Friday, April 27, 2012

Weekly Blog Roundup - 4/27/2012

Friday is here so let's get your weekend started with some cool blog reads this morning:
That's it for today! Have a great weekend!

Sharp Stylings #37: Keith Mansfield

We can learn so much from yesterday’s fashion icons.  And living in a post-Mad Men world means we can even enjoy aspects of current male fashions! Every Friday, I’d like to start your weekend off right with a little style inspiration from either then or now. Hopefully, my fellow Mod enthusiasts will find the whole or some detail of the whole to appreciate and maybe even adopt.

Still trying to get my mind off of certain, lame t-shirts. This image of 1960s composer and arranger, Keith Mansfield, should do the trick!
This scan taken from the Blow Up A Go-Go! blog. Check it out for other great LP scans!
Many of you know Mansfield though his work with bands like The Marmalade and the UK's KPM library music series which was popularized by the UK dance club, Blow Up and their compilation series. Along with other composers like Alan Hawkshaw and James Clarke, Mansfield became a big name amongst record collectors thanks to songs like 'Boogaloo' and 'Soul Thing' (aka 'Funky Fanfare'), which lit up dance floors from Europe to the US. 

However, did you also realize Keith Mansfield knew how to pump up the style? Dig him up there, just leaning up loose against that magical tree of musical instruments. He ain't bothered by the weirdness of that tree... he's too busy lookin' sussed.

I wish we could zoom in on the photo a little more, because that paisley tie is just waiting to be admired more. Contrasts perfectly with the broadly-striped suit Mansfield's wearing. This guy doesn't just funk up a dancefloor... he also funks up his style with these patterns! And check out the cut of that suit! Nice overall drape, three-button jacket with a high button stance, and a tight peak lapel that adds to the overall sharpness of the suit.

Y'know what? Keith Mansfield's outfit needs its own soundtrack. Hm... I think this'll do nicely:

So, did you dig what you just heard? Well, if you're in San Francisco this Tuesday, guess what? You can hear more of it! The legendary Blow Up club which introduced many of us to music like this will be returning to San Francisco on Tuesday night! And I'm honored to say that I've been asked to be one of four guest DJs that night!! So please, if you're in the area and don't mind risking going to work late the next morning, come on out and dig on some good dancefloor music with us! (And if you can't make it in San Francisco, maybe you can catch them tonight in Los Angeles at Club Underground or on Saturday in Sacramento with live act The Cellar Doors!)
If you're in town, check out the details and RSVP here!
Hope to see you then!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Mod Gone Wrong: "I'm A Mod" Tee

Oh boy, here we go.

Over on the Mod Generation forums, member Kai A. posted this little item:
Geez, the lack of design and imagination with this shirt is draining my ability to write...
I'm going to come right out and say it. There is no reason on Earth why anyone should be wearing a shirt like this. First off, if you're not a Mod, why would you wear it? Secondly, if you are a Mod, are you really that desperate for people to know that you are? If you need a shirt like this to let the whole wide world know what you're about, well friend, you're probably not gettin' it right to begin with.

And I just can't imagine wearing something like this and ever getting a thrill off of some stranger approaching me on the street saying, "Um, yeah, so I see by your t-shirt there that you're a Mod. Cool!" Oh yeah, there's a conversation really worth getting into...

Then there's this piece of typographic assault, from Ben Sherman (posted by Bobby C. on the forums):
The Mdd Life (?)
What a 'Mdd' is, I couldn't tell you, but if we are to assume that this shirt says 'The Mod Life,' again, why? And what's 'The Mod Life'? Being lazy and wearing a t-shirt to display your interest instead of actually, y'know, dressing moddishly dapper to begin with? This shirt's just covering up a falsehood. It's like ordering a McDonald's Big Mac and getting it in a wrapper that says, "I'm A Filet Mignon" or "The Healthy Life." No, it's not.

Now, as you can probably guess, t-shirts as a 'Mod' look really aren't my thing to begin with. Yes, I know Mods in the 1960s wore them and all, but as this blog has shown, I try promoting the suit jacket, tie, and pocket square look as often as possible. I believe in trying to look your best as often as you can. To me, that's part of 'The Mod Life.' Target t-shirts and shirts like those above are just plain lazy and unimaginative to me.

