Welcome to the latest newsletter where we celebrate Mods Mayday and look at the international mod phenomenon with a special video!
The original Mods Mayday event took place on Bank Holiday Monday 7th May 1979 in London E16 at the Bridge House pub when six bands performed live, recorded on the LMS (Ronnie Lane) mobile studio, and released as the Mods Mayday Album, originally on Bridge House Records. Heres Robert Lee who provided the iconic image for the above sleeve!
Since then the name Mods Mayday has become associated with concert celebrations of mod culture all over the world, mostly with no direct association with the original event at all! For instance, you can find multiple Mods Mayday events held in Indonesia and Japan, Malaysia, Thailand, Philippines, Australia, South America, Mexico, USA & Canada, Europe and Scandinavia! And thats not an exhaustive list!
But how does the British mod style continue to reach overseas and does it have anything to do with the current or previous mod scenes? Three years ago Anthony presented a paper entitled “From West London To The World, The British Mod Phenomenon” to the 15th annual academic conference of the International Association for the Study of Popular Music (IASPM) hosted at the University of West London.
Indeed Pete Townshend holds an honorary Doctor of Music from the University and remains connected, having donated much of his historic recording equipment to the studios.
Because of Covid lockdown restrictions, the June 2020 conference was moved online - which meant the presentation was preserved as a 20 minute video - which you can watch below!
The conference was entitled 'London Calling', with graphic depicting the iconic bass guitar smashing sleeve (a not so subtle reference to the Clash song).
So a paper that referenced the parallel Mod Revival era where The Jam scored multiple Number One singles while The Clash barely scraped the Top 20 with London Calling, their best known single - which was coincidently co-produced by Guy Stevens who was pivotal for starting the RnB night at the Scene Club in Ham Yard, Soho in 1963, was an obvious rejoinder!
Trying to explain Mod to an audience of academics in twenty minutes does not give much scope for a deep description, but the question was posed, how does the transcultural influence of mod play out in different parts of the world?
Whereas punk, metal, reggae or hip-hop etc. is supported by a wealth of academic study, conferences and a significant body of scholarly work focusing on the various subculture’s subversive, disruptive and politicised outsider status, study of the 1960s mod movement is connected to the eras socio-political tensions,
while its commercial diffusion into mass culture contributes to an evaluation of its later 1979 re-emergence as a depthless imitation or nostalgia, this era attracting little academic interest.
Instead, the 'mod revival' and beyond is mostly defined by a continued stream of self published reminiscences and coffee table style books, which although in tune with the DIY ethos and sense of entrepreneurship that guarantees the mod continuance, often provides a skewed historical overview of the importance of the 1979 period beyond an ‘I was there’ narrative. Recent oral histories and exhibitions are evidence of a keen interest in Mod cultural history, and perhaps now is the time to broaden the scope for a serious study of the international mod domain.
What is evident is the importance of both the Mods Mayday as brand and Quadrophenia as style reference in the later spread of Mod around the world as an identifiable silhouette.
So it is interesting to capture a perspective of Mod from the furthest point away and understand how pivotal the 1979 Mod Revival was to establishing an international phenomenon. The Mod Revival was the first of many reiterations where the lifestyle and silhouette were combined with alternative cultures and modern technologies to create new hybrids that share the same DNA but by its own definition, is always borrowing from a bricolage of best ideas and mixing with a cultural now to create new utopian scenes - subtly modern in a unique retro forward looking lifestyle!
You can watch the video above, or download it by clicking on the image below:
Enjoy your Mods Mayday wherever you are!