Is this the last word on Mod? Richard Weight’s MOD: A Very British Style on its way

Ashley Books, features, Music, Style, Timewarp Leave a Comment

mod_weightAnd yes that cover looks great too. The images were taken by ace photographer Dean Chalkley who has lots of images of contemporary mods (and a film too – see the bottom of the page) on his site here.

Anyway back to the book. There have been plenty of Mod books before, but this looks like being a fairly definitive one for a number of reasons.

Firstly, it looks like it is going to properly tackle Mod history and its greater influence on popular culture in a way that other books haven’t. It is a moot point, for example, whether the real inheritors of the Mod tradition in the 1980s were the Acid House mob at the end of the decade (they took pills and danced all night), the C86ers (they had the bowl cuts and loved the 60s music) or the Casuals (whose clothes were more in keeping with traditional sharp mod values and tended to be more working class like the original Mods).

Without pre-guessing what Weight is going to write in his book I think he will make the case that Mod influenced them all. And that’s a story that hasn’t really been written in any depth.

Besides the Mod movement is very diverse at the moment – as this ‘What Type of Mod are you?’ post illustrates.

The  second reason why the book looks great is that Richard Weight is a very accomplished author. I read his Patriots book over a decade ago, and although I don’t remember too much about it now, I recall being impressed by both the depth of his research, and also the way he wasn’t afraid to fire off his opinions. The book looks at national identity in Britain between 1940 and 2000 and the decline of British-ness in favour of stronger associations of  being English, Welsh, Scottish and Northern Irish. It really needs an update too and I’d be fascinated to read his views on the way that The Olympics, the popularity of The Monarchy and immigration have all fueled a revival of Britishness. Yet at the same time we could be just years away from Scotland leaving the Union.

In many ways too there hasn’t been a better time for the Mod book. Bradley Wiggins is still everywhere, heritage brands like Ben Sherman and Fred Perry are back in the limelight and there are plenty of bands who are creating music that has 60s influences at their heart.

The Who touring Quadrophenia a few months after the book launch should help too.

Anyhow, I am very excited by the book’s arrival and if you want to know more here’s the blurb from the publishers.

It is published at the end of March and will cost £25 for a hardback edition.

Welcome to the world of the sharp-suited ‘faces’. The Italianistas. The scooter-riding, all-night-dancing instigators of what became, from its myriad sources, a very British phenomenon.

Mod began life as the quintessential working-class movement of a newly affluent nation – a uniquely British amalgam of American music and European fashions that mixed modern jazz with modernist design in an attempt to escape the drab conformity, snobbery and prudery of life in 1950s Britain. But what started as a popular cult became a mainstream culture, and a style became a revolution.

In Mod, Richard Weight tells the story of Britain’s biggest and most influential youth cult. He charts the origins of Mod in the Soho jazz scene of the 1950s, set to the cool sounds of Charlie Parker and Miles Davis. He explores Mod’s heyday in Swinging London in the mid-60s – to a new soundtrack courtesy of the Small Faces, the Who and the Kinks. He takes us to the Mod-Rocker riots at Margate and Brighton, and into the world of fashion and design dominated by Twiggy, Mary Quant and Terence Conran.

But Mod did not end in the 1960s. Richard Weight not only brings us up to the cult’s revival in the late 70s – played out against its own soundtrack of Quadrophenia and the Jam – but reveals Mod to be the DNA of British youth culture, leaving its mark on glam and Northern Soul, punk and Two Tone, Britpop and rave.

This is the story of Britain’s biggest and brassiest youth movement – and of its legacy. Music, film, fashion, art, architecture and design – nothing was untouched by the eclectic, frenetic, irresistible energy of Mod.