Modern music is littered with tales of bands who never quite realised the success they were due and arguably most of the records played on the Rare Soul scene are the sound of broken dreams; recording artists who started off with high hopes but were denied commercial success for one reason or another. Here we are going to look at an artist and band who never had massive commercial success at the time but have since been sampled over 70 times and have become a huge part of hip-hop folklore. Continue ReadingRead More
We’re not sure if sheet music of current popular music hits sell particularly well these days so we’ll take a look back to simpler times when folk would presumably sit around the family piano and enjoy pop classics as a family sing-a-long. Conjures up quite a lovely image doesn’t it !Read More
We do like an obscure pop nugget here at VoEA Towers and this is a cracker featuring as it does, contributions from Gloria Hunniford, Michael McIntyre’s dad and 25% of ABBA.
Back in 1969, Lulu recorded a number of tracks for the Song for Europe competition to decide which song the UK would enter for the Eurovision Song Contest. The votes came from the general public and were sent in on postcards via Royal Mail. Obviously, things moved at a slower pace back in ‘69. One of those songs was Are You Ready for Love which had been written by the fantastic Alan Hawkshaw and Ray Cameron (who went on to write for Kenny Everett and is the father of comedian Michael McIntyre). This track was one of six but didn’t make the cut and the eventual winner was Boom Bang-a-Bang written by Alan Moorhouse (a contemporary of Alan Hawkshaw).
Quite why Gloria Hunniford went on to record Are You Ready for Love is lost in the annals of time but we can guess it was a way to get her name in lights as her TV career had yet to take off at this point. Strangely enough the same song was also recorded by a pre-ABBA Agnetha Faltskog in Swedish under the title of Ge Dej Till Tals. So, pop pickers, here, all the way from 1969, and unless we’re told otherwise, is the only single ever recorded by Gloria Hunniford (who probably can’t even remember recording it herself !).Read More
Back to 1975 and we cast our beady eyes over the ‘Better Homes and Gardens’ decorating book which was, as they say, very much of its time. It all looks pretty dated now but this was the era of Glam Rock and all the excess that came with it and you can kind of see a similar vibe running through this book. Enjoy !Read More
Much has been written about Marvin Gaye’s songwriting and singing as well as his undeniable influence on modern music in numerous ways. What is less well-known is his desire to break into acting and the two movies he starred in before his acting ambitions faded away and he went back to writing and recording.
Arguably in the late 1960s Marvin Gaye was Motown’s biggest name and pretty much had it all. He was good looking, had the voice of an angel and was a big draw. An acting career beckoned, and ambitious Marvin had aspirations to make it on the big screen following in the footsteps of Elvis Presley and Frank Sinatra.
In 1969 Gaye starred in ‘The Ballad of Andy Crocker’ alongside Lee Majors (who went on to become the ‘Six Million Dollar Man’) in one of the first films to look at the effect of the Vietnam war on the veterans who returned home. Two years later Marvin featured in another film based around Vietnam veterans called ‘Chrome and Hot Leather’ a slightly tongue-in-cheek story about Green Berets getting their revenge on a biker gang following the murder of one of their fiancées.
These two films comprised the full extent of Marvin Gaye’s acting career and despite his thespian ambitions he never troubled the big screen again, blaming his agency for a lack of support. Check out some snippets of Marvin’s performances below and wonder what could have been.Read More
As one of Britain’s first black photographers Bandele ‘Tex’ Ajetunmobi was blazing a trail for others to follow but this really is only part of the story. As a disabled 26 year old in Nigeria, Tex’s childhood polio saw him regarded as an outcast. As a talented artist he’d served an apprenticeship with a portrait photographer in Lagos but was still struggling.
In 1947, his next step was to stowaway on a ship bound for England along with his Uncle Chris. Tex soon settled into life in East End London and his cameras went pretty much everywhere he did. This wasn’t a commercial venture but rather a labour of love and his documentation of underground life and in particular mixed race relationships are unusual for the time (1950s post-war London).
He met and fell in love with a white girl called Cissy who was married with two kids. When she separated from her husband she wasn’t allowed custody of the kids because Tex was black.
Tex’s photos are subtle, amusing and unaffected portraits taken over a 50 year period. Check a small selection out below. Sadly, Tex passed away in 1994 and unfortunately most of his photos were lost. However, his niece Victoria managed to retrieve a few hundred negatives from a skip and Tex’s legacy lives on at Autograph ABP in Shoreditch. Check out their website or even better, pay them a visit. They’re a friendly bunch and you’ll be assured of a warm welcome.
All Photographs © Bandele ‘Tex’ AjetunmobiRead More
We’ve unearthed a veritable stash of pretty groovy German magazine ads from the early 1970s.
Whether the styling is much different to UK magazine ads of the same period is open to discussion but they certainly have a different feel although that may just be because we’ve only just set eyes on them. Check them out below and yes, Einhorn Power does translate to Unicorn Power just to save you looking it up.Read More
During the 1990s a series of TV adverts took the nation by storm, virtually started the whole concept of viral and guerrilla advertising and best of all for us; featured Gil Scott-Heron uttering the immortal words – you know when you’ve been Tango’d.
Back in the early 1990s most advertising took the form of cause and effect; by showing how your life would be improved by purchasing the product in question. These new Tango ads turned that on its head by simply having Orange Man slapping Tango drinkers across the face albeit in a slow-motion replay.
The ads also featured Ray ‘Butch’ Wilkins (RIP) and Hugh Dennis as contrasting football / rugby post-match analysts talking through the replay. The ad campaigns were a huge success, boosting Tango sales by 30%, but for us, as we’ve only just found out, the highlight is having Gil Scott-Heron voicing the end-line on some of the UK’s most iconic TV adverts.Read More
Following on from our Art on Wheels post which briefly looked at the pop-art customisation of cars in Sixties London, it seemed remiss of us not to dig further into the history of the artists involved. Particularly as they played a pivotal role in the formation of the nascent psychedelic movement, but also as their work and ideas seem to be woefully under-publicised considering who they were rubbing shoulders with at the time.
The BEV Design Collective had its roots firmly in Yorkshire but was based in London and for a brief period was very much a part of the whole Swinging Sixties movement especially as it moved inexorably away from the sharp-suited, Ivy League influenced mod look to the looser, hairier, more chilled-out flower-power and early hippy styles that started to take over much of the western world from 1967 onwards. Continue ReadingRead More