1962), featuring Patrick McGoohan, Charles Mingus and Tubby Hayes

12: The first showing was at Foyles in London [19 November 2015]. Tell us about that.

MB: That was amazing. I just walked in one day and said we were making a film about Tubby Hayes. Can we do a little bit of filming in Ray’s? People going through the racks – cut-away stuff. The guys there were great, really supportive. They said they had an auditorium upstairs and asked if I wanted to launch it up there. It was a 200-seater, fantastic space, so I thought “why not?” The [idea of the] film started in Ray’s, it’s gone back to Ray’s thirty years later. It was the London Jazz festival that week, around October. It all just came together, pure fluke. We were just desperately trying to get it out by a certain time. By getting those guys on board – Proper, Foyles and the London Jazz Festival, it suddenly became very serious. All of a sudden we had deadlines and fairly big-hitting companies looking to speak to us and put our product out.

13: Has the film done well?

MB: Yeah, it’s sold well, we had 2 000 DVDs made and pretty much sold them out within ten weeks. We were delighted with that. From those first sales we earned money to get some more made for Christmas. We’re into our second run. It’s worked.

14: Any evidence that sales of Tubby’s music have increased as a result of the DVD?

MB: I can’t say for certain, but the awareness of his name and his work has gone up. Through my social media, I get a lot of feedback, people saying they’ve never heard of this guy, but like the sound of him, the era, the music, the films he worked on (eg. The Italian Job, Alfie). A lot of 60s enthusiasts that I know personally would go and check out a film, or YouTube, or Spotify and then they may end up with a CD or a bit of vinyl, and then end up with the DVD. It had been quiet for a long time on the Tubby front but now there are a lot more reissues going on.

15: [question from April 2016]: What were the subsequent showings at Regent’s Street Cinema like, in February and just recently in April?

MB: Our screening at the Regent Street cinema in Feb 2016 was a sell out, which was very encouraging for us all and proved that word of the doc. had got round to the right people. A good mixture Mod and 60s enthusiasts as well as film buffs turned up in the 180-strong crowd.
We had Simon Spillett and his new quartet play live and after the doc, myself, Simon and director Lee Cogswell took part in a Q & A session. Then DJs took over in the bar with a fine selection of jazz-inspired tracks.
The night was such a success that the cinema immediately asked us back and in April we repeated it all again. This time we had an older, more jazz-based crowd, which pleased me. We had new people to tap into!
We also screened at Ronnie Scott’s in March, which was a real mark of approval from the UK jazz world. For the rest of 2016, we have other screenings already booked for Gateshead, Southend, Chichester, Brecon and back in London in the coming months.

16: If you had to recommend one Tubby Hayes LP, which would it be?

MB: The one album that everyone should get is Mexican Green, which he made in 66/67. It’s going the Coltrane style, more than the fast, ‘crash-bang-wallop’ sound of Tubby when he was in full flow in the early sixties. There are certain tracks with three or four different styles within one track. It’s not an easy listen, you’ve got to work at it, but that’s the education of it all. That’s the last album he made of any real note, he made a contractual album after that called The Orchestra (1970), an album of cover versions (‘These Boots Are Made for Walking’, ‘Hey Jude’ etc). But Mexican Green is the one I’d definitely go for. From the earlier period, Tubbs (1961), Tubbs’ Tours (1964) and Tubbs in NY (1961) are all valid.

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The classic Mexican Green LP (1967)

17: Of all the British sax players of the time, he was perhaps the most well-known in America…

MB: Yeah, definitely. There’d been a musicians’ ban on UK guys going over there. Then it was reciprocal. If Miles Davis played two weeks here, we had to send someone to the States. They didn’t want anybody. There was no one of any note that they wanted. When Tubby popped up, they said “he can do it”. He went to New York in 1961 at the Half Note Club. Miles Davis was in the audience on the first night. Tubby was the one guy who could go out and hold his own in that company. He played two weeks there, mixed with the musicians, recorded and became part of the scene for a little while. A lot of the guys we spoke to said he should have stayed there, committed to two or three years in the States. Personally, I think he liked being the big fish in a small pond. Over here, he’d get plenty of work, plenty of press, TV appearances. He was the only one anyone had heard of.

18: One UK-based artist who did go to America before Tubby was Dizzy Reece. Did Tubby play with him?

MB: They played on a Blue Note LP recorded over here [Blues in Trinity, 1959], with a version of ‘Round Midnight’ on it.
19: By the mid-sixties, of course, we were getting great jazz musicians, but in return were sending over the likes of Herman’s Hermits….
MB: Yeah. Once the beat boom started coming in, jazz clubs would become a beat club, or they’d book more acts like that. That’s what the kids were demanding. Jazz suddenly became quite old overnight. The work dried up quite quickly, or the club gigs dried up. The recordings weren’t selling massive numbers. The Stones and The Beatles were selling in big numbers. The trade papers stopped writing about them [jazz musicians], maybe a little bit of a mention. But really, the front cover would be given to the Beatles, Stones, Small Faces, Who, Otis and soul music. This is why he stared to play on jingles and films, looking for other work.

19: And this would lead Tubby to other work?

MB: Yeah, he’d be hired for a session. He wouldn’t know a lot about the band. His studio or agent would get him a bit of work. He would turn up and pretty much be able to play anything. But the timing was all wrong for him, because he wasn’t very well. He was in and out of hospital for months on end. He was probably offered work, but couldn’t make the gigs for one reason or another. His health wasn’t great [around 70/71] and there’s a school of thought that maybe he was still dabbling a little bit [heroin], and he had a heart valve operation in 1970, and then again in 1972. In 1973, he couldn’t play – he was physically incapable of playing.

20: Finally, would you consider making a feature film about Tubby Hayes starring James Corden in the title role?

MB: Simon (Spillett) has said that he’s aware of Tubby Hayes. The similarity has been pointed out to him. Whether that will ever go anywhere I don’t know? James Corden would be perfect. The only problem is Tubby lost about five stone, six stone, around the 60s when the drugs kicked in and I think Mr. Corden might struggle to lose the weight.


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James Thomas

James Thomas was born in Bristol just the wrong side of 1970 (1971). His first encounters with the 1960s were his two-year-old elder brother’s reminiscences of the Moon Landing (since deleted by the BBC) and an afternoon in 1975 listening to the Beatles with his parents. He remembers 2-Tone and the ’79 revival, but was the one in his primary school still wearing flares until he persuaded his mum to buy him a black Harrington jacket (a stylish-enough copy by Burtons) and asked a hair stylist to make him ‘look like Suggs’. In the 1980s he became obsessed with almost every aspect of the 1960s, whether it were Star Trek, the length of George Harrison’s hair in March 1965 or the first colour TV broadcast of a cricket match (he thinks it was 1968). After being side-tracked by progressive rock (an ongoing guilty pleasure), James came to his senses in 1986 on seeing footage of Booker T and the MGs and Otis Redding on a programme celebrating the 60th anniversary of television. A flirtation with ‘indie pop’ (in the bowl-cut and anorak days) led to too much introspection, but also a new interest in the psychedelic sounds of the 1960s that seemed to go hand in glove with a liking for The Pastels and The Razorcuts. A summery afternoon in the jazz tent at Bristol’s annual (and long gone) Ashton Court Festival in 1989 opened his mind to the sounds of Lee Morgan, Horace Silver, Art Blakey and most forms of modern jazz. In 1990, James attended his first proper 60s club night, the revered Kaleidoscope Pop! in Leeds. On his return from the North in 1992, he developed a new commitment to Mod culture. He recalls early Untouchables Brighton New Year rallies and in 1994 moved to London. A real education for him (in so many ways...) was a period in Barcelona (1997-2002) where he helped out with the Magic in the Air club for a year or two and where his IQ was permanently reduced by a record dealer who made him clean vinyl for four weeks in a windowless room. After a decade or so in the West Country, he is now living again in London, where he plans to write about jazz, meet like-minded people and study the history of the cravat.

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May 4, 2016 By : Category : Bands Film Front Page Interviews Music Tags:, , ,
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Record & Book Reviews – Dec 2015

SawdustCaesar1

Howard Baker

Sawdust Caesar – Omnibus Edition Book

There seemed to be renewed interest in mod from a literary point of view when this book was published in 1999 around the same time as ‘A Very British Phenomenon’, ‘Soul Stylists’ and ‘The Influential Factor’.

While these three were more factual non-fiction, ‘Sawdust Caesar’ (although based on real events) is a work of fiction.

