Monday, 29 October 2012
Thursday, 25 October 2012
Ahead of the re-release of 'The Gift' on November 19th, Paul Weller will be discussing the landmark album for a special BBC Radio 4 show.
Part of the station's Mastertapes series, Weller will be interviewed about The Jam's final album by John Wilson in front of a studio audience on November 1st (a small number of fans will be able to join the audience).
There will also be the opportunity to ask Paul your questions after the interview.
BBC Radio 4 say, “The Gift was released in March 1982 and was the band's only Number 1 album. Musically it marked the departure from the classic Jam sound to a more soul-influenced style, ushering in Weller's ideas for the Style Council.
The album did not just focus on the state of society, it had a lot to say about where music was going in the 1980s. 'The Gift' includes the classic Number 1 ‘Town Called Malice’ as well as ‘Running On The Spot’ and ‘Carnation’.”
Monday, 22 October 2012
“Movers & Shakers” by Paul Hooper-Keeley
I recently had the very great pleasure to ask Richard some questions about his memories of the Mod world: -
Paul Hooper-Keeley: Your book, ‘Mods!’ is almost as synonymous with the Mod revival period as was the release of the film, Quadrophenia. How did the book come about?
Richard Barnes: The Mods! book came about because I got a phone call from Pete Townshend, my best friend, who was in a band closely associated with the Mods, suggesting I do two books, One was on skateboarding (very current at that time) and the other was on Mods. As I knew nothing about skateboarding I turned down the first idea. The second idea was intended to be about both the original Mods and the then new Mods, this would be about 1978. A mod revival had developed in the seventies inspired (probably) by the 1973 album Quadrophenia and boosted by the Franc Roddam's fabuloso film about the sixties Mods, based on the Who's Quadrophenia album.
PHK: In your book, you say that you weren’t a Mod yourself but an art school student; when did you first become aware of Mod fashions?
RB: Although I hadn't been a mod in the sixties, I'd been closely involved with the Who from the early days. The Who's mod/Pete Meaden phase, as the High Numbers, coincided with my running a club in North West London, the Railway Hotel in Wealdstone, which, along with the Shepherd's Bush Goldhawk Club, became the High Numbers mod launch pad and quickly transformed into a major mod venue (See 1964 footage of High Numbers at Railway on Amazing Journey DVD – or YouTube). A few years earlier I'd been involved with the staged mod photo shoots for the 44-page book that accompanied the original 1973 Quadrophenia album.
I had firm views on rock and pop books at that time. I didn't rate most of them as they were written by journalists who weren't speaking from experience but from a few lazy researched phone calls. I said that I didn't know much about, let alone understand, the new Mods, so I would just do a book on the original Mods.
I did some research on the new Mods. Interviewing some and went to see a band that I was told were a new mod band at the time, Madness. I talked to them after a London gig. However, I couldn't really get to the heart of the new Mods so I dropped that part of the book. I didn't want to write about what I didn't know.
PHK: Where did you manage to locate all of those wonderful photographs of the sixties Mod scene?
RB: We conducted some very rigorous and thorough picture research, visiting every major photo agency in London but repeatedly came up against a brick wall. Everywhere we went and requested their photographs of Mods they'd look at us as though we were from Mars. They had nothing. Absolutely nothing. They had files on students, CND marchers, Teddy Boys, beatniks, and trads, but nothing remotely like Mods. It became a major problem.
I'd got wonderfully meticulous and thorough information from the Mods and faces I'd interviewed so I knew that the book's text would be complete and impressive. It was suggested that we release the book with mainly text, however I'm a visual person (I'd been at art school during the early sixties), and was definitely, a 'picture's worth a thousand words' man. In the Quadrophenia booklet, we'd printed the photographs without any captions or explanations. In my view a book on Mods had to have actual photographs of the sixties Mods otherwise there was no point.
Eventually we assembled about 20 photographs and by blowing up different parts and treating them with various graphic effects we could stretch them out to make it look like we had a lot more. We made a mock up of how it would be but although it met with approval I decided to scrap it and go back to the drawing board. We started picture research all over again and this time we struck lucky. About five years earlier I'd worked in the Daily Mirror and I went in to see if I could get a look at their picture files. The chief librarian spotted me and asked me what I was doing and when I told him he said, 'leave it with me'. He assumed I still worked there and it slipped my mind to tell him. The Daily Mirror then owned a huge picture agency called Syndication International; He talked of an aircraft hanger full of photographs. We soon had a proper selection of photographs of proper sixties Mods. Several of cool-looking kids on scooters at Brighton.
Then at one of the oldest picture agencies, Popperfoto in Fleet Street, I found some great pics taken inside and outside the Scene Club. The Faces standing, posing, 'maintaining their cool' outside in Ham Yard were just so typical of that era. The big breakthrough came when my assistant on the Mods! Book, legendary sixties face, Johnny Moke discovered a stack of contact sheets in a colour photo agency, neglected in a drawer because they were only black and white. These were taken by British photographer Terry Spencer (see article in Scooter mag) in 1963 for an article on swinging London for Life magazine in the US. He’d captured these fantastic images of Mods in clubs, on scooters, in Carnaby Street, at the riots – the lot. As far as I was concerned, he was a genius. His pictures really captured the zeitgeist of the Mods, and of the sixties.
PHK: Over the years there has been much discussion of the Sixties Mod being a descendant of the Forties & Fifties Modernist of the modern jazz scene. From your recollection, was this a direct relationship or more the aesthetics of the style the modern jazz scene participants were taking from Blue Note record sleeves and Italian tailoring?
RB: When researching for my 1979 book ‘Mods!’ I determined to trace the origins of the Mods. It appeared that the early mod movement was the product of a fascinating process of social evolution. The neat, tightly controlled mod movement evolved from various disconnected characters or small groups that all eventually fused probably over two or three years into one overall group of similar like-minded souls. There were various committed teenager free spirits calling themselves 'Individualists' and 'Modernists'. These were kids who were passionately into fashion; many were middle class, mostly male. These kids were obsessed with fashion and style, and discovered an appreciation and enthusiasm for Italian tailoring,
Over a period they combined with Scooter boys and others and developed into what we now know as Mods. As they latched on to this emerging, unifying style, the more eccentric and ostentatious Individualists, either adapted their look, or were left behind.
