Paul Gorman is…

Conversation: Lloyd Johnson + Ben Olins on Brighton Rock

Feb 27th, 2011

Place: Golden Square, London W1.

Time: 1pm

Coffee: Nordic Bakery Soho

Lloyd Johnson, Ben Olins and I met on a sunny Saturday for a chat about Rowan Joffe’s recently-released film Brighton Rock. The transposition of the storyline to 1964 has resulted in marketing which leans heavily on the backdrop of the Mods vs Rockers “riots” in British coastal resorts that year.

Pretty Green and Merc are among promotional partners; there lingers the distinct impression of an attempt to reach out to cinemagoers by creating a British version of the Mad Men buzz.

In fact the mod content is a gloss overlaying this stodgy interpretation of the 1947 film classic rather than Grahame Greene’s 1939 novel (despite claims to the contrary; Joffe even chose the first film’s climactic cop-out, against the author’s wish for an unremittingly bleak ending).

An original modernist raised in neighbouring Hastings, Lloyd has considerable first-hand knowledge of the subject and worked on the film which is a primary visual influence: Quadrophenia.

Ben’s fascination for the period is manifested in such activities as the club-night The Fabulous Cellar and certain aspects of his media company Herb Lester Associates.

As a cradle Catholic my heart sank when I heard the word on this; one of the great literary investigations into good and evil recast as a mod rite of passage. Mod really is the mainstream option these days isn’t? So codified as to be meaningless and square beyond belief: all those “rules”, all that conformity. For that, and many other reasons, the film lived down to my low expectations.

What do you reckon?

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I like a bit of a cavort: Beatle Bob

Feb 25th, 2011

Come Friday night I like a bit of a cavort, complete with elaborate flourishes and exhibitionist tendencies.

One of my ambitions is to dance alongside self-styled attention whore/gig irritant Beatle Bob.

Watch him go with Roky Erickson to Don’t Shake Me Lucifer:

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Postcards: The Ian Dury Biography

Feb 25th, 2011

Things get out of hand at a book event

Feb 25th, 2011

This was shot by GilW the other night at a punk-rock veterans’ book event in Berkeley. The gentlemen sitting left to right are Mike Hudson, Cheetah Chrome and Bob Pfeiffer.

For other, calmer interludes from the in-store, visit here.

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Sleevenotes: Lowell George (The Last Record Album,1975)

Feb 25th, 2011

Herb puts Jimmy’s Corner on the map

Feb 24th, 2011


I am delighted to see that Jimmy’s Corner, my favourite Manhattan bar, features on the latest map from Herb Lester Associates.

Jimmy’s epitomises the map’s celebration of “old” New York.

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From the vaults: Paul Smith on the threat to the High Street (Guardian 1988)

Feb 24th, 2011

Publication: The Guardian Weekend supplement, Dec 3-4, 1988.

I have collected and kept magazines, newspapers, fanzines and all sorts of publications for decades.

From the launch edition of The Weekend Guardian, this was the first in a series of think pieces by prominent people on aspects of design.

Paul Smith could tell what was coming; the desecration of Britain’s High Streets – and thus independently operated, individual and often idiosyncratic retail outlets – at the hands of the giant chains of faceless stores.

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Blokes Of Britain: Nick Abrahams

Feb 23rd, 2011

//Photo: Kyle Zeto.//

NAME: Nicholas Abrahams

RESIDES: London

OCCUPATION: Film-maker

Nick Abrahams’ work includes promos for Stereolab, Add (N) To X and sigur rós. More recently he collaborated with Jeremy Deller on the fascinating exposition of fan’s desires,  The Posters Came From The Walls.

Among Abrahams’ current projects is Jayne County biopic Man Enough To Be A Woman. Judging from the rushes shown last year, this will be a doozy.

Last autumn Abrahams created the 30-minute Stooges film Doghouse. The installation at Tatty Devine included a portrait of our hound Rita.

Abrahams cuts quite a dash in any company; as I say below, I admire his ability to combine the edgy with the traditional without pretension.

Here he answers the Blokes Of Britain questionnaire, covering ground from Tiny Tim to gold teeth by way of Cordings, Trickers, Viv Stanshall and William Burroughs. Oh, and not to forget Edward Gorey’s fur coats, Joseph Beuys’ felt suits and Nick’s own creation: The Denton Welch safety bib.

How would you describe your sartorial style?

My girlfriend says I look like a straight bear (IE: a chubby gay man with beard).

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Your Last Chance…Front Line II

Feb 22nd, 2011

Incredible footage here from 1977 doc Roots Rock Reggae of producer “Prince” Tony Robinson (working at either Joe Gibbs or Harry J, reggaenuts will tell me) as well as scenes shot at a JA pressing plant and the legendary Randy’s Records (“You Name It We Have It”).

Highlight for me: The Gladiators laying down the vocals for Jah Works, stand-out track on their album Proverbial Reggae.

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Sleevenotes: Joe Strummer (Gonh Be Funky, 1980)

Feb 22nd, 2011

Sleevenotes make a vinyl record package complete.

When they appear with CDs they’re just too diddy; on a 12-inch sleeve they’re writ large. Like good sleeve design, the best text – whether scrawled or neatly arranged – enhances and delights.

This is Joe Strummer’s contribution to Charly Records’ rock-solid 1980 Lee Dorsey collection Gonh Be Funky, compiled by Cliff White (who was responsible for an incomparable run of reissues around this time).

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