Paul Weller’s NME Readers’ Poll 1980 selections, from the NME, 24 January, 1981.
Weller Of The Year
Most wonderful human being: Jim from Stiff Little Fingers Event: It didn’t happen Creep: Thatcher Best group: The Beat, The Skids and The Slits New act: Department S, The Questions and The Nips Male singer: Julian Cope, Suggsy and Michael Jackson Female singer: Siouxsie, Slits and The Dolly Mixtures (all three of them) Songwriter: Slits, Teardrop Explodes, Skids and Questions Guitarist: Stuart Adamson Bass: Bruce Foxton and Tessa Pollit Keyboards: Bloke in Teardrop Explodes Drums: Pube and Budgie Other instrument: Saxa Single: ‘Embarrassment’ (Madness), ‘Do Nothing’ (Specials), ‘Is Vic There? (Department S) and ‘Animal Space’ (Slits) Album: ‘Killimanjaro’ (Teardrop Explodes), ‘Grin And Bear It’ (the Ruts) Sleeve: Ours Best dressed: Steve Marriott circa 64-66 and “Blackburn” (not Tony) Haircut: none DJ: Certainly not Peel for a start! TV show: Minder Movie: Love On The Dole (NFT darling)
X Moore reviews Dig The New Breed in the NME, 4 December, 1982.
Long March Of The Mods
The Jam Dig The New Breed (Supreme Beat) TAKE NO HEROES! Some moments are to be treasured forever. This morning I bought the new Jam single, a precious copy, the last in the rack…walk home, pump-breathing icy air, new packet of 10 Woodbines in a back pocket, jumpy feeling in the stomach, fingers tight around the paper bag – for the moment, the dearest possession in the world – aw, you can tell how crucial a new record is by how long it takes to open the front door…And this the last single by the most VITAL of bands. Looking back…it is the rise and rise of The Jam that is, more than anything else, a towering beacon of hope ‘gainst the present gloomy musical backdrop. The Jam first emerged in livelier times. ‘Midst all the phlegm-ridden rebellion, The Jam stood quietly by in mohair suits and Paul Weller claimed the Queen was “the best diplomat we’ve got” (“she works harder than what you or I do or the rest of the country”) and signed off by mentioning come the Election, they’d be voting Conservative. The Jam were less than zero. What is INSPIRING is that The Jam have progressed so much and changed attitudes so visibly. Weller has shifted massively, away from the early casual youth anthems that pinpointed the division as young v. old, t’wards songs that deal with far greater ogres, far greater issues – an issue as great as ‘class’. The point is this – a change in attitudes is HOPE. And if you sneer at hope, you sneer at progress. And that’s CONSERVATISM. Meantimes, The Jam have split and left us with the hippest of anthems, ‘Dig The New Breed’ – an album that frames all those nights of fire and accelerated passions. 14 tracks that chart The Jam’s heady progress and stress their solid loyalties. The difference between The Jam and all the hopeless pop ephemenalities is the difference between a (red) harrington and an anorak. The Jam have STYLE and SIGNIFICANCE. ‘Dig The New Breed’ is a sharp package. ‘Course, there’s a dozen other soul anthems that should be on here and sometimes Pete Wilson’s production damps the fire and smoothes The Jam’s abrasive live edge too much. But it marks a powerful legacy. And The Jam’s last legacy is some testament, some challenge – mebbe the last authentic mod record. If you come searching for clues to Weller’s next musical station, better that you search elsewhere – ‘Beat Surrenders” B sides or Tyrone Davis’ finest moment, ‘Can I Change My Mind’…or a hundred other soaring soul singles. ‘Dig The New Breed’ is a missive from The Jam, as they were, as they will be remembered, and a call for other bands to follow. I only hope that the Neurotics, Redskins, New Model Army and others can meet the challenge. Everybody treasures crucial moments, I remember The Jam playing on the Right To Work March at the beginning of this year, the week that ‘A Town Called Malice’ went to No. 1 – that magnificent, frightening split-second when Weller, guitar hand rushing, twisted into the mike to spit out the first verse of ‘Malice’. Crystal. ‘Dig The New Breed’ frames many such sublime moments. hard and fast. There will be greater moments, sure, but for the while, this one is great enough. Sublime sound, sublime vision – The Jam were the best. TAKE INSPIRATION!
