28 February 2010

70's Rock Stars with their parents.

Grace Slick and mother Virgina, California 1970.

Ginger Baker with mother Ruby, Bexley 1971.

Elton John with his Mother and Stepfather, London 1971.

David Crosby with father Floyd, California 1970.

Frank Zappa with parents Francis and Rosemary, California 1970.

Joe Cocker and mother Majorie, Sheffield 1970.

Ritchie Havens and his parents, Brooklyn 1971.

Eric Clapton and Grandmother Rose, Surrey 1970.

So then, 100 posts in. I hope some people out there have enjoyed reading as much as I've enjoyed this blogging lark in the last few months. Here's a little something you may have seen before, or may be looking at for the first time. Either way it's just cool, and a fitting one hundredth post tenuously linked to one of my fave blogging's Surroundings posted last December.
All photographs by John Olson. Source: Life image archives.

25 February 2010

Icons of our time - Frank Zappa.

Frank Vincent Zappa (1940 – 1993) Musician, composer, producer, director - a jack of all trades in his chosen profession and one of the greatest guitarists that ever lived.
Born in Baltimore, Maryland, to parents of Sicilian, Greek, French and Arabic descent. Yes, that is his real surname. The eldest of four brothers, Zappa was into music from an early age, joining his first band The Ramblers during high school, during this time he amassed a large record collection which he was to add to for the rest of his life. He also played drums for the band The Blackouts later at Antelope Valley high school. Here he met good friend and collaborator Don Van Vliet aka Captain Beefheart. Together they shared similar tastes in music, notably R&B and would work together many times later in life.
During the mid 60's Zappa was invited to join local R&B band The Soul Giants who later became known as The Mothers of Invention. The Mothers released the acclaimed debut album Freak Out! in 1966, backed by producer Tom Wilson. The underground experimental sounds of the album established Zappa as a new voice in the LA scene and was cited as the first ever concept album. Freak Out has been a consistent entry into many best of lists.
Zappa was hands on with his own creations, often directing the music videos and designing the album covers too. Producing almost all of the albums he had worked on in a career spanning over thirty years. A genre defying musician, Zappa's music varies from the rock and jazz to avant garde and orchestral such a diverse style it would be hard to pinpoint exactly what some of his records actually were. Zappa was cleverly rhyming lyrics years before hip hop was popular.
Zappa had a voice and was not afraid to express that voice through his music, writing the lyrics to all of his songs, some often comedic and some often political and against the grain of the establishment, forced education, religion and authority. Zappa fought long and hard for the freedom of speech and battled against censorship in music, testifying before the US Senate Commerce, Technology, and Transportation committee in 1985 against their censorship ruling. Politics began to play a huge part in his life, with record sleeves encouraging people to use their votes, it was once alleged Zappa even considered running for the US Presidency.
He became a huge cult figure in Eastern Europe during the 70's and 80's both as a musician and an unlikely activist. In later years after disbanding The Mothers, Zappa hit the road touring, and released several studio albums. He also made a few television appearances in The Monkees and Miami Vice along with US talkshows and Saturday Night Live.
I personally got into Frank Zappa kind of by accident, as a youngster on our way to school in the old family Ford Cortina, my father played an array of odd sounds, the one's which really stuck were The The, Ice T and most of all Frank Zappa, as a nine maybe ten year old I didn't understand the lyrics to the likes of 'Bobby Brown Goes Down', 'You Are What You Is', and 'Jumbo Go Away', I just liked the music, twenty years later, I of course do understand the lyrics, well, most of 'em, and of course, still like the music. I always go back to listening to Zappa, and cannot see a time when I won't be laughing at choice lyrics and tapping my feet to certain beats. Whilst I'm not the most hardcore Zappa fan in the world I've got plenty of his albums in my collection, the more eclectic stuff are growers, and to me personally one's to listen to when alone or at work, great background vibes. Admittedly, it's the more commercial, studio stuff like Hot Rats and Sheik Yerbouti I like most with their heavy beats, crazy synth and guitar sounds and deliberate satirical and political messages.
Ask a more ardent Zappa fan and it's not that easy, there are better versions of the same tracks on different albums, you'd need his whole back catalogue to fully appreciate the whole Zappa sound.
Tragically diagnosed with an inoperable prostate cancer in 1990, his last work was the double album Civilization Phaze III. Zappa left for his 'final tour' at 6:00pm on Saturday December 4th 1993.In 1995 Frank Zappa was posthumously inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1997.

With his eldest offspring Moon Unit and Dweezil.

The Mothers of Invention.

With Captain Beefheart.

A giant bust of Frank Zappa in the rather random setting of Bad Doberan in Northern Germany.

...and one in Lithuania's Vilnius central square.
Swapping roles with Michael Nesmith on the Monkees.

and in Miami vice with 'Tubbs'.

