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CLASSIC STYLE. MODERN VIEWPOINT.

RETRO
THE

COLLECTIVE
LEVI STRAUSS
TAKING NO PRISONERS
WITH THEIR NEW
VINTAGE COLLECTION

CONVERSE
101 YEARS OF PUTTING
THE BOOT IN

MELLOTRON
FROM PROG ROCK TO SAMPLING:
THE INSTRUMENT WITH
EVERLASTING APPEAL

USA VS UK
THE BEST T-SHIRTS FROM
BOTH SIDES OF THE ATLANTIC

3-D CINEMA
IN-DEPTH VIEW

FILM MUSIC FASHION GADGETS CARS LIFESTYLE


W
elcome to The Retro
Collective, a monthly
magazine international in INSPIRED
outlook and co-operative in spirit.
We’re all about style, whether that’s an
individual’s scene or the products from 4 TOP FIVE
the world around them. 10 LIFESTYLE
TRC was conceived in the
14 GADGETS
Defectors Weld, Shepherds Bush, in
February 2009 after a conversation about 20 MOTORING
the heritage of a mate’s new Crombie. 24 T-SHIRTS
EDITOR’S LETTER

In May 2009, five NCTJ trained


journalists ranging in age from 23 to 54
with experience spanning from national
newspapers to high-end lifestyle
magazines, met at the Journalist FEATURES
Works in Brighton and began working
on The Retro Collective.
Each issue will feature our 26 LEVI’S
Inspired product reviews featuring 32 CONVERSE
lifestyle, gadgets, motoring, in fact
anything that portrays classic style in a 36 MELLOTRON
modern, contemporary way. 42 3-D
We will also include in-depth
features on brand heritage, iconic
individuals, historic events and ground
breaking innovations.
As a collective, we are always on PERSPECTIVE
the lookout for individuals who are
passionate about classic style from a
modern viewpoint. If you would like to
46 BLACK IN THE DAY
be a regular contributor or just write a
one-off piece, drop a line to: 47 BACK IN THE DAY
editor@theretrocollective.com 48 MICHAEL FISH
Cheers,

Bruce Hudson
The Retro Collective
Classic Style. Modern Viewpoint.
CONTENTS
8 26
20

Cover image from the Diwon Man Autumn/Winter 09 Collection


1
THE

TOP The F131 Hellcat Combat

FIVE Looking for adventure, well the Confederate Motor Company from
the deep south of the States should satisfy the wanderlust. Born
with an ethos of rebellion being ‘adopted as fundamental to the
pursuit of personal empowerment’ Confederate’s latest offering,
the F131 Hellcat Combat, features a design specific hand ported and polished
head design, ultra high compression, special camshaft grind, retuned intake
system, which result in a 12% gain in rear wheel horsepower and a 4%
increase in rear wheel torque. Forget all that, this beast, looks spankingly cool.
With only 150 available, you’ll feel like an especially wild one when you hit the
motor running and ease this baby down the motorway. www.confederate.com
Diwon Man Autumn/Winter Collection
This launch, from a New York fashion house, is going for a slimmed down look
‘resulting in a sleek silhouette that will define our contemporary minimalism’.
No, we don’t know what that means either but we love their thin-lapelled suits
and rectangle ties. With an influence of Brooks Brother’s Mad Men in the
range (see front cover) these boys have a real future. They also do a superb

2
line in accessories. www.diwonman.com
THE

TOP
FIVE
3
THE

TOP
FIVE
Smeg Retro Dishwasher
Who would have thought?
Smeg do dishwashers. We
should know this at TRC, but
it seems they’ve gone under the
radar of most of the Collective. So
we’ve just put that right! I bet you
Wallace and Gromit won’t be feeling
so Smug when they find out.
www.smeguk.com
4
THE

TOP
FIVE
Dark Knight Poster
This was Brandon Schaefer’s first
movie poster produced after a
design break and his first fully
computer illustrated piece. His
website’s brilliantly minimalistic
blurb says ‘I’m Brandon. I make
things!’ and you can’t get fairer than
that. You can get hold of Brandon
and see his other work at:
www.seekandspeak.com
5
THE

TOP
FIVE Jimmie Martin
Union Jack sofas
Jimmie Martin is a
designer of modern
furniture with a classically-
edgy twist. Commissioned
by the likes of Kylie, Dawn
French and Kelly Osborne
Jimmie’s generated an
awesome amount of
publicity for a brand that
has only been in existence
since 2004. We’re big fans
and TRC is already thinking
about next year’s footie in
South Africa, sitting on our
Jimmie Martin, donning our
union jack boxers and
cheering on the lads. You
can’t get more patriotic than
that. Rooonnnneeee!
www.jimmiemartin.co.uk
INSPIRED
Matti Walker Max Fan Heater
A great all year round heater, the Matti Walker Max Fan can be
adjusted to suit your every temperature need. With a slick three
legged design and bold colour, this is far groovier than its elder
beige-boxed cousins and will look, well, cool in your lounge.
£75 www.redcandy.co.uk

Sahara Wood Sofa


Inspired by the African Lodge Life, Scandinavian
designer Gunilla Allard combines turned-wood
with soft-chrome fittings finished with white
leather to create a comfortable and visually
pleasing two seater sofa. Simple.
P.O.A www.lammhults.se
Wild & Wolf Trim Phone
Combining the looks and design of
the past with the functionality of
today, the Trim Phone has the
balance just right. Sharp lines with
classic circular numbers finished off
with touch tone buttons replacing
the time consuming twist-to-dial
mechanism. The bold, red colour is
bound to make every call, even to
your Mum, feel just that little bit
more important.
£32 www.redcandy.co.uk
NEW PRODUCTS. CLASSIC INFLUENCE.

