Thursday, December 23, 2010

Chase and Status – and ten things they didn’t tell you about 1990s clubbing

You’ve probably seen the brlliant video for Chase and Status’ equally fantastic Blind Faith tune. A fake documentary/home movie set in rave’s golden era between 1988-92 (it looks like 1990 if we’re being specific), it shows the events leading up to – and including – a warehouse party in the north of England. It’s so accurate, it’s frightening and like the best pieces of nostalgia it makes the viewer feel very old and very young at the same time.

As I was lucky enough to go to some of these events (yeah, I’m cool) – and then make a paltry living out of the scene as it grew, I thought it prescient to highlight some of the things about the – ahem – movement that often get overlooked. Or put to put it more specifically, all the things that were crap about it…

1) Pulling was looked down upon. There you are, just old enough to start getting hold of drunk girls in nightclubs and then acid house gets invented and suddenly getting off with women “is for teds”. Unless you’re a drug dealer/rave organizer/member of the underworld, that is, in which case all that being-mates-with-a-bird is for everyone else, you’ve got a threesome sorted. Top one

2) The scene’s endemic, nauseating smugness

3) Ugly fellas with long perms being inexplicably popular with women. And owning keyboards at the same time

4) People trying to make a connection with a bunch of drug-addled townies in baggy Ben Sherman shirts and the indigenous peoples of South America and their use of peyote

5) The obsession with mixing (and I was boss at it, so I’ve got nothing to lose here), meaning the slew of UK house records between 1992 and 1996 consisted of endless bars of drums going boom-boom-boom just so pricks with cheapo Soundlab decks could mix them in their bedroom. And then sending off their same-as-everyone-else mix tapes off to Cream/Ministry/Back to Basics in the vain hope of getting a gig

6) Discos that had once been the preserve of maniacs fresh out of borstal putting nights on called things like “Taste” or “Elegance”, also full of maniacs fresh out of borstal, but this time in Nick Coleman/John Richmond T-shirts

7) The fashion around 1993-95 for fellas to “dress up“ in silly striped kecks, blag Patrick Cox shoes and massive, massive white shirts – all topped off with a Kangol cap, worn backwards

8) Bricklayers coming to terms with their latent homosexuality and “experimenting” with drag queens in the toilets of horrible clubs in the West Midlands – usually while wearing silver trousers

9) DJs all playing the same records, as they stopped actually buying tunes and just spun the ones they – and everyone else – had been sent by promotions companies that week. And getting huge amounts of wedge for the pleasure of doing so

10) Back-to-mine, after-club get-togethers, where nine people on bad drugs would talk about themselves and pretend to be more wasted than they actually were, while the flat’s resident amateur DJ tried to impress everyone by endless practicing Sasha’s Leftfield/Whitney Houston mix – the Stairway to Heaven of wannabe record-spinners

Friday, December 10, 2010

Stone Island: a video tour with Carlo Rivetti

SI boss Carlo Rivetti presents a tour of the satisfyingly futuristic HQ of everyone’s favourite Italian sportswear brand.

Carlo Rivetti's Tour from Stone Island on Vimeo.

They say:

The journey inside Stone Island begins. Carlo Rivetti opens the doors of the headquarters of Sportswear Company in Ravarino, where his brand Stone Island is thought and takes life. A first general recognition where Carlo Rivetti reveals the philosophy of a company that has always been founded on research and experimentation. Where what is revealed is the passion and the deep know how that turn ideas and visions into garments and collections that are always innovative and in the vanguard. What follows is a serialised story, where an indiscreet camera records, without any secret, the testimonies of the people involved and all the places in which the product is created.

We say: Just give us 20 minutes in the factory shop, Carlo.

Friday, December 03, 2010

A Life in Liverpool Matches:
May 14 1988, Wimbledon 1 Liverpool 0

Everyone loves the FA Cup. Shanks told us that the League was Liverpool’s bread and butter – necessary, satisfyingly, and after dominating the thing for the last 20 years, almost almost a little dull. We win the League every year – that’s a given. But the FA Cup’s a different matter.

Two years back we demolished Everton – Rush and co showing the pretenders to the throne just what it takes to win on the biggest stage, but that was only our third win in the competition.In truth, it’s the tournament we have the most trouble with, doing something Liverpool teams just don’t do: bottling it on the big stage.

