The Mod Revival

by Chris Cameron

mods revival
NME Mod article
At the start of 1979 few people in my age bracket would have even heard of Mods. But by the end of that year everyone was aware of exactly what a Mod was. A full scale Mod revival had burst on to the youth scene in Britain, and although it had its roots in 1978, it was certainly 1979 that was the year of the Mod revival.

Just about everyone with an opinion on the issue of the late 1970s Mod revival dates it to the release of The Jam’s amazing ‘All Mod Con’s’ LP in November 1978. The inside sleeve was filled with iconic Mod images such as a Vespa scooter, and classic Mod vinyls such as ‘Road Runner’ by Junior Walker, ‘Biff Bang Pow’ by The Creation, and a great looking LP named ‘Sounds Like Ska’ which I have sadly never heard. The first single chosen from ‘All Mod Con’s’ set the tone for the revival in that it was a cover of The Kinks classic ‘David Watts.’ The second, released in late 1978 was the unforgettable ‘Down in the Tube Station at Midnight,’ an original composition that took the band to new heights and saw Paul Weller put the boot into the emerging right wing National Front. The foundations were certainly strong, as events in the early part of 1979 would show.

purple hearts
Purple Hearts
Two of the bands forever associated with the revival were The Purple Hearts and Secret Affair, and members of both of these bands were to the forefront in defining the new Mod style.

They had been dressing as Mods from around 1978, but thought that they were isolated in that choice. But a growing number of young people, many of whom had become disenchanted with Punk, were looking for something more sophisticated to channel their energies into, and Mod fitted the bill perfectly.

Another key catalyst that can be cited in the emergence of the Mod revival came when the NME ran a four page story on the Mod phenomenon in mid April 1979. As well as outlining the past history of the movement it also showcased some of the up and coming bands including the two previously mentioned. The same issue also advertised the first of the famous Mod nights in the Bridgehouse pub in London, featuring a couple of the bands that would a month later be involved in the making of the famous Mods Mayday 79 LP. Although the LP did not make a huge dent in the charts on its release, it did have a massive impact on the burgeoning late 70s Mod movement, and helped to spread the good news.

By the Autumn of 1979 the worst kept secret was known to all. The charts were being assailed with great songs by bands such as The Chords, The Purple Hearts, The Jam, and Secret Affair. And just as importantly, a film about the original Mods called ‘Quadrophenia’ came out, catching the imagination of the public. The Mod revival was now a reality, and in Glasgow it caught on in a big way. In October 1979 the Evening Times newspaper ran a middle page spread on the new sensation that had hit the city. The first real Glasgow Mod haunt in those early days was a pub in Howard street named the Mars Bar, which was followed by The Rooster in Glassford street. A year later the Mod scene in Glasgow would be so vibrant that it justified having two clubs four days a week, catering only for the cool Glasgow Mod crowd.

Chris C
Chris Cameron
This work is the copyright of Chris Cameron. The views expressed are purely those of the author and are not attributable to any other person or institution.

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