Ocean Colour Scene’s Steve Craddock is unloading two custom Lambrettas. Craddock claims he’s just too busy to ride, but anyone with a Lambretta fixation can tell you, you don’t sell a Lambretta unless you need the cash. Especially a surprisingly tastefully done Lambretta, that’s been on the cover of Scootering magazine twice (your editor looks in his wallet, a moth flies out.)
It’s been a while, but Vespa Vthursday VIdeo is back. Today we appropriately honor one of Haiti’s greatest exports, Wyclef Jean, with an entirely inappropriate song, given the circumstances. In 1998, Jean covered Queen’s “Another One Bites the Dust,” with help from Fugees bandmate Pras, Free and Canibus. The song was produced for the Small Soldiers soundtrack, but thankfully they ignored the film and brought in uberdirector Michel Gondry. It goes a little something like this…
Artist: Wyclef Jean feat. Pras Michel, Canibus, and Free
Song: “Another One Bites the Dust”
Album: Small Soldiers film soundtrack (1998)
Scooter(s): Vespa P-series
Scooter content: 5 seconds
Jump to the good parts: 1:33 to 1:38
The original Queen 45 was in constant rotation on my Fisher-Price record player and at #1 on the Q102 top ten for weeks, until “I Love Rock and Roll” came out and changed everything, forever. I’m sticking to that story even though I just checked Wikipedia and the songs came out 20 months apart. It was Cincinnati, time means nothing there, as the XYLs will tell you.
This version, like many cover versions, seems entirely unnecessary, but it’s not bad. The song’s not Wyclef’s best work, but it’s allright. The video’s not Gondry’s best work, and certainly not his most original concept, but it’s suitably weird, fun, and full of Gondry-style camera tricks, gimmicks, and visual puns. And best of all, it’s got nothing to do with the film it’s promoting, preventing the typical “Who’s Johnny”-type debacle.
As far as scooter content, not too great, but they can’t all be, right? After the remote-control olive-green Vespa P-series is introduced for a few seconds at 1:33, I expected it to come back and save the day later, but oh well, it’s still a pretty good video, and the vintage Mini makes up for it.
So yeah, Haiti. This is what passes for a tribute on 2strokebuzz. I’ll go donate some money now.
Popmatters’ new fashion column kicks off with a nicely levelheaded
look at Mods. As one reader points out, it’s a bit light on the very early modern jazz origins, but it’s a good read.
Did we just post two videos? and did we just miss two weeks of Vespa Video Vednesday? Never fear, we didn’t forget you. Today we have another clip from David’s list that just so happens to be one of my favorite songs:
Artist: David Bowie
Song: “Absolute Beginners”
Album: Absolute Beginners film soundtrack (1986)
Scooter(s): Vespa GS
Scooter content: 5 seconds
Jump to the good parts: 2:19, 2:22, 2:36
David Bowie, of course, is a genius. As Jon Langford would put it, he’s the “Chameleon of Rock.” And Colin MacInnes’ Absolute Beginners, is definitely one of my favorite books. So what could be better than a film version directed by Great Rock and Roll Swindle director Julien Temple, featuring David Bowie AND Ray Davies (AND Edward Tudor-Pole)!?
Well, the film turned out to be nothing but a marginally entertaining (at best) musical (no!) love story that nearly ignored the book’s rich drama of gentrification, race relations, and the rise of the English teenager. The Fifties setting was overwhelmed by the Eighties set design, and today it looks dated and campy. The soundtrack holds up a little better, featuring songs from Jerry Dammers (of the Specials), the Style Council*, and rare proof that Sade was a promising talent back when she had a last name. Even Ray Davies’ subtle nostalgic song is pretty good. But the gem was this David Bowie track.
Julien Temple directed Bowie’s epic “Jazzin’ for Blue Jean” video in 1984, and Bowie was chosen to appear in the film as shady advertising magnate Vendice Partners. The single was recorded in June 1985 but delayed to wait for the film’s release. The video is nothing special, a Duran Duran-inspired parody of British “Strand” cigarette commercials with awkwardly-chromakeyed film footage worked in. The scooter footage is minimal, and all from the film (a Vespa GS graces the soundtrack album cover and makes a few appearances in the film).
