new untouchables

21st century modernist & sixties underground music culture

I have been a mod for quite a time,BTW i expect or demand no admiration! over the last few years theres seems to be a mixed up view of the thing we call Mod! Folks from outside the home of mod seem to think that NS and the mod movement are 1 in the same? For those who are fresh to the scene well its an easy mistake to make!! But we are talking about scenes that can live on there own merits! We the older mods have a duty to carry the torch and its mod values for there true meaning! The only reason i can see for linking the two totally adverse scenes is a profit based raeson! Why you may ask? Why have the expense of putting a nite on for 100 mods when u can have 300 of everyone!! And the answer is in the whole fabric of mod itself. Not like everybody else, well im afraid its lost its Kudos!! We the modern day torch bearers have sold ourselves down the bloody river!! Norhtern soul does not need Mod and vice versa,in fact northern soul was an opposite reaction to mod! Scooter riding people of the Revival period followed there peers of the day into the scootrboy scene,with its anything goes culture. recession was given as a reason. Coz it became too expensive and elitist to live beyond your means! But the true essence of being mod was never about how much dosh you hsd. It was about thinking outside the box, and making the best about your situation! We are carrying a legacy forward and we are making an arse of it for the new generation, we are making it so complicated for the new blood. Who's to blame, the profiteers...... bending and shaping to please everyone! Mod was never about that,in fact it was the very opposite!! its caused rifts in the past for the very same reasons......people should hang there heads in shame!!

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Vest top mod!! Or real world old school Northern, always was a true genre of its own!! Dont know what happened and when or by whom??

Here are some Northern Soulies, or wait a minute thats old school mod!!  Confused??

Some of the original mods from the era have asked the question on facebook recently: why do none of the so called MOD dj's play the popular music of the 60's? Is it seen as uncool or a way of taking MOD forward? We are now at a stage where the obscure 60's highly treasured vinyl does not mean a single thing to the original mods of the time! Quite simply becoz they havent heard it before? Mod now is reaching out to the questionable Northern or just plain soul music! Its not hard to capture a dancefloor with nothing but hits,then again it carries less Kudos....or does it? Plain and simple, a good dj should always keep the floor full or he's lost the crowd. Now we have people pretending to know songs coz it feels like the right thing to do!!!   ALL WRONG!!!

Hi John,

That's a very interesting question by the way. When I started going to mod rallies in 1992, I noticed that there were very few mods there from the 1964 period, who would have been about 42-47 years old at the time and by no means 'over the hill'. I saw one or two, yes, but on the whole the oldest people looked about 35, and had probably been movers and shakers in the '79 revival. This suggested to me that at this stage, mod was still viewed very much as a youth culture, and though some of the originals might have still thought of themselves as mods, perhaps they'd passed the baton on to their sons and daughters (the average age of a mod in 1992 must have been around 23). It therefore seemed totally natural for mods to play records that had since been discovered (some via northern soul, others via the so-called freakbeat compilations that led to a mad search for rare vinyl); also, there was a very European feel to the UK mod scene (as there is now) and so plenty of people would have been aware of tracks that were popular in Germany, France and Italy in the 60s, but not particularly well-known in Britain. 

I guess many original mods had gone through a logical process, by which time going to a 60's-inspired mod rally might have seemed an unusual choice (perhaps they weren't even aware of a continuing mod scene). For example, a sixteen-year-old mod in 1964 might have been a hippy or a skinhead by 1967, a prog rock fan or suedehead by 1971 and either a northern soulie or just an ordinary member of the public by 1975. In the south, some mods would have got into funk and perhaps might have tiptoed into the punk movement before realizing they were pushing 30. By the time the mod revival of 79 came around, most original mods would have been over 30 years old and might not have seen much connection between the Purple Hearts or Secret Affair and memories of dancing to Motown in a provincial ballroom in 1965.

The internet has played a massive part in connecting all the strands of mod over the last 55 years and, as the originals approach retirement age, it seems natural for them to want to rediscover their youth. For many, perhaps dancing to Rufus Thomas and Martha Reeves was the height of cool in 1964, though to a mod brought up on the importation of obscure soul and r'n'b tunes, this might appear 'mainstream'. The truth is actually quite liberating: that older mods are as blissfully unaware of the names and labels of obscure northern soul as I am (though I like NS) and probably wouldn't mind hearing something by The Supremes, The Animals, even the Walker Brothers (fine by me too!). Also, ever since mod began, very few people have taken the step of going right back to the 57-59 period of reading Sartre (how many actually did that, I wonder) and attending modern jazz concerts. Brilliant 50s and 60s-inspired jazz is played every weekend in the UK somewhere, but not many mods turn up. I used to dress up smart to go to live jazz in Bristol back in the 90s and would get asked if I knew it was a jazz night! Like folk musicians, jazz musicians since the 1980s enjoy wearing loose Hawaiian shirts and slacks (and who can blame them!) One big challenge might be to introduce jazz back into the mod scene without being either snobbish or overtly trendy a la Acid Jazz c. 1993. I reckon some mods might not feel like dancing all night and therefore a jazz room playing music to drink coffee to and relax could be a future option. Any thoughts?? best wishes

You are right in what you say in your post JT and can only agree with most of what u say! I think the mod/jazz scene was almost an underground scene back in the day,students with french beret's etc. Jazz is everywhere and i suppose the only way now you could class it as mod,would be the style of clothes that the punters turn up in. Jazz just like Northern Soul doesnt need a mod following,its continued uninterupted from the late 50's till now and weathered every fashion trend thats came and gone. Again there are too many so called MOD events on the go in the present scene,and sadly profiteering will also be at the heart of some but no where near all. Mod is at a junction now,where a previously required Smart look is being replaced by an easier scruffy approach. I only hope that the scene drifter's dont do any long term damage to a movement thats lasted half a century plus!! But as i said last but one post, we are attending events now where at least 70% of the attendees are baffled by the music thats getting played??? Surely that cant be right!!!

