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Event – The John Steed Ball

Count Indigo is a versatile pop singer, performer lyricist and compere of surprising vocal and aesthetic range. His music encompasses smooth baritone soul grooves, dark falsetto dance rhythms and exhilarating orchestral arrangements. The uniqueness of his approach to music – making comes out of combining mature themes of joy and betrayal and with a beguiling soulful accessibility. A decade of acclaimed nightclub & festival performances all over Europe and honed an intimate, humorous showmanship personified in his album, Homme Fatale.

He also is a well known Events designer, host and promoter, we spoke to him recently about his John Steed Ball Event.

01. Please tell us how your Year has been so far?

I really enjoyed performing on NYE at Vintage at Southbank. Its my third year there running and the balcony view to the Thames firework display is a fabulous way to see in the New Year. 2016 will be very exciting for Count Indigo!

02. Tell us about your current outlook with Song Creation and Writing?

I wake up with morning sickness these days! I have so many new songs written during 2015 ready to go! Impossible Dream and Bruton Street will certainly make people sit up and take notice in 2016!

03. The John Steed Ball… what’s the big idea here then?

The Avengers duality of conservatism and subversion has been an inspiration to me and millions of others. When Patrick Macnee died last Summer I just felt it would be great to mark his passing with a dinner-discotheque extravaganza that would celebrate his continuing international cultural impact. He’s the most famous British adventurer after James Bond and Sherlock Holmes. And definitely the one who’d be the best company!

04. What Entertainment can we expect to frame this very special evening?

There is a fantastic three course dinner a la carte. They’ll also be performances from yours truly, Catsuit-A-G0-G0! and The Jet Set International.

05. What is the setting and Venue like?

It’s all in the penthouse lounge bar and restaurant of Eight Club Moorgate. It’s the usual venue for my club Mrs Peels with the addition of an international standard restaurant and the usual heated balcony views across the City of London. All in all, pretty spectacular.

06. Do you have any special guests planned?

The highlight will be musical performances and speeches from Avengers co-stars Peter Wyngarde, Aimi Macdonald and Fenella Fielding. They’ll also being doing a lively Q & A session with the dinner guests.

07. What is the John Steed Ball in aid of?

The beneficiaries will be Patrick Macnee’s favoured charity The Actors Fund who look after those in need throughout the entertainment business and Medicinema who organise film screenings for patients in UK hospitals.

08. Would you say this is a good place for Local Businesses to network and hob-nob?

Eight Club is actually a private club for business people so its built for hob-nobbing! 5*Hotel levels of service and comfort in a lounge nightclub setting. Luxurious armchairs combined with a pulsating dancefloor – come along and join us for something special and unique!

09. What is the Soundtrack & Themes for the dancefloor and tell us about the special guest DJs?

The varied musical template is 60s international Jet Set sounds. Music to transport you to a glam dancefloor in St Tropez , Macao or Rio with a vibrant Swinging London beat. All set to a groovy soundtrack from the brilliant DJ Martin Green. A man with over a dozen extraordinary compilations of incredible pop, soundtracks and library music.

10. Where can folks buy their Tickets from?

Early bird tickets from £40 – £140 are now available here: GET TICKETS HERE

11. I hear that you have a rather clever Contest wherein folks can win a nice Prize? Is that ready to enter?

Yes, winners get free entry to the night and runners=up modernist art prints of The Avengers stars. ENTER THE CONTEST HERE

12. What did John Steed, Mrs Peel and The Avengers mean to you and why did it leave such a lasting Impression?

Its the combination of the surreal and the everyday that does it for me. Rodney Marshall who is making the keynote dinner speech describes it simply as the joy of Subversive Champagne. A combination of cool, ironic derring-do and with a gender equality that was incredibly progressive for 50 years ago! The smart dialogue, martial arts, kinkiness and catsuits might help too!

13. Do you think many programmes in Modern Media compare in any way?

There’s a very direct line to say Buffy The Vampire and even David Lynch. Whilst in the U.K. the knowing re-inventions of Doctor Who and Sherlock definitely owe The Avengers a lot.

14. What have you in mind for Count Indigo in 2016?

To release my excellent new music. Take Mrs Peels Club from strength to strength. Perform with Count Indigo Revue.

15. Can you tell us a post-festive Joke please?

What do you call a man who claps at Christmas? Santapplause! I’m opening a Gym for 2016 recreating Victorian techniques for dispatching ruffians with a walking stick. It will turn into Cocktail Yacht Club by the Spring!

admin

Boo Eyeplug acts as webmaster/designer for the Eyeplug site. Not the most social of creatures and with several personality issues, and rather exotic, eccentric tastes for obscure ‘cultish’ stuff which makes his ramblings seem even more sweetly abstract and often annoying.

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January 4, 2016 By : Category : Culture Events Eyeplugs Interviews Nightlife Picks Vintage Tags:, , , , ,
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The Avengers 50th Anniversary Evening:

The Avengers 50th Anniversary Evening: Barbican Cinema 1 Wed 30/11/11

It’s fair comment that if someone organised a screening of any of ‘The Avengers’ TV episodes in a limestone cave in Cheshire, or up the side of a mountain in the far north of Scotland, I’d probably attend. Fortunately, London’s Barbican is much easier to get to, and so I and my two delightful companions hitched a lift on a milk float to Farringdon to be there. On offer were two shows from the glorious monochrome era, ‘Mandrake’ and ‘The Hour That Never Was’.

‘Mandrake’ is surely one of the best of the ‘Cathy Gale’ stories, the plot concerning a firm of corrupt doctors who arrange for the convenient death of their clients’ rich relatives in return for a hefty slice of their estates. In a typically theatrical flourish, all victims are buried in the same Cornish churchyard, where the tin-mined ground’s naturally high arsenic content disguises the presence of poison in their bodies.

