Friday, 20 January 2017

Attempting to reinvent your image is notoriously difficult in the music industry. Many notable artists have tried only to see their efforts fall short. This is not the case for Alex Turner and Miles Kane, who perfected the task with their most recent outing as The Last Shadow Puppets. The 2016 record Everything You've Come to Expect heralded in a new sound and style for the duo that managed to seem both a world away from the band's first effort, while at the same time, appearing to be the most natural progression.

The Shadow Puppets debut album The Age of the Understatement saw the lads in full early 1960's Beatle mode. The pair were the epitome of The Beatles trademark 1964 world tour look. Sharp suits and tailored overcoats paired with mop top haircuts created an uncanny resemblance to the fab four. Their smart suited fashion choice paired perfectly with the sound of the album, which was a more mature and considered record than anything either had recorded before.

Skip forward eight years to the Puppets second release and it was clear from the off the band's outlook had changed. Elegant suits had given way to bold print shirts with blazers, outlandish 1970's glam rock styles and tracksuits teamed with loafers. This was now a duo intent on enjoying themselves and their bright, crazed new looks served to emphasise that. The chaotic energy delivered in their live performances seemed to mirror the choice of outfit perfectly.

The lessons learnt on how to successfully create and then reinvent an image seemingly adhere to two golden rules. First you must not be afraid to be influenced by what has gone before. There is no shame in identifying something that has previously worked brilliantly and borrowing from it. Golden rule number two is to ensure whatever style you choose is a reflection of you. Both looks chosen by The Last Shadow Puppets were a perfect representation in fashion of who they were at each point in their career.

Of course it also helps if you have really good songs.

Monday, 16 January 2017

The most famous club in the world, Liverpool's Cavern Club opened it's doors for the first time 60 years ago today.

The original club (now sadly demolished) opened in a basement of a fruit sellers warehouse on Mathew Street, a backstreet in Liverpool on the 16th January 1957. The club was originally a jazz club, inspired by the cellar nightclubs of Paris.

Later that same year, a local Skiffle and Rock and Roll band, The Quarrymen, were booked to play the club. On the 7th August, 1957 The Quarrymen - John Lennon's original band - played the Cavern for the first time. The band argued about their set list prior to the performance. Skiffle was tolerated at the jazz club, but Rock and Roll was a no-no. After the first song, Lennon called to his bandmates to start the Elvis Presley song, Don't Be Cruel. Banjo player, Rod Davis warned Lennon not to play it, but he started the song, forcing the others to join in. Halfway through the song a note was passed to the stage; 'Cut out the bloody rock and roll!'

Paul McCartney's Cavern Club debut was on the 24th January 1958, and George Harrison a bit later - on the 9th February 1961. Ringo Starr first played the Cavern as drummer for Rory Storm and The Hurricanes. When the club was sold in 1959 to Ray McFall, it was reopened as a beat and rock and roll club. The first beat night was 25th May, 1960, with Rory Storm and The Hurricanes on the bill.

The Beatles played the Cavern Club a total of 292 time - so the legend goes, and the club's name has become synonymous with Beatles and the start of Beatlemania. It was also at the Cavern Club that Brian Epstein first saw the band and decided he would become their manager.

Following the break up of the Beatles, nostalgia for the club waned and it was sadly closed in 1973 and the original club was filled in to make way for a new Mersey Rail line (which never happened).

But the story wasn't over for the Cavern. Liverpool FC player Tommy Smith took over the club in 1984 and it was rebuilt, using many of the original bricks. The club survived in its new guise until 1989 when financial reasons forced it to close again. It was taken over by present owners Bill Heckle and Dave Jones in 1991 and reopened.

In 1999 Paul McCartney returned to the Cavern to play his last gig of the 20th century in the place where it all began (well, nearly, just to the right of it a bit).

Today, to mark the anniversary a new statue of Cilla Black - who worked as a cloakroom girl at the club in the sixties before going on to be the only female singer managed by Beatles manager, Brian Epstein - was unveiled on Mathew Street, situated where the original Cavern Club entrance was. Artist, Tony Booth, who created many posters for the original Cavern Club and for Brian Epstein's artists, created the pictured poster to celebrate 60 years of the Cavern. Sadly, Tony Booth passed away last week, just days before the anniversary. His son Lee remarked how he began and ended his career with posters for the Cavern Club.