Semi-autobiographical, (inasmuch as Howard Baker was a mod then went on the fledgling hippie trail to India), it is fair to say Tommy Spitz, the main character in the book, ‘wings’ his way through a variety of scrapes and situations.

He gets involved in petty crime with some unsavoury characters before moving onto what he hopes will be a more enlightened existence.

From the outset, you are in no doubt this will be an engrossing, but uncomfortable read. The Prologue is graphic and sets the tone for the work. Howard Baker’s attention to detail, like Tommy’s first experience with speed for example, is spot on, as are the chapters describing the seaside troubles of ’64.
It is difficult to feel any sympathy for any of these characters, as they all have failings and (in some cases) deplorable traits, but that is part of the attraction of this book; the fact that no one is perfect and a great many do ‘wing it’ through life with no contrived plan other than to survive.

All in all, this is well worth reading, as much for its social/historical content as for the story. BUY HERE!

rsz_nm_nov_2015_pretty_things

Pretty Things

‘The Sweet Pretty Things (Are I Bed Now, Of Course)’ – Album

Just for a change, I don’t have to fill you in with the history lesson about the band in question. If you don’t know anything about the Pretty Things, go to the back of the class now!

The current line up revolves around Phil May and Dick Taylor, ably supported by Frank Holland, George Woosey and Jack Greenwood. If you are new to the band, check out their early work first, that way, this album ‘makes sense’. If you are a devotee of the band, you will love this collection of 10 songs.

Essentially it is a rock album with all the band’s original influences subtly sitting in the background. Stand out tracks include ‘Renaissance Fair’, ‘Dark Days’ and the extraordinary instrumental ‘Greenwood Tree’.

Phil May is in fine voice and Dick Taylor’s guitar work is exemplary as you would expect. It’s not all ‘crash, bang, wallop’ though. ‘In The South’ and ‘Dirty Song’ are more laid-back, but of equal high quality.

If Robert Plant had done this album, the mainstream would be going bonkers over it. As it stands, fans new and old will feel fortunate they have a quality album by two living legends and three excellent musicians. The Pretty Things, 2015 vintage.

www.theprettythings.com

rz_nm_nov_2015_heavyball

Heavyball

‘Black Eye Diaries’ – Album

I first became aware of Heavyball about a year or so ago when they released a couple of singles. Since then, they have progressed nicely supporting Selecter and on tour with Kaiser Chiefs.

Their brand of what they term ‘New Tone’, is an infectious blend of two-tone rhythms coupled with guitar-based mod-rock. The eleven tracks on offer here comprise of the previously released ‘Hands Up’, ‘Lost Heroes’, ‘Black Eyed Friday’ and their cover of Bronski Beat’s ‘Small Town Boy’.

What I find most appealing is the lyrical content in Heavyball’s writing. There is no shrinking from awkward issues (‘Lost Heroes’ a prime example). They address issues both political and social with an honesty that is refreshing while avoiding the trap of sounding contrived.

Without exception, all the tracks are laced with catchy riffs and choruses that have you humming along in no time. I do like the use of those two-tone rhythms without sounding like a copycat. They have done the right thing by using their influences to create something new and different. And this is what sets them apart right now. No one else is doing what they are doing, so that is not a bad place
to be.

With such a strong debut album such as this, I will be interested to see how they get on with a second album. On this evidence, you may well see the name Heavyball turning up more often.

www.heavyball.net

facebook.com/Heavyball

soundcloud.com/heavyball

twitter.com/Heavyballreal


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Graham Lentz

AKA ‘The Baron’ - Like many of his generation, The Jam started Graham's love affair with all things mod back in 1977. He is the author of 'The Influential Factor - A History Of Mod' which was originally published in 2002. An extract from the book was re-printed in Paolo Hewitt's 'The Sharper Word - revised edition' in 2011. Being a self-confessed 'broad-church' mod, Graham's interests range from Modern Jazz to today's up-coming new bands and everything in between. Although he has a passion for mod history, he also has a passion for the new. Whether it's music, clubs, media of every kind, clothing, scooters or art and photography, Graham supports, promotes and encourages as much as he can, because that's how we keep going. 'Give it a chance' is his motto. If it's not for you, that's cool, at least you tried it.

More Posts - Website - Twitter - Facebook

December 1, 2015 By : Category : Bands Front Page Literature Music Reviews Tags:, , , ,
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Interview with Howard Baker (Sawdust Caesar)

As a Londoner, Howard Baker is the first to admit that he was fortunate indeed to have not only experienced those amazing years of the Sixties, but indeed to have survived them: from gang warfare to drug abuse and sexual emancipation, the opportunities for disaster were endless. The wise of course saw the period as one to be savoured and many are those who feel somehow blessed to have been part of that particular generation moulded by events now recognised as unique in our cultural history.

After the Sixties Howard jacked it all in and went off to explore the world feeling, like so many others, that life was there to be lived. On his return he found it impossible to re-enter the stuffy confines of conventional life and went to live on a farm in Wales where self-sufficiency was the order of the day. But as is so often the case, fate stepped in and he found himself on the road living among the gypsies with a young family to feed.

Years later and back in the mainstream, the chance to live in rural France arose. Now an organic farmer he lives the idyll which had earlier eluded him.

01. How did you get started in the world of words?

I was always good at telling stories apparently. Then my English marks, notably from an imaginative essay, helped scrape me through an otherwise unremarkable 11-plus examination.

02. Was it a struggle getting your first book published?

It was long-winded and fraught with chance: the work was originally a screenplay and a close friend managed to get it in front of Stevie Wonder’s agent, but they deemed it too violent for his image. So it came back and was passed on to an editor at X, a large, well-known publishing company, and he read it, thought it a potential best seller as a book, and asked if I could re-write it. But by the time it was finished the guy had moved on. So off it went to another smaller publisher known to another friend and they snapped it up. Despite promotion not being their strong point the first print run sold out and I wrote the sequel which hit the bookshelves the same day that the World Trade Centre was taken down and by the time the dust had settled the world had changed. Timing’s everything.

03. Where did you see the first piece you had written in print, how did that feel?

A letter to The Eagle comic when I was a kid. And it made me realise that each of us has a voice in the great communal scheme of things.

04. What was the main reasons that you started to write seriously?

I read a Hemingway book about his early life struggling as a writer in Paris, sitting in cafes, scribbling notes. And I was hooked.

05. What’s a typical working day like for you as a writer?

Living on a farm doing the self-sufficiency number, I have to be quite methodical, that’s to say, I write when I can. But when I lived in town I wrote nine to five, finding that easier than burning the midnight oil – although I do that if there’s a deadline.

06. What were your childhood experiences that helped to shape your later mindset?

What a question! Where does one start? Probably resistance to authority caused by shit schoolteachers.

07. What was it like to be an early Modernist, what were your pointers and outlook?

Dangerous, given the mass of bikers ruling the roost so to speak. But great when up the West End together; the recognition and camaraderie. And the beautiful chicks. Clothes and music were the two prime factors. And clubbing.

08. What was that early sixties period in London like for you as a young man?

Difficult. A mass of mixed emotions, school-leaving, adolescence, and shortage of cash. Parents who didn’t understand the changes going on. ‘64 onwards was better. Late Sixties superb.

09. How did the Media distort what was going on at the Seaside Towns and Resorts?

Some reporters staged scenes to photograph using cheap actors. They paid us for exaggerated stories of an offensive nature, constantly seeking a controversial headline pay-off day. When my first book came out I was approached by a well-known ‘social reporter’ looking for dirt to dig up.

10. What was the discovery of the ‘hippy trail’ and the druggy period like at the time?

The ‘hippy trail’ began with the Beatniks of the early Sixties and was followed by a few enterprising characters who bought clapped-out buses and vans to provide an overland to India service. But the main overland thing started around 1967 just as Flower Power began on a large-scale. It was an unbelievable time, hitching around, meeting others on the road, in cheap doss houses and hotels across Asia. Living on beaches in faraway lands long before mass tourism and politics came along and screwed everything up.

11. What other books do you wish you had written?

I still have a few on hold in my head, but I’d like to have written Hesse’s Siddhartha which is sublime. Or Gibran’s The Prophet; wisdom, beautifully written.

12. How has the internet changed what you do?

It provides a quick basic research tool and helps you get things right. But as a real research facility its benefits are limited, everything being old news as it were. Real research is a belt and braces, hands-on job. You have to get out there and discover stuff for yourself.

13. Do you have any advice for wannabe authors?

Keep a note-book. I’ve thought of so many startlingly amazing things and forgotten them. It’s gut wrenching to think about it.  Next thing is actually writing and sticking at it. And remember that the old saying ‘everyone has a book in them’ is actually a load of bollocks as inspirational advice: everyone may have a book in them but actually getting it down on paper’s another thing.

