Friday 18 October 2019

We Are The Mods, We Are The Mods (Again)

Did Quadrophenia spark a Mod Revival in 1979, or was it already happening?
Well, it didn't to it any harm did it.

Despite Punk's believed ethos of (seemingly) destroying all that had come before it, it did actually open up and several bands looked backwards for inspiration.  A possibly simplistic statement of Punk Rock is "sped up Chuck Berry riffs", and that's probably not too far from the truth.

As Punk died and splintered into Post-Punk, Goth, Art-Rock, and whatever other titles bestowed by the music press, one band stuck to their original stance.
The Jam, in truth, were never a Punk band - but in a case of "right place, right time" their adrenaline-fuelled stage show, backed up with the Mod look and Union Jacks a-plenty caught the attention.
As 1977 turned into 1978, The Jam upped the Mod quotient - their album 'All Mod Cons' was released in late 1978 - and the beginnings of a new "scene" started to appear.

As with most things musical, the Mod Revival started as a London-centric thing - with the Bridge House in Canning Town and The Wellington in Waterloo being two particular hot-beds.
After the tribalism of Punk, Working Class youth were looking/waiting for the next "thing" - and why not the look back to "Clean Living In Difficult Circumstances" ethos of Mod.
The new bands found support and a home in the music press with Garry Bushell (in Sounds) regularly featuring his new enthusiasms (when not bigging up the Oi scene).
Whatever anyone thinks of Garry Bushell (personally, I think him a bit of a smug pillock), he did seem to have his ear to the ground, and knew a real "Sound From The Street" when he heard one.  He called it a "Renewal" rather than a "Revival".

One of the first records of this burgeoning movement was the Mods Mayday compilation, recorded (unsurprisingly) on May Day 1979 at the Bridge House, Canning Town.  The album featured the bands Squire, Merton Parkas, Small Hours, Beggar, and Secret Affair.

Secret Affair's "Time For Action" (released August 1979) was perhaps the clarion call of the movement - despite Secret Affair (sort of) eschewing the Mod Revival, and setting themselves up as "The Glory Boys" (which was the same sort of thing really, but was a "new" thing rather than a revival).
Secret Affair were not the first to release their wares, but they were one of the earliest to make an impression on the charts, radio and mass media.
And that timing also coincided with the release of Quadrophenia which brought further focus to the Mod look, style, ethos and culture.  And it didn't do it any harm - bands popped up everywhere as record companies (burned by Punk) jumped on another bandwagon.

Secret Affair, The Chords and The Purple Hearts were perhaps the Big 3.
But others made their presence known including The Lambrettas, Back To Zero, Nine Below Zero, The Jolt, The Teenbeats, Small Hours and others - all managing a couple of singles, and maybe an album.  Not always to large scale success, but enough to sate their dreams and ensure a legacy.

But the Mod Revival (or Renewal?) was not to last - by 1982, Paul Weller announced his intention to split The Jam, and the Mod world seemed to split with it.
Early Style Council (notably "Speak Like A Child" and "A Solid Bond In Your Heart" had echoes of the 1978-82 period), but they were moving to a more soulful area - the Revival bands who combined the 60s RnB and added Punk/New Wave into the mix were no longer in vogue.  Bands like The Truth and Nine Below Zero enjoyed minor success.  A brief (second) revival headed by The Prisoners came and went in the mid-80s, and then Mod-isms became appropriated by Britpop bands, notably with Blur's second album 'Modern Life Is Rubbish' re-claiming Britishness coupled a Mod-look, and the appearance of Phil Daniels "Parklife".  Ocean Colour Scene appeared to take it one stage further, and almost created Mod Revival Revival.

Cherry Red Records know about this sort of stuff, and have released a 4CD Box Set ('Millions Like Us - The Story Of The Mod Revival 1977-1989') pulling together the key bands and tracks of the period.  And a real treat it is too.
But if you haven't got time for 100 tracks, then luxuriate in these 3:

Secret Affair - Time For Action

The Chords - The British Way Of Life

The Purple Heart - Jimmy

1 comment:

  1. Like the look of that boxset. Currently sold out on Cherry Red's website, going for a ton secondhand on Amazon!