on 23 May 2001
Without a doubt this book is the business!
This book brings back great memories - from the Flamingo to Tottenham Royal ( and yes - it was an Otis Redding special on RSG ). It's full of detail. Stripped down scooters, Raoul Shoes ( they had a branch in Stoke Newington High Road as well as Wardour Street ) R & B and Soul,posing, Clacton. The author really knows his stuff.
Those were the days - it really was a great period. The clubs, the clothes, the sounds, the general style and attitude. This is the most authentic book on the subject that I've seen. Great pix too -it's like looking at yesterday!
on 29 March 2013
Richard Barnes 'Mods!' is the de-facto book on Mod and was the first work in this area of note. I remember as a teenage Mod taking this book to the barbers to ensure my French Line was cut correctly. At the time, we all looked to this booked for inspiration on style and knowledge of the original Mod scene as we tried to hone our wardrobes into something special. I was also fortunate to be able to interview Richard in late 2011 for a 'Movers & Shakers' piece that I was writing for Scootering Magazine.
Richard told me, "Although I hadn't been a mod in the sixties, I'd been closely involved with the Who from the early days. The Who's mod/Pete Meaden phase, as the High Numbers, coincided with my running a club in North West London, the Railway Hotel in Wealdstone, which, along with the Shepherd's Bush Goldhawk Club, became the High Numbers mod launch pad and quickly transformed into a major mod venue (See 1964 footage of High Numbers at Railway on Amazing Journey DVD - or YouTube). A few years earlier I'd been involved with the staged mod photo shoots for the 44-page book that accompanied the original 1973 Quadrophenia album.I had firm views on rock and pop books at that time. I didn't rate most of them as they were written by journalists who weren't speaking from experience but from a few lazy researched phone calls. I said that I didn't know much about, let alone understand, the new Mods, so I would just do a book on the original Mods.
I did some research on the new Mods. Interviewing some and went to see a band that I was told were a new mod band at the time, Madness. I talked to them after a London gig. However, I couldn't really get to the heart of the new Mods so I dropped that part of the book. I didn't want to write about what I didn't know.
We conducted some very rigorous and thorough picture research, visiting every major photo agency in London but repeatedly came up against a brick wall. Everywhere we went and requested their photographs of Mods they'd look at us as though we were from Mars. They had nothing. Absolutely nothing. They had files on students, CND marchers, Teddy Boys, beatniks, and trads, but nothing remotely like Mods. It became a major problem.
I'd got wonderfully meticulous and thorough information from the Mods and faces I'd interviewed so I knew that the book's text would be complete and impressive. It was suggested that we release the book with mainly text, however I'm a visual person (I'd been at art school during the early sixties), and was definitely, a 'picture's worth a thousand words' man. In the Quadrophenia booklet, we'd printed the photographs without any captions or explanations. In my view a book on Mods had to have actual photographs of the sixties Mods otherwise there was no point.
Eventually we assembled about 20 photographs and by blowing up different parts and treating them with various graphic effects we could stretch them out to make it look like we had a lot more. We made a mock up of how it would be but although it met with approval I decided to scrap it and go back to the drawing board. We started picture research all over again and this time we struck lucky. About five years earlier I'd worked in the Daily Mirror and I went in to see if I could get a look at their picture files. The chief librarian spotted me and asked me what I was doing and when I told him he said, 'leave it with me'. He assumed I still worked there and it slipped my mind to tell him. The Daily Mirror then owned a huge picture agency called Syndication International; He talked of an aircraft hanger full of photographs. We soon had a proper selection of photographs of proper sixties Mods. Several of cool-looking kids on scooters at Brighton.
Then at one of the oldest picture agencies, Popperfoto in Fleet Street, I found some great pics taken inside and outside the Scene Club. The Faces standing, posing, 'maintaining their cool' outside in Ham Yard were just so typical of that era. The big breakthrough came when my assistant on the Mods! Book, legendary sixties face, Johnny Moke discovered a stack of contact sheets in a colour photo agency, neglected in a drawer because they were only black and white. These were taken by British photographer Terry Spencer (see article in Scooter mag) in 1963 for an article on swinging London for Life magazine in the US. He'd captured these fantastic images of Mods in clubs, on scooters, in Carnaby Street, at the riots - the lot. As far as I was concerned, he was a genius. His pictures really captured the zeitgeist of the Mods, and of the sixties.
When researching for my 1979 book `Mods!' I determined to trace the origins of the Mods. It appeared that the early mod movement was the product of a fascinating process of social evolution. The neat, tightly controlled mod movement evolved from various disconnected characters or small groups that all eventually fused probably over two or three years into one overall group of similar like-minded souls. There were various committed teenager free spirits calling themselves 'Individualists' and 'Modernists'. These were kids who were passionately into fashion; many were middle class, mostly male. These kids were obsessed with fashion and style, and discovered an appreciation and enthusiasm for Italian tailoring,
Over a period they combined with Scooter boys and others and developed into what we now know as Mods. As they latched on to this emerging, unifying style, the more eccentric and ostentatious Individualists, either adapted their look, or were left behind.
When I was at school I remember kids as young as 13 altered the school uniform to make it less formal. They'd get their trousers tapered, start wearing winklepickers, and, what was much more of a statement, instead of the usual standard short, back and sides haircut, they'd get it styled in a Perry Como', American 'College Boy' or a 'French Crew' cut, Sometimes they had to take in a picture for the barber to copy. As with the later Mods, the very distinct statements these kids were making to each other were probably invisible to the rest; the unenlightened and the teachers. These same kids would be listening to modern jazz. Not bebop, not Charlie Parker or Coltrane, nothing frantic, but to the smoother, sophisticated subtler jazz sounds of the Modern Jazz Quartet or Dave Brubeck. These guys would probably have been labelled Modernists.
However the movement grew and evolved and I don't think a working class mod in 1964 would necessarily have felt any connection with fifties modern jazz, let alone with the Forties jazz era. He or she might hear Jimmy McGriff, Jimmy Smith or Mose Alison, but these would be labelled R&B rather than jazz."
So there you have it from Richard himself. This is, in my opinion, a great book and if you have any interest in Mod then I can't recommend this highly enough.