Monday, 31 August 2015

Neil Lee reviews "I'm The Face" - the official Pete Meaden biography (Light & Dark Publishing) by Pete Wilky & John Hellier

Like most people with an interest in the mod scene I have always been fascinated and intrigued by the enigma that is Pete Meaden. From my first introduction to him in the pages of Richard Barnes' “Mods” to the snippets of information provided since then, I have wanted to know who he was what motivated him, where he had come from and what he did after the 60s up until his untimely death. It was therefore with great excitement that I awaited the release of “I’m The Face”. 

This book sadly does not meet any of my expectations. The attention to detail - so much a part of the mod ethos- is sadly missing. Mistakes are evident throughout the text: one of the most glaring is the photograph used to show the Meaden penned 45 “Zoot Suit/ I’m The Face”. Unfortunately, instead of showing the 1964 single, an image of a later reissue is used. Even the most basic Google search would bring up the original and a copy could easily be sourced to use.  

Pete Wilky - 'I'm The Face' Author
Each section of the book is littered with examples of why the author believes he and Meaden are similar. These statements are not needed. I got the impression that Mr. Wilky felt that his readers would want to know as much about him as the subject matter; I have to applaud his own delusional self-belief and the fact that he sees himself as a “natural leader and influencer of men”. The further into the book I read, the more I felt the title was being used as a description of how the author sees himself and not Pete Meaden. Similarly, Mr Wilky’s constant rants about the modern music industry and the state of politics were completely unnecessary. I did also start to wonder if he was being paid to use the interrobang: its constant usage began to annoy me after the first chapter. It is reminiscent of my son learning a new word and using it in every sentence. The repetition of the same text throughout the book also indicates poor proof reading.
Neil Lee
What the book does succeed in doing is filling in some of the gaps in my own knowledge of Meaden’s life. Much of it quotes other peoples work directly: many of these sources I was already familiar with but some I look forward to reading. Also, some of the photographs used were new to me. Although I do wonder if maybe his life would better suit a chapter in a future book about the mod scene or early days of the Who.  

In the hands of somebody like Paul Anderson or Paulo Hewitt this book could have been so much more. Unfortunately what we have is a complete mess that has left me disappointed and with the sense that a great opportunity has been missed. If 2014 was a high point for releases of modernist related literature then with the release of this book 2015 is the low point.
If you buy one mod related book this year then don’t make it this one.
Written by Neil Lee
PHK - in the time since Neil submitted this review to The Modernist Society Blog, Light & Dark Publishing have removed 'I'm The Face' from their website and shop!

Thursday, 13 August 2015

Karen & Trish have a chat with The Quik Beats at The Britalian Job - Lee Parsons provides the images

Venue –The Britannia Rowing Club, Trentside North, Nottingham, NG2 5FA 

We have had some great nights at The Britalian Job, in the fantastic ‘Bat Cave’ venue which has housed a wide range of mod bands over the years.  It is a guarantee that resident DJs Mark Shaw and Mark Crew will keep the crowd on the dancefloor.  This night was going to be particularly special as The Quik Beats were playing live. We had heard a lot of good things about this band and couldn’t wait to check them out. 

With the backdrop of an amazing atmosphere, The Quik Beats played their sets and the dance floor quickly began to fill with classics from The Who, The Kingsmen, The Spencer Davis Group to name a few.  The night seemed to fly by and before we knew it was time for our drive back home!  Enjoyed every minute and would recommend if you get chance to see this band to definitely do so.

We had the chance to ask The Quik Beats a few questions for those who would like to know a bit more about them: - 

How would you describe your style?

QBs: That’s a tough one, whilst we’re a unit musically, we’re also (style wise) very much individuals. That said, on stage we like to present a united front. Suits, always (no exceptions accepted) preferably matched with a Brooks Bros. button down shirt. Off stage there’s little that unifies us style wise other than denim where we all agree that it’s Levis every time. 

What are your influences?

QBs: When the band was formed it was with thoughts of replicating what we imagined was the live music experiences of mods in the 60s seeing bands at The Scene (Ham Yard), The Flamingo, the Marquee and Eel Pie Island. It’s true to say that the majority of songs we play are covers of familiar chart hits from bands like the Animals and The Spencer Davis Group. But we’re also hoping to evoke the Hammond driven sounds of Graham Bond and Georgie Fame and the Guitar based R&B of The Birds and The Action. All of the above of course influenced in turn by American jazz, blues, R&B and soul from the 50s and early 60s. 

How long have you been together?

QBs: In the current line-up we’ve been together a little over two years. However, in one form or another there’s been two or three of us making music together for closer to ten years. 

What’s the band’s favourite song to play?

