Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Various Artists - The Phase III Mod Bands (PHZ-6)

01. City Motions - Theme
02. XL - The World To Me
03. The Pictures - My Home Town
04. Manual Scan - 31968

1987 Unicorn Records | PHZ-6

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Various Artists - Doing It For The Kids

01. The Jasmine Minks - You Cut Me Deep
02. Felt - Ballad Of The Band
03. The House Of Love - Christine
04. The Weather Prophets - Well Done Sonny
05. Primal Scream - All Fall Down
06. Biff Bang Pow! - She Paints
07. The Jazz Butcher - Lot 49
08. Heidi Berry - North Shore Train
09. Nikki Sudden - Death Is Hanging Over Me
10. My Bloody Valentine - Cigarette In My Bed
11. Pacific - Jetstream
12. The Times - Godevil
13. Momus - A Complete History Of Sexual Jealousy (Parts 17-24)
14. Emily - Reflect On Rye
15. Razorcuts - Brighter Now

1988 Creation Records | CRELP037

Not a mod record as such, but in 1989 when I got this, I had been beginning to cast my net a bit wider for new sounds. Needs must and all that. I had passed it over a few times before, but I had noticed it had a Times track and some of the band names sounded vibey. Then I read somewhere that Alan McGee had named the label after my favourite 60s band The Creation, not to mention calling his band Biff Bang Pow! after one of their tracks, and I was sold. I suppose Creation Records offered me (and probably many others) a way out of being soley into mod music while keeping my mod credentials. It was the perfect missing link between mod music and the sounds I was later into. It also played no small part in mod music in general regaining its iconic status during the nineties, when bands like Ride, Oasis and others were declaring their 60s influences.
Like most compilations, it's patchy fare at times, but it does feature some soon to be big names like Primal Scream, House Of Love and My Bloody Valentine, who are still one of my favourite bands, though Cigarette In My Bed went right over my head at the time. Other worthy mentions go to the Jasmine Minks opener and the beautiful Brighter Now by The Razorcuts which closes the album.

The Style Council - Introducing mini LP

01. Long Hot Summer
02. Headstart For Happiness
03. Speak Like A Child
04. Long Hot Summer (Club Mix)
05. The Paris Match
06. Mick's Up
07. Money-Go-Round

1983 Polydor Records | 8152771

The Style Council - Speak Like A Child 7"

01. Speak Like A Child
02. Party Chambers

1983 Polydor Records | TSC1

The most divisive 45 of 80s mod music? It was a couple of years before I would get into mod sounds, but I can only imagine the reaction when this bounded out of peoples speakers, like a spoiled child in new trainers, in the spring of 1983. For some, it was a betrayal. For others it showed a bright, new future. It pretty much set the agenda for the endless "that's not mod" arguments throughout the decade, not least because the group were actually successful. Like The Jam, The Style Council had appeal beyond the confines of mod listeners and as a mod, you couldn't be listening to the same sounds as the commoners, could you? In fairness to Weller, it was no mean feat to have survived the '79 backlash and still be the biggest band in the UK when the Jam split in '82. Or to be in a commercially successful mod band (though they mightn't have admitted it at the time) in the decade that mod forgot. It could be argued that The Style Council were more mod than The Jam, drawing on jazz and soul as opposed to punk.
It was really the first time that someone offered a new take on the original mod template while trying to reconcile itself with its bright, new 80s surroundings, rather than retreating into 60s revisionism or filtering it through punk's angry fire (as The Jam had already done). The problem for many (and for much 80s mod music) was that these new surroundings, all synths and bright, shiny surfaces, didn't sit well with the classic, gritty rumble of the mod sounds of old. In its wake were left the factions of '79 revivalists, the purist "elitist" mods and the "modern" mods at each others throats for the rest of the decade. Did I like it? Of course. But I mightn't have told you.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Various Artists - The Phase III Mod Bands (PHZ-13)

01. The Key - Nothing Gets Better
02. The Sons Of Jet - Marilyn Monroe
03. The Second Generation - Throw It All Away
04. The Switch - Please Don't Walk Away

1987 Unicorn Records | PHZ-13

Three cuts of miserable, introspective guitar pop which would probably have felt more at home on a C86 compilation, rather than a mod record. Only The Sons Of Jet's quirky Marilyn Monroe saves the day. Nothing Gets Better was probably how most mods were feeling at the time. Soul searching without the soul.