John Le Mesurier makes a fine choice as an impeccably-mannered but venal doctor, spurred on by a greedy partner intent on continuing as long as possible in their dangerous path to riches. Grapple fans would raise a cheer at the appearance of 60’s wrestling star Jackie Pallo as a cockney gravedigger, transplanted miles from his City home to this Cornish idyll, still hankering after saveloys in place of the local food he despises. Our favourite pair of sleuths arrives to disturb the corrupt medics’ cosy arrangement.

‘The Hour That Never Was’ is a classic of the ‘Emma Peel’ years, centring on Steed’s invitation to an RAF reunion party at the end of an era for a shortly-to-be decommissioned air base. Perhaps sensing danger ahead, or maybe simply wanting to be seen in sultry female company, Steed invites Mrs Peel to join him, only to find that what should have been a jolly, nostalgic evening turns into another strange job for our duo. The air base has all the trappings of a party about to start, but is without guests. The punch has been poured, the party food laid out, but no RAF pals are here.

For a typically surreal Avengers plot, we get some insight into the generational tension that lurked below the surface of their odd relationship. Steed’s wartime reminisces, all ‘chocks away’ and boozing before and after, clearly bore Mrs Peel, who tartly remarks ‘It’s a wonder you had time to win the war’.

What starts as a mystery, even possibly a ‘rag’ organised by his old pals to amuse Steed, is quickly realised to be a malicious plot to kidnap and brainwash the country’s top RAF staff, for use as ‘sleeper’ agents in various places around the world at some significant moment.

Most of us would have been happy with this celebratory screening, but we also had a Q&A with director Gerry O’Hara and designer David Marshall too.

David Marshall shared his memories of working as a set designer on the show, recalling the fight scene in ‘Mandrake’, where Jackie Pallo fell into the grave, thumping his head on the way down, knocking him out cold. Fearing he may never be asked to work there again, David was relieved at Jackie’s complete recovery. David felt that the set was a personal triumph, constructed in a very small space, raised so as to give depth to the grave, and lit with enormous care so as to exclude any suggestion of studio apparatus shadows in the ‘churchyard’. His memory of the divide between actors and purely technical staff was telling, there being no mixing whatsoever.

Gerry’s time as an Avengers director was restricted to just two episodes, one being ‘The Hour That Never Was’. He recalled his relationship with ITC was somewhat strained when it was discovered that he had had an affair with a lady who later married an executive of the company. Although occurring years before she married, it nevertheless set in motion his estrangement from ITC, he felt. He nevertheless had fond memories of working on ‘The Avengers’

A question from the floor was whether The Avengers created the 60’s, or the 60’s created The Avengers? Neither felt that either statement was true, but they did feel that the show reflected the 60’s, especially the fashions of the era, without being part of the youth culture it was loved by. Another was whether they felt, at the time, that they would still be talking about the show fifty years hence. Neither did, but simply felt that they had helped to create a quality piece of work in what was then a highly competitive field.

An unsurprisingly well-attended show, with some well-known faces from the Mod scene, added up to one of the best evenings I have spent in the Barbican. More, please.

© Scenester 4/12/11


Scenester

Scenester lives in London and Brighton, as time allows. Enjoys music, film, television, books, design and anything else which won’t leave well alone. Old enough to know better.

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June 16, 2015 By : Category : Cult Events Exhibitions Icons Picks Reviews Vintage Tags:, ,
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Re- Assessed: Their Satanic Majesties Request

This entry is part 1 of 1 in the series Re-Assessed

This piece is written to silence the haters, coax the doubters and welcome the uninitiated to the wonder that is the Rolling Stones most controversial album; 1967’s Their Satanic Majesties Request.

Before assimilating the hype, one must first gain an understanding of how Mick and Keith came to write such an unyielding and experimental collection of songs. The Beatles aside, in 1967 The Rolling Stones were commercially speaking, untouchable. It’s been well documented by both parties that Mick Jagger and John Lennon would regularly conspire to stagger their prospective releases to ensure maximum chart impact. And so it was, between the May 1963 and January 1967 the Rolling Stones notched up a total of 15 UK hit singles, nine of which went to Number One. These statistics are staggering by anyone’s standards, especially in light of the fact that Jagger and Richards had only been writing their own material for just over 30 months.

It’s useful to view TSMR as a book-end to their nascent songwriting period, as the Stones’ entire original output up to this point, had been written and recorded on the road. A constant, gruelling touring schedule since 1963 had paid off commercially, but in turn burned them out. This forced the band to take a break that would give them space and via certain recreational activities; allow their creative juices to flow in a whole new direction.

The sheer rate at which the Jagger/Richards song-writing partnership blossomed during this time was reminiscent of a hurtling locomotive – and there seemed little sense of this slowing down. Listen to the singles ‘The Last Time’ (Feb 1965); ‘(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction’ (June 1965); and then ‘Paint It Black’ (May 1966), and you can clearly hear the advances being made – both in terms of production and song craft. 1966 would prove to be a commercial peak for the Stones in terms of single sales. However, behind the scenes, their internal affairs painted a far more complex picture.

Manager/Producer Andrew Oldham was a key element in masterminding their meteoric ascent to stardom, but he grew increasingly frustrated with the band’s work ethic in the studio and distanced himself from the recordings of TSMR. Alternatively, depending upon which camp you choose to believe – the Stones believed they had outgrown him. Oldham was a true master in marketing the band and manipulating the media to their advantage, but he lacked the studio prowess required to keep up with the band’s increasingly groundbreaking compositions. This lead to TSMR becoming the first album not credited to Oldham as producer, and subsequently to the Stones finding new management in the form of the notorious Allen Klein.