QBs: With the average set containing 35 songs every gig will find each of us looking forward to our different favourites. As a band though, it’s safe to say we all usually look forward performing whatever is the latest addition to the set. At present we’re championing a little known Warren Zevon song called ‘Outside Chance’ that was originally recorded by The Turtles (and we’re hoping our audience are going to dig the song as much as we do). Beyond that… We really like playing ‘Get Carter’ (the ‘A’ side of our vinyl single). When we recorded the track it was a live take and we know when we play it live we can always replicate the recorded version.

Gonzo reviews The Britalian Job featuring the Quik beats in Nottingham on 8th August

August 8th NG2 - Nottingham - 2 major UK events took place within a few hundred meters of each other on this day! 

The Ashes were won on day 3 at Trent Bridge with an outstanding English display and Britalian Job returned after a short break. 

The Britalian Job's home is at the Britannia Rowing Club under the shadow of Nottingham Forest FC's floodlights and Trent Bridge floodlights are just outside the back door of the rowing club. 

The driving force behind the evening are Mark Shaw and Mark crew, a DJ double act that have graced many Midlands based Mod and Soul nights for good reason, they have been on the scene for as long as most of us, love the music, the scene and pleasing a dancefloor crowd. So an evening with a 'live' band was mixing it up a little and a risk? One way to find out... head off to NG2! 

Arriving quite early (outfit already sussed for a change!) the Britannia Rowing Club for some reason, for those that have never been, has an upstairs function room decorated in a 'cave' like fashion. Which gives the room a unique atmosphere, quite spacious but almost a cosy close feeling, coupled with great lighting and sound it ticks all the right boxes. Despite being early, the room was already half full, a buzz gathering. One word of warning, if you’re not there fairly early parking can be difficult close to the club. However street parking is just a short walk away. 

Nottingham by the river at the end of a warm day was host to a number of familiar faces and even some of our Mod Royalty had made the trek.. Ms Messer, Ms Weller, (don't slap me gals!) and PHK too!! 

The dress policy as ever was smart with lots of sharp suits and dresses but relaxed enough for some not to be wearing a tie... but still looking sharp. The 2 Mark's foster a policy of smart BUT enjoyment look good and have fun. The room is layered down to a dancefloor in front of the stage with the bar at the rear of the room reached 2 stepped layers of floor space with seating alcoves all along the sides of the room and several seats near the bar. 

As the room filled the 2 Mark's played a mix of tunes while Catherine Crew dealt with the never diminishing queue of smiling faces arriving for the next hour. Somehow Stuart Radford even got in was great to meet up!!  Obviously the guys had done plenty of preparation as the stage was all set up ready for the band and the Hammond organ ready and waiting for Nick as the band appeared on stage after 9pm with Stan bounding on stage as the band launched into their set. The room was now packed and it soon became apparent why the Quik have built up a solid reputation. Immediately you can buy into their sound, recreating a British ‘beat’ scene sound from the mid-sixties, with a mix of popular tunes from the sixties, the Quik are not asking you to treat them as the next big thing or question the direction their music is going. What the Quik aim to do is transport you to a time that live bands played in every town and blasted out these type of tunes. You can sing along, tap your feet or dance along, as quite a few did, to a tight, professional but full of heart and passion performance of some great classics and a real mix of familiar favourites, either with Stan’s excellent vocals or the bands spot on instrumentals. 

The Quik beats did two separate sets in the evening and by the end the dancefloor was full and a genuine encore was requested to which the guys happily complied with but certainly seemed to do it as they were enjoying themselves as much as the crowd, not out of a sense of duty. 

In-between the sets the 2 Marks played some of the 'old favourites' from the 80's recreating a flavour of the distant nights that first got many of us first involved in the scene. By now the dancefloor was packed and some Orlons 'Wah watsui's' and Bobby Freemans 'Swimming' dance moves going on... for those of us not too embarrassed to remember when we actually did 'those' moves regularly!! 

By the end of the night it was thinning out but the classics and some newer favourites were still being spun and the dancefloor still packed.. Andrew Schofield was pulling off some great moves, Maz Weller still full of energy and quite a few more... It wasn't until I dragged my exhausted body out into the fresh air that I realised I'd almost lost my hearing (I blame the Quik!) and my voice (I blame Mrs Gonzo for that!) 

So two things I can recommend after the night: - 

Firstly go see the Quik if you want to hear some of your favourite tunes from The Who, Yardbirds, Spencer Davis, Animals etc. performed in a full blooded sharp vintage style. 

And Secondly join the 2 Marks at the Britalian Job next time if you like your Saturday evenings out to be full of smiles, laughter and dancing with the one of the friendliest bunch of people in the Mod world...

