Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Some time last year, I developed something of a fascination for the mod revivalist movement of the late seventies and early eighties. Quite instinctively, I was intimidated by the mods. It’s almost as if my prior musical allegiances would be immediately identified by a throng of angry young men, decked out in their ridiculously bespoke bravura. Then, after a breathless chase down the salty streets of Brighton on their vintage Vespa scooters, I would be found – and I would be forced to admit that I have a rather unfortunate penchant for Italo Disco. That would be the end of my life as a mod.

I quickly rationalised that there would never be such chase.. and even if there was, it’d be as threatening as the chase accompanying the credits of the Benny Hill Show. With this in mind, I swiftly delved into the discographies of the second generation modernists: the Jam, then Secret Affair, Squire, The Lambrettas, The Directions and especially the sadly forgotten Direct Hits. I loved their energy, the sheer speed and how the drum beats would tumble over each other. I loved the stinging syncopated twang of that ever-distinctive Rickenbacker guitar. It was the kind of music that made me want to dance so recklessly that I would forget that I even existed in this time or place. It was so self-indulgent.

Yet it is odd, in a way. The allure of the mod revivalists exist in the juxtaposition of their highly-stylised outward appearance and the desperately neurotic themes in their lyrics. These were insecure and confused teenage boys and even the song titles make this perfectly clear: "I Don’t Wanna Cry" (The Keys); "Nobody Loves Me" (The Letters) and "I Don’t Know What To Do With My Life" (The Buzzcocks).

Perhaps I expected the mod revivalists to be far more sophisticated and composed than they really were. But then I should have known that they were just kids who simply wanted to live in another time, in another place.

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