Frank Zappa selected discography:
Freak Out! (July 1966)
Absolutely Free (April 1967)
Lumpy Gravy (December 1967)
We're Only In It For The Money (February 1968)
Cruising With Ruben & The Jets (November 1968)
Hot Rats (15 October 1969)
Burnt Weeny Sandwich (December 1969)
Weasels Ripped My Flesh (August 1970)
Chunga's Revenge (23 October 1970)
Fillmore East - June 1971 (August 1971)
Bongo Fury (2 October 1975)
Zoot Allures (29 October 1976)
Sleep Dirt (12 January 1979)
Sheik Yerbouti (March 3, 1979)
Joe's Garage (19 November 1979)
Tinseltown Rebellion (11 May 1981)
Shut Up 'N' Play Yer Guitar (11 May 1981)
You Are What You Is (September 1981)
Ship Arriving Too Late To Save A Drowning Witch (May 1982)
The Man From Utopia (March 1983)
Baby Snakes (March 1983)
London Symphony Orchestra vol 1 (9 June 1983)
Jazz From Hell (15 November 1986)
London Symphony Orchestra vol 2 (17 September 1987)
Civilization, Phaze III (December 1994)
Läther (September 1996)

24 February 2010


Recently bought this cotton parka by Gloverall, nothing groundbreaking, but I like this style, however obvious it may be. For twenty seven boff I'm not going to complain.

23 February 2010

Image of the day.

How cool is this? I always thought it would be a lot more complex than that.

22 February 2010

Clarks Rambler

Clarks Rambler, aceness. Taking its inspiration from an original 1976 design, whilst the Minster Moor from a couple of years ago came close.
This belting re-working reintroduces the classic Polyveldt construction.
I last had a pair of these in a chestnut brown/burgundy colour probably nine or ten years ago now, so for this long time Clarks aficionado, it's long overdue.

18 February 2010

Belstaff Derwent.

A recent acquisition, vintage Belstaff Derwent jacket, dating from the 70's.
Proper old school rambling tackle in that familiar old green, well worn in by previous owners who knows where? scruffy cool. Bonington vibes.
I must admit I'm not a big Belstaff fan, I don't personally see the appeal of their more famous and now fashion conscious motorcycle jackets. But in contrast their now hard to find old outdoor coats from the seventies and eighties really tick my box.

Originally Made in England and founded in Longton, Staffordshire.
Belstaff is now Italian owned and based.
This style of jacket is quilted lined and still inspires modern brands of today, it has a turn-out and turn down collar come hood which gives it a kind of double look, a hood/collar which I knew I'd seen before. Garbstore's 'Woodland Sider Racer' jacket from Spring 09 (as pictured above) has an identical replicated version a nod and a wink to this very style of coat? who knows.

16 February 2010


Just bought my third pair of Jacoform shoes, an uber bargain aswell.

These being the Nubuck 332 model up top. These may have that ugly-cool, nerdy appeal about them, and the fact that the masses cannot see the fuss is yet another attraction, plus they can be a little hard to source aswell. All that is all well and good, but the most important thing is they are really comfy footwear. Quite literally an orthopedic shoe, this Danish cult brand of sorts developed in the late 60s by Professor Jurgen Keller, who wanted to make an anatomically ideal health-shoe based on the 'beach walk' theory - i.e. wearing these shoes is akin to being as comfortable as walking barefoot in damp sand. With a rigorous hand crafted method of manufacture, seeing each pair going through more than 200 manufacturing steps and very strict quality control.

15 February 2010

The Perfect Setting?

A stunning paradise like landscape?
or bottle cleaners, moss, clippings, soil and grout on a glass table?

A beautiful mountainside waterfall?
or just a sprinkling of salt?

a tragic house fire?
or a match taken to a dolls house?

These clever snapshots and many more can be seen here, I admire this chaps dedication.

12 February 2010

Icons of our time - Bill Murray.

William James Murray born in 1950 in Illinois an American Irish Catholic upbringing with his siblings a sister and three fellow acting brothers, most notably Brian Doyle-Murray who's more familiar roles would be two of the National Lampoon's Vacation movies, Caddyshack and JFK also starring along side brother Bill in Scrooged, Caddyshack, Ghostbusters II and Groundhog Day, a household name for sure, I like Bill Murray and have done since I was a kid and I first saw Peter Venkman toasting ghosts. Murray, a keen golfer playing in many celeb based tournaments, coincidentally worked as a caddy as a youngster to fund his education during a tough childhood. Everyone is familiar with the earlier zany Bill Murray from Saturday Night Live, Stripes, Caddyshack and Ghostbusters all box office hits and all of the comedic genre. He was also the first ever guest on The David Letterman Show in 1982. Murray stays detached from the whole Hollywood thing, swerving agents and managers and chooses roles largely on his own, fielding scripts and offers to his own personal telephone number.A keen environmentalist Murray supported the Green Party during the 2000 Presidential campaign. Murray has business partnerships with his brothers in the Caddy Shack restaurant chain located near St Augustine. He is also the part-owner of three minor league baseball outfits.
After his film debut summer camp comedy Meatballs in 1979 Murray played famed iconic American gonzo journalist Dr Hunter S Thompson in 1980's Where The Buffalo Roam.
Murray's transition to dramatic acting in the poorly received The Razor's Edge in 1984.
Murray's latter career is what I think makes him great, his deadpan demeanour, dry and sarcastic wit, and perfect comic timing with overall laid back style has given him the iconic status many would not begrudge, he is cool as fuck and that's that. Murray has got better with age, with his receding hairline and craggy face he seems like an anti Hollywood hero, one of the chaps.
The fact there's been some defining and very differing film roles in recent years in varying guises just adds to that fact.

