British Beat Groups of the 1960s

Book Review: Mod A Very British Phenomenon

February 2001

A number of Terry Rawling's previous works have been covered by Making Time. This new one continues the high standard of detail and enthusiasm for the subject that Terry has previously demonstrated. 

Mod is an in-depth examination of Mod from its roots in the jazz and beatnik scene through the 1960s and brought more up to date in the 1979 "revival" (in-depth profiles of the Chords and Purple Hearts) and bands that have come since. However, the main focus is on the 1960s with the bands receiving particular attention being the Small Faces, Who, Action, the Birds and the Creation.

Being Mod was and is about being cool. This starts with the look. Mods are very fashion-conscious and aim to always have the right style. This is not just about wearing a suit and tie. A work suit may even be worn when servicing the Vespa to avoid damaging the Levi's. 

The book begins with the roots of Mod in the 1950s Soho jazz scene and the beatnik movement. This moves through the development of the British blues scene (the music not the drugs!) and features the likes of Alexis Korner and the Rolling Stones. The breakthrough then comes with many realising they were part of a larger movement. They danced to American soul and Jamaican ska and bluebeat until a number of English bands started to play this sort of music. The Small Faces, the Who, the Birds, the Creation and the Action were the top Mod bands of the day. 

However, the Mod wave moved on and many abandoned the style in favour of other options. It never went away though and Mod remains one youth movement that can be looked back on without embarrassment. The 1979 "revival" was a false sign although it did bring excellent music like the Chords and Purple Hearts to the surface. Moreover, Mod is still strong today with the Small Faces highly popular even with those who were not born when they last played. The Creation and the Action have played together again and the music is available again. And whatever happened to Ronnie Wood of the Birds?

The book is not just an excellent work with many historical and contemporary interviews but it is lavishly illustrated in colour. 

mp, January 2001




Published in 2000 by Omnibus Press

ISBN: 0-711-96813-6


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