The Untouchables and the, rather good, Makin’ Time reviewed in the NME, 9 November, 1985.
Reach For The Ska! Glasgow Strathclyde University
Fun. D’you remember fun? Fun is when you get all dressed up in your favourite fashion on a Saturday night, is buying drinks that don’t need a bank loan and come without straws, dancing the night away to two good bands – luxury! Couple all that with ridiculous youth, a hallful of even younger mods (looking smart), R&B, irrepressible energy, a bit of nostalgia, good tunes and manic movement and you have…well one of the best gigs I’ve been to this year, at least. Makin’ Time are already known to this audience through their excellent debut album ‘Rhythm And Soul’, an R&B/early soul/’60s thing that singer Mark Gounden mention repeatedly during the set in the hope someone might buy it. One of the nice things about Makin’ Time is that they look like they need the money rather than looking as though they’ve been sitting in a rehearsal studio for the last two years. You can afford to be shambolic (and they are, making more mistakes than there are extra-thin ties in here) if you’ve got both a total lack of pretention and good songs on your side, like ‘Take All You Can Get’, ‘Gotta Move’; and ‘Feels Like It’s Love’. Gounden looks like an even more nervous Lloyd Cole with a heavy ’60s fashion fetish, but then that’s endearing too. Makin’ Time do little wrong in my book, not even by dashing through a ramshackle version of soul classic ‘Show Me’. Maybe they’ll spend some of the money on guitar lessons, maybe they won’t, who cares? The Untouchables look so cool it could almost convince you that there is hope for the American music industry yet; so slick they could make your head spin they somehow manage to completely avoid the sickly cabaret that some US bands drown in. The Untouchables haven’t minded showing their ska roots, but they look more influenced by Madness. The bassist wears a bandana half-way down his nose, the guitarist poses endlessly, Jerry Miller (the tall one with the wacky glasses) towers comically over Chuck Askerneese (the little one with the rasta locks) – it’s the all-singing, all-dancing Untouchables and even the trumpet player, Anthong Brewster (the cute one), steps up to sing ‘What’s Going On?’. Even if they’re funnier than most, The Untouchables aren’t a joke band, but when they’re being serious it is to the point of the ridiculous – as in ‘Future On My Mind’, a song about “the future of the world” with classic lyrics like “I smile at you/You smile at me/But everybody’s pissed/What are we living for?” The thing to take most seriously is the breadth of their musical influence. They are not, as might be implied by ‘Free Yourself’ or ‘City Gent’, simply a ska band, dipping as they do into soul (‘Soul Together’), reggae and rap. It’s all a glut of fun, humour and ability and the assembled sharp dressers make pigs of themselves. After a dancefloor-breaking version of ‘I Spy For The FBI’ it almost seemed that they could do no better – until they re-appeared for a bash at ‘I’m Not Your Stepping Stone’. Too right, there isn’t anyone to touch them.
Jesse Hector’s fabulous pub/mod/punks reviewed live in Record Mirror, 15 January, 1977.