This is why today is going to be so much fun. We’re playing Wimbledon – and acts of God aside, we’ll destroy them. The deadly finesse of Beardsley, Barnes and Aldridge pitched against a bunch of fellas who’d look more at home warming their hands round a brazier on a picket line than running about on the lush Wembley turf. Even their shitty, no-name kit looks like it was bought in a job lot from Ormskirk market. And that Vinny Jones is a bad, bad tit and not as hard as he thinks he is.

Getting to this stage has been interesting too. As season ticket holders, me and my mate have had tickets to every match, our parents pleased to get us out of the house at weekends. We opened with a grim 0-0 at Stoke’s Victoria Ground (my outfit of chinos and white Next coat maybe a bit impractical in the muddy, industrial wasteland of the coach park) then squeezed out a 1-0 win the replay.

A superb fourth round win at Villa Park followed, where a huge following of Reds – mostly wearing baggy jeans, sweatshirts and (cough) dungarees – were sent into raptures by a two-goal victory. Then there was a sweet 1-0 win over Everton at Goodison, which ended by me and my mate getting followed by a bunch of “we’re all Scousers together” blues, intent on sending us to the next round with a good-luck smack in the face.

The sixth round saw us humiliate Manchester City (who’ve started to become weirdly fashionable), before a semi-final at Hillsborough where Nottingham Forest were dispatched 3-1 in the glorious April sunshine. The latter was notable for the fact, that as at Villa Park earlier on in the competition, we’d been moved by police from the central terrace to a pen on the side because the crushing was so bad. Still, that’s football.

I love going to Wembley, the people on the telly call it “Anfield South” and there’s no doubt that it feels like a home from home. Today, we’re going by coach, the occasion of the tie slightly spoilt that by the time we reach Birmingham, the lads from Skem are rolling beer cans full of ‘recycled lager’ down the aisle. It is, as you can imagine, a glamourous and luxurious experience.

Four hours from our departure, we’re nearly there and now I start to get excited. The first thing I notice is the Tesco on the North Circular Road, which for some reason has a huge space-age tower in the car park displaying the time and temperature. You wouldn’t get that back home. And even though we’re nowhere near the West End, you can tell that London is more affluent, more connected, more at the centre of the things than Liverpool. It’s also warmer. I like it.

We pitch up in the seemingly endless Wembley car park – countless coaches from Liverpool and beyond here to dispatch the red-clad faithful. But there’s also some from Wimbledon, which strikes me as being odd. Can’t they just get the Tube? I thought they all lived on it, the lazy bastards. I catch one’s eye.

“Alright, Cockney,” I say in my scousiest Scouse accent.
“We’re not Cockneys.”
“Yeah you are. You’re from London. Cockney.”

Imagine the sound of Ricky Tomlinson mixed with Jennifer Ellison chocking on a chicken bone. That’s me now: King Scouse.

He shakes his head and moves off. Why would anyone support Wimbeldon? They only get gates of about 4,000. Mickey Mouse club. Liverpool will slaughter them today. I’m saying 4-0.

We hang about outside, have a quick moan about the price of drinks/hot dogs/the programme, then go in and find our place on the upper terracing – the best place to stand due to the considerable height of each step. Thanks to the dog track, we’re miles from the pitch (we could well be in another postcode), but still, what a sight. Wembley is beautiful, the quickly populating stands framing the greenest rectangle of turf in the world. And there are Liverpool fans . When I’ve been here before, the opposite end has felt like enemy territory, full of rival fans in other colours. Not today, the Wimbeldon end is chocker with Reds, too. There’s no-one to pit our (famous Scouse) wits against. For the FA Cup Final, it feels, well, a bit routine.

Then the teams come on the pitch and the game kicks off and we wait for us to score and then they get a free kick and it goes quiet and suddenly they’re 1-0 up.

And there’s this sound – a muted, distant cheer, as if those making the noise are underwater. And with the noise you can make out groups of people punching the air, jumping up and down, waving tiny blue and yellow flags. This wasn’t supposed to happen. But we’ll still win – Beardsley will score two and Aldridge will get one at the end and we’ll go home with another bit of silverware for the team to parade around the city. That’s what’s going to happen. That’s what to happen. Doesn’t it?

In the car park after the game, the Wimbledon fans coach by ours is full of gloating Cockneys (they’re still Cockneys to me, ) putting torn sports pages from this morning’s newspapers on the window, each one predicting an easy Liverpool win.

We move out of the car park – which, as it empties, starts to resemble the surface of Mars – and get back on to the North Circular. The Tesco tower tells us it’s 6.15pm and 23 degrees celsius. I’m not sure I want to go home.

From the brilliant Well Red magazine, the essential Liverpool publication – “by the fans, for the fans"