HOWEVER, I'm not a militant person about it. I understand that, on occasion, you need to wear a t-shirt. And yes, I do have a small batch collecting dust in my closet. Believe it or not, contrary to what Mark Twain said, sometimes even the San Francisco Bay Area does get hot... so hot that a t-shirt is recommended. It's true. Also, t-shirts are good for when you're cleaning around the house or apartment. Who wants to get their good shirts all dusted up? And hey, if you're at the beach, you're probably not going to be walking around in a suit jacket or nice shirt... but a t-shirt can come in handy!

That said, skip the target tees and definitely, positively, adamantly avoid the two t-shirts shown above! There are plenty of cool tees out there can make you look good without being plain obvious about what you're into. Check some examples here:

Show off one of the coolest band logos from one of the coolest bands around!
Clean design from one of the best record labels around.

Classic look from a classic soul label.
Show off your love of good jazz with some of these Blue Note tees.
Impress your intellectual friends with this (over-priced) t-shirt using the logo from the famed late '60s magazine.
Or, even better, get a bunch of these classic 1960s t-shirts (from the Smashingbird blog) silkscreened for you and your friends!

Alright friends, I've had enough of t-shirts for today! I'm sittin' here, late in the evening, in my pajamas and now I need to find a pocket square to put in my chest pocket to make me feel better.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Weekly Blog Roundup - 4/22/2012

Enjoy your Sunday afternoon with some nice blog reading:
That's it for today. Have a great one!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Sharp Stylings #36: Suggs

We can learn so much from yesterday’s fashion icons.  And living in a post-Mad Men world means we can even enjoy aspects of current male fashions! Every Friday, I’d like to start your weekend off right with a little style inspiration from either then or now. Hopefully, my fellow Mod enthusiasts will find the whole or some detail of the whole to appreciate and maybe even adopt.

You guys, I. Am. Beat. Trying to recover from last night's Madness show at the Warfield in San Francisco and the Madness after-party, and I'm having a bit of a hard time. (Why did I have that last whiskey and soda?)

Anyways, on with this post. Okay, so yeah, Madness. I totally dig them. They were my gateway drug into ska music. However, as much as I like them, they kind of set up some bad examples for me. For one thing, I blame them for my horrible running-in-place skanking moves I did back in high school. (Thank you, Hepcat and '60s ska videos for showing me the right way to skank!) And sure, some of the Madness guys often wore suits, but they weren't necessarily the most styling. I mean, I get the fun of baggy trousers and all, but many times, their suits were also kinda ill-fitting.

But after a long search, I found a photo worth talking about. Here's an early Madness shot, back when they still had a slightly 'rude' look to them.

I know, I know, nothing really sharp going on here too much. But let's focus in a little bit more, shall we?

There we go, much better! Now check out Suggs up front there. He's looking much more slick now! Thin tie, well-fitted suit, pull-over v-neck sweater vest (to add a casual touch), nice narrow trousers, and clean-looking shoes. Here, Suggs looks styling and comfortable. Perfect way to dress on an overcast, cool day.

And yes, as we learned last night, the guy still likes wearing his suit on stage. Unfortunately, not as sharp as this one right here and, as my wife pointed out last night, "Oh no... he buttoned his bottom button!"

Now, I'm off to recover. Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Mod Gone Wrong: Mod Mouse Pad

Hey, look everyone... it's a Mod mousepad set.
Found on the Retro To Go blog.
Alright, let's get the obvious out of the way. Yes, yes... army parka, target/roundel, cliche, mod gone wrong, reinforcing tired Mod stereotypes... yadda yadda, blah blah blah. You already know where I stand on this.

But let's stand back for a bit and ignore the cliches. From a Mod my perspective, this falls into the realm of things that bore the heck out of me. But from a design perspective... this is actually pretty cool! Whoever came up with this created the complete Mod 'uniform' look, just by turning a computer mouse into a target badge! It's goofy, but it's also a pretty neat idea.

Unfortunately, this set is sold out. Too bad... could have been the perfect tool for all the Internet Mods out there!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Weekly Blog Roundup - 4/14/2012

Saturday, lazy morning. Type of morning for some early reading... reading blog posts that is!
That's it for this weekend!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Sharp Stylings #35: One For The Ladies

We can learn so much from yesterday’s fashion icons.  And living in a post-Mad Men world means we can even enjoy aspects of current male fashions! Every Friday, I’d like to start your weekend off right with a little style inspiration from either then or now. Hopefully, my fellow Mod enthusiasts will find the whole or some detail of the whole to appreciate and maybe even adopt.

Over the last couple of months now, I've been asked why I don't feature more posts on women's clothing. A couple of times, I've been asked to do a 'MOD FeMALE' type of thing... or get my wife to do one.

