Wednesday, 11 May 2016

Ray-Ban Icons Sunglasses: The Aviator

"Cool was invented in 1937..."
- The Aviator, Ray-Ban icons

The staple of any Retro Sunglasses collection, the Aviator was developed by Bausch & Lomb (the original owners of Ray-Ban) in 1936 and the design patented in 1937.

In the 1920s, new technology in planes meant that pilots were able to fly higher and for longer periods than previously. Some pilots complained that the extended exposure to the sun's glare was giving them headaches and altitude sickness. In 1929, US Army Air Corps Lieutenant General John MacCready asked Bausch & Lomb, who at the time were a New York-based medical equipment manufacturer, to create a pair of sunglasses that would reduce the headaches and nausea experienced by pilots.

The prototype to the Aviator, then called 'anti-glare' sunglasses, was designed in 1936 with plastic frames and green lenses, designed to cut out the glare without impeding vision. The design was updated to its now instantly recognisable thin metal frame the following year and renamed the Ray-Ban Aviator; Aviator after the pilots and the name Ray-Ban chosen to convey that these sunglasses literally banned the rays from the suns from the wearers eyes. The original design featured Ray-Ban's G-15 tempered glass lenses, transmitting 15% of incoming light. The large lenses are slightly convex shaped, to cover the entire range of the human eye and prevent as much light as possible from entering the eye from any angle.

As well as pilots, other groups of people soon found the Aviator useful for purposes. A couple of years after the classic Aviator was developed, Ray-Ban developed a sister style, The Outdoorsman, specifically for activities such as hunting, fishing and shooting.

In the 1940s, gradient lenses and mirror lenses were introduced. These lenses featured a special coating on the upper part of the lens for extra protection, but an uncoated lower lens for a clear view of an aeroplane's controls and instruments.
"People of the Philippines: I have returned" - General MacArthur wades ashore in 1944

During World War II, the Aviator gained more fame in the mainstream after American army General Douglas MacArthur landed on the beaches in the Philippines in 1944. Dramatic newspaper photographs showed him (and other army personnel) wearing Aviator sunglasses, as they waded ashore. "People of the Philippines: I have returned," said General MacArthur in his speech that day.

In the 1950s and 1960s the Aviator grew in popularity moderately. The oversized style, allowing a lot of coverage for the wearer, meant that soon Aviator sunglasses were being adopted by celebrities and politicians.

Tuesday, 10 May 2016

Interview with Terry Rawlings: A Very British Phenomenon

Terry Rawlings at Decca Records, 1980

Through his vast knowledge of music from both working within the industry and as a fan, author Terry Rawlings has created works worthy of any music connoisseurs collection. His impeccably researched Mod: A Very British Phenomenon and Brian Jones: Who Killed Christopher Robin? are staple books in many a household and he has earned a reputation as an authoritative figure within the mod scene. Gibson London’s Simon Parr invited Terry to his London Showroom and this is what he had to say:

Simon Parr: How did you first become a writer? 

Terry Rawlings: I was expelled from school in the 5th year for doing graffiti on the walls outside the school gates. The school was at Dockhead, and we were right on the docks. I got the white liner that was used to mark out the pitches and I wrote all along the back where the docks were, ‘Mr Shields is a c***’. My friend was up a wall, painting over a lot of graffiti and I thought I can’t let him take the blame for it so I stupidly owned up. After I was expelled, I didn’t really have a career or anything in mind until I got a job in the post room at Decca Records, which [DJ and presenter] Gary Crowley got me. I just sort of replaced him. He left on the Friday and I started on the Monday. It was sort of like-for-like because we both dressed the same and the studio manager just thought it was one parka for another. From Decca Records I went onto Sire Records, where we were doing this Small Faces fanzine. Paul Weller liked the fanzine and it was Paul who opened the door for me to start writing. Paul Weller, after getting our fanzine, started one of his own up called Decembers Child and I did some bits and pieces for that, and it was him who suggested I should write a book.

SP: And that was All Our Yesterdays? The Small Faces Book? 

TR: Yes. I was working for Sire Records (Home of The Ramones and The Pretenders) and me and a friend of mine, Tony Lordon - he was the bass player in Department S (of Is Vic There? fame) - we used to do a fanzine called Sha La La La Lee (not very imaginative, I know!) about The Small Faces. Back then, we’re talking about 1980, The Small Faces had been totally forgotten, nobody knew about them; the profile they’ve got now wouldn’t have been dreamed of back then. The only album you could get was on Charly Records, anything else you couldn’t get hold of. Paul Weller had got into The Small Faces. He was a big fan of The Kinks and The Who, and he got into The Small Faces too.