His collaborations with Director Wes Anderson is where the cool factor really comes out to play, Anderson's slick style an unique vision brings it out spectacularly in film roles such as the highly acclaimed Rushmore (1998) as Herman Blume a bored, middle aged steel tycoon with a penchant for whiskey, cigarettes and excitement, he goes head to head with his new found friend, a student with an addiction to extra curricular activities Max Fischer (Jason Schwartzman) to gain the affections of Primary teacher Miss Cross (Olivia Williams).

In The Royal Tenenbaums (2001) Murray plays neurologist Raleigh St Clair a parody of famous physician Oliver Sacks. Married to Margot Tenenbaum (Gwyneth Paltrow) who is many years younger, who hides her smoking and her past from him, he rightly suspects she is having an affair.
He conducts various tests on Dudley Heinsbergen looking for a rare paranoid condition he calls the Heinsbergen syndrome.

But it's in his leading role as Steve Zissou in The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (2004) as an eccentric oceanographer and aquatic documentarian - clearly based on famed French oceanographer Jacques Yves Cousteau, it's a role Murray was born to play. With the crazy outfits the Belafonte vessel and all it's detailed rooms and cabins, and a great ensemble cast. The Life Aquatic is a large production for Wes Anderson, filmed on location and with a superb use of Henry Sellick's stop motion animation for it's natural history scenes, this is a film with Wes Anderson's fingerprints all over it. And Murray's trademark style makes Zissou the screen icon he is.
Zissou sets out to track down the Jaguar Shark which killed his good friend Esteban. A movie tinged with nods, winks and inspirations to old movies, old scenes and literature before it, there was even gossip Murray would be nominated for an Oscar around it's release.

The Zissou crew all wear their designated sky blue uniforms for both land and in sea, topped off with signature red hats. Zissou even has his own pair of Adidas trainers devoted to him.

Broken Flowers (2005) Directed by Jim Jarmusch it's as the reluctant former Don Juan, the aptly named Don Johnston, a man happy to lounge about in semi retirement who's current girlfriend has just walked out on him. Out of the blue, he is then given a mysterious letter informing he has an unknown nineteen year old son out looking for him. At first he's happy to do nothing about it, until his neighbour steps in and insists it's the right thing to do. Johnston then sets out in a quest to track down each one of four ex's who could have sent him the letter. Suited with sunglasses, but also decked out in a Fred Perry tracksuit that anyone else would look like an overgrown child in, he pulls it off. With his receding grey locks and plastered brow he looks a little like a New Jersey debt collector. Yet he still looks pretty cool rocking the laurel logo of my town, Stockport's, most famous son. A great role and one Murray plays superbly. Look out for Murray's real life look-a-likey son Homer at the end of the film.

Lost in Translation (2003) saw another defining role for Murray, playing an ageing movie star isolated in Tokyo where he is filming a commercial for Suntory whiskey. He meets fellow American Charlotte (Scarlett Johansson) in his hotel and begins to bond with the equally isolated young lady, trying to come to terms with the difficulties between Japanese and American culture and indeed their own different generations, a kind of buddy movie of sorts where the two leads fail to have an affair.

In the erotic thriller Wild Things (1997) most known for it's fruity three way sex scene between Matt Dillon, Neve Campbell and a delectable Denise Richards in all her topless glory, Murray pops up as seedy laywer Ken Bowden who has the last laugh, arguably the best thing in this double crossing sex crime film, apart from Denise Richards' champagne covered titties.

Wild Things 1997

as Hunter S Thompson in Where the Buffalo Roam 1980.
I could go on and on about cooler Murray roles, but another brilliant smaller role has to be as Ernie McCracken in Kingpin (1996) the slapstick bowling themed comedy from the Farrelly brothers. McCracken is a pro bowler, hustler and all round ladies man.
Ed Wood (1994) saw Murray play the openly gay Bunny Breckinridge a real life American actor/drag queen in Tim Burton's comedy drama biopic and his first R rated film.
Mad Dog and Glory (1993) saw Murray playing kind of against type and opposite Robert De Niro as wise guy Frank Milo who has a hobby as a stand up comedian and who crosses paths with Crime Scene Investigator Wayne Dobie (played by De Niro) after saving his life during a botched hold up in a convenience store. During filming Bill Murray accidentally broke Robert De Niro's nose.

Above: a hit with the ladies, and some artistic impressions.
Recently Murray made an excellent cameo as himself in the comedy horror Zombieland (2009)
At the end of the day Murray's mint and it's hard to disagree with that. Like a fine wine he's getting better with age, the best roles, the roles of his career have come in later years, there's been the odd stinker we won't even mention, but I'll look forward to whatever he does next which may even include Ghostbusters III.
Selected Filmography:
Ghost Busters (1984)
Tootsie (1982)
Stripes (1981)
Caddyshack (1980)