Sunday, 2 August 2015

Cilla Black dies aged 72

'Out of Time', Newhampton Arts Centre, Wolverhampton on July 31st 2015 - review by Gonzo

Newhampton Arts centre a good stone’s throw from Wolverhampton City Centre, Molineux Stadium and Allen Road! Allen Road, a place I suffered my student days, just up the road many years ago, however it was also in Wolverhampton where I first met Chris Hunt, then publishing his own Shadows & Reflections Modzine and Fay Hallam of Makin Time, so there were a few fond memories! 

At last I can now at last say I have some more great memories from Wolverhampton! 

Relatively easy to park in the area the Newhampton Arts Centre looks like a rambling old building but once through the doors the atmosphere is definitely seeped in sharp and smart. 

Out of Time sells out - and quickly! People look forward to this night for weeks, so what is going on inside this rambling old building that makes it one of the ‘must’ places to be seen? 

Arriving about 9.30pm, there had been delays for some travellers due to an accident, but in my case it was just time getting ready... Unfortunately this led to missing the early DJ sets, sorry! 

Ali Bongo Goby was behind the decks on arrival; the entrance aisles to the main hall had a couple of stalls with records, clothes and interestingly dress making materials to browse. 

Well first impressions count and WOW! Standing in the doorway to the main room 3 things hit me: - 

1)   The room was packed; the only room available was on the dancefloor. 

2)   The lighting in the room is amazing, controlled manually on lighting decks through the night, colours changing but not in some bizarre on-off fashion but smooth tone changes from pink to lilac to purple to green and so on... The effect gives the good sized dancefloor its own mystique and is fantastic for taking photos. (Also through the night there were at least 2 photographers roaming the room to capture moments and people, now you know where all the fantastic photos come from for the Out of Time Facebook page and advertising).

3)   How many smart, sharp, hip, cool people can you cram into one room? Out of Time certainly knows how to attract the right crowd! 

Before I'd even got inside I'd bumped into Andrew Money looking very sharp, then stepping inside the room there was everybody's friend Howard Gibson, in his grey/silver double breasted suit (I love that suit), before the bar was reached welcomes were shared with Rob Glover, Kass Jones and Dave and Julie and a few nods to familiar faces, while Julian Clapton, Sean Sexton and Chris Leslie were not far from the bar... (as usual?) It was beginning to feel like a home away from home... 

Drinks choices were fairly limited, not being a proper 'bar' as such and quite small in size, but adequate and easily served for saying the room was full. 2 rows of tables and chairs were packed solid and all the free standing space was taken. However this did not feel uncomfortable, lots of chatting and people catching up or making new friends in a warm friendly environment. The room is large but cozy, well laid out with large hanging white balloon type objects decorating the ceiling (it is an Arts centre!) a light control box and a small bar at the rear with a good sized dancefloor and raised DJ stage at the front. Often a room full of 'posers' (let’s be honest, a lot of us have a bit of the peacock tendency) can sometimes feel intimidating or get your back up.... Not at Out of Time! Such warmth, smiles, enjoyment and friendliness was outstanding. Despite all the 'sharp looks' and 'coolness' the atmosphere was quite laid back, welcoming and fun. 

So back to the dancefloor to enjoy Ali Bongo's set (great it was too) followed by Glyn Preece, Sean Chapman and Alan Handscome (for the life of me I can't remember which order) but the night was definitely finished off by Glyn Preece. Each DJ skilled and excellent BUT imagine when you combine the talents and tunes of these DJ's with the atmosphere in the room and the lighting effects on a great wooden dancefloor you might realise why Out of Time sells out and looks like it will again rapidly for October's event. Out of Time has a magical, almost surreal, feel to it, something you do need to experience for yourself, if you can get a ticket! 

The music played was a mix of classic Mod sounds, soul, R'n'B, latin, jazz and ska, exactly as it says on the tin! The smiling faces on the dancefloor and around the room didn't stop all night, cameras flashing, meeting new friends; catching up with old friends and hitting the dancefloor... people were having fun!  

Around midnight the room did start to thin but by 2.30am on Saturday morning the room was still half full, the dancefloor was still packed and Glyn Preece slipped in 2 if not 3 extra tracks after finishing time... 

The extra tracks were unplanned; at one point even Glyn was unsure what he had lined up to play! but the final track was very very apt for Out of Time, goodbyes were said, hands shaken, hugs (even man hugs) were exchanged all over the room as Steve Marriott belted out... 'It’s all too beautiful.....It’s all too beautiful...'  

It was 'beautiful' and like many others I can't wait to do it all again in October!