We used to do the fanzine on the photocopier in the Sire Records office and Paul would come and get it. We’d done about three issues and then he suggested the idea to do a bigger version of it, like a pamphlet or a mini- book thing, which we called All Our Yesterdays. I’d found all these photographs that hadn’t been seen back then. Nobody cared about them. They had reformed once and no one cared. The band had 3 of the Small Faces in it and they’d been playing pubs.

SP: That was minus Ronnie Lane wasn’t it? 

TR: Yeah, he came back for about a day and then they had a bit of a punch up and he left again, so Rick Wills from Foreigner, who’s in Kenny Jones’ band now, joined instead. But they couldn’t get arrested, you know? They didn’t look like The Small Faces, to be honest, they looked like Smokie, you know, all weird.

So, Paul came up with the idea of doing a better version of the fanzine and that was my first attempt at writing something. We did this little pamphlet thing that he got printed up, and they sold them on The Jam’s merchandising stall at the gigs. We re-printed it a few times. It started to turn people onto The Small Faces. It reminded people [of them]. I never big myself up about it but it was the only thing you could get then on The Small Faces and it caught people’s imaginations. People only knew about The Who and The Kinks, in that ’79 Mod Revival, and they didn’t know about The Small Faces. It started a little Small Faces revival, I’m pretty sure, and look at where it is now. I don’t even have a copy of the book anymore, which is quite sad. It wasn’t a great literary advancement on my part, but after that Paul suggested I do another book, a serious book, and that turned out to be twenty years of researching the Brian Jones murder. So it was down to what Paul said and his help that got me going, so I owe it all to him.

SP: That became Who Killed Christopher Robin: The Truth Behind The Killing Of Brian Jones, about the life and death of Brian Jones from The Rolling Stones. 

TR: When I worked at Decca, it seemed everybody had been there since the 1960s and they all had a story about Brian Jones and speculated on his death. The edition that is out now is the third edition. We had to do a second edition when we realised how many mistakes we’d made in the first, after we got new information, new police files, new home office files and more interviews. We’d realised we’d made so many glaring mistakes in the first one we had to do a second one just to put it all right. So we had about 80% of the story put right in the second edition, but there were still massive areas where we weren’t sure of things.

Then I got ill and I was out of the game for about a year when I had cancer and in the meantime I heard a guy had beat me to the new police files which had been released after forty years. Paul Spendel was going to do a book and he was asking me for help. I said, ‘Listen, it’s only right that I’ve done this much work and you’ve just jumped in at the last minute and got the last files because I was ill, why don’t you join me and we’ll put out a third edition - that is the ultimate edition - and we’ll share the grief and the glory, so to speak?’ He was a nice fella and he was up for doing it, so it made sense to collaborate.

Sunday, 24 April 2016

The Beatles Style Guide: Part Five 1965 - 1966

Part five exploring The Beatles style from 1961 to 1970, compiled and written by guest blogger, Harrison. In this instalment the Beatles embrace colour and patterns. You can also create your very own Beatles inspired look with this guide.

'65 - '66
Here Comes the Colour 

The Beatles, 1966
The Beatles Live at Budokan 

"The Beatles saved the world from boredom."
- George Harrison 

In the winter of 1965, The Beatles released Rubber Soul, their sixth studio album. The LP was met with both commercial and critical success. It also marked a departure for the lads from their poppy sound and clean cut image. The cover was shot by photographer, Robert Freeman in the backyard of John Lennon's home, Kenwood. 

Freeman was a favorite photographer of the Beatles and consecutively designed five album covers for the group from 1963 to 1966. 

The Beatles stretched image tilted at a 'dutch angle' was happenstance. Freeman was projecting photographs of the band onto an album sized piece of cardboard. It fell slightly and stretched the photograph. The group liked the distorted effect and requested Freeman duplicate that for their album cover. 

Freeman asked illustrator Charles Front to design the lettering. Front was inspired by the title and wanted to invoke an image of a thick substance being pulled downwards. This stylized font became synonymous with the 1960s and mirrored Freeman's elongated album cover image of the Beatles. 

Friday, 22 April 2016

Something For The Weekend: Idle Talk

Welcome to our new blog series showcasing some new bands, old bands and fantastic music!

The first band up is Idle Talk, a three piece Indie band from Brighton, UK. Above is one of their latest tracks, Inner Demons, which can be found on their latest EP, Reaction (released in February 2016).

Picture by Tom Little
Idle Talk are Louis May (vocals and guitar), Matt Geary (bass) and David Bishop (drums). They formed in early 2015 and immediately started making a name for themselves in and around the Brighton music scene. Influenced by elements of indie, mod and soul, the band have gone on to support bands like Secret Affair and From The Jam at sold out shows on their respective tours.