The Gorillas London
Strange how the word gets round, isn’t it? Seems like all of a sudden everybody is talking about the Gorillas. A bottom of the bill appearance at the Roundhouse and suddenly the Nashville is filled to the rafters with all manner of people. No closet Mbass ods, but lots of punks, some Hot Rods and a Damned or two. There’s quite a grunt about the Gorillas. If the Gorillas can pack them in like this on their first London pub appearance, they’ll certainly be coining it in a month or two. After all, when it comes to volume alone, the Gorillas blow every other New Wave band clean off the stage. If only because their music is more accessible. Old R ‘n’ B and rock ‘n’ roll favourites, cut with George Harrison day-tripping guitar figures and the kind of booming melodic bass riffs that Noel Redding ripped off Small Facer Plonk Lane. The music is loud, insistent but it’s clean too, with big holes in it to rest your ears and deep, rolling tom toms that urge the listener to tap both feet at once. But what will really make you fall over and spill your beer is the antics of the band themselves. Not only do they look like Gorillas with those outrageous Mod haircuts, they move like them too. They jump and jerk, kick their heels, lead singer and guitarist Jess Hector and Al Butler on the bass sweeping the stage bubbling and exuberant. And Hector has a voice to beat them all. It was flat – like his guitar – and a rudimentary PA failed to do it true justice. But the power in those vocal chords will pick up every Noddy Holder fan in the country, burning versions of old faves like ‘All Or Nothing’ ‘Keep On Chooglin” and ‘Wild Thing’ will search out all sorts and their single ‘The Gatecrasher’ ought to sell in thousands. But if anything really impressed it was the sheer power of Jess Hector’s personality. He is one of those rare performers who commands the attention of all eyes when he is on a stage. The boy has real charisma. Stamped with star quality.
Chas and Dave in Sounds, 18 August, 1979, by Robbi Millar.
Chas And Dave: ‘The Sideboard Song’ (Rockney). If mod is fashionable, then so are cockneys. ‘Specially this pair. Subtitled ‘Got My Beer In The Sideboard Here’, this offering is inoffensive and typical. It’ll have all the Garry Bushells of this country rolling their eyes and swigging their Hemeling in order to be in the appropriate state to listen to it. Gertcha!
Letter about casuals in Sounds, 26 May, 1984 from Anti Social Workers singer, Paul Wellings.
I have nothing against the “soccer casual” music and clothes movement. In fact most of my mates wear the gear when we go to see West Ham and it has style. But I really must have a go at the “under five mentality” from the younger elements of the once glorious ICF, and other well organised crews like Pompey Glory Boys, Scouse Scallies etc. Cos these kids dress to kill (sometimes literally) in all the Tacchini, Fila, Burberry and Head gear, they seem to think the movement means giving our own kind a good kicking or sticking Uncle Stanley in some ordinary geezer’s kidneys. I remember all the times I’ve followed West Ham (way back to the original ICF, Rejects, drinking, having a crack etc), and Spurs and Luton Town and have gone with people to actually watch the game. And I follow these three teams (even though I was born in Wapping, East London and should by rights murder anyone who doesn’t support West Ham), cos I love their style of football, cos I’ve moved to different areas and cos most of all I hate the mindless tribal, territorial warfare similar to the Krays vs the Richardsons. At least when the old bill get hospitalised, it’s a welcome change from attacking the other teams’ fans. Some, like the ICF, have the style and organisation to ruck without getting nicked (but most of it is brainless tribal war) and others have more suss to know the filth are the real enemy. It’s a pity anger was not saved for the rich scumbags in the directors’ boxes treating football like a monopoly game for real, or the nazi wankers bringing racist shit into our grounds (it would be great to organise leafletting on same scale as we did at Upton Park, White Hart Lane etc in the ANL days – where we got a terrific response). I’m very much a lumpen prole. It’s better to attack these sort of people and enjoy our game again than thrashing some working class geezer like me or you, who lives down the road or up North, cos their team is different. Soccer casuals, if it means anything, means pride in your background, going to the football with your girl, laughs, self-respect, style, soul, lover’s rock, funk etc. Like Mod and Tamla, Skins and Trojan reggae, Punks and the Pistols, Casual both music and clothes, as Garry Bushell said, comes from the streets and not the industries, and for those into it, it hasn’t meant reconsidering your mortgage to buy the gear – cos the black market is booming. (Ask Scotland Yard! Look sharp, think sharp!) – Paul (Geezer) of reggae rockers the Anti Social Workers, Wapping.
A sociology loving biker has perhaps read too much New English Library and writes in to the Sounds letters page, 3 November, 1979.