LIFESTYLE

Retro Flip Down Clock


Simple and stylish, this flip down clock will
make your desk look that little bit sleeker. With
a satisfying click every time the hypnotic
numbers flip, you’ll never miss lunch or work
late by mistake again.
Requires just a single D battery.
£18.96 www.chinavasion.com

Stelton Magzbook
Danish wizard Troels Seidenfaden presents a three-
in-one design classic, combining a side table,
bookcase and magazine rack to bring you the
Stelton Magzbook. The sleek steel design is around
40cm tall, finished with dark grey leather. Perfect,
just don’t put the yellow pages put on it.
£169 www.panik-design.com
John Lewis DAB Radio
The good people at John Lewis certainly have
delivered with this fine Digital radio. Hiding behind
the sleek metal grill are two powerful 3 inch drive
speakers with Clearsound technology. In the walnut
casing there’s a display screen giving you detailed
programme information, kitchen timer and even a
USB port through which you will soon be able to
add new features.
£149 www.johnlewis.com

Tribeca Coffee Table


Although contemporary in appearance, the
original design for this piece of furniture was
apparently first produced in the mid-forties.
This eye catching table is made of tempered
glass and quality fiberglass, giving the rare
combination of great design, robustness and
value for money.
£99 www.retrorepublic.co.uk

Jimmie Martin’s Andy Dandy chair range was produced in collaboration with photographe
LIFESTYLE
Bianchi Pista Via Brera
The latest offering from the world’s oldest
surviving bicycle-making company (they
revolutionised the world of pedal-pushing
forever with their bonkers idea of equal-sized
wheels and pneumatic rubber tires in 1885).
On the frame that ‘launched a thousand fixies’
is a ‘milk and coffee’ finish, which sounds
rather like a cappuccino to TRC so we’re keen
to freewheel straight into the express-o lane.
Well, except this is fixed-gear which rotates
with the wheels, so we’ll probably head to the
safety of a velodrome.
$799 www.bianchiusa.com

rs’ Christopher Makos and Paul Solberg. See www.jimmiemartin.co.uk for the latest range
INSPIRED
Timex 80s Series
Timex’s 60s TV advertising slogan ran ‘it takes a licking and
keeps on ticking’ so it seems they were discovering their
feminine side when they launched these wonderfully
disposable, Bjorn Borg headband styled, watches in the 80s.
Re-released TRC won’t be wearing one down the
construction site any time soon.
£50 www.timex80.com

LOMO Diana Mini 35mm


Just in case you’re not one of the 1 million lomographers out
there LOMO stands for Leningradskoye Optiko Mechanichesck-
oye Obyedinenie or Leningrad Optical & Mechanical Enterprise
if you’re not fluent in Russian. LOMO has been around for more
than 80 years and in 1914 they were the largest optical device
manufacturer for the Russian Army. These cameras are so cool
there’s even a special edition Diana Meg (from the White
Stripes) range. At TRC we’re really excited by the idea of the
Jonah Lomu LOMO as he’s really big and...ok you see where
we’re going with that.
$60 www.shop.lomography.com
NEW PRODUCTS. CLASSIC INFLUENCE.

GADGETS
Cassette Tape USB Hub
Another novelty gadget using
the humble cassette. It’s a great
design, and care has been taken
to add details such as moveable
wheels inside the case. The Hub
offers four USB ports, and at
under a tenner, it’s not going to
break the bank.
£8.99 www.play.com

Vita Audio R4
The R4 is designed to create a huge, room filling sound from a small cabinet. Combined with a
stylish, minimalist look that betrays the cutting edge technology and you’re on to an instant
classic. There’s even an i-pod style RotoDial remote so all your R4 and iPod functions can be
intuitively controlled from the comfort of your sofa. If only relationships were so simple.
£176 www.vitaaudio.com

Revo Domino D3
The thoroughly modern radio with a tip of the hat to
the wireless of yesteryear, well my word it just suits
us perfectly! Revo’s newest edition to the domino
series still has the rubber like finish, smooth
rounded edges and joystick based controls, and
features DAB digital radio, iPod and iPhone docking,
wireless audio streaming and of course FM radio.
With remote control and alarm clock, we think it’s
a lovely little addition to any room.
£169.95 www.revo.co.uk
Steepletone Roxy
Record & CD Player
This looks like a standard retro
styled CD player until you lift the
bonnet! The Roxy will play all your
old vinyl, even your 78s (ask your
Dad), but is hooked up with the
latest tech: a CD player, a USB 2.0
you can play tunes from an MP3 or
flash memory drive, and also an
i-pod dock. Bryan Ferry would be
proud to own one.
£126.99 www.limemarketing.co.uk

Grado GS1000i
A family run business for over 50 years
Grado has 48 patents under their belts so
they’re used to making people sit up and
listen. These handcrafted mahogany
head-phones are an upgrade on the 2007
version hence the i, with changes in the
headphone cord & hardware construction
but they still deliver the Grado “room” for
the ears to sit in. TRC likes that.
£990 www.gradolabs.com

Retro Papercraft Speakers


Ever a stickler for the more novel items, we
introduce to you the Retro Papercraft
Speakers. That’s right, get out the make and
do materials and create your own hi-fi,
boombox or bookshelf stereo with one of
these little kits. Each one contains a small
USB powered speaker that can plug into a pc
or laptop, so by following the easy to
understand japanese picture instructions you
too can cut out and assemble your very own
paper speaker.
£18 www.japantrendshop.com
GADGETS

USB Fever Retro Cassette Stereo


Mini Speaker for iPod / iPhone
Totally bombastic and boombox-tastic. Bang your
ipod into this and the next thing you know you’ll be
able to listen to the Stereophonics in, er, stereo
phonics. All bought to you by the fabulously named
USB Fever. Because, at the end of the day, you just
can’t get too excited about USBs. Warning: not to
be confused with UXBs, bang your ipod into one of
those and you’ll be hearing more than stereo (or not
depending on the severity of your injuries!).
$31.99 www.usbfever.com
Olympus E-P1 Skins
The Olympus E-P1 has always had a
retro look, but now you can
accentuate that by adding a skin
from Kindai International.They’re
carefully made to fit the dimensions
of the camera exactly, ensuring a
snug fit for the mottled pattern skin.
The skins are available in three
colours: Green, Grey and Black.
£12 www.kindai-inc.co.jp

