Or Glory: 21st Century Rockers by Horst A. Friedrichs

I’m always up for a challenge. Do anything, I will. Over-familiar photos from the 60s? Check. Films so obscure even the directors can’t remember making them? Check. Yet, even I was surprised at the brief I was offered, as the phone rang one dreary Tuesday afternoon in late winter.

‘Hello? Yeah, Scenester here, can I hold for who? Harry? Yeah, ok, I’ll hold.’ Hold on, indeed!Mr Harold Stott, eh? Just wait till I…

‘Harry, my old mucker … fancy you hiring a secretary after all this time. Hope you’re paying her something, she gave you quite a build-up. Now, how long is it since we had a little tete a tete? Weeks, or is it months? You what? You’ve got something for me? As I live and breathe. Yeah, course I’ve heard of it, I reviewed the last one, didn’t I? I’m One – the mods book. ‘Course I know his new one’s out, I don’t go around with my eyes closed, do I? Ha ha ha, too busy looking in mirrors. Good one, Harry. Me? Review a book about rockers? You sure you’ve got the right fellah for the job here? Yeah, I know, but the leather and denim brigade? I know it isn’t all that, just joking. OK, how much? What? You tightwad. You know what your coat of arms has on it, don’t you? Crossed tourniquets on a barren argent field . OK, seeing as work’s a bit slack, I’ll do it.’ Ding.

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If you’ve already ogled Horst Friedrich’s I’m One, you may think that, with Or Glory, you’re just getting a companion piece, but you’d be wrong, friend. That Horst, he’s moved away from the strict portraiture of his previous work, and gone for a more Hollywood/classic/mythologicalapproachto his subject. A mix of rich colour and serious black and white, the pictures of modern day rockers were taken recently, but some could easily have been taken anytime in the last 50 years. Some of the more fashionable tattoos sported by the rockers betray their recent origin.

Horst has populated his book with some classic photo set-ups, recalling films such as The Wild One, to best reflect the atmosphere these stylists are taking considerable pains to re-create. A line of bikers, all in their no-flash leathers and classic cut denims, one astride his immaculate, lovingly restored bike, no doubt running far better than it did when straight out of the shop nearly 60 years ago. I do not recall seeing a single non-British machine in the book, so can only assume a dogged patriotism remains here.

The clobber is a given, and badges aside, there’s not much diversity in the general look of the males, except in the quiffs and cockades of hair that they competitively sport, or in some cases used to sport, as this is an all-ages cult. Tattoos are usually the traditional kind; bluebirds, flames, dice, drink and dancing girls, with some genuinely inspired floral and natural designs on the arms, backs and feet of the female contingent. The distaff side is represented well, from full on biker girls to late 50’s casual dressers and girl-group tributes, with some terrific action shots at dances and do’s around the country.

There are many images which recreate the mood and drama of countless 50s and 60s genre films; A bike-boy in a quarter-turn, looking over his shoulder-to a possible challenge?; A high-fringed girl stares worriedly out of a café window (Laura and the stock-car race?); an elder biker looks aside at an absent opponent with a ‘Who-you?’ look in his eyes; One astride his beloved machine awaits the signal to ‘Go’ as he stares his rival down; A siren flashes her mascara’d eyes with a ‘You-with my man?’ look on her frost-cold face.

Horst captures the wild, teeth-bared face of a guitarist playing at full tilt, the bold stare of a magnificently coiffured black-haired girl, her arms covered in impressive full-colour tattoos, there’s the wide-legged macho posture, helmet tucked under arm, of a biker, flanked by her machine, and a touching scene of a ‘family’ of bikers, the young son leaning against a wall, mother behind the father in his wheelchair, the shiny-suited youth slapping earthy notes from his bull fiddle, and the bare-midriffed country gal, looking adoringly at her pool-playing boyfriend.

An honourable mention goes to the teds who are so well turned out here, sadly not in such numbers as the bikers. They add a touch of British Edwardian elegance to a collection that seems otherwise US-centric in its visual style, bikes aside.

Horst has turned his camera onto another undying decade’s style and come up trumps once more. Who knows where else he may train his lenses next?



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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Originally posted 2011-03-18 14:30:01. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

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