When I think of this period, I immediately picture the Summer Of Love; a hedonistic period of free thinking, free love and psychedelic drugs. In hindsight, it’s easy to think everyone was taking LSD. However, truth be told, in late 1966 only the switched-on elite were experimenting with such brave new forms of mind-expansion. In addition to various socialites and key figures of the art world, it was the rock hierarchy who really embraced the drug. It would be these hallucinogenic experiences that gave birth to some of the most highly respected and forward thinking albums of all time. It would also be these very same experiences that led the recently defunct, News of the World in to run a three part article in January 1967, that trumpeted, ‘Pop Stars and Drugs: Facts That Will Shock You’.

Such contrived moral outrage soon ensured that matters very quickly became rather dark for The Stones from this point. Within three months, Mick, Keith and Brian Jones would find themselves arrested for drug possession as a campaign of raids gathered momentum. The party seemed to be over. ‘When we got busted at Redlands, it suddenly made us realise that this was a whole different ball game and that was when the fun stopped,’ explained Richards. ‘Up until then it had been as though London existed in a beautiful space where you could do anything you wanted.’

During this same period, while on holiday in Morocco (apparently taken to escape the madness at home) Richards won/stole the affections of Brian Jones’ girlfriend, the beautiful and enigmatic, Anita Pallenberg. The damage this caused to relations between Jones and Richards was irreparable. As Jones’ insecurities dramatically increased, so too did his drug intake and – not coincidently – his creative input diminished. Shortly after the release of Satanic Majesties, the band jettisoned Jones, by then a ghostly shadow of his former self.

Pending court cases, drug busts, heartbreak, changes in management and an abundance of LSD – most bands would have split. But this fostered a siege mentality within the group, and their resilience and sheer determination spurred them on to achieve new creative highs. This became evident with the August 1967 release of the single ‘We Love You’, which was the public’s first taste of a post-‘Ruby Tuesday’ Rolling Stones. The song was a ‘thank you’ to their fans for the loyal support they had shown since the drug bust and subsequent moral panic earlier in the year. It knowingly begins with the crash of prison doors slamming shut; this is followed by a brooding and urgent piano riff by the fabulous Nicky Hopkins. The strong Moroccan influences wrap around a defiant message to the British authorities; ‘we don’t care if you hound we or lock the doors around we’. Mick’s tongue firmly in his cheek as he drawls ‘We love yoooou’ to The Man.

Both John Lennon and Paul McCartney were in the studio at the time and lend their sweet harmonies to the lysergic-spiked chorus. Reaching Number Eight in the charts, it served as an outlet for the Stones’ seething frustrations and also a rye wink to the Beatles in light of their recent ‘All You Need Is Love’.

Their Satanic Majesties Request was released four months later, in December 1967. Greeted by many critics with cynicism, disdain and disappointment it nevertheless reached Number Three in the UK. Earlier in the year, the Beatles had issued Sgt Pepper to overwhelming
adoration and it was no secret that the Stones were directly influenced by the album. But let us not forget – This was 1967, acid was in the air and the Stones had time on their side – they also wanted to reflect the times, their way. TSMR is littered with in-jokes and peppered with a frivolity not previously associated with the no-nonsense Stones, before or since. But it is this fact that makes the album so special.

The album arrived wrapped in a sleeve featuring a cover image shot by photographer Michael Cooper, who had also been involved in creating the iconic Sgt Pepper sleeve art. Cooper was very much part of the Stones inner circle, so he was an obvious choice. He flew the band out to New York and shot what became the world’s first 3-D LP cover. With Mick sat crossed legged dressed as a wizard and the rest of the boys flanking him in equally flamboyant attire, it is a striking graphic. The original 3-D effect gave the impression the band were turning away as you tilted the sleeve, but due to high production costs, this was soon scrapped for a cheaper and more conventional version. Cooper had intended to direct the movie adaptation of A Clockwork Orange that same year, casting Mick as lead character, Alex and the rest of the Stones as his droogs. Although this didn’t pan out, Cooper certainly left his mark in rock history but sadly died of a heroin overdose six years later, in 1973.   

Unsurprisingly, the Stones drew catcalls for looking a little daft in their ‘fancy dress’. Given that the album itself wasn’t released until Christmas of 1967 and in the context to the ever changing times psychedelia was virtually over. Their Satanic Majesties Request had taken the best part of a year to record, which for the times; was a glacial recording rate. Whichever way you looked at it The Rolling Stones now appeared to be very much behind the pack, instead of leading it. It’s also worth noting if you look close enough at the cover, you will spot the heads of the Fab Four. And as hard one may try (in whichever state you may be in), the cosmic maze that graces the inside cover is designed to be impossible to complete.
Opening with a discordant piano and a wail of mariachi horns, ‘Sing This All Together’ (like the album as a whole) always divides critical opinion. Is this new Stones sound exploring new expansive sonic territories or are they just unfocused and befuddled by 1967’s drug du jour? ‘There’s a lot of rubbish on Satanic Majesties,’ opined Jagger. ‘Just too much time on our hands, too many drugs, no producer to tell us, “Enough already, thank you very much, now can we get just get on with this song?” Anyone let loose in the studio will produce stuff like that. There was simply too much hanging around. It’s like believing everything you do is great and not having any editing.’

Like or loathe the opening number, very few can dismiss the subsequent ‘Citadel’. It’s the hardest rocking track on the album, with very little in the way adornment – at least by this album’s standards. The lyrics are somewhat obtuse, leaving the listener transported to a place that may not be of this earth. Never has a city landscape felt so dark and alien yet so very inciting.

Track three, ‘In Another Land’ was written and sung by bassist Bill Wyman. Never one to get too involved with drugs, Wyman wrote the song to poke fun at the rest of the band. He’d not enjoyed working at their slow pace in the studio, nor had he warmed to the fact they were
seemingly exiting on another plain. His deadpan vocals, fed through a series of effects are a perfect contrast to that of Mick’s, yet it’s still very 1967: Yes this is the Rolling Stones, but we don’t have to take it all so seriously.

