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Thursday, 2nd Oct 2014
"Look, I don't wanna be the same as everybody else. That's why I'm a mod, see? I mean, you gotta be somebody, ain't ya, or you might as well jump in the sea and drown."
It’s 35 years since Quadrophenia, the iconic Mod cult film, hit the world’s cinema screens. The film follows the story of Jimmy Cooper, a London Mod, disillusioned by his parents and his job as a post room boy in an advertising firm. Jimmy’s search for identity is portrayed against the backdrop of 60s Brighton and the May Bank Holiday riots, as the film perfectly captures teenage angst and the need to belong and identify with your peers.
By late 1978, a new generation had become bored with the punk explosion. The commercialisation of its original ideals, along with the failure of second-generation punk bands, all contributed to the decline of punk. A fresh approach was needed, and British youth looked back to the 60s for inspiration. The late 70s saw The Jam emerge onto the scene. Paul Weller, the suit-wearing, self-confessed Mod who played fast and furious 60s style rock fused with Punk ethos and edge.
The Who’s 1973 album Quadrophenia got the ball rolling with the Mod Revival, but the film (released in 1979) caught the imagination of British youth. Quadrophenia made the Mod scene more accessible and exciting to a new generation of British kids. Considered wardrobes and dance moves, pushing slashed trousers, pins and zip addenda aside. That was then, this is now: Modernism future focused and refreshed. With Jimmy, the film’s protagonist wearing the Fred Perry shirt in the film, the pure and minimalist shirt naturally became a core part of the Mod revival wardrobe.
As the Mod Revival progressed into the 80s it receded and went underground. All-nighters, scooters and amphetamines became a way of life in the harsh environment of the early 80s post-industrial Britain. As mainstream music labels looked to cash in on the ‘scene’, the Mods looked back to music with meaning. Soul music started to return to record collections, with bands such as Secret Affair covering old Soul records such as “Going to a Go-Go” by Smokey Robinson.
The Mod Revival was mutating and splintering – like all true British Subcultures. Just as it was acknowledged by the mainstream, it altered and changed its appearance and approach. The unique chameleon ability of British youth, to look the establishment square in the eye and subvert it.
The movement now embraced a variety of influences, alongside its obsession with sharp clothes and 60s style. Giving working class youth an opportunity to make a statement about their self-belief. The revivalist Mods, and the Quadrophenia film, redefined a culture that lives on today. Clean living in difficult circumstances.
Published by Countdown Books earlier this year, Quadrophenia: A Way of Life explores the making of the cult mod flick and its subsequent influence on popular culture. The book features interviews with principal cast members, along with director Franc Roddam, scriptwriter Martin Stellman and other involved in the creation of the film, it is the definitive account of Britain’s greatest cult movie, as well as the embodiment of the 70s Mod Revival.
You can order Simon Wells' "Quadrophenia: A Way of Life" from Countdown Books, along with their other excellent titles dealing with British Subcultures of the Twentieth Century.
Images: (Top) We are the Mods - Toyah Wilcox, Sting, Phil Daniels and Leslie Ash in the iconic Mods and Rockers stand-off. (Middle) Cameras and crew brave the waves to shoot the infamous Bank Holiday Riot scene. (Bottom) Director Franc Rodddam on set.
All images courtesy of Countdown Books.
Thursday, 21st Aug 2014
Pictured above, “Amy Winehouse” by Horace Panter
The Amy Winehouse Foundation has recently launched a new and innovative project, targeted towards young people from the Borough of Camden that aspire to work in the music industry. The Foundation strives to help young people in need, already giving support to many young people through various schemes and programmes.
Camden Music Works – supported by the Amy Winehouse Foundation - sees 10 young people aged 18-24 who are not in full-time employment, education or training, embark on a 6-week long scheme designed to provide individuals with the necessary skills, knowledge and experience to gain a successful career in the music world.
The scheme has partnered with iconic labels and companies such as Camden Lock Market Ltd, Tower 47, MTV, Island Records and Black Butter Records - home of Fred Perry Sub-Culture alumni Clean Bandit, Gorgon City, Bi-Polar Sunshine and Joel Compass.
With this project, The Amy Winehouse Foundation hopes to open barriers for individuals by gaining the right experience to increase their chances of beginning a career in an industry they are passionate about.
