Mod Revival / Shadows & Reflections 1979 – 1985
1 THE JAM / To Be Someone / All Mod Cons November 1978
2 THE JOLT / See Saw / Single B Side February 1979
3 BEGGAR / Broadway Show / Mods Mayday ’79 June 1979
4 SQUIRE / Walking Down The Kings Road / Single A Side June 1979
5 PURPLE HEARTS / Millions Like Us / Single A Side July 1979
6 SECRET AFFAIR / Time For Action / Single A Side August 1979
7 LONG TALL SHORTY / 1970’s Boy / Single A Side August 1979
8 BACK TO ZERO / Your Side Of Heaven / Single A Side September 1979
9 THE CIRCLES / Opening Up / Single A Side October 1979
10 THE TEENBEATS / Strength Of The Nation / Single A Side November 1979
11 THE CHORDS / Maybe Tomorrow / Single A Side February 1980
12 SECRET AFFAIR / My World / Single A Side March 1980
13 THE CROOKS / All The Time In The World / Just Released April 1980
14 THE LAMBRETTAS / Da-A-A-Ance / Single A Side May 1980
15 Q-TIPS / Tracks Of My Tears / Q Tips August 1980
16 DEXYS MIDNIGHT RUNNERS / Plan B / Single A Side March 1981
17 NINE BELOW ZERO / Sugar Beat / Third Degree February 1982
18 MOOD SIX / Hanging Around / Single A Side May 1982
19 THE GENTS / Revenge / Single A Side April 1983
20 THE TIMES / This Is London / This Is London July 1983
21 THE PRISONERS / Hurricane / The Wisermiserdemelza November 1983
22 SMALL WORLD / First Impressions / Single A Side October 1984
23 THE UNTOUCHABLES / Free Yourself / Single A Side November 1984
24 FAST EDDIE / I Don’t Need No Doctor / 54321 Go Compilation March 1985
25 THE MOMENT / One Two They Fly / Single A Side April 1985
26 MAKIN’ TIME / Here Is My Number / Rhythm & Soul June 1985
Even at the height of punk’s year zero rhetoric, The Jam were wearing black, mohair suits and treating audiences to breakneck blasts through sixties R&B and Who covers. Their first two albums offered an insight into those influences but it wasn’t until the seminal All Mod Cons that Paul Weller nailed his colours firmly to the mod mast. Even then he successfully dodged questions about his allegiance, ever mindful of being aligned with any particular style. As Jam followers became more and more fanatical, they began to follow the band across Europe. The bonds of brotherhood that built up naturally led to the adoption of Weller’s dress sense and influences. And so, the mod revival or renewal was born, spawning bands of its own like The Jolt from Scotland, The Purple Hearts from Essex and The Chords from South London, who would all end up supporting Weller and Co.
While the burgeoning scene, based primarily around London, considered itself mod, it differed fundamentally from its sixties predecessor. Only the most recognisable aspects of the original style were adopted: hush puppies, Fred Perry’s, target t-shirts and green parkas daubed with the names of The Jam, The Who or both. And the music would have been unrecognisable to a sixties face. Initially, there were no mod discos, the earliest nights at mod central, The Wellington in Waterloo, or the Bridgehouse in Canning Town all featuring live bands playing Jam influenced loud, punky pop. The Mods Mayday ‘79 recordings though acted as a calling card for the whole scene, with mod being proclaimed punks natural successor by the music press as early as June 1979.
When the film of The Who’s Quadrophenia hit the streets in the summer of 1979, it struck a resounding chord with the tribal teenagers prowling the High Streets and precincts looking for action in the wake of punk. At that moment the so called revival hit the press and mod turned from a relatively small network of London scenesters thriving on exclusivity, into a massive international phenomenon. Record contracts flew around and before long mod bands were on Top Of The Pops converting even more new teens. One band though stood above the rest. Secret Affair had dominated the early nights at the Bridgehouse, attracting a fanatical following they nicknamed ‘The Glory Boys’. Fronted by the cocksure Ian Page, they were more experienced than their rivals and the only ones to forge a new sound true to the original mod spirit rather than The Jam or punk. They made an immediate chart impact, the unashamedly anthemic ‘Time For Action’ peaking at No 13 and selling 180,000.
Predictably, in the face of this huge popularity, less than nine months after their original proclamations of faith, the music press tarred mod with a wimpy, retrospective tag, while Ian Pages motormouth philosophising was used as a stick to beat the whole scene. But the real reason for the movement’s demise was the appearance of Two Tone, undeniably retrospective like mod but with a fresher, more dynamic, multi racial perspective. Add to that the weakening of the original revival ethic as a multitude of mercenary bands jumped on the mod bandwagon and the fall was predictable. Funnily enough, I got involved with promoting The Crooks, one of the most shameless of them all. Mod to them was nothing but the latest craze, despite the sharp suits, and they rode it for all it was worth before moving on. By the end of 1980 it was all over as Quadrophenia’s influence dissipated. Hardcore mods were already listening to other groups like the Q Tips, Dexy’s and Nine Below Zero, although none of them were mods per se.
Ironically, in 1981 the mod club scene had never been healthier. Out of the media spotlight, it simply went back underground, using fanzines and word of mouth to perpetuate itself. Those who had been young teenagers at the start, finally realised that mod was really all about British R&B, freakbeat, soul and jazz. All the new bands reflected those tastes and continued on their own merits rather than being a part of any fad. There was a brief last flowering in 1984 with Small World, The Moment, Makin Time and Fast Eddie but it failed to have an impact despite the hugely popular Untouchables from LA hitting the top 20. By 1986, most of the original movers and shakers had moved onto acid jazz, which strangely proved more mod than mod itself. However, a mod influence has prevailed ever since and continues in various guises, just look at Liam Gallagher, Oasis and the modfather himself, Paul Weller.