‘2000 Man’, provides a lighter touch to an otherwise densely psychedelic collection. It’s not a stand out track, however you may wish it was longer when it segues into ‘Sing This Altogether (See What Happens)’. This is just under eight minutes of what amounts to no more than a droning raga-influenced jam, it’s pretty difficult to digest, and I can imagine many getting up out off their beanbags to turn the record over each time it starts. However, what it does go to prove is that the Stones were not merely impersonating the Beatles but instead painting a far darker and foreboding version of Psychedelia.

Side Two opens the jubilant and celebratory ‘She’s A Rainbow’. Despite the generally upbeat tone, this track opens and closes with sinister soundscapes that perfectly imply the darkness surrounding both the band and the Summer Of Love. However, when Mick tells us all that ‘She comes in colours everywhere’ there is very little doubt that the horny young singer has witnessed these wonderful psychedelic orgasms first hand. The playfulness of the ‘Oo la-la-la’ backing vocal are not those of R&B purists – this is a band looking forward with the prime intention of turning their audience on to a new way of seeing things, and they succeed in a very big way.

Neither a single, nor particularly well-known, ‘The Lantern’ is an often overlooked gem. It blends Richards’ country-tinged acoustic guitar with Nicky Hopkins’ tinkling piano to achieve a groove all of its own. The blissed-out vocal and unusual time signature ensures that the song rewards repeated listens.

Like ‘2000 Man’, ‘The Gomper’ is hardly representative of Jagger/Richards at the peak of their powers. Although the first two minutes could be described as inoffensive filler, the remaining three minutes descend into an unfocused and not particularly pleasant or clever jam.

Following such a dire racket comes the album’s crowning glory – Not only the strongest song on the album, but also a kind of creative peak for the songwriting partnership. The lyrics to ‘2000 Light Years From Home’ were written by Mick during his incarceration in Brixton Prison. But it’s the overall atmosphere coupled with the lyrics that make the whole listening experience so very otherworldly. Brian Jones may have contributed very little guitar on this album, but ever the multi-instrumentalist, he plays a hauntingly sinister Mellotron that sounds as if one of Lucifer’s henchman were plucking strings. This track alone serves as an interesting cul-de-sac in comparison to the rest of the Stones’ repertoire – never in their career would the revisit such unexplored territory.

Closing track, ‘On With The Show’ represents a very direct nod to the vaudevillian flavours of that summer’s smash, Sgt Pepper. Mick adopts the ridiculous accent of an English gent, while I can only assume the rest of the band went to the pub. It’s a disappointing close to a sometimes incredible/sometimes curious collection.

44 years ago, the Rolling Stones released the bubblegum pop one-two punch of ‘Let’s Spend The Night Together’ and ‘Ruby Tuesday’. Dissatisfied with the path their songwriting was taking, they chose to steer away from such poppy realms. Having achieved this with the often misunderstood Satanic Majesties, they unknowingly used their next single, ‘Jumping Jack Flash’ as a springboard that would catapult them out of this crazy psychedelic world and into their very own hand crafted blend of Dartford Delta Blues.

The four albums that followed (Beggars Banquet, Let It Bleed, Exile On Main Street, and Sticky Fingers) remain my favourite four consecutive albums by any artist. The Rolling Stones had required a bridge to get them from the catchy-but-lightweight juvenility of ‘Ruby Tuesday’ to the untouchable maturity of ‘Sympathy For The Devil’ and Beggars Banquet. Their Satanic Majesties Request provided this – Dark, experimental and very necessary.

Glen.manners

Glen Manners is front-man of SE London’s finest rock combo ‘Dig For Victory’. He is an avid collector of music, especially records between the magical years of ‘66 and ‘73. Over last 12 years Glen has been joyfully soaking up some of the finest indie/mod/hippie hangouts across London. And at the ripe old age of 32, can not envisage a time when he would ever want to slow down. Glen has one eye on the worlds rich musical heritage and another firmly on the here and now, this can give him the most startlingly odd look but that is simply the way he likes it. Glen is a television freak, movie buff, lyricist and ever playful optimist.

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June 5, 2015 By : Category : Cult Music Rock Vintage Tags:, , , , , , , ,
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‘I Start Counting’ (1969) with Jenny Agutter – Q&A NFT2 21/07/11

The synopsis to this film in the July NFT calendar piqued my interest on a number of different levels; that it is a thriller from the late 60’s, that it has a cast of well-loved Brit actors including two of my favourite ladies, that it is set in the ever-malleable home counties hinterland, and is a pressure cooker portrait of strained family life. I felt as if I had already seen the film, so familiar was the setting, but I could not, for the life of me, recall when. It sounded like exactly the sort of film which would have occupied a Sunday afternoon rep-style screening at my hometown fleapit back in the day.

From the opening moments, where a group of boys are skimming stones into a river, oblivious to the body of a young girl just below the waterline on the opposite bank, you know you’re in for a bumpy ride.

Our principal character, Wynne, played by the plum-gorgeous Jenny Agutter, only 16 and in her first major role, gets an early establishment scene as she awakens a little ahead of her ‘Popeye’ clock and dresses for school. It also introduces one of the film’s key symbols, that of Wynne’s tendency to count up to 11 when she feels nervous, most significant later in the film. We learn that Wynne is the adopted daughter in a comfortable, but slightly dysfunctional working class family, and that she has a sizeable crush on her older adopted brother, George, played by Bryan Marshall.Her crush is innocent enough, and unrequited, but any suggestion that she is some uncomplicated adolescent is quickly put aside, as we learn that she is deeply religious, yet with a yen for the mystical side of life, and a sentimental, almost obsessive attachment to her old family home. She takes long, lonely walks through parks, over to the derelict cottage, with her minx-like friend Corinne (Claire Sutcliffe) where she performs mock-séances, evoking the spirit of her adopted brother’s dead girlfriend.