14. What projects are you planning for the future and please feel free to plug your latest book?

Latest work ‘Meeting with Aoratos’ is a departure from the uncomfortable realism of my earlier work and focuses on New Age philosophy and its pitfalls. Another work is a collection of tales relating to the many varied and sometimes bizarre meals I’ve eaten and the circumstances around them; from dining alongside a famous film star to snatching a bite to eat at a roadside eating house with a murderous Pashtun tribesman and a wild dog for company. Other work in progress includes life in Wales as a drug-fuelled freak, and ‘On the Road’ – life with the gypsies; a sort of antidote to Ken Kesey’s vastly over-rated (imho) version.

Web Links:

Meeting with Aoratos 

Buy now: on Amazon


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admin

Pip! Pip! Are the Creative Business Engine behind various music based organisations of the cool underground variety. Providing angst, confusion, bewilderment and annoyance in equal amounts. We design/host/manage great sites like this one! Why not hire us one day soon?

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September 23, 2015 By : Category : Front Page Interviews Literature Media Tags:, ,
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Book & Mags Reviews – Jun 2015

Bananas Magazine

rsz_nm_june_2015_bananas

Issue 10

Although it calls itself a magazine, this publication looks and feels like an old-school fanzine. Nothing glossy about this one, everything is black and white, eclectic typeface throughout, some real ‘art school’ graphics and the odd publishing oversight, such as where to order your next copy? The content though cannot be faulted. If the present day underground psych, garage and punk scene is your thing, this magazine ticks all the boxes. A nice interview with our favourite French beatsters, Les Grys Grys. Features on the Mystery Lights and Ugly Beats, not forgetting Groovie Records, Manglor Records and Festival Beat which is held in Parma, Italy and has been running 22 years. Add to this a clutch of reviews of recent releases from said scene and you have a tidy package. The cost is 2 Euros plus postage and all previous issues are available to order from the website address below.

www.bananas-magazine.com

Shindig Magazine

Layout 1

Issue 48

For those of you who follow this magazine and have seen the regular updates via social media, you will know it has been a pretty unsettling time for the publication. I shan’t bore you with the ‘ins and outs’ of it all, suffice to say it seems skullduggery was afoot and at one stage Shindig was on the verge of disappearing from our magazine racks, if only for a while until Messrs Mills and Morten had re-grouped. I’m sure I can speak for all of us at NUTs when I say, how happy we are that this magazine has survived its recent troubles and is continuing its excellent work. They may have a new publisher (Silverback), but the quality and quantity remains the same as ever, so the transition appears faultless. Issue 48 sees all the usual features; reviews, snapshot interviews with the likes of Paul Orwell, The Pretty Things and Hidden Charms. Great feature articles on Grateful Dead, Squire, Jorge Ben, Mother Nature and my favourite Supreme; Mary Wilson. The last three or four months have been a tad stressful for Shindig and its readers, but that is all over now. So, well done Jon Mills and Andy Morten. Onwards and upwards chaps !


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Graham Lentz

AKA ‘The Baron’ - Like many of his generation, The Jam started Graham's love affair with all things mod back in 1977. He is the author of 'The Influential Factor - A History Of Mod' which was originally published in 2002. An extract from the book was re-printed in Paolo Hewitt's 'The Sharper Word - revised edition' in 2011. Being a self-confessed 'broad-church' mod, Graham's interests range from Modern Jazz to today's up-coming new bands and everything in between. Although he has a passion for mod history, he also has a passion for the new. Whether it's music, clubs, media of every kind, clothing, scooters or art and photography, Graham supports, promotes and encourages as much as he can, because that's how we keep going. 'Give it a chance' is his motto. If it's not for you, that's cool, at least you tried it.

More Posts - Website - Twitter - Facebook

July 8, 2015 By : Category : Front Page Literature Reviews Tags:, , ,
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Interview with Marco Santucci

Northern Soul – The Film

As a journalist I’ve always written about music, sometimes getting paid, but more often just for fun or to record for posterity the achievements of the great artists, DJs and paying guests that make the soul scene special. When the opportunity came up to interview Marco about the making of the new Northern Soul movie I took the opportunity to ask him about the challenges of locations, continuity, records, etc. and also how they managed to get some major stars on board for a small, independent film with a whole lotta’ soul.

When did you first decide that you were going to make the film and how did you start, what was the first thing you did to get the project underway?

I remember Elaine toying with mini DV cameras at venues around 16/17 years ago, just after we first met. Initially her intention was to make some kind of documentary record of the scene as it was back then. Pretty quickly however she became dissatisfied with that approach. I remember clearly a conversation in about 1998 where Elaine began to formulate the idea of capturing the scene in its youthful heyday. It was a bit of a fantasy at first – a sort of “wouldn’t it be amazing to be able recreate the scene as it was back in the 70s” flight of imagination. The more she thought about it the more she became convinced that was the only way to do it.

The first thing Elaine had to do was to learn how to write a screenplay, so she enrolled on an online scriptwriting boot camp based in LA and just started writing. That was around 1999.

Making a film about any sub group is tough, I imagine the hardest aspect is always going to be making it authentic enough to appeal to those on the inside while ensuring that it’s accessible to people who don’t have an in depth knowledge of the scene. Did you think about this and what was your approach to that problem?

That was always Elaine’s main intention funnily enough. She was constantly treading a line between being true to the logic and culture of the scene while creating a film that anyone could enjoy. So Matt and John’s story had to encapsulate something Universal somehow while being told through the particulars of the Northern scene. At the same time Elaine didn’t shy away from tackling some of the more arcane or darker elements of the 70s scene’s culture – cover-ups/squad/needles etc. Elaine spent years interviewing and researching these things – down to the language used – div, menk etc.

Much has been made in some quarters about the swearing, the drugs and the violence in the film and whether it was an authentic and accurate reflection of how things were then. Petty criminality and trafficking were an integral part of the scene in the 70s; it was far from one big happy family at times, as testimony from people who actually visited the toilets at the Golden Torch confirms. The real life story of what happened to Pete Lawson, for example, is far stranger and darker than anything portrayed in the film. We were lucky enough to have lots of friends and acquaintances who were heavily involved back then and who were invaluable sources of anecdotes and information – Guy Hennigan, Butch, Tim Finch, Ady Croasdell, Sue Brick, Chris Brick, Dave Clegg the sadly departed Fran Franklin, Mickey Cruise and Ant Wilson to name just a few…

One of the things that surprised me was the casting, getting big stars on board. How did you get Steve Coogan and the other established actors to agree to be involved for example?

The story of how Steve Coogan came on board is quite funny. His production company, Baby Cow, came on board a while ago as co-producers and his brother Martin was also on board from an early stage. But ironically that wasn’t what brought him in. I’m fairly sure that he hadn’t even read the script when a year or two later James Lance got hold of the script via a mutual friend (stylist Adam Howe who asked for the Ray Henderson part). The weekend after he was offered the role he was staying with Steve and made him read the script. The following Monday we got an email to say Steve was in. It basically took his mate raving about it to get him to commit to the project.

Lisa Stansfield was a friend of Elaine’s and we knew she was pursuing an acting career – it was an obvious move to get to pay John’s mum given that she’s from Lancashire herself.

Christian McKay was a total left-fielder as he’s actually from Bury and it turned out that his grandfather had been a friend of Elaine’s father’s many years ago – a real small-word story. He read the script and that was all it took for him to come on board.

The film has a fantastic look to it; visually it’s about as good as it could get in my view. The continuity issues must have been a challenge, making sure there were no SKY dishes, the wrong type of traffic lights, or ultra-modern double glazing, etc. Who was responsible for that aspect? And was it hard to find and secure locations?

We worked with Robin Brown who did an amazing job on the art department/production design side of things. Our DoP, Simon Tindall was responsible for the overall photographic look of the film and there was a conscious nod to the look and feel of the realist cinema of the time. Elaine did a lot of the location scouting – finding the exterior for the Casino etc. Lots was done in post-production to take out all the contemporary ‘street furniture’, discs etc.

Clearly, Northern Soul was the bastard son of mod, in a roundabout way via the coalfields and working men’s clubs of Yorkshire. Given that there were certainly dozens of scooter clubs in the north at that time and northern soul was the soundtrack, was there a sense that you wanted it to be totally distinct from ‘This is England’ and ‘Quadrophenia’, both well known films and dealing with similar themes of youth culture, for skinheads and mods respectively?