When I was at school I remember kids as young as 13 altered the school uniform to make it less formal. They'd get their trousers tapered, start wearing winklepickers, and, what was much more of a statement, instead of the usual standard short, back and sides haircut, they'd get it styled in a Perry Como', American 'College Boy' or a 'French Crew' cut, Sometimes they had to take in a picture for the barber to copy. As with the later Mods, the very distinct statements these kids were making to each other were probably invisible to the rest; the unenlightened and the teachers. These same kids would be listening to modern jazz. Not bebop, not Charlie Parker or Coltrane, nothing frantic, but to the smoother, sophisticated subtler jazz sounds of the Modern Jazz Quartet or Dave Brubeck. These guys would probably have been labelled Modernists.
However the movement grew and evolved and I don't think a working class mod in 1964 would necessarily have felt any connection with fifties modern jazz, let alone with the Forties jazz era. He or she might hear Jimmy McGriff, Jimmy Smith or Mose Alison, but these would be labelled R&B rather than jazz.
PHK: How would you describe the essence of an original Mod?
RB: I think the term mod applies more to the way of thinking, the lifestyle, and the aspirations of those individuals. If you put it in context, they'd grown up in a society that had been through five or six years or warfare and was coming to terms with the damage and shock to the system. There was tremendous social upheaval and fundamental change to society and lifestyles. Barriers were coming down. Attitudes on homosexuality, divorce, sex, censorship were all changing. Advertising and early consumerism were taking hold. Hire Purchase - buying on credit - was introduced for the middle and upper-working classes for the first time. Families were acquiring their first washing machines, telephones, televisions, and cars.
For adolescents, significantly the two years of compulsory military conscription for all boys at age 18 stopped in 1960. Working class deference to their betters, authority and the monarchy were all dissolving. The church was losing its power over people. The contraceptive pill was introduced (poet Phillip Larkin later wrote, 'Sex began in 1963'). Italian scooters were a perfect example of the new world. They were enclosed, clean and streamlined, similar to other modern futuristic icons like the Comet jetliner, the E-type jag, and the mini. For the first time the population of the world could destroy itself – with the H-bomb. Russian Yuri Gagarin had flown around the world in a space capsule.
I think the Mods were identifying 100% with the new way of thinking. They weren't in any way political – except to question and challenge the once rigid class structure (hard to believe but back then government was made up of almost exclusively from wealthy old-Etonians). They aspired to a sleek, smart, modern, automated, space-age lifestyle. One that was better than their parents and older siblings and free of the old ways. The Beatles generation were already fulfilling a lot of these aspirations. There was controversy over long-haired boys and mini-skirted girls. 'The Times They Were A-Changing'. However the Mods were in a different even more serious sub-league. Driven and determined to be cool. Committed and passionate - the elite – the 'In-Crowd'.
PHK: It’s well documented that you attended The Scene Club on several occasions. What was it really like?
RB: An old dump in a way, a bit sordid and dark. But the top club for Mods (along with The Flamingo) and important because of Guy Stevens and his record collection. People today don’t realise how difficult it was to get records back then. Guy Stevens had links to all of the US labels.
PHK: How big was the Mod scene back in 1963/64? Were there really ‘Millions Like Us’ or has that just expanded with the mythology of history?
RB: Not huge in reality, infact quite small. Mods were always a minority in general but filled out the Mod clubs, which were mainly city based. Of course, the media attention of the Bank Holiday riots created lots more Mods.
PHK: Which song/record that represents those days of Mod stands out most for you?
RB: I’ve always liked the Hammond organ/jazz sound like that of Jimmy McGriff. But the songs that take me back to Mods dancing in the clubs back then are “Dancing in the Street” & “Mickey’s Monkey”. The Mod scene was neat and complete, young people self-driven to be cool. I’ve never again seen such good dancing – cool, clever, no choreography, just natural steps.
PHK: Do you think Pete’s Quadrophenia album retrospectively captured the attitude of Mod?
RB: Lots of Mods say that it doesn’t sound Mod at all, but it’s definitely Pete’s song cycle story of Mod. It doesn’t really sound like The Who of the early seventies either, but it is wonderful. What is important is that someone was singing about jackets with side vents 5 inches long, neat haircuts etc. I don’t think the film is accurate though – it makes Mods out to be more aggressive than they were. Actually, the Mods were quite gentle in reality.
PHK: With the Director’s cut/box set of Quadrophenia released, and The Who touring it in 2012, do you think it could prick the interest of a new generation to look back to the Mod scene of the early Sixties to further their youth?
RB: It could produce a mini-revival, and perhaps that is what Pete wants. Quadrophenia is probably the best thing that each member of the band has done, individually, from a musicians’ point of view, but it is not quite as accessible as Tommy was in the first instance. It’s not a pop album of singles, but it does capture the essence of Mod, and is probably the best thing that Townshend has ever written.
Ocean Colour Scene are in the studio at the moment recording a new album with producer Matt Terry.
In addition, they have announced a handful of ‘live’ dates for early 2013: -
Friday 15th February - Dublin - The Academy
Saturday 16th February - Dublin - The Academy
Thursday 21st February – Glasgow - O2 ABC
Friday 22nd February – Glasgow - O2 ABC
Monday 25th February – London - Electric Ballroom
Tuesday 26th February – London - Electric Ballroom
Sunday, 21 October 2012
The Modernist Society Blog is pleased to announce a new regular feature on sixties style fashion that is available on todays high street.
Sweet Julia and Mohair Sam will be letting you know what sixties styling is available in the shops right now.
Here's a hint of what's to come..........
Make a statement in Mary Janes. More Mad Men than Miss Marple.
Sweet Julia and Mohair Sam will be letting you know what sixties styling is available in the shops right now.
Here's a hint of what's to come..........
Black and red colour block ponte tunic dress
This ponte tunic dress from Collection has a black and red colour block design with two mock pockets. It has a crew neck with mock button details and three quarter length sleeves.
Make a statement in Mary Janes. More Mad Men than Miss Marple.
