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Oldies Music Encyclopedia: "Mod"

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"About Time!" by the Attack

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Definition: The classic Sixties "mod" scene is usually considered a cultural phenomenon, not a musical one, but the original genre did have certain parameters, although it's easier to determine what Mod music was by looking at what it wasn't. First, unlike Merseybeat, which was influenced by skiffle and '50s rock, or the second wave of British Invasion bands focused on traditional American blues (The Animals, The Rolling Stones), Mod was the first true English R&B phenomenon.

The most crucial Mod fixation was on what came to be known as "Tamla/Motown" (the label Motown singles were released on in the UK). The mods, generally more middle-class folk who dressed in a collegiate style and preferred the new R&B to traditional rock, clashed openly in the streets of London with the more working-class "rockers" who wore leather jackets and clung to the obsolete sounds of rockabilly; the war between the two in 1964 was the American public's first introduction to the trend.

The typical Mod song fused the harder, earlier Motown R&B sound with traditional British pop virtues; as a result, the songs were slick, uptempo, yet soulful, featuring hard guitars and drums but also pop harmonies and, typically, sporting a cynical attitude about romance. As the phenomenon died around 1966, the "hard mods" gravitated toward the British garage-psychedelia that would come to be known as Freakbeat; the poppier mods (that is, those who hadn't had the vision to break free from the fad, like the Kinks, Small Faces and the Who) went full hippie, and the fixation with American R&B turned insetad to Jamaican ska and bluebeat. As with so many UK movements, this one came back around -- first in the punk movement, spawning bands like the Jam, and then more recently, complete with a revival of '60s mod clothing and the mod's favorite form of transport, Vespa and Lambretta scooters!

Also Known As: Freakbeat, British Invasion
Examples:
  1. "The Kids Are Alright," The Who
  2. "Who'll Be The Next In Line," The Kinks
  3. "All Or Nothing," The Small Faces
  4. "Biff Bang Pow," The Creation
  5. "Something Has Hit Me," The Action
  6. "You've Got What I Want," The Sorrows
  7. "Snap, Crackle, and Pop," Powder
  8. "We Don't Know," The Attack
  9. "When The Night Falls," The Eyes
  10. "Leaving Here," The Birds
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  6. What Is Mod Music? - Oldies Music Genre

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