Desktop Henry
We couldn’t decide if this can really be classed as
retro or stylish, but nevertheless it is still damn
good. Desktop Henry can do everything his larger
counterpart can do, but he may need to be emptied
more often. Running off two AA batteries, little
Henry is perfect to help sort out those little biscuit
mishaps around your desk.
£11.99 www.gadgetshop.com
GADGETS
Nixon Fluro Rubber Player Series
Nixon released this mystery-coloured watch
on October 15, with the colour reflecting the
charity, Boarding For Breast Cancer,
proceeds of sales will go to. There have been
two previous mystery colours, Orange Fluro
(August) and Green Fluro (Sept), with a
November one still to be released (we don’t
know the colour...it’s a mystery). A limited
range and they’re being snaffled up.
$170 www.nixonnow.com

Sega Saturn Zippo


Zippo conjures up images of campfires,
spittoons and cowboys hunched over
non-filter rollies, as dust storms sweep
around their chaps. Now Zippo has teamed
with Sega the image is set of the anarchic
gamer, computer looming large on the
horizon, protecting his Marlboro Light from
the fire breathing wind from his, er, open
balcony door! O.K. it needs a bit of work, but
now even the meekest of gamers can whistle
The Good, The Bad and The Ugly as they
light up and that’s a good thing!
£70 www.banpresto.com

Seiko UC-2000
You’ll never be short changed with this beauty. Released
in 1984, presumably for the mathematics teacher, on the
go, it’s half watch and calculator or ‘The Walculator’ as
TRC has rather snazzily renamed it. The UC2000 was the
first of its kind and launched on the back of the first TV
watch, released in 1983. Seiko is traditionally an Olympic
sponsor, so TRC is pushing for Usain Bolt to wear the
UC2000 in the 100 metres final, as it will give him
something to do, waiting for the opposition to finish.
P.I.R.O. £200 where available
INSPIRED

2010 Mercedes SLS AMG


Gullwing
The 1954 SL Gullwing was the
ultimate achievement of style
combined with substance. Sex on
legs (o.k. wheels) and it went like
the clappers. What’s not to like.
The 2010 version is shaping up to
be equally impressive with
acceleration of 0-62 mph in 3.8
seconds and a top speed of
317kph. If you leave the doors
open on this number you’re going
to need some firm setting hair-gel!
With paint colours including an
Alubeam silver, which “shines like
liquid metal”, you’ll be more Termi-
nator than Kindergarten Cop when
you put your foot to the floor on
this fantastic car.
For more detail:
www.mercedes-
benz.motortrak.com/sls-
amg.php
NEW PRODUCTS. CLASSIC INFLUENCE.

MOTORING
Fiat 695 Abarth
Tributo Ferrari
This car has a story line
most soaps would be happy
with. Ferrari sleeps with
Abarth all under the watchful
eye of its parent company
Fiat and the 695 is born only
to be whisked away by
Ferrari owners when they
feel like a bit on the side. All
this, as the cute 500 looks
on, wondering why the
Abarth was given a 1.4 litre
turbo beef-up in the first
place. TRC doesn’t care,
we’d quite happily go ‘up
west’ with the 695.
www.fiat.com
MOTORING

Honda Concept
EV-N
If Makka Pakka from In The
Night Garden was a car then
this shorter, but far cuter
version of the late 60s N600
is it. Honda’s electric
concept car has a solar
powered roof which helps
power the battery, swappable
seat fabrics and an UX-3
super gyroscopic robot unicy-
cle in the passenger door,
which looks like a futuristic
Segway and means if you for-
get your shoes you won’t get
your feet wet when you pop in
to the local supermarket.
www.honda.com
T-SHIRTS
UK VS USA 1

REPRESENTING
THE UK:
DESIGNS FROM
BALCONY SHIRTS

1.Cornish Pasty
2. Scunthorpe
3. Cricket - I Love It
4. Goes Up To 11
5. Sexual Ealing
6. Middlesbrough
6

www.balconyshirts.co.uk
REPRESENTING
THE US:
DESIGNS FROM
THREADLESS:
1
1. Jurassircus
2 2. Splatter in D
Minor
3. Pandamonium
4. Fencing
5. I’m Like A Bird
6. Self Portrait

3 4

6
5

www.threadless.com
ULTIMATE
CONVICTION
Cinch’s vintage range, Inside / Out, celebrates
30s to 50s American prison wear. Niki Corfield
unlocks staff’s passion at Levi’s concept store