Boden Sixties Heels £99.00
Black Knightsbridge Midi bag
This black patent shoulder bag from Jack French has a gold framed top with pop clasp fastening and two flexible shoulder straps with decorative buckle trims. This stunning bag has three internal pockets and a studded base.
Thursday, 18 October 2012
I recently happened upon an excellent little book called 'Modest Recognition' which is a limited edition/'print on demand' publication. This book tells the story of the mod band, The Fixations, and the '79 revival as well as giving an overview of the mod movement as a whole. It also charts the details of the album 'The Sound Of Young London' released by Detour Records on 1st September 2008 (www.detour-records.co.uk), containing sixteen tracks and two videos of 'Country Girl' and 'No Way Out' (in which the cameraman gets shot by the drummer)! This is a limited edition, featuring a picture cover and an interview with Paul Cattini (September 2008).
Availability of this edition has been extended due to popular demand! To get your copy, go to http://www.lulu.com/shop/ken-gamby/the-fixations-modest-recognition-limited-edition/paperback/product-3623182.html
Sounds 1979: “The Fixations were by far the best tonight. They have three or four excellent songs that would make great singles. ‘No Way Out’ and ‘Clever Remarks’ would easily match ‘Millions Like Us’ and ‘Maybe Tomorrow’ and add to the growing Mod scene. Tonight they were on top form, ending with their mad drummer demolishing his kit and nearly decapitating their lead singer. Whereas The Chords and The Purple Hearts will cover the Beatles and The Small Faces, The Fixations only play original songs and ‘Clever Remarks’, ‘Unnatural Merger’ and ‘Country Girl’ are truly memorable songs.”
The Fixations were: Paul Cathcart (Vocal/Rhythm Guitar), Paul Cattini (Lead Guitar), Richard Sharp (Bass), and Ken Gamby (Drums).
The Fixations 16-track (plus 2-video clip) CD is available from Detour Records (Cat. No: DRCD054).
This band are probably the best unsigned Mod band from the '78/'79 period who, but for their manager turning down 6 record deals (because the deals were for singles only and didn't include the opportunity to record a full length album), could have been seen, historically, as much more of a leading light of the Mod revival period. They do get plenty of mentions in Gary Bushell's, 'Time For Action', book, but who knows what could have been.......
The Fixations book and their CD are both still available so I would encourage you to get them both and see what you have been missing for over 30 years - I was glad to get mine!!!
Monday, 15 October 2012
‘It Was Twenty Years Ago Today…’ is a ‘live’ album from The Chords recently released by Detour Records. And as per the title, the cover artwork is the bands own pastiche of the ‘Sgt Pepper’ sleeve.
If your initial thought is that this was recorded on the most recent UK tour then you’d be mistaken – this is from one of a handful of gigs that the original line-up did in 1999/2000 to celebrate 20 years from their first breakthrough on to the music scene (and to promote the release of an anthology collection and a singles album).
This was an interesting, if surreal, gig – I know, because I was there. Having been at The Cavern in Liverpool that lunchtime to see The Times, The Circles and The Upper Fifth, we were invited to a wedding reception at St. George’s hall that evening where the entertainment was The Chords, The Killermeters, The Circles and The Jamm. I kid you not!
The Chords set recorded that night features many of their ‘big’ songs including ‘Something’s Missing’, ‘One More Minute’, ‘So Far Away’, ‘British Way Of Life’ and ‘Maybe Tomorrow’ plus a cheeky version of ‘Twist and Shout’ for the scousers (the CD contains 10 songs in all). The songs are played with the usual passion and fervour that you always get with The Chords, with many of the songs segued together and flowing seamlessly from one to another. It’s a ‘live’ set so one or two strains on the voice are to be expected, but the atmosphere is great and this is a good addition to the collection of those of us in to the bands from the Mod revival period.
The Rolling Stones have announced four concerts in London and New York at the end of the year.The band will play London's O2 Arena on 25 and 29 November and at the Prudential Centre in Newark, New Jersey, on 13 and 15 December. Rumours of a tour to mark The Stones' 50th anniversary had been circulating for a number of years. Tickets for the UK gigs go on sale on Friday, with the New Jersey tickets on sale next Friday. Pre-sale tickets for the UK dates are already available with prices ranging from £106 - £406 including ticket fees.
Making the announcement in a video on YouTube, the band said: "You must have guessed this was coming. "Surely you didn't think we weren't going to do this? Soon we will be back on stage playing for you in two cities that know how to rock and roll." Mick Jagger suggested there could be some special guests at the shows, saying there would be "maybe a few friends joining us".The news comes as the band release a new single, 'Doom and Gloom'. Jagger told BBC Radio 2's Chris Evans: "It was written very quickly and the band seemed to like it. "It was a quick recording session. We recorded two songs - the other one is called 'One More Shot'."
The singer also appeared to hint that the four new dates could be the start of a longer run of gigs at a later point. Prior to the announcement, when asked how many shows the band would be performing, Jagger replied: "It's not going to be a long tour, the first bit." The Rolling Stones last world tour, 'A Bigger Bang', played to 4.5m people in 32 countries over two years before it finished in London in 2007.
Friday, 12 October 2012
‘Wade in the Water’ – Classic, Origins & Oddities is the new 4-CD box set from The Graham Bond Organisation that is scheduled for release on 5th November. It is currently available to pre-order on Amazon for £19.00.
