The Action Had The Mod Look

The Action Had The Mod Look

the action mod groupLike many mod groups, the origins of The Action can actually be found in another band. In Kentish town, in the North of London, there was a group called The Boys. This band consisted of Alan king who was the lead guitarist, Mike Evans who was the bassist, Roger Powell played drums, and the vocalist was Reg King. The Boys formed in 1963, playing a number of popular mod clubs in the capital and in 1964, they found themselves as the support act to The High Numbers.

Much in the way that The High Numbers would quickly change their name to The Who, The Boys would soon realise that a name change was in order, christening themselves as The Action. The name change came after the line-up was expanded by the arrival of Pete Weston, who played the rhythm guitar.

Over the next couple of years, the group developed a reputation for being a blistering live act. Some of the shows the band performed at the Marquee Club were raved about, but the material consisted of mainly American soul tracks. This was something that would potentially come to hold the group back as their original material was not deemed as strong against the material they would play in their live show.

In 1967, the band attempted to update their sound from the pop art mod style to the increasingly psychedelic mod sound. This didn’t go down too well with the bands existing fan base, and it failed to win over any new followers. The group split up in mid 1967.

However, thanks to the various mod revivals that took place in the intervening years, the high points of The Action were held in high regard and the band were cited for their fashion influence. The group reformed in 1998, playing a few times between then and 2004. Sadly, in 2010 Mike Evans and Reg King passed away.

The fashion brought acclaim to The Action

One of the things that The Action had in their favour was their fashion. This is not to say that the band didn’t have talent, they clearly had enough about them to be noticed and to make some inroads into the musical business. However, it was the overall package that seemed to bring many people to The Action. There was a sense that these bunch of lads were genuine mods and into the scene whereas some bands would give the impression that they were happy to mime mod culture until the next big musical genre or happening came along.

It was said that The Action was the perfect embodiment of what London mod life was like in the mid to late 1960s. They had a classic style that was as subtle as it was elegant. Whether the act was wearing tailored suits, fitted shirts or patterned sweaters, they had a style that seemed effortless, and this was a factor why so many people loved them at the time. They had the same Pop Art style as The Who but even then, The Action seemed more at ease and less showy than what The Who offered. The Who were genuine at the time, but there was still an element of showmanship about their look and image, the band knew that they were a band with an image. With The Action, it was if the lads in the group would have dressed the same even if they never played a note of music in their life.

While the group were well loved within the mod community, their inability to break through to mainstream and commercial success surprised many and even angered a few. It seemed as though everything was in place for the group to make it to the big time. They had the backing of a leading record label who worked hard to push them to a wider audience. The group also had the luxury of being produced by George Martin. In the mid to late 1960s, producer George Martin was a more famous name than many acts due to his work with The Beatles and EMI at Abbey Road Studios but not even he could push The Action to a higher level of success or popularity.

The Jam Were True Mod Leaders

The Jam Were True Mod Leaders

the jam

Although their recorded career only lasted from April 1977 to the tail end of 1982, The Jam have left a legacy that bands with much lengthier careers would be jealous of. The genesis of the group can be traced back to 1972 and of course, Paul Weller is still one of the biggest touring acts in the United Kingdom, but for many people, it was this brief spell that meant the most. It would be fair to say that the group were not always a mod act; in fact, you could say that like all good mods, they encapsulated a lot of different sounds and styles.

Much in the way that The Who can be classified as many different styles; there is something about The Jam that makes them the quintessential mod band. In its truest sense, being a mod was not about a hairstyle or the right clothes, it was about being modern, fresh and of the moment. There is no denying that at every point of The Jam’s career, the band were at the forefront of what was happening in the UK popular music scene.

Crashing into prominence as punk culture was starting to come to the fore, The Jam were the right band at the right time. They were boys playing loud and angry music who had something to say. This was a perfect embodiment of the punk movement even if the Conservative views held by Weller at the time would have been in opposition to the anti-establishment stance held by many of the punk bands.

The music and look spurred the mod revival

The debut album from the group ‘In The City’ sat perfectly beside the breaking punk bands, but it also tipped a nod to The Who’s early singles and the ferocious live shows of many of the original mod acts. With the release of the Quadrophenia movie, there was a powerful mod revival in the late 1970s with many people citing the success of The Jam as a major point of this. The band had the sound, but they also had the look that would influence youngsters around the country to bring the mod look back to the fore. While punk was popular, it was a step too far for many people. Whether people didn’t have the courage to go full on with their outfits or they decided that it never spoke to them properly, the return of the mod style presented a much more palatable fashion and music experience for many youngsters.