That would normally be enough to be going on with, but we also learn that fatal attacks on young girls of the neighbourhood are becoming very frequent, with seemingly little action by the local uniform to deter them, and Wynne begins to believe that her adopted brother may be responsible for them. Her behaviour toward her brother after formulating her suspicions is all the more surprising; in that she only wishes to protect him from the world, not matter what he’s done.

The subject matter, on the surface salacious, is however handled with extraordinary sensitivity by all involved. There are so manymoments of levity in the girls’ exchanges about the inevitable subject of sex, and their precocious questions about it to the visiting priest at school, is a real gem of a scene.

Wynne’s confession of all her petty misdemeanours to her local priest is truly touching, and she reveals her forbidden love here too, to the usual sentence of Hail Marys. Her honest belief in Roman Catholic life makes her forays into the world of the spirits seem all the more surprising, shocking, even. A particularly effective scene has Wynne at the foot of the stairs of the abandoned cottage, counting to eleven, as a little girl (herself, as a child?) discovers the dead body of an older girl at the last step. It evokes sympathy and disturbs in roughly equal measure.

 

We spot the enormous red herring of the film long before this scene, but the true identity of the killer is hinted at early on, and comes as little surprise later on. I am not so mean that I would reveal any more, but I will say that anyone thinking they are getting a routine stalk & slasher, or a feast of young flesh, will walk away disappointed. The film contains elements of both, but the quality of the acting; the excellent script and the sure direction keep it from descending into the morass of low-end exploitation cinema. Instead, we have a tense, engaging picture of the unbearable trials of adolescent life, and young peoples’ ability to adapt and cope in the most trying and dangerous circumstances.

The screening was enlivened by the presence of the ageless Jenny Agutter, who recalled her early film career in great detail, explaining that her parts in her first few well-known films (The Railway Children, Walkabout) turned up in rapid succession. In response to a question about ‘Walkabout’s script, Jenny denied the long standing rumour that it was only a few pages of vague ideas, mentioning that it was fully and carefully detailed by the time filming commenced. Recalling seeing ‘I Start Counting’s script for the first time. Jenny told us how impressed she was with it from the first, inadvertently answering my own intended question to her.I instead asked about the religious / mystical themes present, and underpinning the character of Wynne, and Jenny recalled her own Roman Catholic roots as being a huge help in playing this complicated girl, particularly the confession scene.

Will & Vic Flipside have once again unearthed a long lost gem of a film, for their monthly slot at the NFT.  If you aren’t a regular already, what are you waiting for?

Scenester

Scenester lives in London and Brighton, as time allows. Enjoys music, film, television, books, design and anything else which won’t leave well alone. Old enough to know better.

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June 16, 2015 By : Category : Cinema Cult Media Vintage Tags:, , , ,
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60s Comics: A Brief History (Part 3)

This entry is part 3 of 3 in the series MaxComics

60s Comics: A Brief History – By Max Galli, (Part 3)

At the end of 1967, psychedelia was spreading everywhere. It began with the introduction of mind-expanding drugs, and went on to influence music and most visual arts, including – of course – comics.

A couple of young French artists called Jean Rollin and Nicolas Devil (being the first one a script writer and the second an underground painter) created the first psychedelic comic book ever: Saga De Xam. It’s the story of planet Xam, a peaceful world populated only by women, invaded by aliens who know the art of war. Beautiful Saga, the girl with the blue skin, begins her journey through various ages, looking for a way to save her planet. Magnificently drawn, with plenty of psychedelic graphics and details, Saga De Xam was way ahead of most of late 60s comic art. The book, published by Eric Losfeld (yeah, the same publisher of Barbarella, Jodelle and Pravda), was printed on heavy paper (300+ grams) and sold as a luxury edition. Nowadays, only few copies survive, as the book itself has become a most treasured possession for a very small group of discerning collectors.

In the UK, brilliant SF writer Jo Addams, one of the very few females writing in the medium, and Barcelona-born illustrator Luis M. Roca, created a space heroine who – because of a car accident –dies and becomes the guinea pig for a scientific experiment that reincarnates her with a new life and a new identity. The plot is quite interesting, as Scarth (our eponymous heroine) finds herself in an unfamiliar world, where she can’t remember anything from her previous life and has to rebuild everything from scratch. The year is 1969. The place is London, where pop culture is still producing new concepts. The comic strip, published in The Sun for a few years, proved to be an instant success, as Scarth was the first British comic character to appear completely naked in a newspaper, and one of very few spacewomen. Roca’s drawings are extremely suggestive and take inspiration from pop-psychedelic graphics as well as Art Nouveau decorative art, and the story is just irresistible, as it never runs out of new ideas. Space journeys, fashion, adventures in strange worlds … Scarth’s new life is full of interesting stories and catchy graphic solutions.

Back in the US, 1966 and 1967 were the years of a revolutionary American comic: Phoebe Zeit-Geist. The dynamic duo, Springer-O’Donoghue, created a bizarre adventure with – maybe – a bit too much emphasis upon necrophilia and sado-masochism, as 24 year-old Phoebe is submitted to various tortures and dies many times in many ways. Graphically speaking, Phoebe Zeit-Geist looks like a bizarre mixture of early 1940s comics and Liechtenstein’s pop-comic-art, as the authors didn’t introduce many significant new elements to it. The plot of this comic book intended to satirize violence in contemporary living. This, I believe, is only partially achieved.