F
rom Cool Hand Luke to The Birdman of Alcatraz there
has always been a rebellious coolness to doing bird.
But describing a prisoner as a ‘fashion icon’ seems to
be stretching things. Yet hanging from the walls of Cinch
(Levi’s London concept store) you’ll find striped black and
white t-shirts, washed jeans and sack coats nestled between
mirrors etched with mug-shot height measurements, a
sparse looking prison bunk, and torn out images of 1950s
pin-up girls.
It’s all part of the latest Levi’s Vintage Clothing collection,
Inside / Out, which is themed around the life of the prisoner.
“This vintage range is very much inspired by 30s to 50s
American prison wear – Shawshank Redemption was a big
influence,” says Daniel Wade, shop manager of Cinch. For
many years, denim was standard issue for institutional life,
with overalls, white vests and t-shirts, sack coats and
chambray shirts all finding their way inside. As a leaflet in
the store puts it: ‘The Inside / Out collection draws on the
experiences, history and struggles of serving time, while
keeping one eye on the freedom beyond wholesale dry goods to small general
the walls.’ stores in the American west. In 1872, a
The garments in the Inside / Out tailor named Jacob Davis approached
collection are all recreations of original Levi’s with the idea of taking out a patent
Levi’s clothing from the era, with the together on the process of riveting the
subtle addition of some graphic prints pocket corners on men’s trousers. The
and design as part of the convicts’ patent was granted on 20th May 1873,
theme. Launched in 1996, the Levi’s and Levi Strauss & Co began producing
Vintage Clothing Collection (LVC) denim waist overalls. Although Levi’s
features reproductions of key items in didn’t invent the cut or fit of the overalls,
the Levi’s archive from 1873 to the the riveting of the traditional trousers
1980s, created with minute attention to was an entirely new invention, and the
authentic period detail and design. It’s original blue jeans were born – though it
faithful to the letter – a tab on one pair of would be nearly another 70 years before
1930s reproduction jeans features a they would be known by that name.
number mark showing “They weren’t
they were part of a
One of Cinch’s regular called jeans at the time,
government initiative to customers leaves his they were called waist-
use local suppliers, jeans ‘raw’ for six overalls and they used
while the t-shirts all to be worn specifically
have recreations of months, then jumps in as workwear. Guys
original label designs the sea to shrink the would wear them on top
stitched inside them. of their own clothes, so
Some items in jeans to fit and let the they’re quite a loose
the collection are salt treat the denim. fitting jean,” explains
constants, such as Wade of the 1873
the ‘raw denim’ range of jeans, (featuring reproduction pair. It wasn’t until the
around 15 reproduction jeans ranging 1920s that Levi’s introduced belt loops to
from 1873 to 1983), along with the design, and only in the 1940s and
reproduction white t-shirts from the 50s that they started becoming a fashion
1920s to the 1980s, and denim jackets. piece rather than a practical workwear
Every season Levi’s designers also garment. Although there is some dispute
create a themed range – like Inside / over when and where the term ‘jeans’
Out – inspired by a particular era in actually originated, what is known is that
history, or time of cultural shift. Previous by 1960, the word ‘jeans’ had replaced
seasons before this have been inspired ‘overalls’ on all advertising and
by lumberjacks, rodeos, and the 1930s packaging of the Levi’s product.
US Depression era (“That one was very Nowadays, jeans have become
bleak,” says Wade, “all patches and arguably the most ubiquitous garments
everything looking stitched together”). of the modern era, and Levi’s is one of
There’s certainly a wealth of history the world’s largest clothing brands, with
and heritage for the Levi’s designers to sales in more than 110 countries, and an
draw from. Founded in San Francisco in incomparable global presence in the
1853 by Bavarian immigrant Levi jeans market. Although the company
Strauss, the company originally sold briefly experimented in the 1970s with
employee ownership and a public stock individuality – you can find something a
listing, it is still owned and controlled by little bit different that no one else has got.
descendants and relatives of Levi The high street is saturated with items
Strauss, and remains firmly connected to that are exactly the same. This is where
its heritage. someone can pick up something a little bit
This year marks the 10th anniversary more individual.”
of Cinch, which started life as Levi’s The raw denim range of jeans are the
premium boutique store. Along with the store’s bestsellers, and Wade believes
LVC collection, it also stocks Levi’s part of their appeal is the fact that they are
collaboration ranges – the current one is a kind of a “blank canvas” for customers
Original Fake, with graffiti artist Kaws, to stamp their individuality onto. Raw
while previous seasons have featured denim is pure cotton that’s not yet been
Damien Hirst and Henry Holland. But washed, unlike that used in most modern
vintage is the main collection in the store, jeans, which has already been treated,
and part of what Cinch has become shrunk and faded. “It means the way you
known for. Although LVC is available wear them and decide to wash them
online, and you can makes them completely
pick up key items in The explosion in individual – after six months of
some high-end
boutiques, Cinch is
vintage and the wear they mould to your shape,
you get your own creases, your
the only place in the demand for it at own fades, and they become
world that stocks the the moment your own jean, rather than one
full collection. It gets that’s been produced for you,”
fitted out seasonally means we’ve seen explains Wade.
to match the vintage a big increase in The people who visit the
ranges, and even the shop are often true denim
name Cinch references awareness and enthusiasts, who relish this
the brand’s unique footfall in the shop potential for individuality, along
heritage – it’s a clasp with the collection’s authenticity.
used to tighten jeans when they were still worn These denim connoisseurs go to great
as overalls in the 1800s. lengths to get their vintage pieces just the
“Vintage is our bread and butter,” says way they want them. One of Cinch’s
Wade, “it’s really grown – the collection regular customers leaves his jeans ‘raw’
has expanded and it’s becoming more for six months, then jumps in the sea to
popular. The explosion in vintage and the shrink the jeans to fit and let the salt treat
demand for it at the moment has definitely the denim. Others are known for
helped – over the last couple of years religiously handwashing theirs, or leaving
we’ve definitely seen a big increase in them in the fridge wrapped in plastic bags
awareness and in footfall to the shop.” to achieve a certain colour effect. As
So why does Wade think vintage has Wade says: “We get customers who are
taken off in such a big way? “It’s just this so passionate about the brand, to the
whole retro thing that everyone has really point where they’ll be as passionate about
jumped onto. I think vintage has denim as some guys are about football or
music. As staff, you have to know what Cinch’s customer base is extremely loyal
you’re talking about otherwise you’ll get and long-standing, having grown mostly
caught out. Customers really know their through word of mouth and
stuff, so we need to be passionate about the recommendation. “There’s not a lot of
products, and it needs to be genuine.” advertising, we’re not on posters around
All of Cinch’s staff members are given London, we don’t have our own website,”
training on the brand and its history, and all says Wade. “It keeps LVC exclusive and
possess a genuine interest in the LVC I think that’s the important thing about it. If it
collection. Simon Jeal, Cinch’s assistant was too readily available then I think people
manager, and a vintage enthusiast, believes would lose interest in it. We’ve been here 10
the heritage of the range exerts a special years so we’ve built up a good customer
draw. “Once people get interested in one base, but it’s still a bit underground.”
sort of style of jean that they like, they’ll start The nature of the clothing itself adds to
looking at other eras, and get hooked,” he this esoteric feel; many of the items are only
explains. “Quite a few customers are looking subtly different to modern day designs, and
at the longevity of buying vintage as well it can take a trained eye to spot the history
– we get guys who bought jeans in here inherent in the garments. “I guess only
maybe 5 years ago, still wearing them, still people that have an interest in premium
loving them. You’re investing in a product fashion would know [that they’re vintage
that will actually last.” reproductions],” says Jeal. Perhaps more
Jeal and Wade’s references to Cinch’s than anything, it is this sense of
customers as ‘guys’ are deliberate. Of the underground exclusivity that lies at the heart
roughly 30 or so pieces in the LVC range, of LVC’s appeal: while not exactly a secret,
only 9 are women’s clothing. Levi’s these products are only for those truly in the
womenswear spans a much shorter heritage know.
than the men’s range, having only originated
around 75 years ago, and as a result the Cinch, 5 Newburgh Street, London,
majority of the visitors to the shop are male. W1F 7RB Tel: 020 7287 4941
LACED WITH RO
Converse started life as rubber galoshes, then diversified into
basketball shoes. Now their sneakers wear the images of guitar
bands. John Hartley celebrates an historic case of sock and roll