Puh-leeze. Listen, ladies. This blog here... it's for the fellas. It's for my bros and homeboys who just wanna crack open a beer, bust out some chips, and watch the game... while wearing nicely tailored clothing, well-shined shoes, and a pocket square.

But, I have heard your request and to show you how much I appreciate the female readers of this blog, today I dedicate a Sharp Stylings segment to you!

One of my favorite images of female style is off the back of an LP I bought years ago, 'Rubble, Volume 5: The Electric Crayon Set.' This is one of those images that, early on, made me appreciate designers and how inventive they could be with detailing.

Yup, it's those scalloped hems that blew my mind. It wasn't the scallops on the woman on the left that did it for me... it was the hems on the other woman's trousers and blouse. First off, her pants have perfectly-sized flares that look great with boots. Not too wide with a great shape that ends in those scalloped hems. And although I'm not a gigantic fan of bell sleeves, on a simple blouse, they're pretty slick. And again, what makes these noteworthy are those hems.

If you have a tailor you use, ladies, take this photo over to him/her, and see what you can do with this type of detailing. It's a pretty hip touch!

That's it for today... stay sharp this weekend!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Top 10 'NEW' Soul/Funk Songs

I love old soul 45s, I really do. And I'm sure I collect them as much... well, almost as much, as the next Mod soul DJ. But we live in an awesome time of new music right now and, yes, even new soul 45s. I find it pretty exciting to hear new soul songs being released on them little 7-inch discs.

Sometimes, it's easy (and very understandable) to get lost in the greatness of soul/funk 45s from the '60s and '70s because there's still so much out there to unearth. At the same time, however, we have new opportunities to keep up with a great contemporary soul/funk scene and get in on tomorrow's rare vintage soul 45s today. So, take a break from work and switch into dance mode as I present to you my personal current Top 10 NEW Soul/Funk 45s!*

*(And by 'new' I mean within the last several years.)

1. Paul Weller and Andy Lewis - Are You Trying to Be Lonely - I really don't know why Paul Weller never stuck with incorporating more soul into his music. I get that he's always trying to move forward, and hit or miss, you gotta respect that. But when this guy gets into a soul groove, he blows it away. Take this song, in which he collaborates with one of my favorite current producers, Andy Lewis. Now this is some 'Heavy Soul'!

2. Frank Popp Ensemble - Love Is On Our Side - For the last several years now, Frank Popp's been blowing away the DJ/remix scene by incorporating a ton of 1960s influences. I first heard of him off a cover of Dave Pike's 'Mathar,' and I was blown away by the layered instrumentation on that cover down to the use of trombone! You gotta hand it to him... he knows how to get a dance floor going.

3. Ben From Cordoroy - With A Little Help From My Friends - Okay, I'm totally cheating with this one. I don't have this on 45... it's off an LP (gasp!). But I had to include it because A) it's Ben Addison from one of my favorite '90s Acid Jazz acts, Corduroy (if the name of the band didn't give it away), B) it features vocalist Mayka Edyole from The Sweet Vandals, and C) it's one of the best Beatles covers I've heard in a while.

4. Lord Large featuring Clem Curtis - Stuck In a Wind-Up - I don't know much about Lord Large, other than that he sports some slick, quirky style and that he's put out a couple of great 45s, including a collaboration with soul legend, Dean Parrish, covering an early, unreleased Paul Weller song and infusing some soul into it. This song, though, is the one that gets my feet all twitchy... a collaboration with Clem Curtis, lead vocalist of The Foundations.

5. Myron & E with The Soul Investigators - Cold Game - Aw man, California soul in the house! Yup, I'll admit it... I live in a pretty great state. We got a lot of great musicians out here, including Myron & E, who lay down some pretty gritty but smooth soul for feet shufflin'.  Of course, you can't ignore that amazing backing band, Finland's The Soul Investigators, probably most known for backing up Nicole Willis several years back.

6. The Stance Brothers - Pick'n'Roll - One of my current favorite labels of the last few years has been Ricky-Tick, which boasts a pretty great stable of jazz/soul/funk artists, including these guys, The Stance Brothers. Now, I'll be honest... I'm a little nervous posting songs like this out to you guys. I'd rather you all be fighting over rare soul 45s from the 1960s, so I can have stuff like this all to myself. But, my mama raised me right and taught me how to share. So, go ahead... click 'play' on this video and prepare to re-think your $400 Ebay bid on that rare, scratchy 45. 

