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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Forget Ab Fab. This is what the 60s really looked like

This picture of the HMV Shop in Oxford Street has been doing the rounds again today. Judging by the LP covers displayed at the back it appears to have been taken at Christmas 1965. The Beatles Rubber Soul has just come out and the shop is more than usually full.

The interesting thing is this is at the midway point of the Swinging 60s. This has been the year of the Rolling Stones' Satisfaction, Bob Dylan's Like A Rolling Stone and James Brown's Papa's Got A Brand New Bag. If you were to ask a film director to re-stage this scene he'd look at the date and suddenly it would be all paisley shirts, bell bottoms and op-art frocks which as you can see here was not the case.

This picture is a rare opportunity to examine the reality of the 60s rather than the version of it that's been propagated by Austin Powers films. The men have all got neatly-trimmed short hair and are wearing shirts and ties. There's a woman in a head scarf. The assistant behind the counter is in a nylon overall. The till has just run up 32 shillings, which was probably the price of one of those copies of the Beach Boys' Little Deuce Coupe stacked at the top above the listening booths.

11 comments:

  1. When you zoom in you can quite clearly see Ena Sharples at the counter with Richard Wattis looking on from the back. And, by Timothy, how the hell did Bez (in the Parka) break the time space continuum?

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  2. that headscarf woman is probably the one that used to come into the tape department and tell us about keeping her tapes in lead lined caskets so that the sun-spots didn't get them (yes, seriously!)

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  3. Yes. I like to think that The Ipcress File film was quite realistic in terms of location, manners, dress etc. Hope so anyway.

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  4. I think you just need to watch the Bob Dylan documentary, Don't Look Back, to see exactly how "unswinging" Britain was in 1965...

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  5. It must have been an interesting time in the five years between 1965 and 1970 - possibly some of the most profound social changes in recent times. A bit before my time, but it seems like Britain changed from being overwhelmingly respectable/establishment, deferent short hair/suits/ties to just about the opposite.

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  6. Some years ago The Washington Post magazine ran an article about the mid-1960s riots in Cambridge, Maryland. I was interested to see in the pictures that the segregationist watermen and the integrationist students were mostly dressed alike: white shirts with open collars, dark trousers (no jeans), and dark leather shoes. No male had hair to his shoulders.

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  7. A better man than me should be able to work out the single chart listing, therefore narrowing the picture down to a week. Come on - crack on (l'm busy)

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  8. Don't forget it was taken in December so it was probably freezing cold outside and heavy coats and scarves would have been more practical than paisley shirts and bell bottoms. Not that those things existed as early as 1965 anyway.

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  9. Anyone watching the London street scenes in the title sequence of Confessions of a Window Cleaner with no prior knowledge would probably date it at about 1965. It was made in 1974. (Only Robin Asquith's hair - of a length no working-class young man would have been seen dead with in the 1960s - and a rather splendid sky-blue Austin Maxi give the game away.)

    If period pieces set in the twentieth century are to be accurate, the extras and sets need to be dressed about ten years in the past.

    We didn't chuck stuff away as quickly back then.

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  10. Records Listed on the Board

    LPs 1 Rubber Soul: 2 Sound Of Music: 3 Help: 4 Mary Poppins: 5 A World Of Our Own: 6 My Generation: 7 My Fair Lady: 8 Farewell ? 9 Almost There 10 Robert & Elizabeth? 11 Cut Of Our Heads? 12 Joan Baez: 13 Magic Of The ? 14 Everythings Coming Up? 15 Joan Baez No 5: 16 West Side Story: 17 Shirley Bassey At The ? 18 Take In Last With: 19 Joan Baez In Concert No. 2: 20 Hits Of Yesterday


    Singles 1 Day Tripper/We can Work It Out: 2 The Carnival Is Over: 3 The River? 4 Wind Me Up: 5 Tears: 6 One Two Three: 7 A Lovers Concerto: 8 Maria: 9 Yesterday: 10 A Hard days Night: 11 Rescue Me: 12 Princess In Rags: 13 Zorba The Greek: 14 Lets Hang On: 15 Aint That Peculiar: 16 Get Off My Cloud: 17 My Generation: 18 It's My Life: 19 Happiness: 20 The War Lord: 21 Yesterday Man: 22 Positively 4th Street: 23 To Whom It May Concern: 24 My Ship Is Coming In: 25 Keep On Running: 26 My Girl:

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  11. I used to spend my lunchtime in HMV listening to records around 1965 when this photo was taken. The man working behind the till is Bob James. A lot of people in the photo are older than teenagers & would have been less fashionable. The girl near the till looks like she is wearing a mod brown suede jacket with a leather collar. Teenagers were still wearing stretch ski pants around this time with jumpers. Suede coats were popular. Mods were still around - see Original Modernists 1959 - 1966 on Facebook to see some of the clothes worn then.Trouser suits for girls were also fashionable around this time too.

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