Book Review: Mods The New Religion

April 24, 2015

There are an awful lot of books on Mods.

A-Z Mods, Mod Fashion and Mod Anthologies are filling the coffee tables of trendy waiting rooms and vintage inspiration bookcases. Though it’s quite insightful to read about a culture that roamed the London streets before you were born and its influence today, it becomes a bit redundant when that information can be easily found on the internet at the click of a button.

Paul ‘Smiler’ Anderson has gone that extra length to gather information to tell his story in a unique way. His book Mods: The New Religion took him 5 years to compile in order to get a complete account of the ‘60s Mod culture. 50 years on from the “Mods vs. Rockers’ riots in ’64, Anderson thought it appropriate to release a book celebrating the movement.

It’s a coffee table-sized book that carries a lot of information and images in a scrapbook-style format. Before I even begin to read I am compelled to look through all the pages. It’s visually pleasing with a lot of rare memorabilia glued to its pages including previously unpublished photos of artists, rare record labels and retro posters. It’s a complete feast for the eyes that makes me almost want to rip out the pages and paste them across my bedroom walls.

As well as collecting artefacts over the years for the imagery, Anderson has gathered a vast amount of memories to accompany them. He interviewed several Mods, band members and DJs to give an insight into life in the Mod scene. This adds a lot of personality to the book and offers a more intimate perspective of the time. Mods is full of stories about an abundance of subjects including drinking in the trendiest clubs and popping pills in school. The interviewees talk about their private stories, of popular purple heart pills and the type of music they danced to, in such a personal way. Anderson has even compiled a number of playlists for places like The Flamingo Club to give an idea of what music the DJs were playing. I can only begin to imagine how long the transcribing for all these lengthy interviews took.

One of the interviewees, Martha Reeves, talks about the time she met Dusty Springfield, and there are many tales of escapades to local night clubs. These stories transport you back to the time – as when Dave Pether (The Muleskinners) explains, “The Ricky Tick was great. Their clubs were dark, moody and full of atmosphere. The kids knew as much about the music as we did, which was terrific and the sort of audience you want”.

Many aspects of the Mod scene are covered in this book like Vespas, fashion, TV and the Brighton riots. No stone is left unturned in this ultimate collection of events from all over England. It is said to be the first book that covers small provinces and not just the big city’s love for Mod Culture.

The author himself fell in love with Mods in 1979 and has seemed to make it his mission in life to keep the culture alive through events, fanzines and club nights. He even hosted the biggest Sixties Mod exhibition in 2011. His love and dedication to the scene shows in his extensive research for this book. However, if it’s a factual book you’re after on the rise and death of the subculture, this isn’t the one for you. Mods: The New Religion is a fascinating memoir from an assortment of people from the ‘60s who seem to grasp a better picture of the time than any fan-made A-Z could.

Available on Amazon

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