Monday, October 24, 2005

"Allo Mrs Jones, 'ows yer Bert's lumbago?".


Of all the youth subcultures to emerge in the post war period, the Mods were probably the most distinctive. They epitomised the magpie like British habit of nicking the best influences from abroad and melding them to produce something distinct.

Their clothing was inspired by fifties Italian style: think Cary Grant in ‘Roman Holiday’. They took as their musical template not the smooth processed sound of Motown, but its rougher edged, bluesier, counterpart Stax. They adopted the credo: ‘clean living in difficult circumstances’.

They evolved naturally over the years, developing their own house bands the Who and the Small Faces. Their love of dancing led to the development of a separate soul music centred in the north of England: Northern Soul.

They were the first youth group to use drugs, pills usually; not the cannabis and hallucinogens favoured by their middle class counterparts. They took speed at the weekends to enable them to stay up dancing until 4 in the morning.

They were a short lived group, emerging in 1960 and more or less disappearing by 1967. Their influence has, however, proved remarkably resilient. There was a brief Mod revival in the early 1980’s which was, frankly, a bit sad. They were just slavishly imitating their predecessors, not trying to develop anything new.

The game looked to be over. Then a pair of monobrowed Mancunian gobshites, Oasis, popped up on the Chart Show. I remember thinking at the time: Christ….those are northern Mods. Blur appeared at the same time and were, to all intents and purposes, southern Mods.

The Britpop period was short lived, and produced more style than substance. I thought that was the end of it. Then, last year, a band called Franz Ferdinand appeared out of nowhere and looked like, you guessed it, Mods. You just can’t keep them down; the cheeky cunts.

22 comments:

MHN for short said...

Don't forget my new favourite band, The Killers. They're bringing back the 80's sort of sound with a mix of OMD, the Smiths, the Ramones and a bit o' the Beatles.

garfer said...

Yep, touch of Mod about 'em. Few other influences as well.

S.I.D. said...

One of the best accidents I ever seen coming into casualty was a mod in 1984. He had one of those long parkas with a ridiculous long toggle hanging from it at the back. He had sat on his moped and it got caught in his rear wheel and ripped coat and him off in one swoop. He was a bit scratched but parka was shredded.Prat

garfer said...

That was probably a fishtail parka.
The indentikit Mods of the early '80's were prats.

surly girl said...

like isadora duncan and that scarf. or something.

i sort of liked franz ferdinand but when we went to see jimmy carr the other week they played the whole of the first album in the interval (by that i mean that the cd was played over the PA, not that franz ferdinand popped in and showcased the album during the intermission, frantically shouting over the sound of people muttering "fuck's sake" as those stupid little wooden spoons snapped on the first attempt at levering ice cream out of the miniscule tub) and i sort of didn't like it much. kaiser chiefs are good tho.

carry on.

S.I.D. said...

Didn't know they had a name.And their purpose was? It always reminded me of an incontinence pad hanging down.

garfer said...

There's something slightly wanky about Franz Ferdinand. I'm always a bit dubious about lead singers who suddenly become famous in their early thirties. If they are that good why didn't they make it ten years earlier.
Haven't heard the new album yet so I can't comment.

Sniffy said...

I'm not mad keen on any of these new bands that sound like 80s bands: Franz Ferdninand, Kaiser Chiefs, Killers - all very boring and a bit too shouty. They all sound like talentless school bands to me.

Perhaps I'm getting old.

I was there for the early 80s mods revival (age12-14 at school). Some people took it really seriously, with Small Face, The Who and similar bands' insignias embroidered on the backs of their parkers. They were all heavily into The Jam too. Each to their own.

garfer said...

What gos round comes round I suppose. I increasingly have a sense of deja vu.
When flares came back I couldn't believe it.

Sniffy said...

Distress flares.

garfer said...

Yeah, I think I was a passenger on the Titanic in a previous incarnation.

Sniffy said...

Some flares look ridiculous (the ones that I tend to buy), but I think "boot cuts" are generally OK.

garfer said...

My sister (much younger than me) went through a faze wearing huge voluminous flares with 28" bottoms.
When she walked she looked like she was floating.

Piggy and Tazzy said...

Do you know, I sometimes wonder if you live in a museum. Where the heck do you come up with this stuff?

Saying that though... The 80's, oh yes, them was the days. Memories of my youth are flooding back to me now. Thankfully without the Gary Numan, St. Winnifreds School Choir, Goombay Dance Band or the Buck's Fizz bits.

garfer said...

Curatorship, dear boy, curatorship.
At least I'm not a librarian.

MHN for short said...

We are the Mods! We are the Mods!!

Juggling Mother said...

Bell Boy!

I never really got the Mods, or their re-incarnations in the 80's. All look & no substance, which is why they disappeared so quickly each time. I think I'd have been a Rocker myself - better music, better bikes, and less effort with the look.

My mum was in Brighton for the big fight - she says it wasn't quite like Quadraphenia (or the new stories) showed. She remembers one little PC herding 20 or 30 Mods & Rockers down the street with just a "come along now lads".

garfer said...

The rockers were greasy thickos.
I'd deffo have gone for the scooter.

Rowan said...

being that I was merely a child in the 80's, though i like to think I'm somewhat cultured. Can anyone tell me exactly what a mod is? I used to watch the mod squad, is it anything like that? Fashion? Music? type of teenaged twit? What? I really don't get it.

garfer said...

Mod was short for 'modernist'. They were a youth group with a specific dress code and musical tastes.
It was really a British thing, so you won't have heard much about them over there.
The Who were mods (sort of).

Herge Smith said...

Franz are so dull it makes me cry. Everytime I see their CDs in friends cars/houses I tutt audibly. Same goes for The Killers, who are tedious.

As always there are tons of great bands around but it still (thank God) takes a tiny bit of work to find them; not as much as it used to mind you.

The downside is, these days, any exclusivity kudos you can gain from liking an 'unknown' or 'slightly more obscure than Arctic Monkeys band' (I speak before they went straight to No.1 in the hit parade - is often short lived as those most vile of creatures the 'cool hunters' will have found them also, and had them on the shelves of your local Tesco before you can casually name drop the band more than a couple of times in the pub or at some wanky middleclass dinner party you've arranged.

Never liked Mod much, never really got Paul Weller either. Probably a bit blokey for me - my route was more Morrissey - A man trapped in a man's body (and not in a sexual way).

MHN for short said...

We have a friend who met Morrissey and Corrine from Swing Out Sister.

When he met Morrissey the people were going crazy shouting his name and fainting. My God, he just a guy with a record deal... I do like his music though, but I seriously doubt that I would faint!