But, oh, the song is so great. It strikes me as the anti-“Uptown Girl,” showing Billy Joel that Eighties arena pop could actually be fused with doo-wop without disastrous results, and thus proving David Bowie is actually capable of anything. The lyrics are beautifully vague and can make me cry if I’ve had a couple beers and I pretend it’s about whatever dramatic situation is troubling me at the moment. Even the obligatory Eighties sax solo is magnificent. It’s perhaps a bit long, though it’s available in several remixes of varying lengths across CD, CD3(!) LP, 7″, 12″ releases. The film was massively hyped before release, then panned by critics and fans, but the single reached #2 in England and nearly cracked the top 50 in the U.S.
There, it’s ten minutes until midnight, and VVV lives. All that for five seconds of secondhand scooter footage. See you next Vednesday.
*Speaking of Paul Weller, The Jam’s “Absolute Beginners,” (#4 UK charts in 1981) is surely also inspired (though equally subtly) by MacInnes’ book. It’s really a must-read novel, and in this age of remakes and re-hashed ideas, hopefully another filmmaker has a go at it, but it’s going to be hard to top the two great songs it’s already inspired.
The international entertainment “press” already used up all the obvious Quadrophenia references and mobility scooter/moped jokes, so here it is, without any added cleverness: Pete Townshend has a Vespa S 50 and he apparently parks it inside his house. Happy?
Artist: Les Breastfeeders
Song: “Mini Jupe et Watusi”
Album: Déjeuner Sur l’herbe (2004)
Scooter(s): ’60s Vespa (VBB?)
Scooter content: about 30 seconds
Jump to the good parts: throughout
For the second week in a row, we milk Canada (or should I say MuchMusic) for a VVV, and while JDiggz’ video was fun, this one is even more fun, and the song is way more up our alley. Les Breastfeeders have been around for a few years, mixing up a garage rock sound with power pop and a hint of classic Yé Yé that Stereo Total stole from Serge Gainsbourg and Françoise Hardy. Which, hell, how can you not love that combo? They top it off with an undead tambourine player named Johnny Maldoror, who I’m guessing is the Quebecois version of Bez out of Happy Mondays, or the weird old guy in Arrested Development (not Jeffery Tambor, I’m talking about the band!).
In this particular effort, they tie together a song honoring the mini skirt and Watusi with a slick video featuring a Godfather-style gangster plot. Les Breastfeeders’ bassist Suzie McLelove appears on a white Mod Vespa throughout the frenetic video, and delivers the hit weapon and facilitates the getaway. This is the best video/song combo to grace VVV yet, and I’m having a hard time seeing it going anywhere but downhill from here. I’m definitely going to be tracking down some more music from these guys and putting VIna’s nearly-useless bachelors’ degree in French to the test.
Thanks to everyone who’s been sending in videos! David’s list contains enough to last a couple years of Vednesdays, but keep ’em coming! Hard to believe there are so many!
Vespa Video Vednesday is back, on an actual Vednesday! Here’s a good one that I think ten people sent me two years ago when it was new and I never even watched until I saw it on David Smith’s master list that inspired this enterprise:
Song: “Make It Hot”
Album: Memoirs of a Playbwoy (2007)
Scooter(s): Series 1 Lambretta, Vespa P-series
Scooter content: about 30 seconds
Jump to the good parts: 1:11, 1:42, 4:08
Canadian rapper JDiggz’ tune doesn’t do much for me, but it’s at least innocuous. The fact that the video is so totally incongruous to the song kinda makes it better, and the fact that they steered clear of the obvious gang-war motif buys them some points, too. It’s very nicely shot, and fun. JDiggz looks totally slick, and his posse of mods and hot-pantsed bootie chicks is somehow funny and believable.
The La Dolce Vita-esque intro is funny, but doesn’t really fit with the Quadrophenia thing. Though it appears to be a TV175, the Series-1 Lambretta predates the mods-and-rockers era, and the P-series Vespa is even more out of place. Of course JDiggz fans could care less about that. It’s obviously shot in Toronto on a leftover Jackie Chan movie set, which doesn’t really evoke London or Brighton, but JDiggz looks just about as wobbly and uncomfortable on a scooter as Phil Daniels.
Remember that time we had an idea for a regular feature and only kept it up for three weeks? Check back next week and see if we can break our record!