Senior Citizen I was into the Sounds until ’73 then I got into the MM and have now changed back to the Sounds because of the HM album. I shall continue buying the Sounds as I believe it’s better than the MM (big deal. – Ed) What I fail to understand is what are the teenagers and possibly those in their early twenties into! They seem to be trying to relive the past. There’s teds of the ’50s, mods of the early ’60s and smoothies of the late ’60s. All they represent is capitalism, by wasting their money on any rubbish that is said to be mod or ridiculous looking teddyboy suits. And smoothies are no different. The idea is to change society, not become part of it and stagnate. It’s the capitalist education system that makes us look at life smallmindedly and think only of material possessions and hard work to obtain them. All you need is a leather jacket and a pair of Levi’s, then you can spend the rest of your money on a decent machine not a piece of pressed tin on wheels. The Tories and the rich would love it if we were all teds, smoothies and mods: make them work and sell their rubbish abroad. The rockers of the early 60s didn’t die out, they became Hells Angels, the mods slipped back into society and a few got in the hippy thing. But our eyes are watching this mod revival thing very keenly; one step out of line and we shall emerge from the shadows and our wrath will be upon you. Some of us may have wives and children but we still keep an eye on what is happening around us. – A Road Rat, c/o Sauron of Mordor, Middle Earth. PS: I would like to inform HM Karen the Deep Purple freak that most of us HM guys have settled down with a chick, but if you’re interested in a hairy HM Angel, put an ad in the Sounds.
3 Small Wonder singles, including Menace and the Cravats, reviewed in Sounds, 16 June, 1979 by Phil Sutcliffe.
Murder The Disturbed: ‘Gentle Deception’ (Small Wonder) More heavy expositions of the modern nightmare. Peopled by strangers and monsters in the corner. A useful diagram of the brain and its functions on the cover. Ultra-straight-faced. A lot of output through imaginative arrangement of limited technique. The punk perspective gone high-brow. From Newcastle which doesn’t always mean it’s great.
The Cravats: ‘The End’ (Small Wonder) Similar only moreso. If independent label releases are anything to go by Mod isn’t the latest thing – Aridity got there first. Maybe tortured ugliness is an easy option in a sense. What I want right now is a tune.
Menace: ‘Last Year’s Youth’ (Small Wonder) Well almost. At least a hunk of punk out on the pavement and shouting rather than withering away inside a plastic bag of angst, weltsehmerz and apfelstrudel. The drummer, Noel Martin, is so loud I think he’s beating on a set of gasometers.
Dolly Mixture live review from London mod zine Fight Back, 2nd issue, 1980.
Arriving at the Marquee at 8-30, we missed the support band, which was a shame. The girls started off with their ‘Dolly Mixture’ song. Their set continued with numbers like “How come you’re such a hit with the boys Jane”, “Will you kiss me tonight”. The girls would burst into fits of giggles when the intros were mucked up, and there were a few problems with feedback. New songs included “Rainbow Valley” “Perfect Day” and “Angel Face”, during their set some very good songs surfaced, I think the best was called “Now I know my way down the alleys”. For the encore, we had “New look baby”, “I didn’t know I loved you till I saw you rock ‘N’ roll” (an old Gary Glitter song) and the “Locomotion”. Dolly Mixture have a very distinctive sound, and definitely a band you should see. They have a 60’s/Crystals crossover, and are (as far as we know) the only all girl band playing 60’s based music.
Feature on the pre-Quadrophenia mod scene, Jamming, number 8, 1979.
