Wednesday, 23 April 2014

rock at the british pathé archive (part 2)

Here's another dip into the British Pathé Newreels, the year is 1965 and the Beat boom is well underway. With many young men (mainly) queueing up to get hold of an electric guitar just like their heroes played there also came one big problem.
In the mid 60's imported American guitars to the UK were far too expensive and rare so your average aspiring Hank Marvin were looking to get hold of anything their own considerably lower budget would meet. Hence an avalanche of cheap copies on the market. Many imported from Holland. All well and good for twanging around on in the bedroom but once it became a bit more serious and you got down the youth club well... you had to have something with a bit more elan to plug into your Vox Amp.
But in 1963, Jim Burns along with co-founder Alice Farrell had come up with the smart move of manufacturing their own brand of electric guitars for the homegrown rocker in the making.
The Burns workshop and small team of technicians had a renowned reputation in their early days for some very original thinking when it came to guitar design and electrics, it's even said Lennon went to him for some tweaking to his Rickenbacker. That's early Beatles days right.
Anyway by the mid 60's the Burns brand of guitars had expanded rapidly and were to become a classic of the era and latterly described as the British Fender due mainly to it's similar styling. They're now highly collectable with some rare models reaching eye watering sums.

As a result the Burns brand was now a real credit to UK business, so with that now seen as a somewhat curious and unexpected addition to the economy along comes British Pathé to let everyone know what actually is going on in this mysterious world of guitar manufacturing.
The narrator informs us of how a team of craftsmen and technicians are all going to be part of assembling just one of these guitar things... "all this to make a bedlam of adolescent noise" he says cheerily, over the meandering tuneless noodling of the saxophone bedlam going on in the background which was presumably considered real music.

You'll note here the divide between the adolescent teenager and the adult is still very much in full swing as it was the year earlier in the 1964 post on British Pathe.
We now see a man testing the sound quality of one of the newly built guitars and the narrator adds
"Surprising when you consider the noise they make that each and every guitar is scientifically tuned just as if they were REAL musical instruments!".
Ah the ever present condescending tone of the adult viewing this laughably child like toy. All intoned in a plumby English public school accent.
Yes indeed the 1960's teenager had much to rebel against.. and that was just the accent !

So now the shiny new guitar is finished and held aloft for us. It happens to be a Burns Shortscale Jazz and probably wouldn't be first choice for a beat group (still capture right).
But the tour of the Burns factory is now cut off rather sharply as Part 2 was obviously in the can and yet to be edited on.
The guitar is now to be handed to an actual beat group member who is going to use this new fangled device to make that said "noise".
We can go to that below Part1.

And that Beat group is... 'Unit Four Plus Two' performing their hit song "Never Been in Love Like This Before" in a nightclub setting.

Actually it was named as the Ad Lib Club, London and there didn't appear to be an audience so presumably the Pathé crew thought that a good location and anyway handy for a drink after the shoot. A good day out for all. They probably had a few of these locations lined up around London for the right moment.
Trouble is, that wasn't quite as seamless a link as might have been hoped for because the guitar handed to one 'Unit Four Plus Two' member is not the one he receives in Part Two.
In fact that doesn't look like a Burns guitar at all. However on the next shot we do see a close up of another 'Unit' actually playing a now very rare Burns TR2 semi-solid body. (still capture right). The bass player also plays a Burns model.
The whole thing's shot in superb quality. Another slice of life in the swinging 60's world of Pathé newsreels. As seen at your local bug hutch this weekend.

Part 1. The Burns Factory

Part 2. 'Unit Four Plus Two'