I’m not sure how conscious that was, though we did want to somehow establish, cinematographically, that this was a new moment in British youth culture. The book, however, traces the roots in Mod much more overtly than the film.

The tantalising theme running through the film was the trip to America, I imagine budget, logistics and running time prevented this trip from being written into the film, or were you deliberately trying to show that about 2% of those who said they would go actually went?

Not necessarily, it was more that the idea of America held out the prospect of the boys breaking out of the narrow confines of prescribed working-class life at the time. The promised ’trip to America’ is a symbol of the boy’s horizons being opened up and the possibility of a life their parents couldn’t even have dreamed of a generation before.

Loosely, regulars at the Plebeians in Halifax, the Twisted Wheel and even the Torch were, for all intents and purposes, mods. But by 1975 how close to the 1960s mod scene do you think the movement you portray was? Did you get a sense from people who got into it in the early 70s that they knew it had developed from mod, or was it simply of the moment?

I think Matt’s older brother Paul would have had that understanding but for lads of John and Matt’s age the soul scene would have had its own cultural logic and its own foundation in their love of soul records rather than the trappings of Mod culture. That said there persistent working class desire to stand apart from the mainstream which was codified in their choice of clothes, their style of dance and their choice of music, so in that sense the lineage is still there.

Did you use any original footage in the film; I thought there were some street scenes in particular that might have been taken from documentary footage, albeit expertly spliced into the movie?

There’s one scene of crowds of workers leaving the mills right at the beginning of the film and possibly another landscape shot of a northern town and moors, to help establish the film’s northern setting. All the rest is new footage.

So, obvious question, what about the sequel, Northern Soul: USA or bust! Joking apart, what about a Director’s cut on DVD, there must be loads of superb scenes that you had to edit out that didn’t make the final cut?

The first assembly of the film was about 150 minutes long, so roughly an hour’s worth ended up on the cutting room floor which one day could see the light of day. There are no definite plans for a sequel but the lad’s trip to America is rich with possibilities – so never say never!

Finally, is there any special merchandise that people can buy to accompany the film and where can that be purchased?

I’m sure people will already be aware of the DVD and soundtrack CD. The DVD features a really nice ‘making of’ extra feature. There’s also a vinyl box set of singles featuring all the music in the film which is beautifully designed and produced by Demon records.


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Scotch Martin

Since the local youth club in the early-eighties Martin’s been Djing with records of one sort or another. Spots at the CCI National Mod Rallies across Britain in the 80s were followed in 1990 by the first in a line of successful northern soul and mod clubs in Glasgow. With four others he started Goodfoot in 91, with Acid Jazz-influenced playlists of Blow Up in London, and Brighton Beach in Leeds. Goodfoot arguably paved the way for a new generation of mod-influenced clubs in Glasgow over the past 20 years. Living in London in the late 90s Martin DJ’d at neuvo-modernist clubs including Where’s Jude and Lordy Lord, as well as regularly spinning at Duffer of St. George parties and other happenings. A career highlight was supporting legendary organist, Jimmy Smith, as well as pulling off 10 consecutive club nights during the 1995 Glasgow Jazz Festival. By 2001, back in Glasgow, Caledoniasoul launched. A definitive milestone in the Scottish soul scene, the club ran for six years and brought Butch, Mick Smith, Mick H, Arthur Fenn, Mike Ritson, Dave Rimmer and Ady Croasdell to Scotland for the first time to experience the sweaty, full-on atmosphere for themselves. As a journalist Martin has always written about music. In 2004 he tracked down singer and organist, Bill Bush, whose soulful, jazzy rarity, I’m Waiting on Ronn, was hitting on the northern soul scene. After visiting Bill in the USA and interviewing him for Manifesto he brought the band over to perform in the UK, complete with Hammond B3, and has helped Bill profit for the first time from the 1968 b-side. Martin is married to Caroline, has two children, lives in the London suburbs. Still collecting after 30 years!

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November 16, 2014 By : Category : Film Front Page Interviews Tags:, , ,
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Book & Mags Reviews – Nov 2014

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Pretend You’re In A War
– The Who And The Sixties

By Mark Blake

I must confess, there are times when I see new books about certain periods, genres or specific artists in music that make me wonder why?

Is there really any more unearthed information about The Beatles, Dylan, The Rolling Stones or Elvis for example? How much more can be said about a band or artist that hasn’t already been covered by numerous books before?

The Who are a band which fall into this category. So many books of varying quality have been written about them, is there anything left to say? Surely any avid Who fan will probably know all there is to know.

So, I began reading this latest tome by Mark Blake with a small degree of cynicism and suspicion. However, by the time I had finished the second chapter I was totally hooked.

Of course there is some familiar territory to go over, but that is unavoidable when writing about a band like The Who. Things have to be put into context.

What I particularly liked is Blake’s narrative writing style. Informative, concise, well-researched and written in such a way as to be a joy to read.

The early photos of the pre-Who days are great, but this is not a coffee table book.

Tracing the bands evolution from their humble beginnings and childhoods through to the end of the decade, this is by far one of the best books about The Who I have ever read.

Blake is much lauded for his seminal work on Pink Floyd. I think it’s fair to say this book deserves to be recognised in much the same terms.

With the festive season not too far off, this book would give a Who fan a very happy Christmas.

Published by Aurum Press
ISBN: 978-1-78131-187-5

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The Album Book

By Jacqueline McFall

It is fair to say 2014 has been a big year for books about mod. Some have been much advertised in print and social media and rightly so, but there are one or two that may have escaped your notice.

The Album is one such; a 180 page photographic book documenting the mod scene in Northern Ireland. I have often heard people like Eddie Piller and Anthony Meynell from Squire speak very highly of their experiences in the region going back to the early Eighties.

Thankfully in 1983, a seventeen year-old photographic student chose the mod scene to be her subject for one of her projects and she chose to take only black and white photographs.

30 years on, and Jacqueline McFall can still be seen at mod clubs and events snapping away and documenting the scene with her camera.

This book represents most of the photos from her original published project from 1985 entitled ‘Mod Is Mod, Not Fade Away’. The second half of the book contains shots taken more recently. It was quite fascinating to see just how many of those very young faces were still on the scene today.

Just in case you were wondering, there are recent photos of both Eddie Piller and Squire playing live in Northern Ireland.

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Quadrophenia – A Way Of Life

Inside The Making Of Britain’s Greatest Youth Film:

By Simon Wells

If nothing else, you can always guarantee that when Simon Wells takes on a project, no stone is left unturned. His particular field of expertise is film and British film from the Sixties and Seventies are his passion. Couple that with his life-long fascination with mod and you have a very capable candidate to write arguably the definitive work about a film that, over 30 years since its cinematic release, has retained the power to inspire and influence generation after generation and not just in the UK.

I’ll avoid the obvious and refrain from waffling on about the film itself. Heaven knows you should all be familiar with by now (sic). Neither will I go on about the continuity hiccups that are almost as famous (infamous?) as the film itself!

What is not in question though is Wells’ ability to wield both metaphoric microscope and shovel in his research.

Every key member of the cast and crew has input. The collection of unseen photos is quite extraordinary as are the selected script pages which highlight just how much improvisation and license both director Franc Roddam and the actors had with the storyline.

To give the film added kudos, Wells also interviews people for whom, the film and their involvement in mod has led to lifelong associations and therefore impacted on their lives.

This really is a fascinating, enjoyable and informative piece of work by Simon Wells. If you thought you knew all there was to know about Quadrophenia, read this, then you really can claim to know it all.

Published by Countdown Books
ISBN: 9 780992 830441

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Ugly Things Magazine

It’s been a while since I reviewed and edition of Ugly Things, the half-yearly publication from Mike Stax based in La Mesa, California.

The one thing that can always be guaranteed, is that every edition is packed with really good interviews and features.

Although the Fall/Winter edition is due out soon, this Spring/Summer 2014 version is a classic example. From the outset, the Pretty Things are a key feature with a thorough and interesting interview with Phil May. There follows an extract from Mr May’s forthcoming autobiography looking at the band’s experiences at the infamous Star Club in Hamburg.

For Small Faces fans, another equally absorbing interview with Ian McLagan followed by a reprint of Robert Haagsma’s interview with Steve Marriott a year before his death retains your attention with ease.

Other notable articles include Thursday’s Children, Carl Douglas and The Big Stampede, The Gears and the song-writing team of Carter and Gilbert.

With a whole host of music reviews as well, Ugly Things magazine is a mighty and very worth while publication.

rsz_nm_nov_2014_soul_up_north

Soul Up North Fanzine

With the advent of social media, the era of the fanzine has been on the decline somewhat, so it was a welcome surprise to see ‘Soul Up North’ arrive at the NUTs office. It would be great to see some more fanzine’s!

