Wednesday, 26 December 2012

THIS THING OF OURS


Through five decades now ‘this thing of ours’ has been developing in many guises and with many attachments - football once being its main core - but, with no particular connection to any one music genre. Diverse followers of ‘our thing’ have had musical tastes aplenty, indeed. Yes, wouldn’t life be all so boring if we all wore, watched, drank and listened to the same as the next man? With an abundance of music cultures coming and going, and coming back again, each and every individual has a era, band/groups and a scene that they have instilled deep in their memory-bank and soul or, that has come to their attention of late. T’CC brand from the off has incorporated musical characteristics in their products ever since their humble beginnings, and will be doing so far, far into the future of the brand, so the lads informed me. They have collaborated with both established and up-and-coming artists too.


From right back when the Fab Four took the world by storm and their last recorded, but most tightly constructed, album that had bestowed on it universal acclaim, before they split, the Abbey Road iconic album cover, more so the symbolic crossing, was used on a tee but featured 5 inspirational figures that lads worldwide have paid homage to over periods of time. Then there’s their twist on the conventional formulaic style of the Northern Soul patch image. Northern Soul is music that originates from Detroit and Chicago by lesser known, somewhat underground, black American artists. It also seemed the more obscure and rarer the record or demo, to a greater degree, the better the track – making it a must have. The rhythm is, deep beat fast tempo, and meaningful – Soulful. But the CC refreshed the central fist to a pair of Clarks Oberon to reflect that they’re putting their best foot forward with the brand. There was also the David Bowie Low tee showing a side on snap of Bowie with a wedge haircut, and dapper dress, as seen on the Low album cover; Bowie seemingly setting standards for ‘our thing’ that would rear its ugly head in the not too distant future.

Reaching the latter stages of the Seventies, and the intense explosions of Punk Rock and Ska & 2-Tone: the lads have taken on imaginativeness from both classifications of cultures and affixed some of their trademark weaves. Punk Rock exploded on to the music scene in Britain, at same time the brimming pores and pus filled zits erupted on my chubby-chopped, pimpled infested, spotty face. Though, Punk Rock’s rootles stretch and strain back to the United States and Canada, in the earlier Sixties, Punk hit the UK full in the face at the back end of 1976 with an A-Z list of bands to long to name thrashing three cords for three minutes over the coming years, one of these being The Clash. The Clash took a stance on certain political elements too, with the CC Connoisseur Posse tee being along the lines of the infamous Red Brigades and Red Army Faction imagery formed of a new Left Marxist ideology. The Brigade Rosse, aka the Red Brigades, were a communist organisation, some might say terrorists, based in Italy. The Clash front man Joe Strummer often wore the famous t-shirt in support of the groups. When the Clash split in the early Eighties, Mick Jones formed Big Audio Dynamite, who went on to release a single named "E=MC2". The song is also the first to be composed completely from samples and features of prominent dialog samples from the 1970 film Performance that Mick Jagger featured in. With the CC lads being film buffs/geeks, they used the artwork from the William Hughes novel of Mick Jagger with added lyrics, showing their deep knowledge of past films, great acting and a distant interest in gangs and attached violence. Then there were the Misfits' skull logo, ‘Fiend Club’ tee. The skull first appeared on the ‘Horror Business’ single by the American band The Misfits, which was based on a poster for The Crimson Ghost. The Misfits are often recognized as the progenitors of the horror punk subgenre, blending punk and other musical influences with horror film themes and imagery. Last, but not least from the Punk era, the lead singer of the legendary band Joy Division, Ian Curtis tee. I, myself, were fortunate to see Joy Division back in the day at Preston’s Warehouse in February 1980 – sadly months before Curtis tragically took his own life. There was also the ‘Sound & Vision’ pulse tee, but this had no connections to Joy Division or Peter Hook, for the record I must stress.

2-Tone: the movement, and record label, originated in the West Midlands, to be precise, Coventry. The brainchild behind the checkered 2-Tone music label and Rude Boy movement were Jerry Dammers, with the succour of his chum and fellow band member of the Specials, Horace Panter. Dammers smelted Ska, Rocksteady, Reggae and up-beat Punk/New Wave collectively and forged the music and term best known as 2-Tone. Bands that strummed harmonized 2-Tone were The Specials, The Selecter, The Beat and, the odd ones out due to their location that were London was, Madness. Contrasts of black and white toned togs were sine qua non to the camp. The lads have used the Madness One Step Beyond album cover in two tone print and replaced the groups footwear with adidas London’s. Also, they cleverly slipped on a CC Weir hat, a pair of Clarks Desert Treks and an extra colour on the Ska & 2-Tone mascot Walt Jabsco, renaming it 3-Tone.


All things Northern and Madchester: Manc and Greater Manchester scallies and Perries had been tinkering in bands since the early Eighties. Lads mashed guitar music, psychedelic rock, indie, dance, goth and Rock ‘n’ Roll together with the likes of James, The Stone Roses, Happy Mondays, Inspiral Carpets, Northside, 808 State, The Charlatans, Paris Angels and other bands forming. And, I think of of CC's best selling tee has got to be the one that celebrates the cream of the crop of Northern Musical talent both past and present is, the ‘Northern Music Factory’ tee. This tee is made up of an array of Northern bands from late Eighties early Nineties in the form of a... Northern mill/factory. The tee has been released in an array of colours over the years, even in black with glow in the dark lime ink – get them. Next up, and released last summer before any re-union tour news had even been rumoured, the specially commissioned artwork by illustrator and collaborator Peter O'Toole, which presented a nod and a wink to Manchester's musical pioneers, the Stone Rose. This tee wasn’t only adored just by Northerners, ‘it’ went forth to fly out to all corners of the globe such was/is its popularity. And at the rear end of the musical tee shirts that the CC produced is, ‘Bummed’! Bummed was an album released by the cheeky chappies the Happy Mondays. Inspired by the original Central Station cover art, the tee was designed by Peter O'Toole featuring Shaun Ryder, Bez and of course the topless centrefold in all her filthy glory.


There was a competition run in 2012 by CC for folk to send in designs and drawings that paid tribute to the passing of Adam Yauch – Beastie Boy fame, which also raised a sum for a cancer charity, Bobby Robson's was chosen in the end. The designs sent in were of the highest standard but, despite some great entries, their regular CC illustrator Peter O'Toole won the vote pretty unanimously on his superb take of a MCA portrait.
So, what does the New Year bring from the Connoisseurs? Well, to whet your appetite they’ve the ‘Curva Nord’ collabo coming to you in the January window. Curva Nord was an alternative cult terrace/pop culture label from the early-to-mid Noughties, from a creative the trio Phil Thornton, Ste Connor and Andy Bird. The tee will be a take on Dexys Midnight Runners first album, 'Still Searching for the Young Soul Rebels' image. The album combines the aggressiveness of Punk Rock with Soul music, particularly influenced by the Northern Soul movement. Talk about coming full circle. There is a rumour that there is an offing of a tee dedicated to the legendry Connoisseur, Bob Marley too... Keep returning to the CC in the coming weeks/months for more information on the aforementioned and, much, much more.


May the CC brand keep setting standards in the year 2013, and in many years to come too.
Your Northern Monkey correspondent, Bill

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