In the US mainstream, Jim Steranko added precious and innovative op-art graphic details to the American comic industry, making his ‘Nick Fury, Agent of the S.H.I.E.L.D.’ one of the finest Marvel comics ever. His influence led to a sort of ‘new wave’ of US comic art.

In 1965, Madrid-born Esteban Maroto created one of the best SF comics ever. Cinco por Infinito, published in the US as Zero Patrol. This series was far ahead of its time, introducing interesting psychedelic graphic elements ahead of the breaking wave. The comic was slaughtered by Warren Publishing editor Neal Adams, who applied heavy ‘corrections’ to it, despite Maroto’s growing popularity in the US. The original version only survives in Spanish.

In the second half of the 1960s, eroticism replaced action as the main subject for comic strips. Georges Pichard, a former art teacher from France, started to draw adventure comics as early as 1963, but switched to erotica in 1967, creating Blanche Epiphanie, the saga of a chaste girl who is continuously abused by ruthless men. Blanche is a girl who expects life to be better than what it is. Very different is the other famous character from Pichard, Paulette. Created in 1969/70, Paulette is a spoiled rich girl who spends money to offset boredom, always looking for new kicks. Drawn in a rich black and white style, Paulette has beautiful Art Nouveau frames and psychedelic graphics.

There is much more to be said about 1960s comics. Take this as it is: a sort of ‘taster’ of the whole phenomenon. Hope you readers liked it and – maybe – would like to know a bit more.

Here’s a string of names and books for you. The rest is action.

Max Galli

Max Galli was born in Rome in 1969, the son of a photographer and a housewife. Illustrator, graphic designer and writer, he embraced the culture and the aesthetics of the Sixties more than two decades ago. Max published three novels, an anthology of short stories and four comic books, and contributed to several magazines ( "Storie", "Vintage", "Blue" and "Misty Lane"). During the years he realized loads of cartoons, pin ups, record and cd covers and posters for Italian and European bands. He lived in London from 1998 to 2003, joining in the London Mod scene, from which he took inspiration for his work. His comic books “The Beatnix” and “The Adventures of Molly Jones” reached international success, especially in United Kingdom and USA.

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June 5, 2015 By : Category : Comics Design Picks Vintage Tags:, ,
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60s Comics: A Brief History (Part 2)

This entry is part 2 of 3 in the series MaxComics

60s Comics: A Brief History by Max Galli – PART 2

 

As the mid-Sixties gave space to new experiments in graphic arts, so comics evolved into a new age. Italian architect Guido Crepax – already famous for illustrating jazz records covers in the late 50s, published his carachter Valentina on the new comic magazine Linus in 1965. Originally named ‘Neutron’, starring a man with extraordinary psycho-cinetic powers hidden in the features of American art critic Philip Rembrandt, Valentina was intended to be only Neutron’s girlfriend, but things turned out to be a bit different. The girl, a professional fashion photographer with Louise Brooks-like haircut, was potentially a sexy character, so Crepax set about making Valentina sexier and sexier, also introducing new elements in the very way to draw comix – a new film-like cut of frames, close to Michelangelo Antonioni’s sense of visuals, ‘fetish’ details, the confusion between reality and dream. Every single page of Valentina was a piece of art, as the ‘comic’ orthodoxy was transcended. At the end of 1967, Valentina completely replaced Neutron as the main character of the story.  A curiosity: Valentina is also remembered for being one of the very first graphic characters to get older as time passes.

If italians did their best to join in the cultural revolution, the French didn’t sleep at all. Belgian-born illustrator Guy Peellaert created Jodelle in 1966, a swingin’ chick with more than a resemblance to pop singer Sylvie Vartan. Set in a rather funny and surrealistic ancient Rome, Jodelle lives together with his boyfriend, a bizarre young guy studying to be a druid (?!?), who gets angry quite often and occasionally sports a pair of long and sharp vampire-like teeth. Published by Eric Losfeld, the king of  French sexy comics, Jodelle is widely recognised as the first pop-art comic.

In 1967 Peellaert invented another pop-art comic strip, Pravda ‘la survireuse’ (one who lives day-by-day). If Jodelle was all about fun and a bit of optimism, Pravda is a cynical, disillusioned girl with an anarchic attitude. She hates almost everything and everyone, and she’s never satisfied with anything. This time, the model for Peellaert’s artwork is Francoise Hardy, and the story of Pravda is not even a story, but a mix of various episodes.

In the UK, Jenny Butterworth & Pat Tourret created Tiffany Jones around 1965. Tiffany Jones comes to London from ‘up north’, and sets up a new life at her cousin’s flat – evolving from a plain provincial chick to a fashion model, having a go to all those cool jobs that epitomised Sixties youth. Here, our girl looks like a bit of a do-gooder, although  representing (in part) the typical cultural zeitgeist of  the era.

Lovely Tiffany is basically a good girl who only wants to do the best she can in life, but without being particularly ambitious or original. All the other characters are just there to frame to Tiffany’s adventures: neither completely square, nor completely hip, just  somewhat  in the middle.

That said, let’s talk about the artwork – The drawings are captivating and much passion for the ‘Swingin’ London’ is included in every single frame. I should say that the beauty of this comic strip resides in its drawings and (pop) graphics.

In the US, the nascent counterculture was generating new horizons in comic design. Robert Crumb created Fritz the Cat in 1964, named after his own cat Fred. Fritz had nothing to do with the usual Disney or Warner Bros animal characters. He had all the human attitudes you can imagine, as he liked to smoke (both cigarettes and pot), drink, and have sex with his fox-like girlfriend and many other female characters. Fritz continued throughout the Sixties and lasted till 1972, when director and cartoon animator Ralph Bakshi made a film out of it. Robert Crumb – it must be said, with very rare coherence – didn’t like his underground cat going mass-media, so answered back with a bitter end, killing Fritz in an almost forgotten episode, stabbed to death with an ice stiletto by his last, ostrich-like, girlfriend.