(There’s a lot of reasons for writing this; it’s no bandwagon-jumping cliché, but meant as a critical analysis that will say more than crap like that NME ‘special’; also to say where we stand.) Mods Mods Mods
In late 1978, The Jam released their most critically acclaimed, and not surprisingly, most successful album, All Mod Cons. The label was a target, the writing in ‘Immediate’-style (old Small Faces label) and the inside cover was decorated with union jacks, Rothman packets, Ska records, Rickenbackers, and most vital, a scooter. Almost simultaneously, The Who got heavily involved in filming Quadrophenia, Pete Townshend’s rock opera about one mods life revolving around his scooter, suit, parka, birds, leapers, rockers, coffee and Brighton. At the same time, a few groups (particularly the Purple Hearts) and a lot of kids expressed annoyance at punk and it’s staticness (one day we’ll find out why), while other people were waiting to get into a new movement. The result, of course, a full-scale mod revival, though being taken from the above influences, it is – , targets, union jacks, Ska, Rickenbackers, scooters, parkas (& more parkas), suits, surprisingly not leapers, but still (just) the South Coast. And, of course, they all smoke Rothmans. Most of them claim to be ’79 mods, rather than ’60s mods, but they still emblazon their parkas with ‘The Who’ & ‘Maximum R’n’B’. Talking of parkas, these ’79 mods might be interested to know that parkas were generally winter wear, or for riding their scooters, and they didn’t wear them to every gig at The Marquee or some such sweaty club. The rest of the clothes you probably know (there’s still a large split between those who get their suits at Carnaby Cavern, and those who get them at jumble sales), but what I’d give to see a ’79 mod use some imagination (ever heard of ‘(p)op art’? or just plain individuality…?)… The current movement’s reason for being mods is simple – it’s an excuse for a small, grass-roots, close-knit movement again. And NOBODY can criticise that, as long as it works out that way… The Wellington (just off Waterloo) is the best mod place on earth, as you’ve no doubt all heard (cynical git!). The first 2 times were mainly to see what the fuss was about. I saw the Merton Parkas one night, and The Chords the next – each time the pub was filled with just the right number of (mainly) real mods, with a friendly, warm atmosphere, plenty of kids (no concern for age), good beer, with bloody good groups for nothing. Two days later & LWT were there to film The Chords and Purple Hearts, and, you guessed it, it was a farce. Everybody thought the Purple Hearts were just soundchecking until they announced the next 3 songs would be recorded and their bassist was knocked out! Before the Chords were on, I could hear two obviously just ex-skinheads in parkas suggesting that any non-mods should ‘be booted out’. That’s a great movement you’ve got there, lads. Then The Chords took the stage to play a mere 4 or 5 numbers as crowds were kept back by a barrier, cameras pushed and jostled and The Chords tried to play. Alright, we weren’t paying for the show, but why didn’t LWT film a proper mod gig instead of creating their own false one?? Since then, the place has lost a lot of character and friendliness, and groups in general have moved out of the pubs and up to the Music Machine/Marquee circuit, along with South Coast gigs and all-day leisure centre evets, all seemingly mod festivals or no mod groups at all. One example is the 3-day Marquee mod festival recently held. The first night was almost ruined by a crowd of uniform mods (ie posers), who thought that jumping on stage was and is IT (equipment got nicked at the Notre Dame Hall during the Mods set due to that). The Chords were luckier than other groups in that respect, and a full house had a great time with them. The third night was the opposite – half-empty, hardly anyone that would even call mods and a crowd at the front who were into the ’77 game of pogoing, pushing and kicking. It seemed like the end of a movement already. At other times you’ve been able to go to ‘mod nites’ at the Music Machine, or the ‘biggest mod event since the ’60’s, with prizes for best scooter and parka….
“If we started saying we were a mod band, it would be as bad as just another form of racialism.” Paul Weller, Jan 79.
