With 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.