The full track listing is as follows: -
1. Roll Em Pete(Previously unreleased)
2. Cabbage Greens(Previously unreleased)
3. Baby What You Want Me To Do(Previously unreleased)
4. I Saw Her Standing There(Version 1)-Duffy Power with the Graham Bond Quartet
5. Shake, Rattle And Roll-Duffy Power with the Graham Bond Quartet
6. What'd I Say-Duffy Power with the Graham Bond Quartet
7. I Got A Woman-Duffy Power with the Graham Bond Quartet
8. I Saw Her Standing There(Version 2 Duffy Power with the Graham Bond Quartet
9. Farewell Baby(Alternative take)-Duffy Power with the Graham Bond Quartet
10. Farewell Baby(Master take)-Duffy Power with the Graham Bond Quartet
11. Slippin & Slidin(Previously unreleased)
12. Spanish(Previously unreleased)
13. Untitled Abbey Road Blues instrumental(Previously unreleased)
14. It's Happening(Previously unreleased)
15. Wade In The Water-EMI audition
16. Swing-A-Ling(Part I)-Ernest Ranglin and the GBs
17. Swing-A-Ling(Part 2)-Ernest Ranglin and the GBs
18. Just A Little Walk(Part I)-Ernest Ranglin and the GBs
19. Just A Little Walk(Part 2)-Ernest Ranglin and the GBs
20. SO-HO Ernest Ranglin and the GBs
21. Say When(Part I)(Previously unreleased)-Ernest Ranglin and the GBs
22. Say When(Part 2)(Previously unreleased)-Ernest Ranglin and the GBs
23. Cabbage Greens(Previously unreleased)
24. Long Legged Baby(Previously unreleased)
25. Hoochie Coochie Man(Previously unreleased)
26. Wade In The Water(Previously unreleased)
1. Green Onions(Previously unreleased)
2. High Heeled Sneakers(Previously unreleased)
3. Honey Bee(Previously unreleased)
4. Long Tall Shorty
5. Long Legged Baby
6. Hoochie Coochie Man
7. Strut Around
8. High Heeled Sneakers
9. Little Girl
10. Wade In The Water
12. Half A Man(Stereo remix)
13. Keep A Drivin(Stereo remix)
14. What Am I Living For(Previously unreleased)
15. Neighbour Neighbour(Stereo remix)
16. Spanish Blues(Stereo remix)
17. Spanish Blues(Alternative take)
18. Tammy(Stereo remix)
19. I Want You(Stereo remix)
20. Wade In The Water(Stereo remix)
21. Early In The Morning(Stereo remix)
22. Baby Make Love To Me(Stereo remix)
23. Baby Be Good To Me(Stereo remix)
24. Got My Mojo Working(Stereo remix)
25. Train Time(Stereo remix)
26. Little Girl(Stereo remix)
27. Oh Baby(Stereo remix)
28. Hoochie Coochie Man(Stereo remix)
29. Tell Me(I'm Gonna Love Again)
30. Love Come Shining Through
1. Please Don't Say-Winston G-March 1965
2. Like A Baby-Winston G-March 1965
3. Walking In The Park(Stereo remix)
4. Don't Let Go(Stereo remix)
5. My Heart's In Little Pieces(Stereo remix)
6. The Night Time Is The Right Time(Stereo remix)
7. What'd I Say(Stereo remix)
8. Have You Ever Loved A Woman(Stereo remix)
9. Who's Afraid Of Virginia Woolf(Stereo remix)
10. Hear Me Calling Your Name(Stereo remix)
11. Last Night(Stereo remix)
12. Baby Can It Be True(Stereo remix)
13. Dick's Instrumental(Stereo remix)
14. Camels And Elephants(Stereo remix)
15. Lease On Love(Stereo remix)
16. Cold Rain(Previously unreleased)
17. Positive aka HHCK Blues(Previously unreleased)
18. Positive aka HHCK Blues(Previously unreleased)
19. When Johnny Comes Marching Home(Previously unreleased)
20. Good Good Loving(Previously unreleased)
21. Only Sixteen(Previously unreleased)
22. St James Infirmary
23. Soul Tango
1. Wade In The Water
2. Down In the Valley(Previously unreleased)
3. Waltz For A Pig-The Who Orchestra
4. Wade In The Water(Previously unreleased)
5. You've Gotta Have Love Babe(Demo previously unreleased)
6. You've Gotta Have Love Babe
7. I Love You
8. Wade In The Water(Live)
9. Long Tall Shorty(Live)
10. Queen Of Hearts(Live)
11. Alcoholic Blues(Live)
12. Green Onions(Live)
13. High Heeled Sneakers(Live)
14. The First Time I Met The Blues(Live)
15. Little Girl(Live)
16. Stormy Monday(Live)
17. What'd I Say(Live)
The Karla Milton Collective, who describe themselves as ‘Original Acid Jazz & 60s Groove’, have announced the release of a new single called ‘Hiding In The Shadows!’
With music by Steve Trigg and words by Karla Milton, this sardonic swipe at today’s ‘instant celebrity’ culture is 4 minutes and 52 seconds of high octane power soul/funk. Featuring blistering horns and delectable guitar and of course Karla’s instantly recognisable vocals this ‘live’ favourite is a sure to please. This is a sign of great things to come from this gifted and classy outfit – catch them 'live' when you can (and read my review of their excellent debut gig on The Modernist Society Blog)!
That all important hyperlink for the FREE download of ‘Hiding In The Shadows!’ is: -
To give you a flavour, one quote I have seen says it’s, “Extremely danceable and immaculately cool, it`s music played with dedication and style – The Karla Milton Collective offer a rare glimmer of hope for indefinable music”.
Also, the band have announced 2 ‘live’ dates – on 20th October they will be playing at The Basement in Leicester and another diary date for you is 23rd December when they will play at The Fiddlers Elbow, London (this is a charity gig in aid of the Great Ormond Street Charity).
Thursday, 11 October 2012
DC Fontana have announced that their new six-track EP, ‘Pentagram Man‘, will be released on 19th October 2012.
The six-tracker will be available as a CD & mp3 downloads release on 19th October via DCTone Records and Heavy Soul Records are also releasing a 7″ vinyl version around the same time.
The London release event is being held inside a vintage clothes shop in Shoreditch where we are promised a raft of special guests will be appearing.
London-based Trees And The Slipway have already been confirmed as the supprt band for the night at Paper Dress Vintage and as always with DC Fontana, expect further surprises and delightful additions to what should be a brilliant night out.
A second release party is likely to go ahead in Manchester in October.
The record itself is once again produced by Donald Ross Skinner and features six sizzling tunes. The full track listing of the EP is:
01: Pentagram Man (Mark Mortimer)
02: DevilAngel (Mark Mortimer)
03: What Would It Take? (Tony Russell)
04: Satisfied (Part One) (Scott Riley)
05: Sighed DC (Donald Skinner & Mark Mortimer)
06: Pentagram Man (Don Fardon Vocal Version) (Mark Mortimer)
The CD is already available for pre-order from the group’s webstore at a specially reduced fee and a highly-collectable signed version is also on offer.