16th January 1957 - 16th January 2017. Here's to the next 60 years of The Most Famous Club In The World.

Friday, 13 January 2017

January 13, 2017 0 Comments
Martin Freeman first came to the nation's attention in 2001, playing the character of Tim, in the hugely successful sitcom The Office. Since then Freeman has starred in many other favourites such as Sherlock, The Hobbit and Love Actually securing his reputation as an audience favourite. Despite his ever growing reputation many people may not know about Freeman's serious mod credentials.

The actor's style became a talking point when he wore suits by Carnaby Street tailor Mark Powell. His use of top end tailors should come as no surprise as his best piece of fashion advice is based on the subject of tailoring. "I would say you can get away with wearing almost anything if it fits you properly. Get it tailored to you, and you could look a million dollars". When away from the red carpet his go to look is a "button-down gingham shirt with jacket and Levi's 501 jeans and loafers" explaining "you can wear that all your life".

Freeman's love of all things mod was first sparked through music and his "first contact with anything creative was through music". His tastes span a wide range, with Motown records of the late 1950's and the music of Paul Weller being stand out passions.

A diverse music taste reflects his beliefs that mod culture should be a broad church at which to worship. He finds the beauty of the movement is that you can "nick bits from here, there and everywhere" which enables the culture to stay fresh and vibrant explaining "the one thing I think it should never be is a uniform".

Freeman states that he uses the word 'mod' as shorthand for anything that is "creative, stylish and of quality". If this is the case then both himself and his career must surely be described as 'mod'.

Thursday, 12 January 2017

Madcap England's latest design the retro Jackie and Robin PVC raincoats have arrived. These unique garments are inspired by the iconic Mary Quant Rainsmock design of the 1960's.

In 1963 the British designer Mary Quant wowed the fashion world when she previewed her Wet Collection in Paris. The collection of experimental designs using PVC, that had been two years in production, made history. Part of the collection was the original PVC Rainsmock which featured her new Christopher Robin collar design.

The appearance of the exciting new style could not have occurred at a better time. The use of bold block colours meant the garment fitted perfectly with the already established Pop-Art movement. Celebrities such as Cynthia Lennon, Jean Shrimpton and Twiggy were pictured wearing the Rainsmock cementing it's style into the public's consciousness, while Jackie Bowyer wore the item in her most famous photoshoot of the decade. The Rainsmock quickly became a much loved and iconic part of the Swinging Sixties.

Madcap England are giving you the opportunity to have your own piece of this incredible fashion and cultural heritage with the Jackie and Robin raincoats. The PVC garments stay true to the original by using bold block colours, a Christopher Robins collar and colour contrast button design.

Find the collection here.

Sunday, 8 January 2017

Today would have been David Bowie's 70th birthday. To mark the occasion and celebrate, we've compiled a 70 facts about David Bowie that you might not know... (and some you will!)

1. He was born David Robert Jones on the 8th January, 1947 in Brixton, London.

2. During his lifetime, he was one of the world's best-selling music artist, with 9 platinum albums, 11 gold and 8 silver in the UK alone.

3. Contrary to popular, David's eyes were the same colour. One was just permanently dilated after a fight with schoolfriend, George Underwood over a girl left him with a serious eye injury for which he had to have a series of operations. It left him with faulty depth perception and a permanently dilated pupil, giving the impression of a change in the colour of the iris.

4. Despite the eye injury, David remained friends with George Underwood, and Underwood created some of the artwork for David's early albums.

5. He stood at a height of 5'10".

6. Guitarist and singer/songwriter, Peter Frampton was a school friend. They both attended Bromley Technical High School, where Peter Frampton's dad was an art teacher.

7. He never drank tea after a distressing incident when he was 5 years old. The legend goes that aboard a Thames boat trip with his parents, David drank tea which had been stewing for 7 years (!) It was so horrible that he never touched it again - although he did like Japanese Green Tea.
He was inducted into the Rock and Roll hall of fame in 1996.

8. Space Oddity was his first top five chart entry when it was released in July, 1969, coinciding with the moon landing.

9. He formed his first band, The Konrads, in 1962 at the age of 15.

10. He turned down a CBE in 2000 and later a knighthood in 2003. He said about the CBE, "I would never have any intention of accepting anything like that. I seriously don't know what it's for. It's not what I spent my life working for."

[More below!]