What a well written and insightful post from James Thomas yesterday; a man who has clearly 'been there' and has a good knowledge of the subject.

John; drifters will come and go - some may have a positive influence as they always have.

I still have 'a dilema' with the whole 'modernist' stance; can a movement that looks mostly backward, is populated by people who wear and ride 50 year old clothes and bikes (me too) and listens to tunes that are nearly 60 years old be called 'mod'?

Am I 'sweating it' too much; does it matter?

See you at Scarborough (hopefully)!

Ade.

Remember Adrian, the music in the mod scene has in our days always been older than us in the main. Wouldnt be so bad if there were good modern artists coming forward to take the scene to that place where it no doubt will eventually go to. My whole point is; the obscure stuff being churned out now at events is still music from the sixties era, only difference is most dont know it or are ever heard of it! people are being misled to an extent in attending dos' and its starting to be a major talking point. this year at Brighton for a different slant i'll be attending this http://www.ents24.com/brighton-events/brighton-centre/celebrating-5...   that way i know what im getting! Though i was never a Jam fan i'll still be attending!!

I never realised how much I could love a bit of jazz , or at least jazz influenced music .

Whilst searching for a copy of "Mark Murphy's - Why don't you do right ?"(1962) on Ebay , i discovered the "Modjazz" compolations . So i bought a copy and when i heard the rest of the tunes on the cd i became a big fan and have bought 7 of them so far while im waiting for the next one to be released .

I love em ! The artists and tunes they have used seem to give it its own sound and style . Personaly i think theyre a top cool sound and quality produced .

As with most albums theres allways going to be a few tracks not to everybodys taste , but i give it an 8 out of 10 . It makes a great change from listening to some soul or ska etc (not that ide ever take that out of my musical diet) .

Check em out if you havn't? Theyre on Kent .

Ide love to hear more of the stuff played at some mod nights and it can also break up any monotony as there is even some latin and funk too to break it up a bit .

My point is i suppose - i know its not Northern or a specific Mod sound in particular , but perhaps its what were missing ?

Im not about to start wearing a French beret and start posing outside cafes with a cigarette holder in my gob (or a biro with a fag stuck in it when im short of dollars for that matter)  : D   But perhaps it would separate the Mod from Northern Soul bashes more ?

Don't get me wrong , i still love Northern and have got the respect for all Soulies out there .

Keep the faith !

I would agree chris that between the two Jazz is far more akin to what we percieve to be mod than Northern Soul. But remember what your getting now is 'Shirt and cufflinks'' version of Northern, gone are the vests and baggies. But you will always attract the Non mod scooterist element to so called Northern/Mod nights and leave the mod types wondering what the f#ck is happening???

Yes sir , deffo !

Perhaps its the answer to our little . . . . erm . . . BIG problem . To advertise Mod nights more specificaly in their sense of dress and music might devide the two with a bit of subtlety . The last thing i would want to see is for Northern to be snubbed though , I like it too .

Maybe its time for the scene to return to its roots a bit more . Dont get me wrong i love the music i hear at the moment but perhaps it needs to be a touch more jazz and blues influenced . Or maybe thats just me getting more hugry for it personaly taste wise ?

Are todays Mods put off of that becuase its a different way to dance to it ?

Or does it seem a more sit and listen type of music to some ?

I do know one thing though , ive been playing more jazzy , bluesy and even latin styles at home and have found myself busting a few new moves around the living room .  : D  I just need the chance to embarace myself in public . 

Bring it on !   : D

 

I think your right with the ''Dont know how to dance to it'' scenario, ive personally only seen two distinctive forms of mod dance and your right none would seem to fit!! Shufflers and steppers!!  LOL

One of the difficulties with modern jazz is that some of it can be danced to, while some of it is for listening to (and meditation, depending on your world view!!). Some of the dancier tunes from the 60s were released as edited singles versions, such as Lee Morgan's The Sidewinder (1963). A lot of the mod-jazz dance tunes are Hammond piano or organ-based soul jazz by Jimmy Smith, Jack McDuff, Charles Earland, Billy Hawks etc, and there is some good latin jazz too, which I suppose blended into boogaloo towards the end of the 60s (this goes down well in some northern soul clubs). Jazz Crusaders worth checking out from mid-60s.

On the acid jazz scene all those years ago, there were professional jazz dancers who could keep up the energy to dance to really long instrumental tunes, but if (like me) you're not much of a dancer, it might be best to watch from the sidelines!! 

As for jazz that is primarily for listening to, thinking about growing a goatee to or watching in live performance, there is some great stuff that are iconic records for mods.

As far as LPs go for listening to, I would recommend starting with: Charles Mingus' Blues 'n' roots (Atlantic),  Eric Dolphy's, Out to Lunch (Blue Note), Wayne Shorter's 'Fear no Evil' (Blue Note), Andrew Hill's 'Point of Departure' (Blue Note), John Coltrane's 'Giant Steps' (Atlantic), Horace Silver's Song for my father (Blue Note) and anything by Miles Davis from 1958-1969. The Dolphy and Hill stuff is a bit more 'out there', but it goes well with a glass of Jean-Paul Sartre and a breton top.

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