Crumb also created another funny character, Mr Natural, a sort of  tricky guru who liked to annoy a certain ordinary guy called Foont.

(continued in Part 3)

Max Galli

Max Galli was born in Rome in 1969, the son of a photographer and a housewife. Illustrator, graphic designer and writer, he embraced the culture and the aesthetics of the Sixties more than two decades ago. Max published three novels, an anthology of short stories and four comic books, and contributed to several magazines ( "Storie", "Vintage", "Blue" and "Misty Lane"). During the years he realized loads of cartoons, pin ups, record and cd covers and posters for Italian and European bands. He lived in London from 1998 to 2003, joining in the London Mod scene, from which he took inspiration for his work. His comic books “The Beatnix” and “The Adventures of Molly Jones” reached international success, especially in United Kingdom and USA.

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60s Comics: A Brief History (Part 1)

This entry is part 1 of 3 in the series MaxComics

60s Comics: A Brief History by Max Galli – A sort of Introduction.

The Sixties brought the wind of revolution into modern life. We now take this simple fact for granted. The decade gave birth to a brand new philosophy, created a whole culture and – for the first time ever removed the young from their parents’ grey world. All of a sudden, if you were 16-18, there was an exciting new way of life ready for you. A way of life made of sharp, tailored clothes, Hammond-led dancefloor music, Italian scooters and many other interesting things, like pop-art, design objects and, well, comics.

I started to post a shorter version of this feature about four years ago on Yahoo 360, a Myspace-like blog page, originally aimed at a collectors-only audience. Then, after Yahoo discontinued these pages, I moved to Myspace, carrying on finessing this project. At the time, I couldn’t maintain the 60s Comics Collectors page I had because I was busy with my job at Ultrapop Publishing, so I had to stop it. The page is still there, somewhere in the Myspace melting pot, but it somehow needed to be updated. Moreover, Myspace went a bit ‘funny’, as I found that updating text, images or whatsoever resulted in a complicated struggle (something like a man-against-machine conflict) wherein, you can’t win in any way. The same ‘collectors-oriented’ version also appeared on the New Untouchables network.

To cut a long story short, this ‘brief history’ of 60s comics would like to suggest a new way to explore the art of a decade that has for too long been underrated by most readers (except, of course, all those very few involved with the Mod/60s scene worldwide).

I can’t claim this ‘history’ as complete, nor am I able to include all comic books published in the Sixties (virtually impossible), but it should be considered as a ‘summary’ of a much wider topic. Most of the impressions will be based on first-hand knowledge, as I own a quite huge collection of original books to talk about.

With the aim of being as clear as possible, and presenting close examinations of each and every comic book presented, with a pinch of criticism, this ‘brief history’ will describe in few words the work of a small group of revolutionary writers and illustrators whose creations have achieved the status of ‘cult books of the 60s’.

1962 was an interesting year, full of fruity flavours. There was something in the air, and somebody was ready to sniff around and discover it. Obviously I’m not talking about good wines (yet I’m tempted to). 1962 was the time when comics broke the mould and came out from children’s world, straight into the one of grown-ups.

 When The Amazing Spider-Man initially appeared, he was the first superhero to have typically human problems, including those of a moral and psychological nature. This was a new concept for traditional American comics market, already filled with Superman-like flying heroes and cheap horror and SF magazines later known as ‘pulps’. Spider-Man – as you guessed – wasn’t like any other US comic. It had these bright, saturated colours, a pop-art appeal and the main character was Peter Parker, a typical boy-next-door, slightly shy student type. Stan Lee and Steve Ditko – the geniuses who created him – didn’t know how successful he was going to prove. He represented a revolution in comics.

Also in 1962, Hugh Hefner’s Playboy magazine launched ‘Little Annie Fanny’, a funny and sexy character whose name was partly inspired by Little Orphan Annie. Needless to say, the authors’ intentions were far different from the original orphan Annie, being this one the typical Marilyn-esque sexually attractive American ingénue.

That was in the US.

In the UK, Peter O’Donnell introduced another major innovation. Modesty Blaise was the first modern girl spy. Originally drawn by Jim Holdaway, whose artwork was already widely known because of the late 50s funny strip Romeo Brown, Modesty Blaise demonstrated how a woman can be smarter than her male secret service colleagues. Sexier than Matha Hari, sharper than James Bond, and with such an attitude to make people like Dick Tracy and Phil Corrigan (Agent X-9) look pedestrian, she sported a shock of Brown hair, brown eyes and led life of risk and difficulties. Raised from obscurity somewhere in the Middle-East, she was always ready with her stiletto-heeled shoes ready to kick enemies and even lovers. The phrase ‘dressed to kill’ suits her like no one else. Modesty Blaise eventually became a film in 1966, starring a beautiful Monica Vitti and Terence Stamp.

Meanwhile, in Italy, two sisters with a great passion for Hitchcock movies and classic thrillers, Angela and Luciana Giussani, created Diabolik, the ‘King of Terror’, a fascinating criminal with Robert Taylor’s eyes and a blonde, attractive girlfriend named Eva Kant. Always looking for a crime to commit, stealing huge diamonds or rare pearls, Diabolik drives his deep-black E-type Jaguar in and around Clerville, the imaginary city where the action is set. Diabolik was the first noir comic to be published in Italy, and it generated a plethora of imitations across the subsequent three years, all of which sported a prominent ‘k’ in their name – a proper ‘mark of krime’. Police inspector Ginko chases Diabolik and his girlfriend all the time, but – as you know – is not so easy to catch them.