O
ver 60% of Americans have turing athletic footwear, and invested
owned at least one pair of their efforts into shoes for the emerging
All-Stars and Converse’s sport of basketball. The first version of
signature design is available in every the All-Star sneaker was made in 1917,
colour and pattern imaginable. There’s in natural brown with black trim, and
even an option to ‘create your own’ on three years later became America’s first
their website and now you can also wear mass produced basketball shoe.
AC/DC and Pink Floyd flavoured This year holds a double anniversary
sneakers round the high streets. So for the Converse brand. The 60th
where did it all go right for the Nike anniversary of one of the world’s most
owned brand? popular and iconic shoes - the classic
Marquis Mills Converse started The black and white Converse ‘Chuck Taylor’
Converse Rubber Corporation in 1908, All-Star, and 40 years since the death of
producing work related rubber shoes its namesake.
and galoshes. At first this was done on Charles Hollis Taylor, wore All-Stars
a seasonal basis, but when the as a high school basketball player, and
company realised it would be more in 1921 went to the Converse sales
efficient to employ their workforce all office in Chicago in search of a job. Over
year round, they ventured into manufac- the next few decades he was to become
OCK
one of the most influential men in the company. His
outstanding salesmanship and his successful
promoting of the shoes, along with input on the design
earned him a place in history when in 1932 his name
was branded on the shoes. The ‘Chuck Taylor’ All-Star
sneaker was born.
Chuck went on to help design the optical-white high-top
model for the 1936 Olympics, with its patriotic red and blue trim,
becoming extremely popular among young Americans. With the
advent of war, the expected lull in sales never eventuated, and
the white high-top ‘Chucks’ became the ‘official’ sneaker of the
US Armed Forces. The company also provided footwear,
apparel, boots for pilots and army servicemen, parkas, and
rubber protective suits and ponchos.
After the War ended, Converse launched their
most iconic sneaker yet, the classic black and white
All-Star. With the recent formation of the professional
NBA, these became the must have for any player,
their look becoming part of the team.
By 1957 Converse had 80% share of the entire
sneaker industry, and Chuck was named ‘Ambas-
sador to Basketball’ due to his tireless efforts. Despite
the millions of pairs of Chuck Taylor branded shoes
sold, he was by no means rich from it. Chuck never
had commission from the shoes he sold, for years
driving his white Cadillac across the country for bankruptcy in 2001, closing all North
staying in motels, although it’s said he American manufacturing outlets and
wasn’t shy about using the company’s relocating to Asia. The company survived
expense account. and was eventually bought by long time
Chuck Taylor died of a heart attack the rival Nike.
day before his 68th birthday on June 23rd The Chuck Taylor branded sneaker still
1969 and along with the passing of their thrives and is as popular as ever. One of the
figurehead, came the gradual slip of most iconic and stylish sneakers is still with
Converse’s grip on the industry. New rivals us and the memory of its founder lives on.
such as Nike grew in size and popularity, Converse Rock Collection
and despite Converse’s best efforts, (from top right)
basketball teams switched to other brands.
The sneaker had an unexpected rebirth Metallica: Pushead
in the 70s, with the shoe becoming popular AC/DC: Lock up your daughters
with adults who wanted it for comfort and Pink Floyd: Animals
affordability as opposed to sporting Pink Floyd: Wish you were here (out)
performance. The company responded by Pink Floyd: Wish you were here (instep)
launching the old classics in a variety of The Who: Pack
colours and designs. Since then it has been AC/DC: Back in black
a favourite among musicians and the shoe Metallica: Flaming Skull
of the counter culture. Ozzy: Doodles
The management and ownership of the Metallica: Ride the lightning
company changed several times in the Pink Floyd: Dark side of the moon
1980s and 1990s, and the Converse brand Ozzy: Straight jacket
fell into financial difficulty. In 2001 they filed The Who: Union Jack
MELLODRAMA
When Harry Chamberlin invented the Mellotron
his instrument unexpectedly pioneered
sampling and became the backing sound
to prog rock. He also hadn’t bargained on
the company’s salesman pitching the
instrument as his own creation. Graeme
Coop puts his finger on the discord