Edited by Howard Earnshaw, this is one for the dyed-in-the-wool Northern fan.

Features include the Jessica Records Story (pt 1), The Trey J’s, an interview with Marvin Smith lead singer with the Artistics.

Martin Scragg continues his series of unveiling ‘cover-ups’ and loads of info and reviews of songs supplied by the likes of Steve Plumb, Wayne Hudson, Julie Molloy and Craig Butler to name a few.

Soul Up North fanzine is available by mail order only and at three quid per issue, it’s very good value.

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Manifesto Magazine

October 2014 Issue

Perhaps unsurprisingly, with all the hype over the film, Manifesto is loaded with Northern Soul references.

We have a great interview with writer and director of the film, Elaine Constantine and a nice feature about the film by Gareth Sweeney.

In addition, there are features on Ann Sexton and Leroy Hutson, a review of the Cleethorpes Weekender and the wonderful columns by Keith Rylett, Sean Chapman and Soul Sam (who is playing the NUTs NYE Northern Soul Celebration this year).

If you are a fan of all things soul-related (Northern or not) this is a must-have magazine. Its contributors are first-class and in Mike Ritson, it has a dedicated and highly knowledgable editor too.


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Graham Lentz

AKA ‘The Baron’ - Like many of his generation, The Jam started Graham's love affair with all things mod back in 1977. He is the author of 'The Influential Factor - A History Of Mod' which was originally published in 2002. An extract from the book was re-printed in Paolo Hewitt's 'The Sharper Word - revised edition' in 2011. Being a self-confessed 'broad-church' mod, Graham's interests range from Modern Jazz to today's up-coming new bands and everything in between. Although he has a passion for mod history, he also has a passion for the new. Whether it's music, clubs, media of every kind, clothing, scooters or art and photography, Graham supports, promotes and encourages as much as he can, because that's how we keep going. 'Give it a chance' is his motto. If it's not for you, that's cool, at least you tried it.

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November 16, 2014 By : Category : Front Page Literature Reviews Tags:, , , , , , , , , ,
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Northern Soul – Film Review

‘Northern Soul’ by Elaine Constantine

The ICA, London, SW1Y 5AH – October 2014

The anticipation had reached fever pitch here in the UK for the release of ‘Northern Soul’ by Elaine Constantine. Delays after funding troubles and soundtrack licence issues only added to the great sense of achievement when the cinema doors finally opened. I had heard glowing reports from scene stalwarts who had managed to see the film before its release so I was already won over. A social media campaign ensured that the film was shown in well over one hundred cinemas on the opening weekend. I managed to get along to the Institute of Contemporary Arts on the Mall to see it for myself on the big screen.

It’s a tale of two friends growing up in a small town in the north of England during the early seventies who discover the world of Northern Soul. The main character John played by Elliot James Langridge meets Matt (Josh Whitehouse) by chance at the local youth club and the adventure begins. The two lads dream of travelling to the US to find Northern Soul 45’s and becoming hotshot DJ’s, encouraged by discovering Wigan Casino DJ Ray Henderson (James Lance) cover up record by the Salvadores.

During their journey the two boys come across all sorts of characters in a roller coaster ride of emotions and amphetamine fuelled tragedies, triumphs and tribulations. Plenty of humorous moments including John’s fascination with the excellent Soul sister Angela (Antonia Thomas) which transcends you back to those awkward adolescent teenage years with a smile. In fact that is the beauty of this film it reawakens all those memories and the excitement you felt when you first discovered the scene and other people who shared your passion.

What Elaine also manages to capture with great effect is not only the landscape, clothes, cars, haircuts and language of the era but the excitement and energy in the dance floor scenes which are incredibly hard to film. All those practice and casting sessions clearly paid off as well as promoting talent from within the scene and consulting key people from the era to give ‘Northern Soul’ a rare authenticity.

Naturally the excellent soundtrack is the driving force and had plenty of people shuffling around in their seats whom under normal circumstances would be up dancing and clapping at the appropriate moments but were very encapsulated by the film.

The ICA was full of folks around my age group who really enjoyed the movie however I hope this film will reawaken the long lost tribes and inspire the youth of today to make it their own.

You can purchase the soundtrack as well as the film on DVD but do try and get along and experience the film on the big screen if you can. Check out a list of Cinemas showing the film HERE!


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drrobert

I run The New Untouchables organization and events like the Brighton Mod Weekender, Le Beat Bespoké Festival (and compilation series of the same name) and I co-organize Euro Ye Ye with the Trouble & Tea crew. I have run many clubs over the last 20 years in London, where I live and current nights include Timebox, Zoo Zoo, Crossfire, 100 Club and Mousetrap allnighter which has just celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2011. I have been lucky to DJ all over the globe including Japan, Canada, USA and Europe and met some great people on my journey. I run RnB Records to offset my vinyl addiction: newuntouchables.com/rnbrecords for rare vintage vinyl.

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October 21, 2014 By : Category : Film Front Page Inspiration Media News Picks Reviews Tags:, , ,
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Book & Mags Reviews – Sept 2014

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Elaine Constantine and Gareth Sweeney

Northern Soul – An Illustrated History

The scene has been awash with books this year. Evidence, as if it were needed, that mod culture is at an all-time high in terms of popularity. Every area is or has been covered and Northern Soul is no exception. This book is off the back of a new film of the same title due in selected cinemas very soon.

It is a creditable effort. The photographs are very good. Much of the written content ticks all the boxes from the preceding years of mods fascination with soul music to the Twisted Wheel and beyond. All the names you would expect to see are in there as well. Dave Godin, Roger Eagle, Ian Levine, Ady Croasdell and Richard Serling to mention a few.

I suspect this is more a coffee table addition to the dyed-in-the-wool Northern Soul fan. For those just discovering the music and the scene, this is a good grounding to find out more and lead them on to more detailed and specific works.

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Scootering Magazine Supplement

50 Years Of Mod In The Media

There was a modicum of mainstream coverage of the events of 1964 on the beaches of Brighton, Clacton and Margate. After all, it is 50 years since then, but was it really worth ‘glamourising’ what went on? Reminiscing about punch ups and the like?

Thankfully, Scootering Magazine got it right, (as they usually do) with a special supplement in the August edition. Titled ‘Celebrating 50 Years Of Mod In The Media’, it was placed in the very capable hands of Mark ‘Sarge’ Sargeant to pull the whole thing together and what a fine job he did too.

Outlining the whys and wherefores with his introduction, there follows a series of special interviews with mods from down the generations and brief overviews of key periods over the decades.

With the likes of our own Rob Bailey, Eddie Piller, John Hellier, Ray Dredge and Maria Veall not only supplying interviews, but some great photos, this is hardly a ‘usual suspects’ edition.

If you didn’t manage to get a copy, you could probably obtain it from the Scootering website, but I would highly recommend it. It is a wonderful addition to any collection of mod memorabilia, and there is also a nice piece on a mod author by the name of Graham Lentz (who ever he is !)


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Graham Lentz

AKA ‘The Baron’ - Like many of his generation, The Jam started Graham's love affair with all things mod back in 1977. He is the author of 'The Influential Factor - A History Of Mod' which was originally published in 2002. An extract from the book was re-printed in Paolo Hewitt's 'The Sharper Word - revised edition' in 2011. Being a self-confessed 'broad-church' mod, Graham's interests range from Modern Jazz to today's up-coming new bands and everything in between. Although he has a passion for mod history, he also has a passion for the new. Whether it's music, clubs, media of every kind, clothing, scooters or art and photography, Graham supports, promotes and encourages as much as he can, because that's how we keep going. 'Give it a chance' is his motto. If it's not for you, that's cool, at least you tried it.

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September 18, 2014 By : Category : Front Page Literature Reviews Tags:, , ,
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Live! – Monty Python

This entry is part 13 of 20 in the series Live!

London O2, July 3, 26 & 20 2014

Reviewing this show was always going to be an unenviable task, especially for any writer wishing to deliver an objective critique without sounding like an obsessive fan. Such is our lot.

Not that there’s anything wrong with fandom per se, but, surely, given the legend (most influential comedy troupe ever, without whom the Goodies, Comic Strip, Mary Whitehouse Experience and even the heretics of Not The Nine O Clock News would not have existed) 30 years’ worth of expectations, and the respective ages of all five performers (six including Carol Cleveland), the end result could only disappoint, right? Actually, wrong and, perhaps, before going off on one, the self-appointed naysayers (who had their knives poised from the get-go, yet somehow still secured press passes more easily than NUTsmag, thus placing me in another unenviable position) should have given more thought to precisely what they were expecting. Sure, it’s blatant nostalgia, and often comes across as a big queens’ musical revue, but the trick is to accept what you get- a jaunt down memory lane, largely comprised of old faves, but with sufficient surprises, updates, and if you’re lucky, new twists to throw you- rather than moaning about what you don’t.