The Truth - Playground 7"

01. Playground
02. Don't You Just Know It

1985 Illegal Records | TRUTH3

Featuring the title track of their Playground album, this was probably The Truth's best single. Less poppy than what had come before, it harked back to a sound more in keeping with The Who or The Jam, and was one of the better mod singles of the day.

The Truth website

The Truth - No Stone Unturned EP

01. No Stone Unturned
02. Flesh And Fantasy
03. Don't Tell Me

1984 Formation Records | YZ1T

More soulful pop from The Truth, who were headed up by former Nine Below Zero frontman Dennis Greaves. This was the 12" release of the band's fourth single which also appeared in a white text on red sleeve.

The Truth website

The Co-Stars - Kiss And Make Up EP

01. Kiss And Make Up
02. Not Ready For Love
03. Roll On The Weekend

1984 A New Individual Record Company | AIRLT101

Not something that got many plays round my way at the time, mostly due to the very 80s production, which was all snappy bass and parping brass, backed with a big 80s reverbed snare. I remember picking this up second hand somewhere due to the fact that I had seen their name on a couple of compilations at the time. Namely the infamous Dedicated: The Mod Live-Aid Alldayer album and Countdown's 54321 Go compilation, which featured Not Ready For Love. It also thanks Eddie Piller in the credits on the back. Singer Bryn Gregory was last reported to be back in Cardiff playing the blues.

The Jetset - April, May, June And The Jetset

01. The Story Of The World
02. Does It Look Like Rain?
03. What A Way To Go!
04. You Won't Believe Your Eyes
05. Dreaming Of Jeanie
06. Judy's Toy Box
07. R.S.V.P.
08. Can You Hear My Heartbeat?
09. The Late Great Frank Lewis
10. Watch Yourself

1986 Hi-Lo Records | LO7

The Second Generation - Spy-Catcher

01. Kick In The Teeth
02. Standard Life
03. Throw It All Away
04. Fate
05. Day Of The Triffids
06. You're All Mine
07. Spy-Catcher
08. Changing Faces
09. Thinking Of You
10. Pictures On My Wall
11. The Way You Were
12. Look Who's Coming

1988 Unicorn Records | PHZA-22

A Scottish band from Fife formed by vocalist Rod Spark, which would record this LP and the Throw It All Away EP for Unicorn in the late 80s. The album suffered from pretty ropey production values, no doubt due more to financial costs than the efforts of producer Jamie Watson. Recorded between two studios (Chamber & Energy) the album highlighted the bands 60s garage influences, with the inclusion of some hammond organ earning them comparisons to The Prisoners. They released another EP on Amazadisc a year or so later and split soon after. Rod now runs the Groove Tunnel studio space in Edinburgh while drummer Steve Mason would go on to greater success as main man of The Beta Band and King Biscuit Time.

The Second Generation biography on Groove Tunnel

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Makin' Time - Feels Like It's Love EP

01. Feels Like It's Love (Extended Version)
02. Honey (Fast Version)
03. Walk A Thin Line

1985 Countdown Records | 12VAIN2

Makin' Time - Pump It Up EP

01. Pump It Up
02. Once Again
03. Walk A Thin Line
04. Eating Up The Cold

1986 Countdown Records | 12VAIN5

The Moment - The Work Gets Done

01. And With This Ring
02. In This Town
03. Flag To Fight Behind
04. Karl's New Haircut
05. Games We Played
06. One, Two They Fly
07. The Tailor Made
08. Just Once
09. In Front Of Men
10. The Race
11. The Work Gets Done

1985 Rave Records | RAVE1

Most 80s mods will have fond memories of The Moment who were one of the better bands out there. The sound was as much '79 than 80s with the usual Jam and 60s influences, backed by Adrian Holders songwriting skills. The added brass section gave the album, which was produced by The Times' Ed Ball and Paul Bevoir from The Jetset, some extra beef underneath the spiky guitars. This was their only album while Tangerine Records have since released a best of called Mod Gods! The Best of the Moment. In 2008, Adrian Holder released his debut solo album Whistleblower.