7. Kendra Lou and The Miracles - Everyday - I'm a fan of tight drum beats. In fact, all my favorite dancefloor 45s have some kind of funky drum break to them. This song below, by Kendra Lou and The Miracles, fits that bill for me. Now, what they may lack in creative band names (The Miracles... really?) they more than make up for in hip-shakin' goodness. Like the Sleestak says, I like it!

8. John Nemeth - Name the Day - Some more American soul brought to you by blues guy, John Nemeth. This song caught me off-guard when I first heard it. Straight-up, Memphis-cooked soul that was happening right now! One of my pet peeves is when people harp on about how much 'music sucks today.' People who rant and rave about that just aren't looking in the right places. John Nemeth proves that all you gotta do sometimes is search out the good stuff... and sometimes, it's right there in your own backyard.

9. The Third Degree - Mercy - Man, when Duffy busted out with this video for 'Mercy', I was sold! The song had a great beat that made a great pop hit. And the footwork displayed in the video helped punctuate that. But then, The Third Degree came along and blew her version away! Oh sure, they didn't light up any fires with their dance moves, but their version of 'Mercy' is blistering with Mod soul power!

10. Andy Lewis (with Lynda Laurence) - See You There - Alright, we started this list off with Paul Weller and Andy Lewis, so now I end it with another Andy Lewis collaboration, this time with ex-Supreme, Lynda Laurence. Without a doubt, this is my current favorite soul 45 to DJ at the moment. It's got that driving beat, piano and organ work, horn arrangements, and those amazing vocals. If this 45 doesn't convince you to start paying more attention to today's soul scene, I don't know what else to tell you. And that's okay... I have no problem buying this stuff up without competition!

There ya go, my current Top 10 NEW Soul/Funk 45s. There's a lot more out there, but maybe I'll save that for another day. Hopefully these songs prove that there's music being produced NOW, that's worth searching out.

On that note, if you all up in a dancing mood now and live in the Bay Area, I've got a suggestion for you. Drop on by the Make-Out Room after work tonight and spend happy hour with us! I'll be playing some 45s (old and new) along with my pal, DJ Major Sean, while you kick back and enjoy some drinks. Then, stay for one of the best rocksteady nights around right after, Festival '68. It'll be a fun time! And look... a target!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Weekly Blog Roundup - 4/6/2012

So many great blogs and stories out there right now. I'm going to try and start sharing some that I've found throughout the week so you have something to read during your weekend. Enjoy!
  • The Voices of East Anglia blog catches you up on the Art Jazz of David Stone Martin. Great read for fans of jazz and graphic design!
  • Are you a fan of Lambert, Hendricks, and Ross? I am! Well dig this footage found by The Syllabus.
  • For those interested in learning more about fabrics, David Reeves found a nice piece on Dormeuil, with great footage on the fabric's construction.
  • Need some wardrobe ideas for the weekend? Anorak Thing has some nice Creation cover sleeves to inspire you.
  • Speaking of the Creation, want to know my favorite song by them? Head over to Derek's Daily 45 and check it out.
  • The Shoe Snob blog highlights some interesting shoe styles found recently, worth taking a gander at.
  • Years ago, I remember a friend and I found an LP by a crazily bellbottomed band called The Modbeats. We paid about a $1, if I remember correctly. I hear it goes for slightly more these days... around $300. Want to know more about the band? Head over to Parka Avenue.
  • The College No. 9 blog catches us up on jazz life in Paris in the late 1950s and a Parisian's special NYE spent in Soho 1960. Dig it real.
  • Was just turned on to the Rum Do blog today and found a great story on there featuring the memories of an old Mod and Skinhead.
That's it for today!

Sharp Stylings #34: Gossip Guy

We can learn so much from yesterday’s fashion icons.  And living in a post-Mad Men world means we can even enjoy aspects of current male fashions! Every Friday, I’d like to start your weekend off right with a little style inspiration from either then or now. Hopefully, my fellow Mod enthusiasts will find the whole or some detail of the whole to appreciate and maybe even adopt.

Waitaminute... what kinda mod male bashes a sixties band and then praises a Gossip Girl character? An objective one, my friends! But don't get any wild ideas here.

In all honesty, I've never seen an episode of Gossip Girl and I don't even really know what the show is about. And, really, can any late-night soap be as good as Melrose Place was? Heck, I don't even know if Chuck Bass (the guy below) is the actor's name or the character's name, and I ain't about to spend time googling it to find out. The only reason why I'm aware of him is because of a random google search and the fact that I recognized him from all the jokes The Soup has made at his expense.