Besides, in no way could MP 2014 resemble even the beast that existed at the end of its touring career in 1982, far less the original model which revolutionised British culture in 1969: tempus has fugited, one founder has “expired and gone to meet his maker”, and more pertinently, society has irreversibly changed, with old ladies now resembling Marianne Faithfull more than any ‘pepperpot’, young women performing a far wider range of roles than those written for Carol, Connie Booth or Katya Wyeth, gay men no longer relying on screamingly camp or muscularly butch stereotypes, the traditional upper-class slowly dwindling into extinction, and sex discussed so openly that characters like the Nudge Nudge man are now extinct. Even 1983’s Meaning Of Life, featuring far more sex, gore and violence than its predecessors, seems quaint now in a world acclimatised to the nihilism of Nighty Night, the grotesques of The League Of Gentlemen, the social embarrassment of Gervais, Coogan and Baron-Cohen, and sheer nonsense of Big Train, the Boosh and Jinsy: having witnessed all the above drag the Monty template of surrealism and silliness down darker, sicker back alleys, anyone still expecting ‘cutting edge’ humour would clearly be barking up the wrong tree.

From a New Untouchables perspective, on the other hand (and for the benefit of anyone wondering what this review is doing here to begin with), they remain as iconic to the late 1960s/early 70s scene as David Bailey, Twiggy, Donovan or the Nimble Bread balloon, resembling at times not so much a re-trod comic act but a reunited (if slightly raddled round the edges) rock’n’roll band -which, latterly, they practically were in their long-haired hedonistic demeanour. Indeed, several writers have even gone so far as to suggest that Python, more than any “legitimate” rock act, were the 70s’ true inheritors of the Beatles’ mantle, an assertion which not only statistics (listing them alongside the likes of the Who, Stones, Kinks, Wings, Zeppelin, Floyd, Foghat, ELO, Humble Pie, Bad Co and Moody Blues as one of the top highest grossing British acts Stateside that decade), but the peer respect accorded them, would seem to corroborate- and that’s before one even considers the Bonzos connection. Not bad for a bunch of shy, retiring thespians from Cambridge Footlights and their secretarial sidekick.

The next questions immediately facing NUTsmag are therefore of a more practical nature, such as whether Terry Gilliam’s quintessentially psychedelic animations will still be present: thankfully (though cynics might claim they simply provide breath-catching time for five old men, one old lady and a zillion dancers betwixt  costume changes) they remain in abundance, linking  in quasi- hallucinogenic union John Cleese’s authoritarian, ranting persona (“I’m the head of the fucking Catholic Church!!”) with Michael Palin’s conversational drawing room humour, Terry Jones’ more “wittering” roles, the animator’s unhinged lunacy as a performer, and most noticeably, Eric Idle’s newfound status as circus ringmaster. Admittedly, especially considering how his pursuit of other projects seemed formerly set to nix it, one may be puzzled by how much of the reunion seems largely of Idle’s devising, with about 40 % of proceedings revolving around his songcraft- but thankfully, he displays no visible desire to outshine his colleagues, who all seem happy to work to his template while still playing to their respective strengths.

Unavoidably, deliveries are sometimes stilted, lines are read from cue-cards by Jones and Cleese (alluded to repeatedly during “Whizzo Chocolates”), memories aren’t what they were (resulting in corpses, fluffs, and much spontaneous ad-libbing) , throats are croakier, and Cleese’s inability at 74 to perform any Silly Walks sees them worked instead into a new chorus routine, entitled, ironically, in the face of the (some may say) exorbitant ticket prices, “Money Is The Root Of Evil”. Elsewhere, with its reliance on crowdpleasers (“Four Yorkshiremen” “Sperm” “Lumberjack” “Bruce Philosophy” “Spam” “Sit On My Face” “Spanish Inquisition” “Argument”) the show often resembles a Stones stadium gig with emphasis on the hits, and some of the older, quainter material jars initially with the more visceral style of 78-83. Yet perseverance yields several rewards for the connoisseur, with the Exploding Penguin, the Man Who Talks In Anagrams (sashaying nicely into “I Like Chinese”) the Accountant Lion Tamer, the Transvestite Judges, and Cleese’s most demented creation Anne Elk (Miss) all dropping by to say hello.

“Blackmail” is, admittedly, spoilt by the inclusion of nightly “surprise guests”, but its very inclusion still suggests, like the equally unexpected opener “Llamas” that maybe this isn’t the cheesefest predicted after all. Similarly, the Dead Parrot dovetails with the Cheese Shop and the Stolen Wallet in a manner just precarious enough to be tight but sloppy enough to be spontaneous: in truth, the choice of “Christmas In Heaven” (never one of their best moments), as the finale is the only glaring error, further compounded by the live continuation of Graham C’s part by the irksomely boybandish ‘lead singer’ of the chorus, but it does provide another opportunity to show the late doctor in action, and demonstrate how, at 71, Cleveland still has a figure to die for. Even I’d let my great aunt dress like that if she looked that good.

Sadly, even after 150 minutes, the end- which, on the last night, is THE end, can come too soon: as “spontaneous encore” (tee hee) “Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life” concludes with massed curtain calls, the backdrop displays the slogan “Graham Chapman 1941-89”, soon followed by “Monty Python 1969-2014” and “Piss Off”, and realisation sinks in that it is all over. They are no more, have ceased to be, and are no longer even the Knights who say ecky-ecky-ecky-p’tang, let alone Ni: inevitably, many exit complaining of omissions, but were they to perform everything, they’d still be there now. Let’s just be thankful they were there at all.

In short, they pulled it off. Now, do you want to come back to my place?


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Darius Drewe

Darius Drewe was born in East London in 1974. As a small child, both parents inflicted their musical tastes, from The Beatles and The Moody Blues to Ella Fitzgerald and Miles Davis, on him, and he was never the same again. Despite being born and bred a 'Cockney tosser', Drewe actually spent his teenage years in and around Birmingham, attending his first 60s/50s-themed nights there at The Ship Ashore, before "coming home" in 1993 to the South, where, with the exception of three years spent in Glasgow between 2007-2010, he has remianed ever since. In the almost two decades that have passed he has trod a strange meandering path from a shy 60s/70s-obsessed teen with no 'scene' to speak of to a Metalhead, sleaze-glammie, Goth, indie kid, glam-punker, garage-rocker, eventual Mod and psych freak (first attending Mousetrap in 2000) In that time he's also written for Shindig! Britmovie, DarkSide, Black Velvet and Get Ready To Rock, promoted various vintage and veteran acts at Camden Underworld, Glasgow Ivory Blacks and several other venues, DJed everything from psych, garage and soul to Metal at practically every well-known club in central London. Drewe is trying to build a time machine that will enable him to visit any period between 1960 and 1980 but still be able to use a mobile and Facebook. His ambition, aside from directing films and building said machine, is to morph into a cross between Jason King, Timmy Lea, Jerry Cornelius and Richard Hannay, and drift about the ether having adventures in a kipper tie, pinstriped flares and camel hair coat.

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September 18, 2014 By : Category : Front Page Reviews Satire Tags:, ,
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Book & Mags Reviews – Feb 2014

This entry is part 7 of 7 in the series Book Reviews

Mojo Magazine

March 2014

Every-so-often, one of the hard copy magazines seems to put out an ‘almost total’ mod edition. Given that there is no-such-thing as a ‘mod culture’ magazine available at your nearest shopping centre (we don’t have high streets anymore do we? It’s so last century !) This issue of Mojo is one of those occasions where mod is the dominant force mainly because of a few major events in music happening at the same time.

Front and centre are the Small Faces. The Immediate box set ‘Here Come The Nice’ being the focus of the main feature, while Mojo itself, comes with a very handy 15 track cd of Small Faces-related material. Actress Maxine Peake gives us a glimpse of her musical tastes, which is neatly timed as she can be seen in the upcoming film ‘Svengali’ with Jonny Owen, Vicky McClure and Martin Freeman.

There’s a great interview with Wilko Johnson and Roger Daltry about their recent collaboration and a ‘must read’ article by Bob Mehr on the Hi record label that gave us Al Green, Ann Peebles and O.V. Wright.

