Modernism

I love mod. I love the whole aesthetic- the clothes, the shoes, the coats, the hair, the outlook. It’s old hat I guess, but it’s made a deep impression on me, increasingly as the years go by. I was just old enough to be affected at some level by the Quadrophenia inspired mod revival of the late 70s, although I couldn’t claim to have been an eleven year old mod. Like Roots Manuva said ‘Brand new, you’re retro’- if you don’t want to dress like every other bugger in suburban south Manchester but want something that can work on a daily basis, mod works. I often find myself cooing at over-priced vintage coats, desert boots, Chelsea boots and brogues, three button jackets, striped blazers, the stuff in the Fred Perry Outlet.

One of the great things about the mod story is that the original mods of the late 50s and early 60s loved modern Black American music- r ‘n’ b, modern jazz, blues. Every mod revival since has been primarily guitar based, mainly due to the sounds created by the 60’s mod bands, who took their love of soul and r ‘n’ b and shook it up with guitar, bass and drums, The Who and The Small Faces being the best known. Ironically the source material isn’t too far away from the starting points of rockabilly, who favoured their Black US jump music crossed with country, but that’s an aside. In the 90’s Oasis and Blur and a succession of major label ‘indie’ bands pillaged mod for looks and stylings. A few years previously the Acid Jazz scene borrowed heavily, with a more authentic stress on Black American influenced dance music. The Jam did more than anyone to popularise it before that, and Weller had to reject it and his army of parka’d followers to move forward but The Style Council were as mod as anything else he did. As was the more trad mod stuff of the 90s- Wild Wood, Stanley Road et al. What I think some people have found suspect about it is the sense of style over substance, that the clothes were the most important aspect- but most British music/youth movements have been based around dress, which was one reason why everything seemed so dull, from say 1996, through to the early 00s. No tribes, no rules, no style. The last genuine, groundshaking youth movement in this country was acid house, and that had it’s own look and aesthetic, just as strong as mod. I suppose mod’s various revivals have been associated with guitar rock rather than forward looking dance music, which tends to attract a laddish audience and everthing that goes with that. More’s the pity.

In the 60s The Creation released several great mod records. Eddie Philips pioneered playing the guitar with the violin bow (and look what that led to). They looked sharp. They made music that was ‘red with purple flashes’.They had some great tunes, including this one- Biff! Bang! Pow!. This is souped up r ‘n’ b. It also gave Alan McGee the name for a short lived band and ultimately the name for his record label. Dig it. Youth explosion.

Biff! Bang! Pow!.mp3