When evaluating The Jam and their development, it would be wrong to place all of the focus on Weller. As the principal songwriter, singer and public face of the group, it is inevitable that most people would view him as the focal point of the group. However, the development of skill and style of Rick Buckler on drums and Bruce Foxton on bass underpinned much of the band’s progress. If only the song writing skills of Weller improved while the playing style of the band didn’t move forward, the band would have run the risk of being cast aside like so many also ran’s of the punk era. The fact that The Jam, similar to The Clash, were able to evolve and move away from the genre that collapsed in on itself indicated the talent and vision of the group. The Clash maintained their anti-establishment theme but brought in dub and reggae elements while also becoming “stadium rock” huge in America thanks to their catchy rock tunes that dominated the airwaves.

The Jam went off in a slightly different direction. Weller still had plenty to say about the state of modern Britain, but he did it in a softer and more subtle way. Like so many of the mod genres and movements before him, he looked to America and the soul influence would be a significant factor in the latter years of the band.

No matter when you look at The Jam, there is a strong mod influence at every point. The sound of the group may have changed considerably between 1977 and 1982, but the country around them had changed significantly too. There may have been some fans who wavered along the way but looking at the full catalogue with the benefit of hindsight, the development and progression of The Jam remains one of the most exciting stories in mod culture.

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The Creation Were A Genuine Pop Art Act

the creationWith any musical movement, there will be bands of all different levels and qualities. The top bands are the ones that become synonymous with the genre, but if it is only one or two bands playing this sort of music or mining this sort of sound, is it truly a genre or movement? There is a need for a lot of bands to play this style of music, and in the mod movement, some of the most loved bands were the ones that failed to get much commercial success at the time but who have developed critical success and a cult following over recent years.

Of all the mod bands who were much loved but fell short in going over the top in a commercial sense, The Creation can be listed as one of the very best. The origins of the band can be traced back to 1963 and The Mark Four would become the fledgling group that would soon become The Creation. The act lost a bass player, John Dalton, who made his way to the Kinks but with Tony Cooke replacing him, the group progressed and released singles in 1965 and 1966. In three years, The Mark Four would release non charting singles on Mercury Records, Decca Records and Fontana.

A change of manager in 1966 provided the impetus for the group to progress. Tony Stratton-Smith signed the band up and recommended dropping Cooke and replacing him with Bob Garner, who had previously played with Tony Sheridan. Stratton-Smith also suggested a change of name, with The Creation supposedly coming from a book of Russian poetry. This resulted in The Creation lining up with Kenny Pickett as the singer, Eddie Phillips played lead guitar, Mick Thompson was the rhythm guitarist, Jack Jones played the drums and Garner was on bass.

Live fast and die young was an apt summation of The Creations’ career

The band achieved moderate chart success at this time and was likened to The Who at around the time of the ‘The Who Sell Out’.

The lyrics and spirit of ‘Painter Man’, one of the bands best loved songs and their biggest charting single, fitted perfectly with the ethos and outlook of many in the mod lifestyle. The idea that working hard and getting a degree would provide a fruitful and exciting life was quickly shown to be a lie or a gross exaggeration for many within the mod culture. There was a serious disillusion with the fact that life never lived up to the expectations and possibilities that were promised when growing up.

The lyrics also tapped into the pop art culture that was prevalent at the time, especially in mod circles. The popularity and progression of mod culture dovetailed with the development of the pop art movement and the fact that seemingly every day objects could be the inspiration for the famous art pieces of the day. The lyrics state that classic art has had its day sat remarkably comfortably with those that believe the mod movement was all about the modern, the here and now.

The song also allowed the band to show their true pop art credentials. Singer Pickett would spray paint a canvas during their shows, which was later set alight by a roadie. However, the band would initially move Pickett out of the group and went through a number of changes and semi-reunions in 1967 and 1968. The band actually split up twice during 1968, and this was to be the end until a reformation in the mid-1980s.

The importance and influence of the band was exceedingly brought to the fore when Alan McGee named his independent record label after the group. The band was a towering influence on McGee and on many of the acts who would sign to the label. Ride covered ‘How Does It Feel to Feel?’ by the group on their ‘Carnival of Light’ album.

The Creation may not be the first name you think of when asked to name a mod band, but there is no denying that they remain one of the integral bands of this era. The guitar sounds offered up by the band fitted in perfectly alongside the finest mod movement acts at a time when genres were blending and crossing over. The psychedelic influence was a significant component of some mod acts, and it was this side of their output that The Creation have most been remembered for.