Saturday, February 13, 2010

Ikea Rock

I know, I know, I'm supposed to be writing about Thailand, but some things just burn to be put into words. That said, this is a really stupid post, and I apologize in advance, but I was afraid that these images would stay with me forever if I didn't share them.

As a sort of preface, there seemed to be, in the 1970s, some self-selecting genetic mechanism that kept all attractive Swedes (except for one of the women in ABBA) out of rock and roll.

Exhibit 1, The Bob Candys:

Cool name, too, huh? The Bob Candys. Note the careful placement of the cymbal in the lower left corner of the photo, leading one to believe that the Bob Candys were intensely, perhaps even primitively, rhythmic. And once you spot that, you can see it in their eyes. Can't you?

Exhibit 2, Zenits!!!

Now, I don't know about you, but the first thing I noticed was the matching collar-and-cuff motif, looking like the fabric had been snatched directly from beneath a bottle of Chianti in a budget Italian restaurant, perhaps in Addis Ababa. Then I realized how friendly the Zenits all look - so unlike the overprivileged, put-upon pout we've come to expect from American bands, you know, the "I'm so cool I can barely put up with the camera" look. So, as an antidote, I present The Zenits -- my nominee for the band you'd like to have next door, if you had a really, really big yard and high hedges.

Exhibit 3, Tage Ȍst:

First, note the groundbreaking umlaut. In the seventies!! Years ahead of the umlaut avalanche that made bands such as Mötorboat and Häppy Cät so distinctive. Okay, I made up Häppy Cät, but you know what I mean. And then, look at the instrumentation. Going counterclockwise from upper right, it seems that Tag Öst played: (1) friendly hand; (2) um, accordion, (3) um, um, violin; (4) what is that thing, a typewriter? No, it's a týpëwrïtër. Or is it? Only Tag Öst knows for sure. And they're not telling.

Exhibit 4, TEDDY BOYS:

No. I can't. This one is just too easy. We'll move along to . . .

Exhibit 5, TICKIES:

In his best-selling, comprehensive biography of the band, Swedish musicologist Sven Sven says: The inspiration for the Tickies' groundbreaking costumes came late one night in the Stockholm flat of lead singer Öskar Ümlaut when he looked up from his second bottle of Aquavit to see an open book of matches on the table. "Smoked fish!" Öskar exclaimed aloud. "That's it!" The band quickly rose to the top of the charts, its concerts marked by thousands of fans holding up burning matches, but they plummeted into obscurity with the invention of the Bic lighter.

Exhibit 6, Gert Jonnys:

Let's see, now. Where to start. The Gert Jonnys had a brief but brilliant career, highlighted by their international hit, Kälories, Whöz Cöunting? and ending prematurely when all four members got into an elevator together, ignored the warning buzzer, and plummeted 29 stories to their death. Even today, however, they're remembered across Sweden via the chain of bakeries that bears their name. See? No cheap shots at the costumes.

There are LOTS more of these I could share with you, but I have work to do. I have to write about Thailand now.


  1. Be fair, Tim. Didn't all guys look like this in the 70's?


  2. I don't know, Beth, I don't think Tim looks old enough to remember how guys looked in the 70's. I however, am old enough!

    When I recently read BAD PENNY BLUES by Cathi Unsworth there were many references to the general category of Teddies or Teds. The books takes place in the early 60's in London.

    Interesting stuff which brought a smile and a laugh out loud from me.


  3. Hi Tim - this made my day. Probably my week. Thanks!


  4. Thanks, Tim, those images are now going to stay with me, forever. Exhibits 1 thru 6 are great exemplars of straight guys doing their best (worst?) impressions of how to dress gay.

    Umlauts are the reason I flunked high school German. The German language makes extensive use of umlauts. In comparison, the Swedish language uses many more umlauts, and also more K's, than German; therefore, Swedish is German on steroids and meth. No wonder Swedish groups don't succeed at rock 'n' roll. It's almost impossible to sing in German, utterly impossible in Swedish (try it, sometime). The only reason ABBA (a group I really liked) succeeded is because the group learned to sing in English (though it's debatable that they actually understood the words they were singing).

    Too bad you didn't provide a photo of ABBA. Guess I'll slide on over to YouTube, see if I can find something to refresh my memory.

    Oh, and maybe you could make the subject of your next Thailand post about Thai music, or Thai food, or Thai sticks, or mai Thais, or Thai weather (they have Thaiphoons, don't they?)

    And you thought your post was stupid.

  5. I knew these would strike a chord. Good taste truly is timeless.

    What I like about these bands is that they're just hopelessly, terminally uncool. I hate cool. I hate the whole global condescension upon which cool is based. One has to be superior to be cool.

    These guys have never heard of cool.

    And thanks for saying I probably don't remember what I looked in the 70s. Beth's pretty much right, in the 70s I looked more or less ... like ... these guys, although never with the matching cuffs and collars.

    Phil, I really had a thing for the blond (female) member of ABBA. And lately I've been watching old Ingmar Bergman movies, and I also have a thing for Bibi Andersson, Harriet Andersson, Ingrid Thulin (oh, my God, Ingrid Thulin in WILD STRAWBERRIES) and, of course, Liv Ullman. Old Bergman did very well in that department.

    What were we talking about?

    Great umlauts, Dorte. And Yrsa, I'm glad you laughed. I was worried this might be sort of broadly anti-Scandinavian or something.

    How about those Gert Johnnys, huh?