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Do you love The Beatles? Or The Rolling Stones? Perhaps you fancy yourself as a political poet or are rejoicing in the fact that flares are back in. Either way, you need to head to the V&A in London to see You Say You Want a Revolution? Records and Rebels 1966 – 70. Immediately.
It’s a mesmerising trip through a decade of flower power, music, politics and rebellion. The exhibition is expertly organised and successfully links together all the important areas of the decade.
Wonderful 60s music is played through Sennheiser headsets and changes during different parts of the exhibition. I loved this extra touch of rock ‘n’ roll. It was SUPER exciting not knowing the playlist.
The exhibition includes the sections Consumerism, Festivals and Gatherings, Imagine and Posters, Politics and Protest.
Consumerism demonstrates a shift in consumer spending. The decade spawned a rise in a younger generation splurging on art, fashion and music. Heavily influenced by new advertising strategies, the affluent youth were having fun with their money.
Posters, Politics and Protest looks at the anti-war and anti-racism posters designed by students who opposed the state-controlled Western media. The American activist group Students for a Democratic Society is also cited. The group were called the ‘visionary call of the 1960s revolution’ and encouraged students to change society for the better and end racial divide and inequality.
Festivals and Gatherings mentions Bob Dylan’s first performance at the Newport Folk Festival on 25th July, 1965 with an electric guitar (which outraged purist folk fans).
The Woodstock room is outstanding. Made up to look like the iconic festival, it’s a fantastic experience. The room is centered around a replica of Keith Moon’s drum kit with bean bags scattered in the middle, so you can relax and listen to the music while pretending you’re actually at Woodstock.
As a HUGE Beatles’ fan, my inner fangirl squealed with delight upon seeing their memorabilia. John Lennon’s 1963 suit from The Beatles’ appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show is proudly displayed alongside his glasses from the 1965 film Help!.
Peter Blake’s original sketch for the Sgt. Pepper’s Hearts Club Band album cover is exhibited next to George Harrison’s purple velvet jacket he wore for an appearance on The Frost Programme in 1967. I could definitely see Noel Fielding wearing that.
“No matter how many raids and arrests the police make… there can be no final bust because the revolution has taken place within the minds of the young.”-Tom McGrath, Editor of International Times
Imagine showcases the peace ideology so prevalent in the 60s. It looks at how much we have to thank the decade for: multiculturalism, feminism, gay liberation, environmentalism and consumerism. It’s emotive and insightful when you consider the struggles in today’s society.
Other highlights include Twiggy’s clothing line, Sandie Shaw’s pink dress from the 1967 Royal Variety Show and fragments of Jimi Hendrix’s white Stratocaster that he played during his legendary performance at London’s Saville Theatre on 4th June, 1967.
A touching moment is the exhibition finale: listening to John Lennon’s Imagine and admiring the jacket he wore in the video.
It’s relaxing to close your eyes and listen to the words, albeit with a touch of sadness because you realise the world will never really “Live as one”. It’s a shame the lyrics can’t reflect today’s society a little better.
It’s a popular viewpoint of those who grew up in the decade of flower power that as the 60s ended, so did optimism. The 1970s marked the sign of different times.
The music industry changed. The Beatles broke up (Paul McCartney’s handwritten note saying he was leaving The Beatles is displayed) and Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix and Jim Morrison died.
I highly recommend You Say You Want a Revolution? Records and Rebels 1966 – 70. It makes you appreciate what everybody fought for in the 60s so that we could have what we have today. It’s humbling to say the least.
You Say You Want a Revolution? Records and Rebels 1966 – 70 is on until 26th February 2017. Tickets cost £16. For more information, go to vam.ac.uk/revolution
Main image: The Beatles Illustrated Lyrics, ‘Revolution’ 1968 by Alan Aldridge © Iconic Images, Alan Aldridge