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Tuesday, 4 January 2011

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

8 comments:

drew said...

Mods - bunch of elitist tossers. I knew one once who travelled everywhere by public transport, not through any love of the planet or anything but it meant he could stand and didn't get his clothes all creased, for fuck sake.
Never met one with any political convictions yet but they would go into endless detail about how much the suit, shirt or shoes cost them!

swiss adam said...

Heh heh. I had a feeling you'd leave a comment with something along those lines Drew.

dickvandyke said...

Notwithstanding oor Drew's wee rant, a smashing piece SA.

h said...

Good post

Anonymous said...

As a '85/86 trouserist I can only come back to Drew's post with a "well I wasn't going to ride a facking PK50 at 16 and crease my tailored hipsters, man!". Many of us were quite political for the left and a lot were quite right leaning. I gave it all up for ladies, ecstasy, mental parties and not being 16 anymore. But it didn't half give me a grounding in the greatest music ever made. And I'll always chose Brooks Brothers over the Outhere Brothers.

Cool post!

Chin chin!
Ted Loaf

drew said...

And there fucking scooters were ridiculous, those mirrors and lights, how to make a thing of beauty look ugly and crass and they though that they had taste.

I'm not giving them desert boots either.

Mr A.N. said...

Happy new year Adam. A great, well thought out post. I never really understood mod myself -maybe that's why I've spent most of my life wearing fairly shit clothes -however I like the irony of wearing a rigidly prescribed uniform so as to express your individuality...

Simon said...

Lol Drew, I went on CND marches, anti-nazi rallies, and ended my 80s on the big Poll Tax thing that ended up with the police charging the crowds on horseback.

I'm with Ted on this one.

To be fair to Drew there were some twats on the scene, closed to anything new, without two brain cells to rub together, but I'd say that about any of the old movements. I knew plenty of Goths and Skins and Scooterboys and Casuals who were complete and utter arseholes. The old saying about the clothes making the man, complete rubbish. If you're a twat you're a twat. It's not the cut of your cloth that defines that.

:)