Wednesday, May 7, 2014

"Mods: The New Religion, The Style And Music Of The 1960's Mods"

No book in my life time has garnered more enthusiasm from mod cognoscenti than Paul "Smiler" Anderson's long awaited "Mods: The New Religion, The Style And Music Of The 1960's Mods". Not since Richard Barne's famed "Mods" book has there been such an extensive, in detail mods eye view of the Sixties U.K. mod scene.

What makes this book a notch above all comers is it's largely made up of first hand recollections from the people who were there on both the mod scene AND the music scene.  None of this usual bullshit of some hack spreading the oft told factual musical inaccuracies regurgitated for decades like "Rod Stewart played harmonica on "My Boy Lollipop" or "The High Numbers lifted "Zoot Suit" from "Country Fool" by the Showmen". No, not at all.  The musicians quoted are too numerous to list but to give an example of a few what you get are recollections about the Sixties U.K. mod scene from Ian McLagan, Geno Washington, Derek Morgan, Jimmy James, Eddie Floyd, Siggy Jackson (Blue Beat records founder), Martha Reeves, Chris Farlowe, Zoot Money, Mick Eves ( Georgie Fame's Blue Flames), Owen Grey, Eddie Phillips, Andy Ellison, Phil May, Count Prince Miller (Jimmy Jame's Vagabonds) etc. Interestingly there seems to be an emphasis on bands that are often overlooked in the pro-American r&b/soul element of the mod scene like The Creation, The Birds and The Eyes and strangely, The Love Affair. There are amazing accounts by Motown and Stax musicians about their visits to Britain, their interaction with mods and fans and appreciative British artists. There are stories from British bands about their mod followings, their gigs, recordings and TV show appearances. Entire chapters are devoted to clothes, Motown/Stax, scooters, the Brighton/Margate riots, ska, the "Ready Steady Go" TV program, British home grown r&b, British based record labels devoted to the sounds beloved by mods, record collecting, DJ's and separate chapters on various important mod clubs (ie The Scene, The Birdcage etc) and playlists compiled by club DJ's and regulars for each of the clubs profiled. An even stronger element of the book's musical aspect is the photos.  There are few photos in this book that most of us have seen before. And that goes not only for pics of mods themselves but bands as well.  For instance there's a photo of David Bowie and Buzz on a go cart track, Lemmy hanging out with one of The Birds next to their van etc. And there's a host of scans of 45 labels and 7", LP and E.P. sleeve scans for eye candy on top of gig and club poster reproductions and trade adverts for records.

Then there are the first hand accounts of the mods themselves. There are a slew of personal photos of mods in their finest, on their scooters, in clubs and shops many with corresponding stories and in depth recollections to go along with the photos, all meticulously put together like a historical document with none of the dry academic slant that sadly becomes rather prevalent when authors seek to become so analytical on "mod". Here you get the people who were there in the Sixties talking freely about it all and great snaps straight from personal collections and not news services. None of these personal reminiscences are dry, they're all presented in detail, with passion and  humor.

And like any good story there's an ending too.  The culprits for the demise or decline of mod are often blamed on Swingin' London, flower power, skinheads etc.  Interestingly many of the personal recollections blame it on age and the premise that people simply grew out of it or got married and "settled down", got bored or just moved onto other things like psychedelia and flower power. One indication of this is DJ Jeff Dexter's playlist for the Tiles Club in '67 that sees The Soft Machine, The Pink Floyd, Jimi Hendrix and The Creation nestled among Prince Buster, Roy C, Alvin Robinson and The Temptations!! There's little or no indication of the mod to skinhead transition that's often cited (though they are allotted some mention) but there have already been numerous books to document that.

All in all I have purchased pretty much every large and/or illustrated book on "mod" that's been published in the past 34 years and as mentioned earlier NONE of them since "Mods" have a patch on "this.  If you are a mod, were a mod or plan to be one or have a passing interest in the era you will be no better served than by a book of this caliber which is well worth every penny.

"Mods: The New Religion, The Style And Music Of The 1960's Mods" is available direct from Amazon.

Special credit is due to Mocky Marzan de Cabo from whom I nicked the collage idea photo above from.

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