One of the cool things about being a year older than most of the kids on the street I was brought up in 1968, was the difference between wanting a replica Chitty Chitty Bang Bang or the iconic Mustang drove by Steve McQueen in Bullitt. Both films were released in 1968, I was 8, and very much appreciated that I got both. One for my birthday and one for Christmas, only the Chitty Chitty Bang Bang survives to this day in a well- battered form, but what of that Mustang!
By the 1970s a whole sway of films featured iconic cars. In 1972s blaxploitation film Super Fly we had the Cadillac Eldorado, grotesquely named ‘the pimp machine’. James Bond drove and spun over a river in his AMC Hornet, 1974’s The Man with the Golden Gun. in 1977 Burt Reynalds had kicked off his Smokey and the Bandit franchise, which often featured the Pontiac Trans Am. But nothing compared to McQueen’s Mustang, not even (sacrilege) James Bonds, Aston Martin DBS. which made an appearance in Sean Connery’s last great Bond film Diamonds are Forever.
McQueen always, to me, cut the cool maverick anti-hero in his Ford Mustang GT Fastback and before videos, DVD’s, satellite and cable this impatient youngster would endure the whole film just to watch the mesmerising car chase through San Francisco.
Plenty of people have lusted over that Highland Green Mustang, which has over-time achieved legendary status. Although it was not until much later that I fully appreciated Lao Schifrin’s original score that tracks the various moods and action of the film to perfection. It took until 2009 for the never-before-released original recording of the score, as heard on the movie, to be made available.
My tribute to McQueen’s Ford Mustang GT Fastback is the Shelby (Cobra) GT-350, built between 1965 and 1970 by the American the high-performance vehicle manufacturer founded by former racing driver Carroll Shelby. The most famed car in American cinema, sold for $3.4 million at auction in Florida during 2020.
Cuts released their second album Unreal on the Village Green label towards the backend of last year, a progression from the 2018 A Gradual Decline, album.
Unreal brings texted vocals and beats to the mix. As one observer suggests Cuts are, “The sound of a world collapsing and it is sublime.” I could not put it better myself. The person behind the Cuts project is Anthony Tombling Jr.
Anthony’s work also ventures into the world of the visual arts, film-making and contributing to film soundtracks. Unit 3, where his film output materialises is a treasure trove of creative collaborations with community and campaign groups, as well as the likes of Alan Moore, Michael Sheen, Beak> and Massive Attack. The sublime soundtrack to the film Ex-Machina on Invada Records features Cut’s goose pimple raising Bunsen Burner track. A track that also brought the TV series ‘Person of Interest’ to its finale.
The Dinky model I used in this piece is from around 1951/2 and is not for sale given it already has an owner. The real Trojan vans, by the way, were manufactured in Croydon, London. They used diesel and petrol engines, as well as a revolutionary electric-powered version in 1951 known as the ‘Electrojan’. It may be difficult to comprehend that 70 years ago our grandparents were ahead of their time when it comes to alternatives to fossil fuel but, they did.
The third toy vehicle from the lockdown production line (under the stairs) is my attempt at replicating the original Pink Floyd tour van, a Bedford, from the mid-1960s.
Pink Floyd are one of those bands who been consistent throughout my musical journey, I bought my first Floyd album in the mid-70s, ‘Wish You Were Here.’ Legend has it that on the day the band were completing the mix for the albums opening track “Shine On You Crazy Diamond” an overweight man with shaven head and eyebrows entered, carrying a plastic bag. Nobody recognised him until Gilmour identified him as Syd Barrett. The photograph (left) is from the Pink Floyd archive and contains the original Bedford van with Nick Mason loading his drum kit (not sure if this is copyright infringement?). The remainder of the band can be seen peering out of the house window. The model has been refurbished from an old 1960s Dinky Bedford van.
The second vehicle off the lockdown production line (under the stairs) is dedicated to the ensemble of Cuban musicians known as the Buena Vista Social Club. A project directed by Juan de Marcos González and produced by Ry Cooder.