T
he Mellotron seems to have a life of its manufactured and sold Chamberlins from
own. Having started out as an instrument his shop in California. He employed Bill
for your Aunt Mabel to play at fifties Fransen as a salesman for the Chamberlin.
cocktail parties it ended up being used by a Bill was good at his job, but there were
multitude of bands including The Beatles, The problems. Harry couldn't keep up with the
Moody Blues and more recently Oasis. For the orders and the scrolling mechanism kept
instrument to have taken on a life far removed changing the sounds so the completed
from the inventor’s original intention is orders had a 40% chance of failure.
synonymous with the life it has lead off the Bill saw the genius in Harry's idea, but
stage as well. felt the instrument could be better made. He
Harry Chamberlin invented The Mellotron took two Chamberlins across to England,
back in the mid forties. Harry liked playing and showed it to the Bradley brothers of
his home organ, but wanted to put the Bradmatic Ltd in Birmingham. The brothers
sound of an orchestra behind it. So Harry were excited by the idea of the instrument,
decided to adapt and essentially invent and when Bill asked if they could
a new instrument to fill his needs. By manufacture them, they agreed believing
recording single notes played by real the idea to be Bill’s.
instruments onto tape loops, and adapting A year later in 1966, Harry caught up
his keyboard to trigger the tapes, the with Bill and you can probably imagine, he
Chamberlin was born. Harry continued to wasn't a happy man. Harry finally agreed to
develop the idea and in 1960 he sell the technology to the Bradley brothers
Pictures courtesy of Markus Resch (www.mellotron.com) and Streetly Electronics (www.mellotronics.com)
Below: The M4000 Mellotron the most recent model released in
2007. Bottom Left: Bill Fransen in 1963 in the first of 3
Mellotron factories. Top Left: Harry Chamberlin with his
prototype 3/8ths inch tape based instrument from the 1950s
for $30,000, and went back home to the Mellotron was cemented forever in
continue his own path of development, history. The Mellotron is still used today by
resulting in the 1970's Chamberlin M the likes of Radiohead and Sigor Ros, but
series.The Bradley brothers changed their not to the degree it was in the 70s.
company name to Streetly Electronics and In comparison to its modern day
started to mass produce Mellotrons. counterparts, it is heavy and unreliable,
A young lad Mike Pinder (below), started though Streetly Electronics updated the
to work for them, getting a job at the end of M400 and released the M4000 in 2007. The
the line, checking the instrument for any delicate tape loops used to create the sound
faults before it was sent to the customer. He make touring with the instrument
soon fell in love with the sound and Leslie difficult. So it’s left to enthusiasts to keep the
Bradley helped him purchase a Mellotron name and sound going as they cherish and
MKII, which Mike hoped would make a great love them for their quirkiness and
addition to his band, The Moody Blues. They unreliability. In the same way some people
released their hit single "Love and Beauty", are fanatical about classic cars, Mellotron
and shortly afterwards the Beatles released lovers are proud to own or even use the
"Strawberry Fields Forever". The future of instrument.

Dianna Dilworth (right)


recently made Mellodrama,
a documentary on the
Mellotron’s troubled history.
Coops spoke to her about why
the instrument deserves its
place in music’s hall of fame

Where did your interest in the Mellotron forerunner to many modern ideas in music
come from and what inspired you to production. Harry Chamberlin was definitely
make a documentary about it? not the only person thinking about using a
I grew up on the music that features
Mellotrons, but I really learned what a
Mellotron was in the mid 90s, when my
friend Mattias Olsson, a Swedish producer,
showed me his collection and taught me
about the mechanics of them. I was amazed
by the tapes. I love the music and I am
fascinated by the technology and the
somewhat accidental influence that Harry
Chamberlin has had on the history of
sampling. I am intrigued at how this
relatively rare and archaic instrument was a
King Crimson’s Epitaph certainly wouldn’t have been
on Harry’s cocktail party playlist
keyboard to emulate the sounds of other effort in. Apparently it was a very
instruments, but he was early with this idea. mechanical and non-musical process. Still
I also love that the technology was brought that’s what gives the Mellotron its weird
to the marketplace with one intention, to be sound, which is of course, so cherished.
a home entertainment attraction ala 1950’s What do you think made the Mellotron so
cocktail parties, but was actually adopted by popular, despite only a few thousand
rock musicians who used it in weird and being made?
creepy ways. King Crimson’s “Epitaph” It has a very unique and haunting sound and
wasn’t exactly what Harry was hoping for, it was used by great musicians like The
and it certainly wouldn’t have been on Beatles, The Moody Blues, King Crimson,
Harry’s cocktail party playlist. This really Led Zeppelin, Genesis and these guys
fascinates me, the collision of worlds. made the sound way more popular than the
The Mellotron seems to be one of instrument ever was. It lives on today,
music’s “happy accidents”, what was because bands like Radiohead, Sigur Ros
Harry Chamberlin trying to create when as well as producers like Jon Brion are
he came up with the idea? doing their own things with it.
Harry Chamberlin was an organ player and Do you think the unreliable reputation of
he developed the Chamberlin to have an the instrument has given it another edge
orchestra accompaniment to go along with or personality, particularly
his keyboard playing. He came up with the because it needs to be looked after and
Rhythmmate, a very early drum machine, repaired so often?
and the Chamberlin keyboards, which I think the unreliability is what killed the
incorporated orchestral sounds into a Mellotron in the late 70s, but from today’s
keyboard. In the early 50s when he was point of view, its quirky attributes are seen
doing all of this stuff, I don’t think he ever as kind of sweet. I wouldn’t say that
imagined that it would become the defining anyone really likes it when they break down,
sound of progressive rock. but I think people appreciate the quirks and
Where did the original samples used on try to work it into their playing. Jon Brion told
the Mellotron tapes come from? me that his Chamberlin M1 has a
The Chamberlin sounds were recordings of personality of its own and every time he
the Lawrence Welk Orchestra that Harry plays it, it’s different. One day the tape
made. Harry was very meticulous about the sticks on the C key, another day it’s the B,
sound and he spent a lot of time and some days its fine. I think he likes the
making sure he got the notes right. He also finicky experience of it and plays along to
used really great technology and so these it accordingly.
recordings have an excellent fidelity, to this You obviously have a fondness of the
day. Harry’s tapes were used on the early Mellotron, how do you view some of the
Mellotrons, though in the 60s Mellotronics more recent electronic or virtual
recorded their own tapes in IBC Studios. equivalents?
Brian Carroll and Don Lawson, retired This is a great debate among Mellotron
studio musicians, worked on the recordings users. Some musicians will tell you that
and recount the experience of recording the they’d never use a sample, because it is all
tapes in the film. The Mellotron tapes don’t about the machining, the interface and the
sound as good as the Chamberlin tapes, characteristics of the particular Mellotron
because the engineers that worked on the you are playing. This is true. So much of the
recordings did not put as much Mellotron sound comes from the fact the
tape can be manipulated by the pitch bend a beautiful location overlooking the city. But
and the fact the tape zips back to the top when we showed up to film, there was
after the 8-second loop is played, plus the a marathon going on and we couldn’t cross
whirring of the motor has its own charmingly the street. It was a circus of cars, runners
warm sound. I sit somewhere in the middle. and people trying to get through yelling at
I can understand the desire to use the real the cops. Once we got there we had to carry
thing, but I love them for their sound and if a this big old Mellotron through a crowded
young band can experiment and do Italian ruin where there were tourists and
interesting new things with these sampled weddings going on. When we got it up it was
Mellotron sounds, then I’m all for it. really hot, so we worked quickly to make
During the filming for the documentary sure that the ‘tron didn’t melt! But it was
you interviewed many greats of the really a fantastic day. I felt like I was living a
music world, who or what was the Fellini film!
highlight for you personally? What are your plans for the future?
Everyone in the film was delightful to meet Right now I’m working with the distributor on
and speak with. Some highlights for me the DVD release for the film. I’ve also got
include speaking with Rick Nielsen, who is a plans in the works for a new documentary
real character and would stop mid-interview film about Neon lighting.
to make jingles for my film. Brian Wilson
was really cool as well. It was incredible to Mellodrama is set to be released on DVD this
bring a Mellotron to his house, since he winter.
hadn’t seen one in 30 years. I think the most For more information visit
amazing moment though was when I went www.bazillionpoints.com/mellodrama
to interview Fabio Frizzi, an Italian sound- or
track composer who did some of my www.myspace.com/mellotrondocumentary
favourite horror film scores in the 1970s. We
did his interview on the rooftop of a govern- Mellodrama images courtesy of Dianna Dilworth
ment building in the centre of Rome. It was