Mark Paytress does the honours with the Small Faces, while Jeff Dexter gives an insiders view of 60s Mod as Mojo celebrates 50 years since Mod hit mainstream consciousness, all of which is finished off with our very own Rob Bailey talking about the Modstock Easter weekender. Mojo March 2014 edition is one of those ‘keepers’ me thinks.

 

Scootering Magazine

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February 2014

The ‘bible’ in terms of our beloved two-wheeled motor transport has had something of an editorial shift. Gone are the music based features that were, for me, one of the many things I loved about Scootering. The decision to refocus on solely scooter-related matters may be something of a calculated risk. Only time will tell.

That said, the features are still quality, although I would beg to differ with Andy Gillard on the pros and cons of social media’s impact on the scene. He makes a well-thought out case, but I’m not sure I would agree. The ‘Another Man’s Cause’ custom Lammy GP is a treat and the reviews of ride outs and club nights are still going strong, but I hope this refocusing project doesn’t have any adverse impact in the future.

 

Shindig Magazine

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Issue 36

Shindig is without doubt one of the magazines I buy on a regular basis. As with all good magazines, it always has something interesting and informative about music from a certain perspective. Unlike its nearest rivals, Shindig  gives time and space to more contemporary bands and this issue is no different to past publications.

Along with some updates and info on Graham Day & The Forefathers and The Wicked Whispers, there are also some great features on Black Power music, The Purple Barrier, The Artwoods, Country Joe & The Fish and my personal fav, a terrific piece by Carl Tweed on Big Jim Sullivan.

The reviews section is always packed and consistently fair. If you haven’t seen this magazine yet, I suggest you grab a copy of issue 37 when it’s out. It will be money well spent.


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Graham Lentz

AKA ‘The Baron’ - Like many of his generation, The Jam started Graham's love affair with all things mod back in 1977. He is the author of 'The Influential Factor - A History Of Mod' which was originally published in 2002. An extract from the book was re-printed in Paolo Hewitt's 'The Sharper Word - revised edition' in 2011. Being a self-confessed 'broad-church' mod, Graham's interests range from Modern Jazz to today's up-coming new bands and everything in between. Although he has a passion for mod history, he also has a passion for the new. Whether it's music, clubs, media of every kind, clothing, scooters or art and photography, Graham supports, promotes and encourages as much as he can, because that's how we keep going. 'Give it a chance' is his motto. If it's not for you, that's cool, at least you tried it.

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March 7, 2014 By : Category : Front Page Literature Reviews Tags:, ,
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Book & Mags Reviews – Nov 2013 (Part 2)

This entry is part 5 of 7 in the series Book Reviews

Tadhg Taylor

Top Fellas – The Story Of Melbourne’s Sharpie Cult

This was a very pleasant and thoroughly enjoyable surprise when the postman dropped it into the Nutsmag office. It is the third edition of a book that came out in 2004 and is an in-depth look at the ‘Sharpies’. They were a kind of youth cult that was not quite Mod, nor Skinhead, but somewhere in between and was uniquely Australian. More specifically, it was uniquely Melbourne. Tadhg Taylor has done a brilliant job obtaining the interviews with the key characters from the early sixties when it all started, through to the late seventies and early eighties when it finally lost its appeal to new young recruits and fizzled out. Being something of a consumer of Mod and youth sub-culture history, I found this book to be hugely entertaining, but more importantly, informative and interesting. A book like this is important because of its historical value. It highlights the rise of mod due to immigrants from the UK arriving in the early to mid sixties and bringing their style with them.

‘Sharpies’ were the Australian interpretation with their own style and became almost a fore-runner of what we in the UK might liken to a Soulboy/Skinhead hybrid look. One thing is for certain though, these lads were as hard as they come and the gang rivalry is quite frightening, even on the written page. While it is true, there are not a vast number of photos in this book, the ones that are included are also of historical importance. ‘Sharpies’ had their own favourite bands as well. The Easybeats, Billy Thorpe, Max Merritt and the Meteors, Chelsea Set, Purple Hearts featuring Lobby Loyde. Then into the seventies Coloured Balls, Rose Tattoo and…. yes…. AC/DC.

‘Top Fellas’ is 121 pages of insight into a fairly unknown sub-culture and for that reason alone, it is well worth buying. Now, does anyone know where I can get an original Conny cardigan? BUY HERE!

Blues Magazine

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Issue 9

If you like all things Blues, then this is the magazine for you. Packed full of great features and interviews, it also comes with a cd sampler. Of particular interest in this issue are the great pictures that accompany Claudia Elliott’s article on photography legend Gered Mankowitz, who has an exhibition and book of his career out now.

I also liked the comparison piece looking at three interpretations of the blues standard ‘Need Your Love So Bad’, the story of Howlin’ Wolf’s recording sessions in London in the sixties and a look at the life and times of Ike and Tina Turner. The mag does keep up with the current movers and shakers on the scene now, so you always know what’s going on.

Scootering Magazine

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October 2013 Issue

I know I don’t review every issue of this ‘instituion’ because anyone with even a passing interest in all things Scooters or Mod will know about it and read it. However, there are times throughout the year when I do need to bring certain issues to your attention and October’s issue is one such. As well as all the usual features and Scooters, they have continued their wonderful ‘Scooter Sounds’ page with Bad Manners’ ‘Ska ‘n’ B’ in focus. Also of particular interest are the two reviews of both Euro YeYe at Gijon and the Brighton August Bank Holiday. Our thanks to Sarge, for the coverage.

Shindig Magazine

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Issue 35

With Jon Mills and Andy Morton at the helm, Shindig never fails to produce the goods. The second part of the Nilsson feature is as superb as the first. Also included are interviews with Young Sinclairs (who I rather like), the venerable Mike Stax who has been a stalwart of the US scene and the man behind ‘Ugly Things’ magazine and a double-header of sorts: a terrific piece on the bands and LPs inspired and influenced by The Beatles, followed by an in-depth interview with Neil Innes about the career of The Rutles. In some ways I wish this mag was published a little more often, but you can’t deny the quality.

Ultimate Music Guide Magazine

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Small Faces

The last time I reviewed an edition of this magazine was almost a year ago when they did one on Paul Weller. This time the Small Faces get the full treatment and again, you will not be disappointed. The premise is to reproduce original articles and interviews with the band from their earliest days and although it is titled as the Small Faces issue, the mag continues after Steve Marriott left the band, and looks at the careers of Humble Pie and Marriott after that band fell apart. It also examines The Faces, Rod Stewart, Ronnie Lane’s solo career and with Slim Chance. The photos are fantastic as are the original interviews which really put you at the heart of where the various bands and members were over the years. I wonder who will be next in the ‘Mod legend’ category to get the ‘Ultimate Music Guide’ treatment?


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Graham Lentz

AKA ‘The Baron’ - Like many of his generation, The Jam started Graham's love affair with all things mod back in 1977. He is the author of 'The Influential Factor - A History Of Mod' which was originally published in 2002. An extract from the book was re-printed in Paolo Hewitt's 'The Sharper Word - revised edition' in 2011. Being a self-confessed 'broad-church' mod, Graham's interests range from Modern Jazz to today's up-coming new bands and everything in between. Although he has a passion for mod history, he also has a passion for the new. Whether it's music, clubs, media of every kind, clothing, scooters or art and photography, Graham supports, promotes and encourages as much as he can, because that's how we keep going. 'Give it a chance' is his motto. If it's not for you, that's cool, at least you tried it.

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November 25, 2013 By : Category : Front Page Literature Reviews Tags:, , , , , , ,
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Book & Mags Reviews – Nov 2013 (Part 1)

This entry is part 6 of 7 in the series Book Reviews

A Clockwork Orange

A Clockwork Orange
Anthony Burgess

Published in 1962 it is becoming increasingly difficult to ascertain whether the literary masterpiece that is Anthony Burgess’ ‘A Clockwork Orange’ has had the impact on youth (sub)cultures that many proclaim it has, or indeed whether it is Stanley Kubrick’s 1971 cinematic portrayal with it’s heavily modern/pop art influenced stylising, fashions, sets and architecture. A portrayal quoted by Burgess as being “badly flawed”. Kubrick’s film was interestingly the second adaptation of the book – the first being the little known ‘Vinyl’ directed by one Andy Warhol.

Due to the conflicts of aesthetics between the two one could strongly argue the latter – its main participants being dressed in black with waistcoats and cravats. A far cry to the visually aped-by-many attire of the young Malcolm McDowell .