Sixties blue-eyed psychedelic soul legend Don Fardon is the guest vocalist on track six, making the record even more collectable and sleeve notes were written by shamanic singer-songwriter Peter Daltrey (of Kaleidoscope & Fairfield Parlour) while the CD booklet also features an introduction from America-based Jean The Machine.
The Heavy Soul 7″ vinyl release will feature the Don Fardon version of the title track together with the über-cool ‘DevilAngel’ and a second 7″ is set to be released by Teen Sound Records from Rome in Italy featuring the Louise Turner sung version of ‘Pentagram Man’ nearer to Christmas.
The new record is supported by 3 brand new videos by the band covering all six tunes.
Tuesday, 9 October 2012
Secret Affair were probably ‘The’ band of the 1979 Mod renaissance and, together with The Purple Hearts and The Chords, formed the core of the best elements of this subcultural renewal. With more to offer than many of their rivals (more soulful rather than post-punk) they released 3 great albums and 6 blistering singles before calling it a day.30 years later, Secret Affair are back with a new studio album, ‘Soho Dreams’, comprising 10 new originals and 1 cover version. But it’s not quite as black and white as that – the band’s first comeback show was in 2002, and recording sessions for the new album go back as far as 2006 (see Ian Page’s interview on the official Secret Affair website for the full story). But what really matters is that they are back recording original material in a way that only this band could.
As always with Ian Page, the production values are high (remember the Mod Aid 20 single and the first Grasp single that he produced for Biff Bang Pow Records, as well as working on the first Fay Hallam Trinity album, ‘Realm’), and this album is no exception. The quality of recordings, arrangements, musical accompaniments are all top drawer. The gatefold sleeve comes with a 12-page booklet, and the release is out on their iconic I-Spy label.From the opening (and title) track, ‘ Soho Dreams’, we get Dave Cairns distinctive guitar sound, Ian Page’s unique voice (that still has all the character and tone that made the first 3 albums so special) and a blast of Winthrop-esque sax reminding us of past glories. The next song, ‘Walk Away’, is big and demonstrates the incredible range of Ian’s voice along with a determined guitar riff. The pace quickens further for the excellent and immediate, ‘Turn Me On’, (which would make a great single) before slowing right down (initially) for ‘Love’s Unkind’. Starting with a piano arpeggio, this song builds in power and is a very strong composition. The ‘Get Carter’ melody is then used as the intro/outro and musical middle-break for the only cover version on the album, ‘I Don’t Need No Doctor’. This is a full-on Hammond and horns assault that you just know will be a favourite on the extensive UK tour that Secret Affair are undertaking in September, October and November. The whole band cuts loose to make this a very memorable performance.
Next up is ‘Lotus Dream’ complete with the sound of crickets as the country blues acoustic guitar builds up and Ian Page starts his vocals in a low register. Not the most immediate song on the album, its appeal grows on further plays as more layers become apparent. ‘In Our Time’, although starting and ending with Ian’s voice, actually features Dave Cairns on lead vocals for the main body of the song and shows what a good voice he has. The first song that a reunited Cairns & Page composed, ‘Land of Hope’, is next and is another anthemic Secret Affair number that will soon have you singing along to it. This is followed by the pacey ‘All The Rage’ which is classic Secret Affair and would also make a very good single.As the piano at the beginning of ‘Soul Of The City’ plays with its lazy jazz feel, the thought of early Style Council enters my mind (which is no bad thing) until Ian’s voice comes in and takes the song to another level. The album closes with ‘Ride’ which really picks up the pace again and ends the collection on a high.
Overall, this is a high quality album that I really like and that sees the band stay true to the essence of the sound and style of their early days, albeit with a little more maturity and a fuller band sound (due, in part, to the Hammond & horns). There are glimpses of ‘Glory Boys’ and ‘Business As Usual’ here, along with a good helping of the ingredients that make ‘Behind Closed Doors’ such a classic album. I have been playing ‘Soho Dreams’ for 4-weeks now and for me, this fourth Secret Affair album now sits proudly alongside its predecessors.
Monday, 8 October 2012
PHK: Much of my social life throughout the 1980s and well in to the 1990s was indirectly influenced by legendary Mod DJ Tony Class – from the early Nationals, to the Phoenix Rallies to the Classic Club International (CCI), Tony was the central figure in rallies, club nights and allnighters that shaped a generation. I had the huge privilege of catching up with Tony for an hour or so in Stoke-on-Trent in March just before the Northern Soul Allnighter started at the King’s Hall.
Paul Hooper-Keeley: When did you first get involved in the Mod scene?