2016 has seen them release their first EP for Detour Records called Reaction. This was mixed by Andy Crofts (The Moons/Paul Weller Band) and has received great reviews. With various festival dates and support slots line up for the rest of the year, the band are going from strength to strength! Make sure to catch them at a gig near you soon.  (Find upcoming gig details below).

Would you like your band featured here? Email details to and you could be the next Something For The Weekend! (All types of music, bands and artists welcome! All genres, signed, unsigned, young and old!)

Catch Idle Talk live:

10th May - The Latest Music Bar, Brighton
19th June - The Old Queen's Head, London
29th July - Music Mania 2016, Worthing
19th August - The Con Club, Lewes
24th September - The Prince Albert, Brighton (supporting The Lost Boys)
16th December - Concorde 2, Brighton (supporting From The Jam)

Find Idle Talk online:

Thursday, 21 April 2016

New Bootleg Sixties DVD out now!

The Overtures in their Madcap England threads

The UK's premier Sixties tribute band, The Overtures are busy touring Holland with their excellent Bootleg Sixties show currently, but you can now enjoy your Overtures show whenever you want with the new, long awaited, Bootleg Sixties show DVD,  Live From The Playhouse!

Featuring highlights from the show and 38 songs from The Overtures extensive repertoire, including songs from The Beatles, The Who, The Kinks, The Rolling Stones and many more and DVD behind the scenes and interviews extras.

The DVD is £15.00 plus P&P and can be purchased from the Bootleg Sixties website here.

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Ray-Ban Icons Sunglasses: The Wayfarer

"Built as strong and sturdy as the personalities that wore them..." 
- The Wayfarer, Ray-Ban Icons

"It's 106 miles to Chicago, we got a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, it's dark... and we're wearing sunglasses."
- The Blues Brothers, 1980

The Ray-Ban Wayfarer, possibly the most famous, iconic and instantly recognisable sunglasses style in history, and it's easy to see why. The typically black, solid frame and green G-15 lens affords the wearer the desired amount of anonymity, privacy and... well, it just instantly adds cool to any look or outfit, doesn't it?! 

The original patent , filed in 1952
Ray-Ban began selling the Wayfarer in 1956, the first of it's kind and a revolution in eyewear. It had been designed and patented in 1952 by American optical designer, Raymond Stegeman who procured lots of patents for Bausch & Lomb, Ray-Ban's parent company at the time.

The design was new and different from anything that had gone before in two respects - it was to utilise new plastic molding technology, marking a transition from wire and metal frame eyewear into plastic frame eyewear - something not available previously, and also it's intrinsic 1950s style, which reflected Atomic and Space age design and according to design critic Stephen Bayley, "Eames chairs and Cadillac tail fins."

James Dean wearing Wayfarer Sunglasses

The Wayfarer was instantly popular. James Dean wore Wayfarers in Rebel Without A Cause and the sunglasses became forever associated with rock and roll with everyone from Roy Orbison to John Lennon to Bob Dylan donning a pair throughout the fifties and sixties.

Wednesday, 13 April 2016

Who's Next Play The Cavern Club (Wearing Madcap England)

Premier UK Who Tribute band, Who's Next played at the legendary Cavern Club, Liverpool recently for a sold out show in the Cavern's Live Lounge.

The show was a special set from Who's Next. The first half was made up of early Who songs and R'n'B tracks the Who covered when they were first starting out, including some quite rare, and even more rarely played live songs. The second half of the show was the Who's huge hits and rock anthems.

The band wore a lot of Madcap England styles for the Cavern Club show, including guitarist Dante DiCarlo in a Madcap England Racing Jumper and Madcap England 'Casbah' Beatle Boots (because what else would you wear on your feet down at The Cavern?!) and also singer, Gary Charman in a Madcap England Pinstripe Marriott Polo.

Dante, writing on the Who's Next blog said about the show, "The gig was an absolute blast and afterwards we were informed we had sold the place out and it had been packed to capacity! We were all beyond chuffed and can’t wait to play there again!"

Check below for some fab pics from the gig.

And then check Who's Next's website for a gig near you - the band is playing all over the UK this year!

All images © Ian Hanson Photography. (Thanks guys!)

Friday, 8 April 2016

Baracuta collaborate with Dainese for the Barapel D4 Harrington Jacket

The new Baracuta G4/D4 collaboration with Dainese, world leader in high-tech motorcycle sportswear, (hence the name D4) is now in stock at Atom Retro.