Unfinished Symphony: Composer John Brion (left) speaks about his love for the instrument,
and The Beach Boys’ frontman Brian Wilson plays a Mellotron for the first time in thirty years
ADDED
DIMENSION
Since the golden era of 3D in 52 there has been three
revivals. So why have audiences been so fickle in their
appreciation of the format? Don Jagger puts on his glasses
to see if the latest incarnation will finally be a spectacle

W
hen the world of 3D first appeared, or had to be repaired, the images, i.e. what
audiences were amazed, usually the cinema goer was watching, went out of
entertained but often left the sync, giving the audience headaches and
comfort of their cinema chair with a feeling left them feeling sick.
of nausea. In these early days, two images Despite this, 3D was still a popular
were projected on to the screen by placing choice among movie goers, and gave
two projectors next to each other, and cinema the edge it needed to get the public
playing the reels simultaneously. The away from their television sets. Vincent
screen showed a double image, the Price became known as the “King of 3D”
audience given special after he became the actor
glasses that block one image to star in the most 3D
from each eye. This imitated features, most notably for
how your eyes view objects his role in the 1953 classic
normally, with slightly House Of Wax.
differentiating views, creating After the initial
depth. This caused problems excitement of 3D, audiences
however, because if either of soon got tired of this
the reels paused fractionally gimmicky approach to
movie making, preferring instead to watch popular format in 2D since the early
films with more focused plots and stronger nineties, recent 3D versions of these
story telling. 3D’s popularity waned for the smooth animated films is sure to continue .
next few years, with a few exceptions The major studios are also encouraging
including 1961 hit “The Mask”, which used 3D releases as the dual image on the
a combination of 2D and 3D filming to screen effectively cuts out piracy. It is
enhance the dreamlike sequences when estimated that around ninety percent of
the mask was worn. pirated movies are from people taking
The technology improved during this video cameras into cinemas, and this
time, with films now able to be shown using format makes the film almost unwatchable
just one projector, increasing reliability.The when recorded in this way.
biggest revival of the format came in the Monsters Vs Aliens had the biggest
80s, with a huge influx of films being shown opening of the year with $58m (£40m), and
in 3D. During this new found craze many 3D versions of films continue to take more
classics were re-issued such as “House of than 2D counterparts.There are also plans
Wax” and “Dial M for Murder”. to re-release Disney’s nineties classics
As audiences fully embraced the 3D “Toy Story” and “Toy Story 2” in 3D format,
movie once again, many directors created just in time for the third installment of the
films geared towards 3D releasing such series, as well as a 3D re-working of
classics as “Jaws 3D”, “Amityville 3D” and romantically-laced disaster flick “Titanic”.
“Friday the 13th Part III”. We now find But with Steven Spielberg announcing
ourselves on the brink of the third 3D in 2005 he was patenting a 3D cinema
revival, where the technology has been system without the need for glasses, TRC
tightened, the content no longer restricted is still concerned our Guccis (see below
to live action. With CGI films proving a right) will be confiscated at the door.

CINEMA PARADISO
The Cinemizer Plus, made by Carl Zeiss, is the don of 3D glasses.They may look like a cross
between swimming goggles and sunglasses, but don’t let that mild mannered exterior fool you, these
specs enable you to watch movies on a virtual TV screen, get this, with a 45” diagonal at a distance
of 2 metres. With built in earphones, the glasses let you watch any movie, anywhere (although it’s
probably not advisable, or legal, to be watching The Godfather as you hit the fast lane of the M1).
The Cinemizer Plus glasses let you watch
3D movies, play 3D games, can be used to
view movies from your iPod, and even takes
into consideration those with glasses already
with The Plus adjustable to the needs of a
prescription of +3.5 to 0.5.
www.zeiss.com

Photos courtesy of Carl Zeiss


3D movies worth a look…
House Of Wax (1953)
Vincent Price stars in this gritty horror as a sculptor in a wax works museum who is left to perish
in a fire started by his partner to claim insurance money. Many years after the fire, he reappears to
open his own museum featuring wax works of murder and horror - with some looking a bit too
realistic.

It Came From Outer Space (1953)


A classic tale of fifties paranoia, after seeing a meteor crash out in the desert, a young man
investigates and witnesses the gruesome truth of what landed before it is covered by a landslide.
The townsfolk don’t believe him, until strange things start to occur.

Jaws 3D (1983)
The third installment of the series was by no means hailed as the greatest, but signified the
biggest revival of 3D, as Dennis Quaid finds himself on the hunt for a troublesome shark in
Florida’s Sea World.

Polar Express (2004)


Animated magical Christmas warmer featuring some of the most breathtakingly stunning scenery.
Tom Hanks does a great job voicing five characters in the film, which was received with critical
acclaim.