Tony Class: what happened was that in 1979 my younger brother Robin, who started DJ’ing with me in 1974, he decided in 1977 to buy himself a scooter, and he was visiting friends down in Hastings, The Teenbeats. Come 1979 Robin said that there’s loads of gigs on, but it’s just bands playing – no one is playing records. So I said to him, why don’t we put on a Mod club? So we put on The Hercules in Lambeth North on November 9th 1979 and we must have had 30 or 40 scooters outside, which looked absolutely incredible. And from that moment on, that was my calling, not just a calling but a chance to re-live my youth. I felt I’d missed out because in 1966 I was 15 and was not old enough to get a scooter. All my friends were a bit older and they all had scooters – by the time I was old enough to have a scooter, it was dying out, so it was like I’d missed it. So when it came along again in 1979 I thought right, this is it, I’m doing this. We had a lot of trouble at these early gigs, like the Red Lion in Westminster Bridge Road. The 3rd pub we moved onto was the Walmer Castle in Peckham. And sometimes it was Mods fighting Mods – that’s how stupid it was. The excitement was just so much; my brother said to me “Tony, we’re going to get a bad name with the venues because wherever we go, there’s a fight.” I said, “I’m having the time of my life, I can’t give this up. To me, this is my lifeblood.” And from that moment on I kind of saw it as my baby, because no one else was doing clubs. So I thought right, I’m going to do clubs. By late 1980/early 1981 I was doing 7 clubs a week in London. At one point I was doing 2 clubs on a Saturday night, one in Shepherds Bush and the other in Vauxhall. That went on for about a year and it was like being at a party every single night. The buzz was incredible. In 1981 I bought a video camera and thought right, I’m going to film a load of this for posterity. Then I spent two and a half grand buying a 6ft screen so that I could show the footage in the clubs. Come 1985 I thought I’d start doing ride outs, because back at that time no-one else was doing ride outs. No one else bothered because you can’t make money out of ride outs, but I thought sod it because ride outs are the best way to advertise Mods and scooters; all the little kids are standing on the side of the road looking at these Mods and these scooters going “Mummy, Daddy, I want one of those one day”. It’s the way to keep it all going. That was always my goal, to keep it all going. You’ve got people who’ve gone away, had families, come back, brought their kids back, their kids are into the music. Back in 1979 someone said to me, “Tony, this is a great buzz, how long do you think it is going to last?”, and I said probably a couple of years, and I kept saying probably a couple more years up to ’85, ’86 maybe ’87 until I thought no, this is going to last forever. It’s like the Isle of Wight; the A23 Sabres started the IoW in 1981 and only got about 300 people there. My sister was there, I didn’t go – but in 1982 everyone said it was such a brilliant rally I said that I’m going to go and do something at Smallbrook Stadium in 1982. And I’ve put on a do or DJ’ed at the IoW every year from 1982 to the present day. Even when the Scooterists were banned from the island, I carried on there doing Mod rallies and to me I’m so proud of that and I really think it is a great achievement. The ride outs were such a buzz and they still are now – we do a ride out from London to Southend every year. I said to Wolfy let’s do something different, let’s go down to Carnaby Street and fill it up with scooters – and that’s what we did. It’s never been seen ever before, and it will never be seen again – we just filled the whole street (the photo are on my Facebook page and look absolutely brilliant. The buzz is still there – I’m 60 now, but in my head I haven’t gone beyond 25.
PHK: Going back to the early days of your clubs, what records were you playing back then?
TC: Most of the time, in 1979, I was playing mostly Tamla Motown and two tone; I played a bit of Trojan although, back then, we had a lot of trouble with the skinheads. But I still played Trojan - my favourite record of all time is “54 46” and I was playing it back in ’79. People said it was a skinhead song, but I said it’s a good song and I’m going to play it. Plus a bit of Who, Kinks & Small Faces. Early 1982 a guy called Simon Sento (real name Simon Preacher) came down to the Phoenix in Oxford Circus and he brought a box of Northern Soul records. I started playing some of these records and it just blew me away, I was hooked from the first moment to Northern Soul and played loads of it from 1982 on. A lot of it was very commercial Northern Soul, but everyone had to start somewhere. And it got all the newbies into Northern and then they went into it more deeply and sought out the rarer records. People came to the 64 clubs that I held in London to listen to the Northern Soul that I was playing, and I feel quite proud that I got some many people into it. It’s not very well documented, and it sometimes gets up my nose because everyone knows how hard I have always worked for the scene (because of my love for the scene), yet the various books on it barely give me a mention, two lines at best.
PHK: The last of the great Mod national rallies was in 1982, we then had the TAMSCA rallies and then the Phoenix rallies – how did this all evolve?
TC: The first rally I did was Margate in early 1980, I can’t remember exactly when it was, (it might of been Easter), but it was definitely a bank holiday weekend. Everyone said we’re going down to Margate, so I said OK. I didn’t have a scooter at that time so I went down in my car. So I said, what we’ll do is all pull up just outside of Margate and congregate at a disused garage and then we’ll all go in together in slow procession, and that’s what we did. I had a Daimler, only an old one, but it looked really good. I’m driving in with about 300 scooters behind me and it was such a buzz. I didn’t intend to put any music on, I was just there to enjoy the rally like anybody else, but we were in a pub when someone came up and send we’ve found a club where they say you can play some records and this was at a lunchtime. He said, “Have you got any records with you?”, and I said funnily enough I have a small box of records in the boot of my car. The word went round like wild fire, I’ve gone in the club with my records and started DJ’ing and within half an hour, the club, you couldn’t move in there – it was rammed. The stage was about 10-12ft high, the highest stage I have ever seen. Everyone was jumping around and having a great time to ‘Louie Louie’ and I just thought that this is the way forward, doing rallies, not just clubs in London. That was a proper Mod rally in 1980, that was Mods. I did a couple more in 1980, and in 1981 the biggest one I did was in Brighton, and we got The Sun newspaper down – the venue was the Royal Artillery Hall. The Sun photographer said “Someone’s just jumped off the balcony but we didn’t catch it – can you get someone to do it again? I said I didn’t have to tell them, someone would do it again. Someone did do it again, no one caught them and they hit the floor but The Sun got their photograph and they were really pleased about it. For some reason, half way through the night the crowd parted and just split in two. I don’t know what the argument was about, but one side threw a glass, then the other side threw a glass, then bottles and eventually every glass and bottle was thrown between the two crowds – it didn’t make any sense, this tribal things. I said to them, what are you doing fighting each other when you’ve got so many other enemies – let’s face it, it’s never been easy, being a Mod. I could have given it up there and then, but I thought sod it. Everyone was frogmarched to Brighton seafront, everyone was laughing about it like it was a comedy caper, I’ve never seen so much broken glass in one hall. They filled up one and a half industrial dustbins just with broken glass. I’d been hiding under the table with my microphone in my hand calling for the Police who were waiting outside and they said that they were not going to come in until every bottle and glass had been thrown. So I’m waiting under the table with my decks for every bottle and glass to be thrown, and when they had, the Police came in. Then in 1982 I though I’m going to put on six rallies, Mod rallies, and I filmed every single one of them. And it was Mods, just Mods – it weren’t Scooterists, it was Mods. And that was fantastic. Then in 1983 you got a few scummy people, you started getting scruffy people who wouldn’t dream of spending their money on clothes because it was all going on their scooters, and also a lot of them revelled in violence, thought it was great to have a go at the Mods because they were an easy target. In 1983 I remember getting to the IoW and thinking, this isn’t good but let’s see what happens in 1984. Done the IoW again in 1984 with Edwin Starr who was great, but there was a bit of trouble again and I thought this is going the wrong way. I did it again in 1985 and that was it for me – I just wanted to do Mod rallies, not rallies where anybody could come. There was hell of a lot of hangers on and to me they had no interest in scooters, no interest in Mod – a lot of them were just like football hooligans. That was spoiling things. I picked all the bands in 1984 and we had Edwin Starr etc, but in 1985 my co-promoter Chris Burton decided he wanted to pick the bands and there was like Combat 64, The Meteors, King Kurt, and I said this isn’t right. But Chris said this is what I am being asked to put on. And that’s where it really went pear shaped. There were so many hangers on who had no interest in the scene that they just ruined the scene. The scene was lucky to survive after that, and that was why I had to distance myself and had to say no, I am just going to do Mod rallies – smart dress only, and the stick I got from some Scooterists for the smart dress only policy. People used to say to me, “If you let them in then you’d make more money”, and I used to say listen, get it into your heads, it’s not about the money, it’s about me having a good time. If I’m having a good time, I’ll carry on; if I’m not, I’ll leave.