Protective gear for bike riders brand and leaders in dynamic sports technologies, Dainese have lent their expertise in protection to the classic Baracuta G4 Harrington, resulting a unique jacket featuring detachable shoulder and elbow pads hidden inside.

The D4 features inside pockets that allows the insertion of the Pro-Shape, a new generation protections printed on a Fraser tartan, made exclusively for Baracuta by Dainese. The result of all the super tech detailing is one heck of a Mod Scooter Harrington Jacket - The Baracuta G4 - D4 Dainese - Barapel Harrington. Bet Steve McQueen would have loved one of these for jaunts on his many motorcycles!

Limited stock, so don't hang around! Find it here.

Tuesday, 5 April 2016

Ray-Ban Icons Sunglasses: The Clubmaster

"If 1937 was the invention of cool, then 1986 was the year it matured..."
- The Clubmaster, Ray-Ban icons

The Ray-Ban Clubmaster is one of the most enduring pieces of the Ray-Ban Icons range. A style which is steeped in fashion history, it might be surprising to learn that the modern Clubmaster was actually developed by Ray-Ban in 1986. Drawing on over 50 years off fashion heritage and history, this iconic browline style is a timeless classic which returns time and time again.

The Browline style was first manufactured in America in 1947 by a company called Shuron Ltd, under the brand, Ronsir. The early Ronsir Browline glasses featured interchangeable eyewires, bridges and brow pieces, giving the wearer the ability to completely customise and change the look and colour of the glasses as they desired.

Malcolm X in 1965 wearing browline glasses. Image Michael Ochs.
The Browline features a thick upper part to the frame, giving the impression of eyebrows and lending the style it's name, and usually a thin, metal or plastic lower eye frame. The Browline was quickly picked up on and emulated by other eyewear manufacturers, who developed the design further into mens, womens and unisex designs and incorporating features such as unique plaques and materials, including plastic brows made to look like woodgrain which were popular for a time in the fifties.

James Dean in browline glasses
The browline became one of the most popular styles in the fifties and sixties, where the style accounted for half of all glasses sold in America in the 1950s. The style got it's footnote in history when it was worn by figures such as black liberationist, Malcolm X who was frequently photographed wearing browline glasses and also president Lyndon B. Johnson, who was famously pictured wearing browline glasses when he signed his national statement regarding the signing of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

More famous browline glasses wearers include American actor, James Dean and London gangster, Ronnie Kray, showing how wide the appeal of the style was to people in all walks of life and culture.

In the 1970s there was a decline in popularity for the browline during a backlash against culture and fashion of the 1950s and 60s, which had begun with the late sixties hippie counter culture. The style was viewed standing for some of the more undesirable conformist aspects of the past and were thought too conservative. Despite this, Shuron, the original manufacturer of the browline, passed 16 million pair sold in 1971 and the style did remain popular among older people. In 1978 the browline style had a resurgence, when an anti-disco backlash effected the popularity of the Aviator and Teashade sunglasses (round, John Lennon style sunglasses) which had been at the forefront of eyewear fashion since the decline of the browline's popularity.

Sunday, 3 April 2016

The Beatles Style Guide: Part Four 1964 - 1965

Part four exploring The Beatles style from 1961 to 1970, compiled and written by guest blogger, Harrison. In this installment the Beatles move into military style and also into more casual attire. You can also create your very own Beatles inspired look with this guide.

'64 - '65
The In-betweeners 

The Beatles performing at Shea Stadium, New York.

"It's all sort of important in good ways and it's unimportant really in other ways."
- Ringo Starr

In 1964 through 1965, The Beatles were riding high on a wave of commercial and critical success. The lads performed at Shea Stadium in New York City on August 15th, 1965. In attendance were over 55,000 concertgoers, which made this the Beatles largest concert up to that date. 

A replica of the Beatles "Shea" jacket,
signed by Paul McCartney.
The Beatles continued to wear matching stage suits when they performed. The Shea Stadium suits are arguably their most iconic look from the mid 1960s. The military style single breasted tan coloured jacket with five brown buttons down the front, one smaller button on each chest pocket and also one button on each shoulder. The 'Wells Fargo' sheriff badge is optional. Underneath the jackets, instead of wearing dress shirts, they wore black t-shirts, which matched their black drainpipe trousers and "Beatle boots".  

However, their personal style had evolved and they became more easily identified through their interviews, photoshoots and personal appearances as individuals instead of one entity. Perhaps the best example of their individual style is contained in the second movie they starred in, which was also the first one in colour, Help! A comedy adventure that revolves around Ringo Starr's ring and the mysterious cult that will do anything to obtain it!