The A to Z Of Mod

It's arrived. You get home from work and there's a brown Amazon package waiting.  It can only be one thing.  You rip it open and it's sitting there, in its pristine glory, a cover of red, white and blue with pictures of Twiggy and Cathy Macowan and a harrington jacket and a Motown record and bass weejun loafers and many more.  It's the long awaited A to Z Of Mod by Paolo Hewitt and Mark Baxter, with a foreword by Martin Freeman.

They've certainly kept you on tenterhooks, Amazon that is, not the authors.  The appetite was whetted some months ago when it was advertised on the web.  You received a text the other day, saying it was on the way and you've been checking the post ever since, like you did as a child, when the next edition of Goal or Shoot or TV21 was expected.  But that doesn't matter now.  Take the cellophane wrapping off and open it up.  Was it worth the wait?  That's all you're bothered about.

First of all you have a flick through.  It's nicely laid out, with some great pics.  Pete Meaden is one that jumps out, and Berry Gordy, and Georgie Fame.  Then you start scanning the text.  There are pieces on clubs (old and new), northern soul, Motown.  Britpop, cinema, Stax. The Who, The Small Faces, The Creation, The Action. And a whole host of others.

You go back to the beginning.  To Martin Freeman's forword, which nails it perfectly (the last two lines  send shivers, they are so apt).  Then there's Paolo Hewitt's piece and Mark Baxter's.  Each covers its subject matter uniquely, but also with a shared purpose.  What hits you in the eye like a Pete Townshend power chord is that this book looks at mod in its widest sense.  The story doesn't stop in 1965, or 1980, or even 1997.  It recognises that the mod ethos is timeless and its fascination passes down to the more clued up members of every generation that comes along, each of which offers its own take and adds something new to the process.

So, we have here the influence of the internet, Britpop, the Revival. Along with more traditional sources.  One significant point is that mod can be found in less obvious places (Freeman in part defines mod as the "rejection of the obvious") like hip hop and areas of contemporary American film and literature.  Hewitt talks about Bret Easton Ellis as a mod writer, which is spot on.  And areas such as glam rock, fanzines and acid jazz are covered.

All of which emphasises the point that the whole mod thing is an ongoing and evolving process.  It's not constantly re-living past glories, or stuck somewhere in a long forgotten age, like certain other so-called "youth cults" you could mention.  It has its icons - and all of them are here - but they're not icons because of what happened in the past.  Jean Luc Godard and Colin MacInnes and Miles Davis, to name but three, are icons because they still remain relevant, say something to current generations, make a creative, cultural or social point that is timeless.  And, as such, their work remains a key part of the mod mindset.

You're going to read this book from cover to cover over the next few days.  But its more than that, so much more.  It's a reference point, one that you will be going back to frequently over the coming years.  Of course, it will need to be updated as each new incarnation of mod emerges but you can do that mentally.  The mod world and its influences, as its stands in May 2012, is all here in its many splendored glory.

All of which leads back to the original question.   Was it worth the wait?  You bet it was.

1 comment:

  1. "All of which emphasises the point that the whole mod thing is an ongoing and evolving process."

    Could not agree more. Now I have no other choice but to go buy ANOTHER book... Great piece sir!