The Birth of British Rock

An engaging insight into the fireworks Rock and Roll brought to the UK from past eras.

By Manchester's Finest | Last updated 11 February 2011

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Image by Harry Hammond

Where: The Lowry, Salford Quays M50 3AZ – 0161 817 4110   map

When: Sat 15 Jan – Sun 10 April 2011


What: An engaging insight into the fireworks Rock and Roll brought to the UK from past eras. You’ll want to slick your hair back,  raid grandparents vinyl  collection & jitterbug to the local dance hall.

Review: That Rock and Roll Clique.

Flicking aimlessly through monstrous amounts of Facebook snaps, you occasionally get ‘the one’. The one that captures the atmosphere of the event. The single image that truly speaks a thousand words (profanities or otherwise).  The one you choose for your profile picture. The visual forever remaining as evidence of your escapades. If I were to plonk you on ‘This is Your Life’, that image would be included indubitably.

Rare, but brilliant when it happens.

Imagine every image you take becoming iconic, the defining ‘one’. Harry Hammond had the gift. He captured the delivery of rock and roll to emerging social classes and documented the changing of the tide for British Culture as a by-product of his photography passion. Preserved and toured by the V&As Department of Theatre and Performance the Lowry presents a fragment of his startling collection spanning from the dulcet tones of bluesy 40’s to the global-hype mania of the 60s. The Birth of British Rock: Photographs by Harry Hammond

The blueprint of the exhibition is simplistic, which serves to engage with the atmosphere trapped in the pieces; you feel an instant connection with either the energy, subject or both.

Shake, rattle and rolling around the exhibition, the excitement of the age was almost tangible as the NME lead photographer seemed to connect and interact with the burgeoning scene, and scenesters of the time. His approach was modish and a cinch, as former Rolling Stoner Manager Andrew Loog Oldham noted;

“He always stood out away from the other snappers who loathed us, wished us no good, and couldn’t wait to get back to snapping Vera Lynn”

From Cliff Richards ducks arse bouffant, to a band actually named the ‘Crew Cuts’ Hammond seemed to pick moments so aptly. Unpolished and raw, he gave the new image conscious mass market what they wanted. Reflecting a zestful era, Hammond had his subjects at ease and the results are emotive, perceptive and engrossing.

Accompanying the stimulating visuals is an bemusing interactive quiz. I’d consider myself quite the tune whiz, but alas, I’ll have to do more homework as I only got 1/16. Still, alongside the seniors I observed with, I too was transported back to an era gone by. Like a trip down a fictitious memory lane. A bloody rock and roll memory lane. Facebook images haven’t got a patch on these gems.