YOU’VE BEEN FRAMED


While sitting in a darkened room, with strangers
looking at the back of our heads, we all need to look our best.
So it comes as no surprise, in this fashion conscious world,
that the cardboard framed red and white glasses have given
way to a much more sophisticated looking, aviator style, black
lensed pair of spectacles. As if this wasn’t enough, Variety
magazine published unconfirmed reports that top flight
designer labels such as Gucci are planning to make designer
3D glasses available in time for the release of James
Cameron’s epic 3D blockbuster “Avatar” in December.
BLACK IN THE DAY
Nunchucks at the ready coz Black Dynamite has just released in the States and is already
looking like a cult classic. With hot reviews and a plot where ‘The Man’ murders his brother,
pumps heroin into local orphanages and floods the ghetto with adulterated malt liquor, it can
do no wrong in TRC’s eyes. The soundtrack’s mighty fine as well.
www.blackdynamitemovie.com
BACK IN THE DAY
Purple Gez remembers nights of mayhem with Midge Ure and Chris Cross from
Ultravox. But was her cooking really the inspiration for Vienna?

M
y ex-husband is a musician and writes music for film and television as well
his first band back in the late 60s as being a much sought after session
was Barbed Wire Soup but despite player. Chris left to join Ultravox after
having a reasonable following they couldn’t seeing an advertisement in the NME while
secure a recording contract. When they Midge Ure had just replaced John Foxx
split the remaining members put an advert (a Lancashire lad, who had left Ultravox to
in the New Musical Express for a bass pursue a solo career).
player and a keyboard player. One evening, don’t ask me the date,
Chris Cross (later-Ultravox) responded my ex, Pete Hughes and Chris Cross
to the advert, signed up, moved from accompanied by Midge Ure came back for
London to the bright lights of Bairstow another big night. Midge was a quiet
Street, Preston, and a new incarnation, unassuming guy, very polite and courteous
Ritzi, was born. He and the band spent a but not a great conversationalist. During a
great deal of time in my house. Pete night of various substances and general
Hughes (ex Stoned Roses), Michael ‘Caz’ mayhem, Chris, started tinkering away on
Carrol, Nigel Davenport Sawyer, my ex the piano and the famous riff featured in
and Chris played guitars, piano and sang Vienna (the video features a debutante
all night long. We had a mad time, gracefully descending down a sweeping
definitely a case of Too Much Fandango, staircase, in time, with the music) began to
Tequila And Tango (Ritzi’s biggest hit. It echo through the house and into the
didn’t chart in the UK, but was No1 on kitchen where I was warming up the frozen
Mike Reid’s Breakfast Show on Radio One pizzas. Mushroom with tinned pineapple if
and topped the charts in Australia!) and I memory serves me.
remember spending a lot of time in the
kitchen cooking to abate the munchies “The feeling has gone only you and I.
following the intake of various substances. It means nothing to
I usually cooked omelettes and green me. This means
salad, but if I had had a really productive nothing to me.
session, there would be home made Ooooooh. Vienna.”
pizzas in the freezer.
Ritzi had signed to Warners in 1973 Well it means
and Too Much Fandango released in 1974 something to me.
but after that things changed; Nigel was And the pizza was
the first to go on to pastures new and now damn nice as well!
RETROSPECTIVE
M
ichael Fish, MBE, described by The co-written a book about extreme
Times as a ‘national treasure’, will weather events called ‘Storm Force:
always be remembered as the BBC Britain’s wildest weather’ and
weather presenter at the time of the ‘Great appeared in a nationwide tour of ‘The
Storm of 1987’. In the early hours of Play What I Wrote’.
October 16, winds of up to 122mph tore He is also famous for his collection
through the South Coast killing 18 people of ‘Fish’ motif ties (he has over 100)
and uprooting 15 million trees. and has received the title of ‘Tie man
For 22 years Michael, a meteorolo- of the year’ on three occasions.
gist employed by the Met Office, has Michael was also named ‘worst
tried to explain that he wasn’t on duty dressed’ and ‘best dressed’ man on
at the time of the storm (not a television, in the same year.
hurricane he points out). Don’t worry Now semi-retired, Michael presents
Michael, TRC believes you! a weekly forecast for Netweather.tv
Michael was born and raised in and is a familiar face at climate change
Eastbourne, East Sussex. He has events. Interview by Mel Coley

What is your favourite song? natural history programmes.


I suppose it would have to be the one What is your favourite meal?
about me (John Kettley is a I don’t care, but it has to be spicy!
Weatherman...and so Do you collect anything?
is Michael Fish by A Goss china (facing page). It
Tribe Of Toffs). was extremely popular
What is your between the wars. My
favourite film? Grandfather had a shop in
I don’t go to watch Eastbourne where he used to
films much actually, I sell the china marked with the
haven’t been for family name. I have a
donkey’s years. The collection of about a
last film I watched was hundred pieces.
‘Borat’. I enjoy that Who was your first
type of ‘schoolboy’ girlfriend?
humour. I still remember her. In fact
Who is your we are still in touch but
favourite actor? I won’t tell you her name. We
I lust after Jane Asher (above). are still friends – very close friends.
What is your favourite TV show? What was your first car?
The weather, of course. I also like It was a mini. The registration was 739
documentaries and watch BBC BGY and I called it ‘the buggy’.
MICHAEL FISH
Do you have a 20th century hero which career would
or idol? you have most likely
Possibly Winston Churchill – who dragged followed?
us through and out of the war. I wanted to join the airforce and become a
What was your first job? pilot.
My first job was at the Met office. I earned What is your proudest achievement?
£26 a month but it cost me £29 a month to I suppose getting an MBE from the Queen,
Image courtesy of Lynda Pine at gosscrestedchina.co.uk

travel there by train. although I think it should have been a


Who or what has knighthood.
been the biggest Have you ever
influence on your ‘splashed’ the cash
life? on something big?
My physics master Yes. I bought my
who made sure I got Mazda RX8 with my
good grades; and the retirement payout.
great storm of 1953 What is the one
which triggered my thing you want to
interest in the weather do before you die?
and the elements. Yes there is, I want to get my pilot’s
If you hadn’t become a meteorologist licence.

Feeling under the weather?


Then cheer yourself up with a
Michael Fish ‘forecast’ coffee
mug and fridge magnets
available from his official
website:
www.michael-fish.com
Contact The Retro Collective: info@theretrocollective.com