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Customer Review

35 of 36 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars No Attention to Detail - more ABC than A to Z, 17 Jun. 2012
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This review is from: A to Z of Mod (Paperback)
My initial impression on picking up the A to Z of Mod is that it is a well presented book of a nice size with some excellent photos and illustrations. Written by Paolo Hewitt and Mark Baxter, we are told that the authors are experts in Mod (something for the readers to decide, surely). On close examination, the content of the book appears to suffer from style over substance and is more of an ABC of Mod than an A to Z; a primer to give a taste of what the Mod style is, rather than anything definitive and comprehensive.

What I found somewhat bizarre were the sections dedicated to Bradley Wiggins, The Young Disciples, Galliano etc. yet no sections for legendary Mod DJ, Tony Class, no mention of the Phoenix List or the Phoenix & CCI Rallies. Also conspicuous by its absence is the whole 80's Mod scene, which was probably Mod in its purest, sharpest, form (those of us involved were there because it was our choice, not because we were riding the wave of a latest fashion trend) - no pieces on The Truth, Makin Time, The Moment, The Prisoners, The Rage, The Gents, The Direct Hits, The Jetset or The Risk etc. And no mention of Unicorn Records (or Detour Records, Twist Records and Biff Bang Pow Records for that matter) or `Sneakers' club. The section on fanzines (should have been `Modzines') pretty much moves from Maximum Speed and Extraordinary Sensations of the revival period to Double Breasted and the excellent Heavy Soul of the last couple of years - no mention of Derek & Jackie's `In The Crowd'; the longest running and biggest selling Modzine of all time.

And if you are going to mention Richard Barnes' `Mods!' book, please read it first; it was published in 1979 not 1989, and Richard was never a Mod (although the A to Z describe him as, "an early Mod, lived the life, buying all the best clobber"). On the first page of narrative of `Mods!', Richard Barnes himself says, "I wasn't a Mod and never even thought of being a Mod."

Also, The Who's Pop Art album with the adverts between songs was 'Sell Out' from 1967, not 'A Quick One' from 1966 as the book suggests.

As for the film `Quadrophenia', the book states, "events conspire to render Jimmy suicidal and he is last seen riding along the cliff tops - the scooter is then seen flying over a cliff and the viewer is left to figure out our hero's fate." We all saw Jimmy walking away from the cliff top at the very beginning of the film so there is nothing to "figure out".

On the plus side, it was great to see The Hideaway Club get a decent mention and the influence they have had on the modern day scene acknowledged.

It would appear to be a book on the Mod scene written by outsiders looking in and I can't help thinking that this would have been a far better book had it been put together by a Paul `Smiler' Anderson, an author for whom Mod is a way of life, rather than someone who knows a bit about the 60's Mod scene, The Jam, Oasis and Acid Jazz (apparently loafers were made popular again by The Style Council - although they only formed in 1983; never mind those of us on the scene in 1979 who had been wearing them for 4 years pre Style Council, probably due to the influence of 2-Tone).

Much of the essence of Mod is attention to detail - something that is sadly lacking here. Overall, I found the A to Z of Mod a disappointing attempt at what could have been a very good book. And that's a great shame.
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Tracked by 3 customers

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Showing 1-8 of 8 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 19 Jun 2012 11:13:01 BDT
Last edited by the author on 24 Jul 2012 13:01:01 BDT
I agree with your comments on the exclusion of Bands,Djs & the 80s scene that strived to willingly keep Modernism moving in the right direction ,even when some moved on to other fleeting fashions,many of us waited & held on to the real Mod bands,Groups & functions,weekenders Bank holidays etc seeking out bands & people still possessing the Mod ethics etc,Hanging on & around those kind of sensations in music and such,
Then/until a re-surge came along with the more Mod/beat boy British (brit-pop) bands of the 90's Gene,O.C.Scene etc then on into the noughties Ordinary Boys,Dogs,Rifles et al.

Please can some author/cronicle archiver carry on from the late 70's Mod's,covering lots of the punk-mod-pop & Maximum Rhythm & Blues ,New Soul Vision bands and some of the Ska groups of the 80's (all this given a title.. later on as 'Mod Revival') well i can't speak for all,but we new wave Modernists considered those times as moving onward with Soulful-House,Acid Jazz,new Garage(rock),Weller and co and all the surrounding Mod connected happenings as not a revival but a move forward.It is maybe partly true as i know some Mod's were more retro in their ways ,though most wanted the Modernism ever moving on by taking past influences & modernising them... i rant too much - but hey!

Lets have a good book including input by stalwards of the Mod's scene,i dint think that i need to say or repeat their names,all mods know who they really were and are,Weller once stated to Jonno Ross something akin too saying that he would always be a MOD,nuff said by Paul.
Many of your other comments are also really valid about The Who recordings,the mistaken view on the "Quadrophenia" story etc Paulo has been a good writer of these things,now sometimes getting lost without P.W.s assistance or guidance,me thinks ?

Posted on 23 Jun 2012 12:54:45 BDT
Last edited by the author on 19 Nov 2012 19:02:56 GMT
pete melvets says:
Fair shout. I take everything Mr Hewiit says with a pinch of salt. I remember an article in Melody Maker, 1979/80, where he interviews the Merton Parkas. His first statement is, 'I don't like mod ...' (or words to that effect, and then years later he's reinvented himself as an uber mod with a homoerotic crush on Paul Weller! Don't like the way he writes either, too Gary Bushellish.

Posted on 25 Jun 2012 16:28:31 BDT
Cheers Paul!
Bax

Posted on 26 Jul 2012 23:07:41 BDT
I think paulo problem is that a few of the cool gang think the 80's mods weren't really mods, and that casuals were really mods. So like you I loved loads of bands from all over the world, tell tale hearts anyone? So the cool gang, were waiting for weller, But they were born again, when stones roses made in roads to people's hearts. The answer is I think to write a book ourselves, personally I am up for it.

Posted on 19 Nov 2012 19:02:12 GMT
[Deleted by the author on 19 Nov 2012 19:03:20 GMT]

Posted on 22 Mar 2013 11:06:42 GMT
Cheers Paul - very well written review and helped me decide not to buy this book. Having met Paul 'Smiler' Anderson many times over the last 20 years I totally agree with your comment about him writing from a 'real' Mods perspective, as although his hair is thinning a little nowadays (sorry Paul) he typifies the Mod style of both the 60's and 70's/80's. He is also releasing a book entitled Mods: The New Religion in October so I will now wait and buy that instead.

In reply to an earlier post on 11 Apr 2013 12:23:06 BDT
L. Miller says:
Paulo Hewitt is the Alan Titchmarsh of Mod writing so if you're looking for inspired comment, insight and facts then look elsewhere because you're not going to get it here. How this leach managed to grab onto the coat-tails of Paul Weller and become an information point of all-things MOD is beyond me. Save your cash and buy a decent book from someone that actually likes the music.

In reply to an earlier post on 24 Apr 2013 13:25:23 BDT
pete melvets says:
Brilliant! Alan Titchmarsh!
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