Having first read A Clockwork Orange during the early 1990’s, at a time when Kubrick’s film was still officially banned in the UK, I was immediately thrown and confused, yet enamoured, to the (I now see) wondrous use of’‘nadsa’ – the street tongue dialect of our antihero, Alex and his wily gang of cohorts, affectionately and tribally referred to as his ‘droogs’.

Set against a dystopian and futuristic backdrop, Alex is the atypical 15 year old young man, whose desire and pursuits in life firmly revolve around the satisfaction of desire – be it sexually, violently, psychotropically or aurally – through his passionate desire for the music of Beethoven, whose music makes Alex stir, feel moved, driven and alive – a comparison easily levied against most or all sub-cultures since their post-war emergence with the Teddy Boys and Mods.

Set in three parts, each detailing a significant and specific part of Alex’s life, part one begins at the Korova Milk Bar, where our gang of unruly droogs sit drinking the establishments finest Milk Plus – a little concoction made of milk and laced with whatever chemical stimulant one requires – whilst plotting their nights activities. A night which invariably will encounter the vilest of antisocial behaviour from rape to theft to gang warfare to senseless and opportunistic violence on whomever crosses their paths.

Burgess perfectly portrays young Alex as the iconic face of anti-establishment, the ultimate anarchist, the cock sured teenager with an answer for everything and not a jot of remorse for his actions and who they effect. The literary genius of Burgess now comes into play as the figure you feel you should revile, despise and hate throughout the books 200 or so pages very quickly becomes ‘your’ hero in the tale as he takes on the system in his determined battle to exercise his own thought and his freewill.

Ultimately, and not surprisingly caught out in his activities, the second and third parts all revolve around Alex’s time spent with the authorities – his gang of droogs having deserted him – and the innovative aversion therapy used to kerb his desires, triggered by the sounds of his beloved Wolfgang Amadeus.

Initially published with twenty-one chapters, the UK release of the book saw the omission of the final chapter in which Alex realises the error of his ways and ultimately that all he thought was right was wrong. Now available in either format the omission or inclusion of this concluding chapter has both its faults and merits, and that is ultimately a matter for the reader to decide.

What A Clockwork Orange in it’s literary form has done more than anything is to shape and influence all those who come into contact with it. Be it Warhol’s surreal adaptation or Kubrick’s iconic visualisation or the sensibilities of all youth cultures that followed, with its scripture of being accepted, of being part of the tribe and fervently adhering to the principles and uniform of whichever one you choose. Life choices that we all make in the bloom of our adolescence.

So, what’s it going to be then eh?

Publisher: Penguin; Re-issue edition (7 April 2011) ISBN-13: 978-0241951446 BUY HERE!

Absolute Beginners

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Absolute BeginnersColin MacInnes

Colin MacInnes’ Absolute Beginners is the book, more so than any other, which has stamped its place well and truly in the annals of modernist history. Though heavily referenced and recognised to this day, I am very surprised by the amount of people I meet who have never indulged in the pages of this landmark novel set in Soho (amongst other notable locations) in the summer of 1958 at the birth of the movement.

Like many, I was never eager to read the book myself – having seen the somewhat neon glow and wooden cinematic portrayal of the story starring David Bowie, Ray Davies and Patsy Kensit, amongst other celebrities of the early eighties. However, with my own tastes and styles edging more towards the late 50’s and modern jazz as a musical genre, thought it about time I did.

Arguably containing the first cultural reference to mod culture – describing young style obsessed, Modern-Jazz loving Brits with a passion for smoky clubs and coffee bars as ‘Modernists’ – Absolute Beginners is the tale of the nameless narrator and central character’s quest to living his life on his own terms. Striving to stay a step ahead of others in terms of wit, mentality and most of all, style. Whilst avoiding the pitfalls of the post-war adult generation that surrounds him, our narrator makes a living as a freelance photographer to the straight, the crooked and the seedy of London.

MacInnes captures the essence of the period detailing the birth of the ‘teenager’ and the struggles they face, which makes one realise that though times, politics, cultures and fashions have developed, Absolute Beginners is as relevant today as when it was first published.

Though not a book that is truly defined as having any great and gripping story, its main and central theme appears to be the narrator’s wish for us to view his life, his eclectic friends and aesthetic surroundings through his own eyes. The references to Jazz are many and one can sense the passion our narrator has for music – a theme that has stuck firm throughout the history of mod and its many incarnations and generations that followed.

Of what plot there is in Absolute Beginners is the peppering throughout of the narrators ongoing desire and attempts to rekindle his relationship with his ex-girlfriend, Suzette, who is on the verge of entering into a marriage of convenience with her boss.

What is most striking and defining and ultimately special about the book however, is its portrayal and literary visualization of a piece of London’s past that has remained paramount to the foundations of a youth culture that has endured half a century. The snapshot created whilst reading of this now semi-mythical view of the smoky streets of Soho only serves to clarify the visions dreamt up in the mind of the birth of Mod, before its explosion into mass consciousness via the media in 1964 – a period of the movement that has been rarely captured on camera.

Though not filled with the kind of references one is so used to in a book with mod as it’s central subject, there can be no doubt that Absolute Beginners was not only a manuscript that detailed the birth of a movement from the eyes of a protagonist, but was, and has remained the original style guide for modernists for well over five decades.

‘College-boy smooth crop hair with burned in parting, neat white Italian rounded-collared shirt, short Roman jacket very tailored (two little vents, three buttons), no turn-up narrow trousers with 17-inch bottoms absolute maximum, pointed toe shoes and a white mac lying folded by his side.’

As a document that gave us everything else to come, Absolute Beginners has stayed the test of time for good reason. We should all own it.

Publisher: ALLISON & BUSBY (13 Jun 2011) ISBN-13: 978-0749009984
BUY HERE!


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Lord Savage

Bitten by the bug as a child in 1981 after being fed a mix of his fathers rock n'roll and his brothers 2 Tone records, David became involved in the Mod scene through a healthy diet of the revival, the Buzzcocks and Dexys Midnight Runners. Having first attended the Mousetrap in 1997 and spending time at both the New Untouchables and, the now defunct, Untouchables events he took a period of scene paternity leave in 2003 to rejoin again and find things as healthy, diverse and as vibrant as his obsession with hair straighteners. Now proud to be in the NUTs fold, David began working as the New Untouchables Social Media Manager in September 2012 and can generally be found chasing people around the depths of the Mousetrap with his dodgy pink camera. Crate digger, OCD hooverer, vintage shop raider, jazz listener, scooter tinkerer, wine drinker and cheese enthusiast. Sums it up nicely!

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November 13, 2013 By : Category : Front Page Literature Reviews Tags:, , , , , , , , ,
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Book & Mags Reviews – Sep 2013

This entry is part 4 of 7 in the series Book Reviews

Mods! A Very British Style by Richard Weight & published by Bodley Head

This book has courted controversy within mod circles so I was keen to read it and make my own mind up. The author Richard Weight has tried to analyse and put together a convincing case that mod culture has had a lasting and continuing effect on British cultural life and social change. My initial thoughts were why? Why would anyone but an academic attempt to do such a thing?

The other big question is: Who is this book aimed at other than the academic community or those studying sociology? There is a Mod related book released almost every month now and herein lies the problem I suspect as the author has tried to come at the subject from a different angle. Sadly it just doesn’t work or inspire me. The other annoying thing it is littered with factual inaccuracies and written in such a dense style as to be almost unreadable.

While it’s true that the authors Hewitt, Rawlings and Barnes feature heavily in the extensive notes, for the most part, the other sources with a few notable exceptions (Piller, Savage, Elms etc) are simply more people from the academic world.

Finally there is far too much emphasis placed on Sixties icons like Quant, Hulaniki, The Beatles and The Who. To sum up I found the whole book a struggle and would have been a bit disappointed if I found this in my Christmas stocking.


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Graham Lentz

AKA ‘The Baron’ - Like many of his generation, The Jam started Graham's love affair with all things mod back in 1977. He is the author of 'The Influential Factor - A History Of Mod' which was originally published in 2002. An extract from the book was re-printed in Paolo Hewitt's 'The Sharper Word - revised edition' in 2011. Being a self-confessed 'broad-church' mod, Graham's interests range from Modern Jazz to today's up-coming new bands and everything in between. Although he has a passion for mod history, he also has a passion for the new. Whether it's music, clubs, media of every kind, clothing, scooters or art and photography, Graham supports, promotes and encourages as much as he can, because that's how we keep going. 'Give it a chance' is his motto. If it's not for you, that's cool, at least you tried it.

More Posts - Website - Twitter - Facebook

September 20, 2013 By : Category : Front Page Literature Reviews Tags:, , ,
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