Via ScooterDiva‘s Twitter feed: A fan of Modculture.info sent them three great photos of his parents on their Lambretta LDs in the fifties. You see so many celebrity photos, and so many promo photos, but it’s rare to catch the pre-mod scooter era in candid family photography.
After teasing America with mostly unobtainable European tidbits, the Adidas Originals/Vespa clothing and shoe line is hitting the U.S. in full force with five launch parties at U.S. Adidas Original stores over the next week:
Berkeley, CA July 23 6-8 PM
Chicago, IL July 23 6-8 PM
Georgetown, DC July 23 6-8 PM
Miami, FL July 23 6-8 PM
Portland, OR July 24 6-8 PM
(Click on the city for the specific invitation)
These “Private Shopping Events” include a 20% discount and a gift with an $80+ purchase (I’m told anything that’s sold out or unavailable in-store can be ordered online at the event with the discount). Visitors can enter to win a customized Adidas Originals Vespa S-50.
No rally season is complete without a Mods vs Rockers rally, seems like every city has one now, but Chicago’s (run by Ton-Up Chicago) gets bigger and better every year. I couldn’t make it this time, but Jordan sent a bunch of great photos:
Continue reading “Chicago Mods vs Rockers 5 photos”
Chad Schaefer (months ago) passed along five great stories from TIME Magazine’s newly-available-online archives. They were decades-old to begin with, so you’ll forgive the delay. Here are some excerpts, click the title to see the full stories.
TIME, October 17, 1955
…Italian motor-scooter enthusiasts, often harshly criticized for their desire to dominate the road, were still glowing at [79-year-old Pius XII’s] understanding words to a group of Vespa riders: “Those who complain of your noise, do they ever think that your speed may take you to church in time for Mass, or that you may be rushing a sick person to the hospital? Be patient with those who abuse you.”…
TIME, August 14, 1964
… Suddenly, the kids began ranging through town in packs, stopping traffic, banging on cars, chanting (“Up the Mods”), looking for trouble. They raided cafes for dishes and glasses to throw, knives and forks to brandish, chased each other up the beaches and down the streets under a hail of rocks and crockery. On the promenade, herds of noisy Rocker motorcycles roared incessantly; buzzing them in hand-to-handlebar combat were enough Mod motor scooters to hold mass Vespa services.…
TIME, January 13, 1967
…the New York police have found a way to let one man cover the ground of five: the motor scooter. Police Commissioner Howard R. Leary has already checked out 575 cops on 80 Vespas and Lambrettas. And he has just asked for funds to buy 300 more. Eventually, he wants all 2,000 patrolmen to mount up…
(no original title) TIME, June 13, 1969
…the next morning [U.S. Astronaut] McDivitt hustled out to the Air Show, where he and fellow Apollo 9 Crewmen David Scott and Russell Schweiclcart showed Cosmonauts Vladimir Shakalov and Alexei Yeliseyev around the American exhibit. The proceedings started somewhat stiffly; then a bottle of bonded bourbon was broken out and things began to loosen up. By the time the revelers reached the Russian exhibit with its plentiful stock of vodka, they were saluting everything from Snoopy to space medicine. Toasted to a light crisp, the space travelers finally piled onto their Vespas and scooted back to the American pavilion—two hours late for their ensuing engagement.…
TIME, February 7, 1972
…In 1970. only 55,000 Lambrettas were sold compared with 180,000 a decade earlier. Faced with the realities of a stronger economy, the late Innocenti’s son and nephew, who now run his company, have stopped production of the Lambretta in Italy but will keep a parts depot. They are arranging a deal with the Indian government and a Bombay company to move Lambretta production to India beginning in 1974…
Any time you feel your scooter obsession is way out of control, just be thankful you’re not into Blythe dolls. Or, like our friend Ana, way too into both.
This is both the saddest and funniest story ever, for too many reasons to count.
Ah, 1994. Back then I was going out to see bands three nights a week and spending $50 at the record store every night. I didn’t have a scooter yet, but I noticed the mod revival revival revival going on in Engerland and that (among other things) probably had some effect on my scanning the classifieds for old Vespas a year later. As a musicophile and anglophile since high school, I’ve certainly read my fair share of NMEs and Melody Makers, so when I came across Archived Music Press, it was heaven. Continue reading “Melody Maker’s Mod revival revival revival.”