A mod writes in to Sounds, 26 December, 1981.
Rather than agree with the narrow-minded evaluation of the ‘True Mod’, I have decided to ‘bury’ Sounds with just one letter expressing my astonishment at his inept view of what mod is all about. There are several facts that must be stated. Firstly, that ‘glamour’ bands like Secret Affair and the Lambrettas did more damage to the ’79 revival than even the music press because of their mindless portrayal of mods as being ‘beach-fighters’ and ‘rogues with style’.
This encouraged thousands of failed ex-punks to jump on the bandwagon before the music press quite rightly exposed the deficiencies of Page and Co.
Bands like the Chords and Hearts were part of the real revival but were crucified by the press who grouped them in the same vein as prats like Ian Page.
Since then, scores of new bands like The Variations, Dolly Mixture and The Questions have put across the real modernist ideals to the public. Nine Below Zero, Q-Tips and other bands are re-creating the intense form of soul and r’n’b which the faces of Carnaby Street once danced to in ’64 (including Messrs. Townshend and Meaden). More and more clubs like the Whiskey A GoGo in London and Top rank in Birmingham are allowing mods an insight into what it was really like in the Sixties. Surely someone who has been a mod since as long ago as ’74 would have discovered that by now and should also remember the very essence of that fashionable, fast moving way of life – that mod was directed from within and needed no justification from without.
Brian Gunn, Belfast Mod.
The much loved Dolly Mixture in session for John Peel’s BBC Radio 1 show. Recorded on 7 August, 1979 and played on the 14th.
What yoof TV used to be. This episode of BBC’s Something Else, a series that ran from 1978 is from 2 October, 1981. There’s poetry from Anne Clark and Aidan Cant – incidental music by Paul Weller – a bit about youth clubs, as well as music from The Jam, The Questions and the much missed Dolly Mixture. There’s an also a section where young people talk about what class they are as they awkwardly sit around a table (not) drinking.
Of particular interest is some talk on ‘zines from Tony Fletcher of Jamming! Also featured is Making Time and the item is very centred on poetry. The young reporter even talks to Faber and Faber about what they are, and aren’t, publishing and this links right back to the class item. Now there’s a suprise.
The much loved Dolly Mixture in an NME feature from 2 May, 1981.
Fairly typical benefit gig reviewed in the NME, 21 May, 1983. The fabulous Dolly Mixture, ranting’s own Benjamin Zephaniah, the lovely Damned, and more.
Damned, Dolly Mixture, Benjamin Zephaniah, A Popular History of Signs
Such a strange assortment could only mean a benefit gig. Artists For Animals was the cause, and a well filled Greyhound (how apt) gawped at The Animals Film on video during lulls in the action. Mildly surreal, but there was much to enjoy.
A Popular History Of Signs hail from North London, but this trio’s spiritual home is located even closer to the Pole. APHOS play atmospheric yet dramatically charged music of a style usually associated with Yorkshire and the North West. The gang Of Four’s agit-prop is welded to the Factory sound, but APHOS transcend their evident influences to resonantly addictive effect.
Benjamin Zephaniah has allowed himself to be adopted as a token by righteous whites hungry for the sound of suffering in Babylon. Feted by the first few rows of upturned, all-whte faces at events like tonight’s, he’s selling himself short, not least artistically. His poetic rhythms are strong and lilting, hence lending themselves naturally to a song. Linton Kwesi Johnson realised his potential by switching from band to maestro – remember the power of ‘Sonny’s Lettah’? Benjamin Zephaniah should be doing the same with ‘Margaret Thatcher’.
Captain Sensible officiated throughout, and with earnest bashfulness demonstrated his commitment to animal rights by reading out some of his poetry on the subject. William Blake he ain’t. Then reverting to his more familiar self, he introduced his protegees Dolly Mixture, who immediately warmed up a hitherto low-key affair.
Rachel and Debsie are singing very well these days, and though Hester’s drums lack finesse, their all-round performance sparkled with enthusiasm. With their polka-dot party dresses and eagerness to please, Dolly Mixture are quaintly and ingenuously English, and their ’60s teenbeat-style set drew me even further back to childhood’s untroubled fun.
Finally The Damned came on to play ‘Smash It Up’, a latterday ‘Hokey Cokey’ reminding us that although they’re pretty dodgy elsewhere, they’ve always been a good pub act.
Red Wedge had a few tours in 1987 campaigning for the Labour vote. The Women’s Tour had a good line up that included Frank Chickens, Coming Up Roses (who included two former members of the much missed Dolly Mixture), and Joolz.
Sandie Shaw and Rhoda, amongst others, appeared at the London gig hosted by Sandi Toksvig.
From NME, 13 February, 1982