The Milkshakes - Fourteen Rhythm & Beat Greats

01. Seven Days
02. Black Sails (In The Moonlight)
03. Exactly Like You
04. A Girl Called Mine
05. Sad Girl
06. I Want You
07. Cadalina
08. No-one Else
09. I Need No-one
10. You Did Her Wrong
11. Can You Tell Me
12. Red Monkey
13. Take You Home
14. Wo' Now

1982 Big Beat Records | WIKM23

The Risk - Loud Shirts And Stripes

01. Man Insane
02. Jobs For The Boys
03. It's So Strange
04. Always
05. Ambition
06. Twilight Zone
07. Last Train
08. Picture Of You
09. Oppression
10. Whisky And wine

1987 Unicorn Records | PHZA-2
The Risk fanpage

Various Artists - The Cutting Edge

01. Purple Hearts - Let's Get A Burger Man
02. The Risk - I Know A Girl
03. Beat Direction - Ska Au Go Go
04. 5:30 - Catcher In The Rye
05. XL - Here Today, Gone Tomorrow
06. Manual Scan - Jungle Beat
07. The Blades - A Chance To Stop (Demo)
08. The Dansette - This Is Your Life
09. The Risk - Nice People
10. Solid State - Train To London Town
11. Squire - Debbie Jones (Demo)
12. Ministers Of The Groove - Getting Out Of Your Life
13. The Blades - Last Man In Europe (Demo)
14. The Dansette - I Will Be Strong

1985 Razor Records | RAZS16

I got this a few years after it was released at a time when my interest in the mod scene was waning, so my memories of it are quite mixed. At the time, it was considered one of the better compilation of 80s mod bands, though there was quite a range in quality and production. Of interest were the two Blades tracks which were alternate versions of those which appeared on their Last Man In Europe album. It also featured the first 5:30 (aka Five Thirty) single, who would go on to earn some praise in the UK music weeklies in the early 90s. The Squire track Debbie Jones was also an alternative version to that which appeared on the September Gurls EP, utilising what sounds like an early drum machine and some odd dual mono panning in the mix. I think this version may have popped up on their fanclub album Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed. One of the better things about the album was the artwork, credited to P. Hallam and Terry Rawlings, author of the book MOD: A Very British Phenomenon.

Monday, August 10, 2009

The Truth - Exception Of Love 7"

01. Exception Of Love
02. If Ever You Find Love!

1984 I.R.S. | IRS115

The A-side was taken from the group's Playground album, which I was very fond of, though again, they were one of those bands which divided opinions at the time. Basically if you were in the "it's ok to like The Style Council" group, you probably liked these. The sound is very similar to Weller's old outfit and the swinging lead track is quite reminiscent of Speak Like A Child, while the flip's soulful stomp echoes Solid Bond In Your Heart. Due to licensing complications, The Truth have yet to appear on a long overdue 'best of' re-issue, but Playground can be picked up here. The artwork on the single is credited to Terry Rawlings and Eddie Piller.

The Truth website

The Truth - A Step In The Right Direction 7"

01. A Step In The Right Direction
02. Beat Generation

1983 Formation Records | TRUTH2

This was the third Truth single and was typical of their catchy, 60s pop sound. The flip reminded me of The Monkees hit A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You.

The Truth website

Five Thirty - Supernova 7"

01. Supernova
02. Still Life

1991 East West Records | YZ594

Five Thirty page at Forgotten Band Planet

Five Thirty - Air Conditioned Nightmare 7"

01. Air Conditioned Nightmare
02. Mistress Daydream

1990 East West Records | YZ543

Five Thirty page at Forgotten Band Planet

The Jetset - Go Bananas!

01. (Blow Your Mind) The Other Side Of Joe
02. You Should Know By Now
03. The Make Believe World Of Melanie Bennett
04. Once In A Lifetime
05. The Flavour Of The Year (Banana)
06. Little Miss Rainbow
07. Bad!
08. The Wheels Of Love
09. That Girl About Town
10. Six O'Clock People
11. Only Joking

1986 The Dance Network | WORK4

Anthony Meynell & Squire - September Gurls 12"

01. September Gurls
02. Debbie Jones
03. Boys Don't Lie
04. Tired Of Hiding
05. Can You Tell Me When

1984 Hi-Lo Records | HIS005

Squire always stood apart from their more punky '79 contemporaries due to their distictly 60s revisionist sound and the uncanny song writing skills of Anthony Meynell which was rooted in classic English pop. They were one of the few bands to keep going after the press had left the mod revival behind, always operating in a time zone all of their own. Despite occasionally verging on the twee end of guitar pop, I was always quite fond of them. This beauty from 1984 featured a sterling version of Big Star's September Gurls, the rasping psych-pop of Debbie Jones with Meynell wondering when his ship will finally come in on the last track. And well he might have wondered. Squire were just one of those bands that were probably huge in some other dimension, but never this one. Despite pre-dating the jangly, guitar pop of Primal Scream, Teenage Fanclub and the Stone Roses early work by some years, they would never really get their due. Of course that just means their cult status among retro heads is deservedly assured. Like Ed Ball, Anthony is still knocking them out to this day.
Squire: A Mod Biography

The Times - Blue Period 12"

01. Blue Fire
02. Stop In The Name Of Love
03. Tears On A Rainy Sunday
04. I'll See You In My Dreams
05. Boys Brigade

1985 Artpop! | Artpop No2

Nowadays it seems mods can listen to quite a wide range of non-mods acts without too much remonstration but back in the day, one had to tread a little more carefully. This wasn't easy, as there was a lot of ropey music around mod circles. Few bands at the time tread the fine line between 80s pop and mod music more precariously than Ed Ball's The Times. Maybe it was a London thing, but where I came from, admitting to liking this could have got you a kicking. I remember picking this up second-hand about a year after its release which probably wasn't a good sign to begin with, and I never really liked it much. The tunes were decent enough but the polite 80s pop production left me cold and why anyone would want to listen to their version of Stop In The Name Of Love instead of the original Supremes classic is beyond me. The band had a bunch of releases on their own Artpop! label from '83 to '86 before Ed went on to become a player at Creation Records, where he released further material under The Times name, and is still plowing his own furrow today.

Fabulous Records presents: A Fabulous Compilation

01. James Taylor Quartet - Blow Up
02. The Needles - I Want You
03. Living Stones - You Better Stop Now
04. The Otherside - Mrs. Jones
05. The Babelfish - Talk About Alice (Set Me Free)
06. The Girls - More Than Enough
07. Chocolate Factory - Baby What You Want Me To Do
08. The Offbeats - For The Millionth Time
09. The Candlesticks - Be My Baby
10. The Passengers - Take It away
11. Die Sache - Who's In My Garage?
12. Makin' Time - Crawling Up A Hill (Live)

1987 FAB Records, Germany | FAB-L007

Great compilation which I remember buying on account of J.T.Q., Makin' Time and The Offbeats track, which had appeared on an In The Crowd modzine flexi-disc (along with The Pictures) which I had lost. The emphasis here is very much on a sixties garage sound, with some acts pulling it off better than others. Highlights for me were The Girls, The Living Stones and The Passengers tracks while Die Sache, The Babelfish and The Needles cover of Bob Dylan's I Want You were filler at best.
As I recall, the inner was a nice, shiny, silver and black, op-art style plastic sleeve, which I probably sacrificed for the wall.
Sadly, I've no pic for this and couldn't find one anywhere, or much info on Fab Records either.

Various Artists - The Phase III Mod Bands (PHZ-4)

01. The Toasters - Naked City
02. Modest Proposal - The Look In Your Eyes
03. The Risk - Jobs For The Boys
04. The Outlets - Love Someone

1986 Unicorn Records | PHZ-4

I'm not sure how many of these 4 track EPs were released by Mark Johnson's Unicorn Records which I guess were a way to introduce people to their acts. I've got two others which I'll post at some stage. I posted this as it's the only one I could find an image for. Phase III is a reference to third stage of mod culture, the 60s and the '79 revival being phases I and II respectively.

Unicorn discography

Various Artists - The Beat Generation And The Angry Young Men

01. Long Tall Shorty - That's What I Want
02. Small Hours - Underground
03. Purple Hearts - I'll Make You Mine
04. Les Elite - Frustration
05. Long Tall Shorty - I Do
06. Merton Parkas - Dangerous Man
07. Les Elite - Get A Job
08. Directions - Weekend Dancers

09. Purple Hearts - Concrete Mixer
10. Les Elite - Career Girl
11. Long Tall Shorty - All By Myself
12. Directions - It May Be Too Late
13. Merton Parkas - You Say You Will
14. Small Hours - The Kid
15. Purple Hearts - Hazy Darkness...

1984 Well Suspect Records | SUSS 1

"What you are now holding is the net result of five weeks hard slog in a dingy Soho basement. A compilation of some 15 demos and unreleased singles, which if it wasn't for a handful of dedicated, young believers, would have remained buried amongst piles of nameless studio out-takes for time immemorial. Names like The Merton Parkas, Purple Hearts and Long tall Shorty will instantly bring back memories of that hot and sweaty summer of '79, when mod had not yet received its death sentence from the music press and you could still catch any of a dozen young mod bands live in a given week."
(from sleevenotes)

Eddie Piller interview at Mod Madrid.