And bigotry brings us nicely to the mod fanzines…. Maximum Speed is the one you all know – the first, the biggest and the bigotest. To them the world started last Christmas, apart from a period between 1964 & 1966: they rave over groups like The Secret Affair as if they’ve had no past whatsoever; they only review mod bands; and yet the group they decide to manage, Back To Zero, are the most un-mod group yet to call themselves mods; For 20-30p, you can read about mods, mods and more mods; and you may even be convinced that mod is the only thing that exists today. Much better is ‘Two Returns To Brighton Please Mate – Oh And Two Dozen Leapers!’ The first issue was very cynical towards current mods (except some people believed the sarcastic comments) and had good, varied articles, with great drawings. But the only advance made on no. 3 (no. 2 was a strange non-event) is more pages. The photos are only full-page and the layout can make for very hard-reading. No. 4 should have a lot of colour, and the enthusiasm knocks the others sideways anyway. 20p from Orchard House, Court Yard, Eltham, London, SE9 5QE. There are plenty of others, but most are only being sold at local gigs – not a good sign. Groovy Times is rather clichéd, filled up with mod gig reviews, and it doesn’t seem to have much future. Two more are 54321 and Face To Face, neither of which I’ve seen. The mod mags are quite varied; most are like normal fanzines, except Two Returns, but then as I said, it’s layout is it’s weakest point. And that just leaves… the bands. (What makes a mod band? Noone knows. The bands mentioned are so either because they call themselves mods, or mods have adopted them.) THE CHORDS, THE TEENBEATS and SPEEDBALL are all dealt with elsewhere, so… The SECRET AFFAIR make me very bitter. How many of you remember Jamming’s 2-5, when I raved about an ignored bunch called the New Hearts? The spirit of mod was in them, which was one reason I really liked them, and which is also why they got caught up in the powerpop thing. It was also why they had no press at all, and that was why they split up. The core of the New Hearts is now the core of the Secret Affair, and now the mods are ‘in’ they’re on the cover of Sounds, and are one of the mod bands. The songs are much heavier than NH, Time For Action being the most memorable. Ian Pain (not Page, Mr. Bushell) uses trumpet for variety and their strong musicianship puts them one up on the other mod groups. I don’t know if they feel as bitter as me, but it will be a shame if songs like Young Boys, Here Come The Ordinaries, Revolution? What Revolution are left in the vaults forever because of media fashions. The PURPLE HEARTS are undeniably among the leaders of the revival, but unfortunately, punks in mod’s clothing. ‘Jimmy’ and ‘Millions Like Us’ are 2 great songs, but that’s all they’ve really got. The rest of the set is like your local punk band (they once played London’s Burning 8 times in a row), and they actually tell people to “Stop pogoing”. Need I say more? The MERTON PARKAS are getting a lot of good press now that they deserve. A host of good songs (Plastic Smile and You Need Wheels among them) and well-played oldies (notably Steppin’ Stone) makes for a good night out, though, and this goes for every mod band, very unoriginal. One thing I really want to bitch about is choice of oldies – Stepping Stone (Purple Hearts, Merton Parkas); Hey Girl (Merton Parkas, Chords); Circles (Chords, Teenbeats); The Kids Are Alright (Merton Parkas, Killermeters) etc etc. It’s a shame – there’s so many good, less well-known songs around. The MODS, despite the name, are a band worth seeing. Hard and heavy, with a lot of good songs, they’ve had no press, but don’t believe all you don’t read & see them. BACK TO ZERO, as I said, are the most un-mod mods around. The drummer’s a hippy; the bassist looks like a soulhead; the guitarist like he’s out of The Famous 5, and the singer is the only true in the band. I don’t give a shit whether they’re mods or not (I’m digging at Maximum Speed), except the music’s bad. Their songs all seem to concern boys, are very weak (only the singer keeps it together), and their version of Glad All Over is a disaster. I planned to write quite a bit about SQUIRE and the KILLERMETERS but they’re not worth the space. They’re both cashing in sickeningly and the versions of Can’t Explain and Kids Are Alright insult Pete Townshend. Other groups I’ve heard varying reports about, but the names get worse as they go along – THE FIXATIONS, STAN’S BLUES BAND, RICKY TICS, INDICATORS, LITTLE ROOSTER (ex-Cock Sparrer!!), LAMBRETTAS, VESPAS, SCOOTERS, DETOURS, LOW NUMBERS etc etc etc. So that’s more or less the end of my article. Quadrophenia is due out any day now, and when it is released, the mod movement is likely to die a death. Mods are already fighting rockers on the south coast, and there are more posers than you would believe possible – it would be a shame if it only lasts 6 months. So now, go and see a mod band if you feel so inclined, you could see some good groups, you’re likely (but not likely enough) to enjoy a friendly atmosphere, and you should find some interesting people to talk to. But before running out to buy all the gear, ask yourself – what will be left in 6 months?