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on 5 May 2012
It's fair to say that some of the previous attempts to sum up Modernism - Britain's most enduring youth cult - have fallen well short of the mark. It's an extraordinary omission - especially as Mods were (and are) renowned for an almost obsessive attitude towards detail. From cycling shirts to tonic suits, cappuccino to amphetamines, Mods employed a fastidious approach to their style; compromise never once an option.

With the genre fast approaching its half century, it's gratifying to see that Paolo Hewitt and Mark Baxter have created the ultimate guide to the movement with "The A-Z of Mod". Both clearly schooled in the art of fine taste and presentation, it's an encyclopaedia of all things Mod that should please - as well as inform - all of those who share an interest in this extraordinary lifestyle.

Liberally illustrated and pleasingly accessible, the book's text is sharp and to the point - never once underestimating its subject matter. With the potential for another Mod explosion bubbling away in the background, the book will act as the primer for anyone wishing to embark on the journey that's enchanted numerous generations. Equally, for those of us who've immersed ourselves in Modernism in varying degrees - there's enough new material here to re-engage us with what drew us in originally.

Cool, clean and hard - Modernism's journey into the future is assured by a book such as this.
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on 4 June 2012
Mod's early days were caught in amber by Colin MacInnes's 1959 novel Absolute Beginners, whose title conveniently makes it the opening entry here. It depicted the hip modernist (not the Gertrude Stein kind) flitting between jazz gigs and coffee bars on his Italian scooter. Like MacInnes's narrator, mods drew their music from black America and their style and philosophy from the continent. The scene developed according to a strict aesthetic: scooters over motorbikes, speed over weed, looking good over everything else. The most famous definition of mod came several years later from Pete Meaden, the man who once managed the Who: "Clean living under difficult circumstances."

Meaden's resonant phrase merits unpacking. To him, the mods' conspicuous consumption was a form of defiant working-class aspiration, while to another early mod, Steve Sparks, it was spawned by art school beatniks. There are many aspects to debate, but this is not a book that sets out to debate them. It reads like a series of unedited Wikipedia entries, larding received wisdom with matey cliches. People are always "shooting to fame" from "humble beginnings", before "growing old Modfully" or dying and going to "Mod heaven". The ideal reader is either a middle-aged man keen to spend an afternoon waxing nostalgic about Quadrophenia and Vespas, or an undercover police officer planning to infiltrate a mod cartel and looking for the right names to drop. Anyone else will find a lot of what and no why.

And yet the authors' straightforward cataloguing of bands and brands does tell you something about this most fetishistically materialistic of youth cults by showing how the mod's-eye can verge on myopia. The wider world registers only sporadically: JFK appears because mods liked his haircut and the Korean war gets a mention for introducing the M-51 fishtail parka. Beloved artforms are shortchanged by curious emphasis. You would think from these entries that Miles Davis was a dapper dresser who played a bit of trumpet and that À bout de souffle was chiefly notable for the way Jean-Paul Belmondo held his cigarette.

The mods certainly treasured music, whether it be jazz, ska, r'n'b or soul, but also the cultural capital that came from owning the rarest, most desirable discs. When Roger Eagle, resident DJ at Manchester's Twisted Wheel, saw the Rolling Stones entering the club in 1963 he taunted them by playing, in sequence, every song they had covered on their debut album - "a brilliant mod put-down," say the authors. It's certainly funny but it suggests a man who couldn't see the wood because he was too busy flaunting his in-depth knowledge of the trees.

The mods' belief that looking good was practically a moral virtue could be, the authors acknowledge, their achilles heel. A 1965 anti-smoking ad (one of the many fascinating archive images that are the book's main attraction) encourages readers of Rave magazine to quit in order to spend the money saved on fab mod gear. Notorious rock manager Don Arden gave the Small Faces accounts in every boutique on Carnaby Street so that when they asked him about royalties he could claim they'd spent them all on clothes. You suspect Hewitt and Baxter would have been easy meat for Arden. Entry by entry, their relentless attention to the external details at the expense of the deeper resonances hinted at by Paul Weller begins to remind you of someone. So it's true. Patrick Bateman in American Psycho is indeed "totally mod".
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on 24 July 2012
I agree with some of the peoples 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 ?
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on 28 December 2017
A copiously illustrated compendium of all aspects of this most enduring of youth movements.Each short entry serves to provide a nostalgic frisson,a nod of recognition or maybe even a stimulus to further reading.Hewitt has proved himself a loyal and knowledgable "keeper of the faith" for many a year and while this book has no agenda and certainly doesn't claim to be the last word on the subject,it nevertheless provides the reader with a fairly comprehensive overview of its subject.Though perhaps on reflection,"An A to Z of Mod", might be a better title.
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on 15 July 2015
As with most Paulo Hewitt books it is quite week in content and big on promise. Any young person looking for a brief history lesson in early mod culture there are some good facts. But trying to portray the guy out the office as a modern day Mod, just laughable. Paulo is the guy who stuck close to Paul Weller but fails to understand the true culture of MOD. it is being an individual with style not a shopping list of where to buy expensive shirts from an ex owned M&S shop Brooke brothers. Oh I laughed. It took me 4 hours on the beach this summer to read the whole book and it was tres boring.
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on 22 May 2012
This is a great book. Period. It covers culture, fashion, films, music, politics etc. It covers the decades - from the late 1950s right up to 2012. While I don't agree with all that is in here - and there are some omissions - what this books does is get you thinking. It is an invitation to a debate over being a mod. It joins up some dots, makes some connections, and reminds you - if you need it - that there is a philosophy underpinning what you listen to, what you watch and what you wear. So buy the book, and remind yourself that it is, after all, a modern world.
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on 19 May 2012
This book looks small, but is packed full of pages dedicated to the many facets of 'Mod'. A must to read and digest ...it really brings home to you, what 'Mod' from the early 60s was about. It all started with your 'attitude' and what you wanted out of your life and the route you wanted to take, as you went about your daily life. Buy, buy, buy.
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on 4 June 2012
Beautiful little book from Messrs Baxter & Hewitt yet again come up trumps. Great pics and nice snappy write ups. Mr Martin Freeman writes a very nice forward letting us know his take on why MODA to Z of Mod is so important to him. Pocket size guide to all things MOD, you need this book in your life if your a decening MOD about town
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on 3 May 2017
My husband loves the book.
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on 25 November 2015
Bought as a present - well received.
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