In France, revolution in comics meant revolution in sexual attitudes. In 1962, Jean-Claude Forest invented Barbarella, a character with a strong resemblance to Brigitte Bardot, for Magazine V – it was an instant scandal. French censorship enabled the space heroine to be sexually uninhibited and often appear semi-naked. Two years later, in 1964, Barbarella appeared in her first hardcover, luxury edition comic book – adults only, of course. With this big size (a whopping 9.85 x 13 inch), a striking pop-art cover, monochromatic print (each episode was printed in a different colour) and bold lettering, the book earned Le Terrain Vague (the business name of Eric Losfeld, a truly illuminated publisher) an immediate and unexpected success. A US edition followed in 1966 and so on, until the very last ‘first edition’ in Europe – the Italian one, in 1975!

Soon, Barbarella became a cult character, almost a symbol to modern, emancipated girls, and became a best seller in spite of censors’ attentions. Eric Losfeld became the first European publisher to produce quality sexy comics (Jodelle, Pravda, Saga de Xam, to name but a few) with loads of innovative graphic styles, influenced by pop-art as well as the nascent psychedelia.

(continued in Part 2)

 

Max Galli

Max Galli was born in Rome in 1969, the son of a photographer and a housewife. Illustrator, graphic designer and writer, he embraced the culture and the aesthetics of the Sixties more than two decades ago. Max published three novels, an anthology of short stories and four comic books, and contributed to several magazines ( "Storie", "Vintage", "Blue" and "Misty Lane"). During the years he realized loads of cartoons, pin ups, record and cd covers and posters for Italian and European bands. He lived in London from 1998 to 2003, joining in the London Mod scene, from which he took inspiration for his work. His comic books “The Beatnix” and “The Adventures of Molly Jones” reached international success, especially in United Kingdom and USA.

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June 5, 2015 By : Category : Art Comics Picks Vintage Tags:, ,
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FocusOn: Max Galli

Max Galli was born in Rome in 1969, right in the middle of the ‘space age’, the oldest of two children of a photographer and a housewife.

From a very early age he always had a passion for drawing, inspired by various forms of art (painting, graphics, music), comics and television, and – obviously – from the many photographs of his father, a true, immediate source of inspiration as they were always at hand.

Precocious in learning, at the age of five he knew already read, write and draw. His early drawings used to be always inspired by the shapes of planes, trains and helicopters, while occasionally venturing into the representation of people.

At the age of ten he won the first prize in a competition about painting, sculpture and graphics for children organized by CIAS-UNESCO, an association connected with culture, art and school education. In the same period he started to write short stories.

As a teenager, thanks to a strong female presence that accompanied him until adulthood (aunts, cousins, friends, acquaintances) and a huge collection of vintage photos of his father (especially those of models and actresses of the period 1954-1972), began to draw female figures, while approaching to comic strips.

In 1991 he made his first, proper comic book, “Journey to Bilovar”. Published as a limited edition book three years later, “Journey to Bilovar” is a psychedelic and surrealistic tale around the theme of adventure, illustrated in pen and ink, with an eye to 60s american “underground” comics and inspirated to the Franco-Belgian style of drawing (Moebius, Caza, Bilal).

In the second half of 1991 Max joined the Roman Mod-60s Scene until 1994, creating an impressive number of illustrations, graphics and “optical motifs, all related to the visual arts of the Sixties.

From 1994 to 1997 he worked with local and national magazines, writing articles and producing illustrations for their features and working on commission for many private clients.

In 1998 he moved to England, in London, where he lived until the second half of 2003. During this “English” period, Max joined the London Mod-60s club scene, that soon became a constant source of inspiration for his illustrations. Several of his works were exhibited in group and personal exhibitions in the London area. In 2000 attended a college course in computer graphics and web design in central London, and produced posters and record and CD covers for local bands.

He returned to Italy in 2003, specializing in Sixties-style pin-up illustration, while appreciation for his works rose to international level.

In 2004 he was interviewed by Italian erotic magazine “Blue”, which published some of his works.

From 2005 to 2008 he worked as a graphic and web designer for “Ultrapop”, a small, 60s-oriented publishing company, for which produced an industrial quantity of graphics, posters and three pin-up calendars.

In 2010 he was interviewed in Greece, from the mod-60s Athenian magazine “Belle Vue Press”.

In october 2010 Max celebrated 20 years of illustrations.

 

Max Galli

Max Galli was born in Rome in 1969, the son of a photographer and a housewife. Illustrator, graphic designer and writer, he embraced the culture and the aesthetics of the Sixties more than two decades ago. Max published three novels, an anthology of short stories and four comic books, and contributed to several magazines ( "Storie", "Vintage", "Blue" and "Misty Lane"). During the years he realized loads of cartoons, pin ups, record and cd covers and posters for Italian and European bands. He lived in London from 1998 to 2003, joining in the London Mod scene, from which he took inspiration for his work. His comic books “The Beatnix” and “The Adventures of Molly Jones” reached international success, especially in United Kingdom and USA.

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June 16, 2015 By : Category : Art Comics Design Vintage Tags:, , ,
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Record Centres

  • 17 March: Hello world! - Center Of Attention
    Welcome to WordPress. This is your first post. Edit or delete it, then start writing!

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Boo Eyeplug acts as webmaster/designer for the Eyeplug site. Not the most social of creatures and with several personality issues, and rather exotic, eccentric tastes for obscure ‘cultish’ stuff which makes his ramblings seem even more sweetly abstract and often annoying.

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Laurel and Hardy – Cheer Up!

Funny scenes Laurel and Hardy – laurel and hardy cant stop laughing. All credit goes to creators of this show! Genius!

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Boo Eyeplug acts as webmaster/designer for the Eyeplug site. Not the most social of creatures and with several personality issues, and rather exotic, eccentric tastes for obscure ‘cultish’ stuff which makes his ramblings seem even more sweetly abstract and often annoying.

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June 16, 2015 By : Category : Classic Vintage Visuals 0 Comment