Capturing the music of pre-revolutionary Cuba the subsequent album was recorded in March 1996, released in September 1997 and featured several Cuban musicians, like, Compay Segundo, Rubén González, and Ibrahim Ferrer, all retired, in their twilight years and would all pass on between 2003 and 2005.
The toy car itself is a refurbished 1950s Dinky Studebaker, which is reminiscent of those old American cars found cruising the roads of Havana, Cuba today. Paint stripped, primed, repainted with rust and copied of authentic replica decals from the members’ club in the Buenavista quarter of Havana, a popular music venue in the 1940s.
First off the lockdown production line (under the stairs) for sale and in aid of good causes is my homage to The Jam’s classic single The Eton Rifles released on 26th October 1979 and reached number 3 in the UK charts.
This model consists of a refurbished 1940s Dinky (#25C) flatbed truck toy, which has been stripped down and resprayed. The toy has an affixed billboard (cannot be removed) honouring two of the UK’s most elitist leaders. Eton educated duo Jacob William Rees-Mogg and Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson. The model is housed in a purpose-built display box, utilising the original sleeve artwork from the 7″ single enabling viewing of both sides of the billboard, allowing the viewer to focus their rightful frustration toward either of these self-serving shapeshifting elitist creeps.
All materials upcycled. If you would like to own, this one-off piece then drop me a line here with an offer and I’ll get in touch with you. 100% of any funds raised will then be passed onto an independent charity to support their work in these difficult times. On this occasion, the charity is the St. Matthews Project Brixton.
The St. Matthew’s Project is much more than just a football club, delivering a wide range of activities and development opportunities and offering support to young people on and off the football pitch. You can read more about this project here, along with how you can help and donate.
As we prepare to kick the ass of 2020 goodbye. I’d like to share one of my efforts, which has enabled me to maintain a certain level of sanity through this challenging year and in the absence of the 2020 Glastonbury Festival.
Once it dawned that we were in this for a long haul I assembled a small craft studio, under the stairs and started to track down, refurbish and rebuild vintage models and dingy cars…..with an added little twist.
Things started rather slowly after discovering a vintage Saturn 5 rocket kit online. Still, the rocket found a happy home pretty quickly. Since the rocket, 10 months in and 10 little projects are on their way to being completed, each project is aligned with one of my favourite bands/artists or reflect my personal politics. They all have an individual back story which I will share.
Where an individual model reflects a passion for a particular band or artist I have been in contact with them and the plan is to auction them off during 2021 with some additional merch to raise funds for two local charities in Bristol.
I don’t class myself anywhere close to being a master model maker, far from it, where my father had honed his skills since his childhood. My skill level is rather basic, albeit deployed with enthusiasm and a rye sense of humour. With all the shit going down, I just wanted to find some time and some way to give a shit.
If you’ve never come across Johnny Dowd, his musical style may be difficult to define although the term maverick is often applied. Zappa, Beefheart, Waits, Cave and a big drop of wry, dry humour forced into a kitchen blender on full speed and left unattended to spin. Amongst his various release’s I tend to migrate back to the No Regrets album, 2012.
There are individual books which just enter the psyche from where we do not know. A passing glimpse on a bookshop shelf. A casual reference in the footnote of another book, or maybe a brief mention while in a discussion. I’m not sure how or why I ended up ordering Hector Abad’s memoir Oblivion. As an author, I have never come across his name or indeed his father, whose story inhabits each of the books 261 pages.
Hector Abad’s father was a prominent medical doctor, university professor and human rights advocate in Colombia. He was murdered in 1987 by those closely associated with the countries wealthy elites, government and military of the day.
The book is not merely a memoir to commemorate his fathers’ life and the subjects he fought for, which ultimately cost him his life. Abad also shines a light on the complicated relationship seldom explored between son and father. The tone, the issues and writing make it a joy to read. Its a genuinely lovely, enjoyable, thought-provoking and tender book, which goes beyond a son and family suffering the cruellest of losses, but a celebration of love, life and acknowledgement the world would be a much darker place without people like Héctor Abad Gómez.