PHK: The Phoenix Society – how did that come about?
TC: I’d done those 6 rallies in ’82, then another 6 in ’83, culminating in the IoW. At Weymouth in ’83 this American guy came up to me and said, “Hi Tony”, I didn’t know him from Adam, and he said, “My names’ Mark Johnson, blah, blah, blah”. I took him with a pinch of salt, just some yank coming over here ever trying to do something. Then, later in the year, he said, “I’m going to do some patches for the IoW” to which I said, yes, whatever. He was trying to get the glory for Phoenix Rallies and I can tell you now, categorically, there was never ever a Phoenix Rally that was organised by Mark Johnson. I single handedly organised every single rally, didn’t want help from no one else because that’s when problems occur. I took it on board because I had done so much up till then, I had it off pat. So I didn’t want any interference from anybody else. These Phoenix Rallies were utterly and completely done by me. I thought I’m going to organise it, and I’m going to DJ it, and that’s it. Come 1986, he put on the first International Ska Festival and that was something I wasn’t involved in, then ’87 he was getting heavily into Ska and leaving the Mod thing behind. I said to him, “Mark, your interests don’t lie in Mod anymore and there’s so many things been said about you, that you’ve been taking advantage of your position, and I’m not putting up with that anymore”. I sort of dismissed him – I told him that I didn’t want him anyway near me and that I was just going to carry on doing rallies. The best thing that Mark Johnson ever did was the Phoenix List which really helped communication across the scene. The Phoenix Rallies then evolved into ‘Class Presents’ in 1986 and then CCI (after the Lowestoft Mod Meeting). I gave everyone free membership to start with and in 1987 we had 3,700 members.
PHK: Happy memories for me, I first met my wife at the Lowestoft Rally you put on in March 1986.
TC: Bloody hell, that’s fantastic, that’s lovely. And having membership cards kept it exclusive and kept out the people we didn’t want there. We had decent people.
PHK: And at the Sunday Alldayer, my band, The Threads, supported The Rage. We were Mods who formed a band so we would be at all of the events across the country (rallies, allnighters, gigs etc.).
PHK: One endearing memory of the CCI events is of the excellent lunch time dos – if the weather was good we would see you in your white Fred Perry shorts, and if it was cold you’d be in your trademark sheepskin coat. Do you still have them?
TC: I got rid of the sheepskin a few years ago but I’ve still got the shorts. Maybe I should dig them out when I do a CCI reunion. And get another sheepskin and say this is the original one.
PHK: There were some great rallies and some great venues – which venues to do you recall the most fondly?
TC: The Ocean Rooms in Gorleston – when the guy done that laser of the scooter running around the room, I thought “That is the bollocks, that is so good – I was blown away by it”. I put the James Taylor Quartet on for that one PHK: yes, I was there – that was only their second ever gig and they were awesome. TC: Yes, they were fantastic. PHK: The new Heavy Soul fanzine has just done a piece on that in his new issue, along with the fun & games we had with the casuals on the Sunday night (which I remember vividly).
PHK: Who were the bands you put on to the rallies the ones you enjoyed the most?
TC: Well I liked the bands who were true Mods, like The Threads, you were all true Mods – it wasn’t like you’d got a band together just to play a Mod rally. You were there; you were Mods before you ever formed a band. To me, that meant more than anything else because it was, like, keeping it in the family. And to me that was always very important. Cos anyone can jump on a fucking bandwagon, can’t they, but to me it doesn’t work – your hearts got to be in it. My favourite band ever that I put on was Fast Eddie – although they did all covers, they were such a fun band and they’d interact with the audience, and to me that made it so much fun. Which to me is what it’s all about, having fun. Everything I’ve ever tried to do, at the back of my mind I am thinking is it going to be fun to do it? Are we going to have a laugh? When it came to the breakaway with The Untouchables and I saw them all, I thought you know what, they’ve forgotten how to have fun.
PHK: That split came around 1990 – how did you feel about that, did it damage CCI attendances much?
TC: Well no, not significantly. I carried on for another 10 years after that. People said why did the Untouchables start – I can categorically say that it was about money. Nothing else. They turned against each other eventually and then formed the New Untouchables. It’s a very small outfit; they only do one significant thing, ‘Crossfire’ on Great Portland Street. Even the thing they do in Brighton on August Bank Holiday is quite small; they don’t pull many people down there. Nowhere near as many as they did when they were on the IoW. People have said to me that the music’s changed and they’ve forgotten how to have a good time and it is such a serious thing. It wasn’t until 1999 that I put on a rally in Great Yarmouth and I thought to myself that there’s a lot of Scooterists now and not so many Mods so it became very difficult – when you’re trying to cater for one type of person and there aren’t so many of them around anymore. I had to stand my ground with the dress policy, although I did eventually relax it to include smart jeans, because this was my baby.
PHK: Rob Bailey says that you gave him his first break as a DJ and for that he will always be grateful.