Camden is an area of London that has strong links with the music. Going back to the mid-60’s, a disused railway yard was turned into a counter-culture landmark - the infamous Camden Roundhouse – still very much a relevant music venue today.
Over the course of a decade, the Roundhouse became a significant venue for UK underground music events, as well as staging some of the most experimental, controversial and memorable performances of the 60’s. Pink Floyd, The Rolling Stones, David Bowie, The Clash, and the Sex Pistols are just some of the acts who performed there.
The following decade saw a number of new venues spring up, including several that continue to this day. “Dingwells” (1973), “The Music Machine” (aka Camden Palace) (1977) and the “Electric Ballroom” (1978).
Meanwhile, pubs like “The Falcon”, “Dublin Castle”, “Monarch” and “The Hawley Arms” also began putting on gigs. Amy Winehouse herself was a regular at both the Monarch and the Hawley Arms, where she often performed or played DJ sets. These venues and their openness to music continued to cultivate and diversify the Camden underground music scene.
New audiences were flocking to Camden with the likes of “The Underworld” - a predominantly punk, metal and hard-rock venue and the “Jazz Café” (1990), which was one of Amy’s favourite venues to perform in. Her love for Jazz and Soul were prominent in her music, influenced by Dinah Washington and Thelonious Monk.
In the 70s and 80s, Camden Lock Market was a mecca for subcultural clothing. From Punk to New Romantics, Mod to Skinhead, Camden immediately stood out from other London markets for its eclectic personality that ran counter to mainstream fashion. The stalls have expanded and diversified with time and still provide some of the most individual clothing Britain has to offer.
Camden’s deep music and counter culture heritage make it a natural fit to cement Amy’s legacy and nurture a new generation of musicians. Especially, as the area was so close to Amy’s heart.
Thanks to Horace Panter – www.horacepanterart.com
View our new season Amy Winehouse Foundation collaboration online here > http://bit.ly/1nHklTW
Friday, 4th Jul 2014
Britain dominated the world of lawn tennis in the mid 1930s. For three years, Fred Perry was the undisputed world number one, winning a string of major titles and a hat-trick of Wimbledon titles through 1934-1936.
Today, Fred Perry holds an iconic status. With his victories embedded in history along with his incredibly successful sportswear brand, his legacy is immensely influential to this day.
Born Frederick John Perry on 18 May, 1909, in Stockport. His father Sam was a cotton spinner who worked for the local Co-operative Party, and was summoned to London to work full-time at the party HQ. Fred attended Ealing County School, London and it was there that he was introduced to the world of table tennis.
Fred practiced the game every night and in 1928, he had won the world championship. At which point, he retired from the sport to concentrate on his new obsession – lawn tennis.
He had discovered the game whilst on a family holiday in Eastbourne four years earlier. Stumbling upon a local tournament, he was curious to who the cars parked near the courts belonged to; the spectators or the players? When his father replied ‘the players’, Fred declared that he would become one himself. At the time, tennis belonged to the upper classes, and this was an audacious statement from a working class boy from Stockport.
Fred began training under one Pop Summers, who insisted that he master the art of returning the ball early. It was the only stroke Fred practiced for months. Finally, it integrated into his natural game play and began to devastate his opponents.
Fred Perry’s domination of British tennis began in 1933. He helped lead the Great Britain team to victory over France in the Davis Cup, the first victory in 21 years. The following year he won the Australian Open.
It was 1934 when Perry got his first Wimbledon title. Triumphing over Australian Jack Crawford in the men’s singles, he still faced many who saw him as “not one of us”. Journalists watching him defeat Crawford commented on the “strange lack of excitement” among spectators. Fred’s elation at taking the title turned to anger when he overheard a Wimbledon committee member talking to Crawford after the match, exclaiming, “This is one day when the best man didn’t win”.
Despite the social prejudice, Fred Perry went on to have his name inscribed on three consecutive Wimbledon titles, as well as major singles trophies in France, United States and Australia. Suffocated by the stifling class system and prejudice, within the English lawn tennis association, Fred left Britain to help form the professional tennis circuit in America. Leaving British tennis with a void it struggled to fill for many decades.
The 80 Year Signature Collection, was released on the 6th July, 80 years to the day that Fred Perry first triumphed at Wimbledon. See it online here.