However, I will say that, dang! Dude sure knows how to kick out the style!

So what's this guy's story on the show that would make him want to dress this way? Is he the the son of a tailor? Does he work in the fashion industry?  Aw heck, I don't care. Let's just get into his gear.

  1. Earthtones done right! That jacket is in one of my favorite colors... and maybe that's because I have a similarly-colored jacket. But look at how well it plays off his rust-colored trousers. Awesome color play going on here. And you know another thing? Although I'm not a fan of the 2-button jacket, in general, the lapels are so razor-sharp here, I'd probably wear this one. (And dig them patch pockets and side-vents too!)
  2. Continuing with the color scheme, this guy is wearing the perfect shoes for this outfit. Tan, narrow, slightly pointed... all kinds of good going on with those. 
  3. Chuck Bass is skipping out on the tie and getting into ascot/scarf territory. I love how this keeps you looking dressy, yet still casual. There's a relaxed feel that ascot lends to the whole look.
  4. And the final touch: a patterned pocket square that plays off the colors of the trousers, bringing the entire Autumn-themed ensemble together.
I tell you, this could be the dumbest show on television or the best, I don't know. But this character's wardrobe team sure knows how to sharpen up the screen. I'd sport this look in a hearbeat... minus the well-rehearsed scowl.

That's it for today.... HAVE A STYLISH WEEKEND!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Mod Gone Wrong: Carnaby Gone Wrong

In the past, I've gotten down on Britpop, Mod revival, and Paul Weller. But today, I'm here to say that, yes, even in the 1960s, sometimes Mod went wrong.

Now, keep in mind, I absolutely LOVE the Carnaby Mod period! The colors, the patterns, the details... a time when men's fashion was really taking off. Unfortunately, not everything worked. Although there were many great ideas coming out of Carnaby Street and influencing designers around the world, there were also some major flops. Take The Beatstalkers, from Glasgow, for instance:

My guess is that these clothes were made quickly and then thrust onto the band for this promo shoot. Take a moment and absorb what's going on here. First off, some of the individual pieces are pretty nice and full of hip touches. I see a sharp floral cuff-linked shirt going on... a light blue shirt with monotoned cuffs and collar... a sharp roll-neck in dark blue... trousers with front pocket flaps...

It's too bad they were all thrown together into a massive Mod-esque jumble. Let's take a closer look and focus on just a few problems going on here:
  1. Braces over that nice monochromatic shirt with the contrasting cuff and collar. Yes, I know this guy's ahead of his time, foreshadowing the oncoming skinhead look. And yeah, he's a bit early for Slade auditions, but those braces with that shirt just do NOT work. Takes your eyes off the contrasting tones of the shirt. (Plus, it's a little tight, but who am I to say anything about that?)
  2. Okay, I don't know what the heck's going on here. Was the tailor going too far in trying to buck the low-rise trend of the time? Or did he just get lazy after realizing he didn't get his hipster measurements right? Maybe he couldn't find a zipper long enough for the trousers and just convinced this poor kid to tighten his belt just a little tighter. He probably thought that extra material up on top might lead to a new fashion trend. Thankfully, it didn't.
  3. You might have to zoom in a little closer on this one. Interesting idea that I think works on other items of clothing, but the hoop zipper just doesn't work on men's trousers. I can just picture this kid getting stuck on a crowded tube train and that hoop getting caught on something on his way off. Yikes! Plus, those trousers need some belt loops and a nice, wide belt.
  4. Oh boy... looks like someone was getting ready for work as a costume designer on U.F.O., am I right? This kid almost had a cool look down, with that smart, button-down shirt and a pinkie ring. The color of the trousers looks great too... but, doh! Those trousers just keep going on and on, into futuristic overall territory.  
No, I'm not going to get into the matching plaid trousers some of these guys are wearing. Plaid trousers are hard to pull off for anyone, but when it is accomplished, it can be a great, casual look. Unfortunately, these guys tried two too many times to get it right.

But you know what? The Beatstalkers prove that you can't judge a book by its cover. Sure, they might have been embarrassed shortly after this photo went out to all the local music papers of the time. And sure, they might have complained to their manager, "Hey, we thought you said you'd make us look like the Small Faces? This doesn't look like the Small Faces!" But no matter what mistakes they made fashion-wise, they still knew how to rock out.

Forgive the Beatstalkers their clothing errors and dig the sounds they knew how to lay down: