My Generation – Mods, Music and Clubs
Mod music? There is no such thing.
There is music that Mods of different generations love, but it’s not of one kind, and it never has been. As a sub-culture, Mod has always been, first and foremost, about style and fashion. How you dressed and what you wore were always far more important than what you listened to or danced to on a night out. This is not to belittle the importance that music plays in Mod culture. That some types of music came to be associated with Mods is a matter of fact.
As a Northern Mod, I can only write about my own experiences of the scene between late 1965 and 1969. During those years I visited numerous clubs in the North of England and a few in London and the West Country. (See list). For the better part of four years, my favourite haunts were The Plebs (Plebeians) in Halifax or The Twisted Wheel in Manchester. In 1968 I was the other DJ at Bradford’s String O Beads for a 4–5-month spell until at eighteen I went off to a new life as a student.
Some readers may find the next part upsetting. During those two years, I never heard The Small Faces, The Who, or The Kinks played in any venue I visited. Certainly, never in any of my regular haunts. Nor, I might add, records by The Beatles or The Stones. The nearest I came to that was hearing Otis Redding doing Satisfaction and Day Tripper. Whatever Mod credibility they possessed it never translated into vinyl hitting club decks. Now, that’s not being critical of those groups or their music, which is not an issue. They clearly were highly popular, but not on the Mod club dance floors. Among the Mods I knew in the North, there was a vague acknowledgment that The Who and Small Faces were “Mod” groups. That was almost entirely due to ‘My Generation’. Beyond that, no one ever mentioned them, unless to pass a comment about a new release.
So, what did I hear DJ’s play in venues? Soul in all its guises: Motown, Stax/Atlantic, R&B, with occasional Jazz, Blues, Ska, and Blue Beat records were thrown into the mix. Live music largely included cover versions of American Soul and Motown songs. I don’t want to get drawn into a long list of who I saw when, where, but it ranged from the likes of Chris Farlowe, Zoot Money, Shotgun Express, The Steampacket, Geno Washington, Jimmy James & The Vagabonds, Jimmy Cliff, Wynder K. Frog to American acts as varied as the Soul Sisters, Edwin Starr, Ike & Tina Turner, Arthur Conley. UK groups did Soul/R&B cover as an essential part of their acts with a few of their own originals thrown into the mix. So did some of the lesser American acts. Do not ever recall hearing a Small Faces or Who number performed by any act.
Looking back, when the last of the first generation of Mods faded from the scene in the late Sixties, there was a well-documented transition into what became Northern Soul. It had its origins in the Northern Mod clubs, notably the Twisted Wheel in Manchester. The club attracted all the top American Soul acts as the go-to venue when in the UK. The Northern Soul scene was the scene I was drawn into later in life because it reflected the music dearest to my heart and roots. This leads me to what happened later with the revivalists of the late Seventies and Eighties.
Personally, I have no problem with the live music that influenced them. I’ll admit, I enjoy music by The Jam, The Lambrettas, Secret Affair, and later, The Style Council and Paul Weller’s solo albums. Even much later bands like The Enemy get a regular listen. However, Soul continues to dominate my listening. Ah, but!
I repeat…Ah but! I now come to the heart of what I believe Mod to be. Let’s begin with, Mod is not frozen in aspic. Strictly speaking the 21st Century Mod should not be living in the past. Neither in fashion nor in music. This is not to say that the old should be chucked in the bin and replaced by new for new sake. Like Martin Freeman, I have always believed Mod is more of a sensibility, one subject to adapting to the times. (Which is how I have always understood Mod). Keep to the original ideals but always remember, original Mods never stood still. They were about progressing and moving on, not being frozen in time.
Nowadays Soul and Jazz are what I listen to most, a collection spanning from the late Fifties through to the 2020s. My collection can be described as vast. Having said that my musical tastes are not limited. I can listen to music as diverse as The Doors and Mozart. In my book, the worst thing you can do in life is to narrowly limit your options, and not sample what else is out there. Music should always be a matter of personal taste, not a limitation imposed by others as sub-culture doctrine. Love your music because you love it, not because others say you must.
My Current Top 10 Modern Soul tracks (In no special order)
- Ellis Hall – Tragicomedy (2021)
- Leela James – Rise ‘N’ Shine (2021)
- Jo Jo – Tonite (2004)
- Maysa – Friendly Pressure (2002)
- Charlene – The Central Line (2013)
- Full Flava feat. Donna Gardier – Bet You Wouldn’t Hurt Me (2000)
- Gakactic Mutherland – I Don’t Mind Telling You (2004)
- Sounds of Oakland ft Derick Hughes – No place like home (2021)
- Cornell C.C. Carter – The Moment (2021)
- Gigi Allen – Dangerous (2011)
Some of the Clubs visited
- The Plebeians aka The Plebs/Jazz Club Halifax
- The Taihiti (Later Lord Jim’s) Huddersfield
- The Blue Gardenia aka The B.G. in Leeds
- The Burnley Cavern Club
- The Twisted Wheel (Manchester)
- The Twisted Wheel (Blackpool)
- The String O Beads (Bradford)
- The Heartbeat (Bradford)
- The Bradford Mecca (Monday Nights)
- The Compass Club (Torquay)
- The Flamingo
- The Marquee
- The Ram Jam
Good historical record of 45s played in most clubs but with local favourites).
- Arthur Conley – Sweet Soul Music
- Alvin Cash & The Registers – Alvin’ Boogaloo / Let’s Do Some Good Timing / Philly Freeze
- Alvin Cash & The Registers – No deposits, No returns
- Barbara Randolph – I Got A Feeling/ You Got Me Hurting All Over
- Betty Everett – Getting Mighty Crowded
- Billy Preston – Billy’s Bag
- Bob Cosby – Little Ole Man
- Bob Kuban & The In-Men – The Cheater
- Bobby Wells – Let’s Copp A Groove
- Booker T. & The M.G.s – Green Onions
- Brenton Wood – Gimme Little Sign
- Clarence Carter – Looking For A Fox
- Cliff Noble – The Horse
- Darrell Banks – Open The Door (To Your Heart)/Our Love Is In The Pocket
- Detroit Spinners – I’ll Aways Love You/For All We Know
- Dobie Grey – The In Crowd
- Eddie Floyd – Knock On Wood / Raise Your Hand
- Edwin Starr – Headline News / SOS (Stop Her On Sight)
- Herbie Mann – The Philly Dog
- Homer Banks – Ain’t That A Lot Of Love /60 Minutes Of Your Love
- Inez & Charlie Foxx – Tightrope
- Jackie Wilson – Higher and Higher/I’m The One to Do It
- James Brown – Papa’s Got A Brand New Bag / I Got You (I Feel Good)
- James & Bobby Purify – Do unto Me / Let Love Come Between /Wish You Didn’t Have To Go
- Jimmy Cliff – Give & Take / I Got A Feeling
- Jimmy Ruffin – What Becomes Of The Broke Hearted/Baby I’ve Got It
- Joe Tex SYSLJFM /Show Me
- John Roberts – Sockin’ 1-2-3-4
- Johnny Johnson & The Bandwagon – Breaking Down The Walls of Heartache
- Johnny Johnson & The Bandwagon – Baby Make Your Own Sweet Music
- Junior Walker & The All Stars – Do The Boomerang/ Road Runner /Shotgun / Shake & Finger Pop / Junior Walker & The All Stars – Shoot Your Shot / Money / Hip City
- Len Barry – 1-2-3
- Otis Redding – My Girl/ Respect / Satisfaction /Security / Day Tripper/ Shake / I Can’t Turn you Loose Otis Redding & Carla Thomas – Tramp
- Owen Gray – Help Me / Incense
- Rex Garvin & The Mighty Cravers – Socking It To ‘Em J.B.
- Robert Knight – Everlasting Love
- Robert Parker – Happy Feet / Let’s Go Where the Action is /Barefootin’ Like I Know / Soul man
- Sam & Dave – Hold On I’m A Comin’ / Soothe Me /Soul Sister, Brown Sugar
- Shorty Long – Chantilly Lace / Your Love Is Amazing / Night Fo’ Last/Here Come’s The Judge The Astors – Candy Need Your Loving/
- The Four Tops – Bernadette / Turn To Stone / Walk Away Renee …
- Rosetta Hightower – Pretty Red Balloons
- Roy C – Shotgun Wedding
- Sam Cooke – We’re having A Party / Come Over To My Place / Shake
- Sam & Dave – Said I Wasn’t Going To Tell Nobody / You Don’t know
- The Bar-Kays – Soul Finger / Knucklehead
- The Capitols – Cool Jerk
- The Drifters – Baby What I Mean
- The Fascinations – Girls Are Out to Get You
- The Four Tops – I Can’t Help Myself / It’s The Same old Song / Baby I and others.
- The Flamingos – Boogaloo Party
- The Impressions – Can’t Satisfy/ You’ve Been Cheating/ Meeting Over Yonder Love
- The Impressions – You Always Hurt Me
- The Isley Brothers – This Old Heart Of Mine / Take Some Time Out For
- The Mohawks – The Champ
- The Showstoppers – Ain’t Nothing But A House Party / Shake Your Mini /What Can A Man Do The Spellbinders – Help Me / Chain Reaction
- Stevie Wonder – Uptight
- The Supremes – Pretty much everything released.
- The Temptations – Pretty much everything released.
- Smokey Robinson & The Miracles – Tracks of My Tears / The Tears of a Clown/Going to a Go-Go Sly & The Family Stone – Dance To The Music
- The Tams – Be Young, Be Foolish, Be Happy
- Tommy Neal – Going To A Happening
- Willie Mitchell – 2075 / Mercy Mercy Mercy /Sticks & Stones /That Driving Beat / Secret Home
- Willie Mitchell – Everything’s Gonna Be Alright
- Wilson Picket – Don’t Fight It / In The Midnight Hour / 99 and Half Won’t Do
- Wilson Picket – Land of a 1000 dances / Mustang Sally / Three Time Loser / 63456789
- The Funk Brothers & Count Ossie – Carolina
- The Skatalites – Guns of Navarone
- Roland Alphonso – Phoenix City
- Jimmy Hendrix & King Curtis – Flashing
- Jigsaw – One Way Street
These were in my boxes. The other DJ had 45s I don’t mention, pretty much similar selection with some differences.
By Author John Knight