TC: Well it wasn’t quite like that. What happened was that Rob asked me to go in with him and get a venue, the Queens Hotel in Brighton, so we both went down there to get the venue. I was the mouthpiece and did all the talking then he phoned me a couple of days later to say that he was pulling out so I said OK then, we’ll forget it, and then he went behind my back and booked it. You can print that. That’s gospel – and that was his first promotion, the Queen’s hotel in Brighton. I can’t remember what year – ’89, maybe ’90, round about then. And for that, I don’t think he’s a very loyal person.
PHK: You had some great DJs over the years though. Dom Bassett, Ian Jackson etc.
TC: Yes, I employed round about 60 DJs over the years. A lot of them did kind of turn against me, thinking we’ll go with so and so, and it did leave a bad taste in my mouth, it really did, because I think these DJs I’ve given them breaks, and then they put on a do in direct competition to me. It’s off, I don’t know how some of these people sleep at night, I really don’t. I can hold my head up high, I’m a pretty decent person, and I have got a lot of respect from many thousands of people who I have brought a lot of happiness to over the years.
PHK: Of the DJs you brought to the scene, who do you rate the highest?
TC: Ian Jackson – guaranteed because he enjoyed it more than any other DJ and he was playing it for the people, not himself, whilst a lot of the other DJs were playing the records for themselves. I forced them all into using microphones; they didn’t want to use them but I said if you’re DJ’ing for me then you have to use a microphone. And they’re all completely indebted to me for making them use a microphone.
PHK: I recall there was a rally that took place at a Holiday Camp – how did that go?
TC: 1989 at Brixham in Devon – we called it the ‘Magical Mystery Tour’ and it was on for a week – it’s the best thing that I have ever done in my life. It was funny from beginning to end; it was like being at a party for a week. Every single night it was party, party, party. After the venues shot at one o’clock it was parties in all the chalets. We had our own TV channel and we set up the kids cinema as a studio and everyone was watching the channel – we had a clipboard and had a list of who was shagging who with a right of reply (you had to come and knock on the back door). We had loads of people banging on the door, but that was just fun. Fun, fun, capital F. For a whole week. I did it again in 1990 up near Great Yarmouth. No one else has ever done that in the UK – and I did it twice. I wanted to cram as much into it as possible – we did ‘Game for a Laugh’, we did ‘It’s a Knockout’, we did snooker competitions, tennis, darts etc. I gave out loads of trophies, 6 bottles of Champagne every night, we did a toga night and had 200 people at the first one – 199 turned up in a toga as I said it was compulsory, Rob Bailey turned up in his suit – I made him go back to his chalet and get a sheet and put it on.
PHK: You’re still a DJ in demand. Do you have any regular club nights these days or are you more ad hoc, whatever comes up?
TC: More whatever comes up as I don’t want to promote any more – promoting is hard work and I leave that up to other people these days, but my phone rings constantly. Last year I did 47 gigs, near enough one a week, and that’s enough for me. That suits me down to the ground. I create my own party every week. I DJ’ed last night down in Croydon and I still get so much adoration, lovely ladies coming up and telling me that I’m the dog’s bollocks. And that spurs me on.
PHK: What records are in your set these days, and how has that changed since 1979/1980?
TC: Well I play a lot of Rhythm & Blues stuff these days, ‘Voodoo Working’ etc., plus a lot of lesser known stuff. I always go with my own instinct and if I think a record is good then I’ll play it. If I think it’s shit but others are saying it’s great cause it’s rare, I won’t play it. A good record is a good record.
PHK: You recently appeared on the TV show, ‘Coach Trip’, with your mate Wolfy – how did that come about?
TC: Wolfy rang me up one day and said, “Do you want to go on Coach Trip?”. I said yes, it sounds good – what is it, as I hadn’t seen it? He told me all about it so I said yes, it sounds like a laugh. So we got the application form and we filled it out together, and said that we were a pair of complete lunatics who would do absolutely anything for a laugh. We went for an audition and we were in straight away. We were the first 2 on that coach for that series (series 7). We had such a laugh, but we were too rock & roll. The people said this isn’t a party bus and the producers through us off. We never got voted off.
PHK: It seemed unfair when you got kicked off.
TC: Well Paul, the thing was that I fell out with the main director, Joe, because I argued that they hadn’t stopped at a shop for 3 days to get any provisions and every hotel we stayed in was in the middle of nowhere and the beers in the bar were like £8 a pint and I said to Joe that this is wrong, you’ve got to stop at a shop. He apologised, but I think after that my card was marked. I fronted him and he didn’t like it. That was the main reason for that. But to be honest with you, we’d been on there for 8 days and I’m not sure that we really wanted to stay on there any longer. You’re being directed constantly and a lot of it was staged – the ripping it out of Brendan, and Brendan getting the right hump was the sound men telling me to shout out. “Say it again Tony, shout out, wind him up, wind him up” – that’s no problem, I can do that.
PHK: How did you get on with Brendan?
TC: He was a nice guy, actually, a very, very nice guy. Because he was gay I thought I might not get on that well with him but he is such a genuine guy, and what you see is what you get – I wouldn’t have a word said against him. When he told us we had to go, that wasn’t him, that was the director. Brendan was just the puppet – because he enjoyed our company, because we made him laugh.
PHK: Have you got any projects or events that you are currently working on as there is a rumour via the CCI Lovers group on Facebook that you might be holding a CCI reunion event?
TC: I will do it but it will either be at the end of summer or the beginning of next summer depending how quick I can move as I want to give it loads of advertising cause the words got to get round; the grapevines not as good as it used to be. I really want to get a venue where I can get everyone in – I’d be really sad if I had to turn people away.
PHK: Location wise, is it likely to be somewhere in the middle of England so everyone can get to it easily?
TC: I’d like to do the Ocean Rooms at Gorleston, but someone has said that it is being demolished. I’d love to do the Winter Gardens in Blackpool, and The Rocket on Holloway Road in London is a good venue – although it’s got 3 rooms, and I don’t want to do 3 rooms, I want to do 1 room. And there’ll only be 2 DJs – it will be me and my brother, back to the beginning.
Note: The CCI Reunion has been confirmed for 20th October at the Ocean Rooms, Gorleston-on-Sea from 2pm to 2am with Ian Jackson appearing as a special guest DJ.