November 9, 2009

Mod-A-Day: "The Mod Sound -- Modest Proposal"

I first put up the post below about Modest Proposal (almost exactly two years ago to the day) in 2007 to highlight a band that I've always really liked, but didn't seem to get the attention it deserved. Their 1987 album, Single Minded, became one of my favorites as soon as I heard it, and I think it would for anyone who listened to it today for the first time.

The original post surprised me by attracting more comments than any of the posts I've written. In fact, it attracted the attention of Neal Augestein the lead singer of Modest Proposal (you can check out the modcast he hosted here). Neal got in touch with me recently to let me know that he was getting the band back together. And, now here it is a reality. More than that, the band is in the happy spot of already having sold out their return, Saturday, Nov. 28, at Comet Ping Pong in Washington DC.

Of the reunion Neal writes:
"We can't wait to get on stage again, and we're thrilled people still want to see us, 25 years later."

I think we sound now like we wanted to sound then. The music's muscular and taut, even if WE may not be anymore."
And they do sound great. This weekend I led off the modcast with an an exclusive -- a brand new Modest Proposal recording, a song written 25 years ago and yet never recorded. "Already An Angel" has the sound I remember, but also benefits from production that the band's earliest recordings did not (download the modcast to check it out). I'm including here an older track that I think captures their sound perfectly, "The Look In Your Eyes", which was on their 1987 album as well as on one of Unicorn Records 7" releases, Phase III Mod Bands, on which Modest Proposal appeared with The Toasters, The Risk and The Outlets.

I suppose the big question is will MP continue to perform together? "I assume we'll ask ourselves that same question after the reunion show," says Neal.

Here are a few pictures of the boys in action today as they prepare for their upcoming gig.

Modest Proposal -- The Look In Your Eyes

Original Post:
Hailing from Washington, D.C., Modest Proposal was a mid-80s mod band that had a pure power pop sound with slight tinges of punk. I wish I could write up a nice long bio of the band and what their complete discography was like. As far as I can tell, this single might be their complete discography. I've posted the A side here, Seen Your Face Before, though the B side Nobody Says No actually appeared on at least one other compilation from Unicorn Records. This track is really tight and the band is pretty good. It's a great bit of power pop.

In addition to this single, I know the band was featured on a late 80s "Phase II Mod Bands" 7" EP from Unicorn that also included the Risk and The Toasters. I may be delirious from smoking too much crack, but I think Modest Propsal actually did release a full length LP that had a mostly grey/white cover and the photo of which was of a pair of pointed shoes peeking out from beneath some very cool, tightly pegged slacks, that had a simple cut with a button on the hem. Now, this could have been from a different band (maybe Manual Scan?), I really can't recall. (Don't ask where the album is today, it's a sad story. And a long one. I blame Mrs. Suave, that's all I can say for now.)

What I can recall is taking the album to my tailor "Sal" and having him make me a suave pair of slacks just like those on the album cover. (No shit, his name was Sal and he was a tough old bastard, an Italian bloke with a broken nose, from New York and had relocated to east of LA -- no one ever asked why for obvious reasons. But, the best damn tailor I've ever had.) Unfortunately, not long after on a scooter rally to see Quadrophenia in some shoebox theater at Newport Beach I had a few too many and spilled my bike, ruining a very nicely tailored pair of pants. Cost me the girl I was hitting on at the time, as well. Apparently she didn't appreciate being spilled all over the pavement. Needless to say, it turned out to be a crappy scooter rally. Regardless, I always really liked this track from Modest Proposal, and while I may (or may not) have lost their LP, I still have the single, and it's quite good. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. Just don't drink and scoot.

Click here to download Modest Proposal -- Seen Your Face Before


Anonymous said...

Both tracks can also be found on the This Is Mod - Vol. 6 compilation.

derrek said...

wasnt steve hansgen from MINOR THREAT in this band for a bit?

Bill Crandall said...

This is Bill, I was the guitarist for MP. Actually, the girl who took the boots photo found this thread and let me know. It was indeed the cover of MP's Single Minded LP. Wish I still had a copy...

And yeah, Steve joined us late in our 'career', actually at Brian Baker's suggestion. Beefed up our sound but didn't do much for band chemistry.

Adny said...

Great band. I wish there were more mod-ish bands with such originality and songwriting talent. I found a cover-less copy of the LP, which I treasure, and also managed to track down a Unicorn-label EP by The Mondays, which I think had the same singer. Bill, did any of you guys work on any similar projects afterward?

Anonymous said...

I do have a copy of "Single Minded" as well as Neal Augenstein's next band "The Mondays" EP. There was also another fantastic band from that time period, "The Reply" which I have some tracks of. --Steve Shannon,

john lyons said...

I saw this and suddenly I heard someone shoutnig...One 45!. What a great record...proud to say I have one, though I don't have a record player any more. I also have a box of Reply records still in their shrink wraps, if anyone wants one. Its been 20 years, i'd say its about time to re-release all this stuff digitally...

Anonymous said...

"One 45/Why buy the album, when there's just one song you'll use!" I have DVD with that song when Modest Proposal played with Mod Fun at Friendship Station. John, I would love to get some Reply stuff. My copy of "All Good Things" is getting a little worn. I also have an old, old, old, tape w/ "Life's Little Mysteries." Any chance you still have those tracks or anything else? Let me know! I've also got some Modest Proposal and Mondays tracks digitized, if you would like them. Thanks! Best, Steve Shannon -

john lyons said...

Steve! Hey I'll email you to get your address. Happy to send a copy. Better, I think Gary digitized everything...if you "really" want it I can get it to you.

Adny said...

Hey John, I'd love one of those Reply records and will send you some good stuff in exchange. Please email me:

Anonymous said...

Oh wow, that Reply demo was so great. I'd very much like one of those Reply records and/or any mp3s you have of the record or the demo. How strange and criminal they didn't blow up - truly brilliant songwriting. Please please write. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Some amazing news from, where Neal, the vocalist from MP works. A Modest Proposal reunion seems to be in the works!

Perhaps we can guilt the folks from The Reply to dust off "All Good Things" and join them?

Hooray for a new Mod Revival.

--Steve Shannon (

Anonymous said...

It looks as if my wish is coming through. The Reply are indeed reforming and are going to be playing with Modest Proposal that evening! A show not to be missed in DC.

Steve Shannon

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
PwrPop78 said...

Hey John
I dunno if you have any of those Reply records left but if you do I'd like a copy. Email me if its possible. Neal Augenstein and I exchanged emails a few years back and he sent me a live recording of a Modest Proposal show. The sound was great but it was all one big track. I offered to split the tracks up and fix the sound the best I could and send him a copy. It was the least I could do right? Shortly after the work was done my comp crashed and I never got to send him, I felt terrible. If you read this Neal, sorry and I got the tracks ready for ya, only a few years late ha ha.

Anonymous said...

For a nice warm-up for anyone who is going to attend the Modest Proposal/The Reply reunion, this Wednesday The Toasters (the other American band on the Phase III Mod Bands 7" from Unicorn pictured above) will be playing this Wednesday in Baltimore. Never really confused with a Mod band, The Toasters have been America's premier Ska band for the last 25+ years, and played with The Reply at back in the late 80s. If anyone who is going to Modest Proposal is going to the Toasters as well, drop me a line, and the first round's on me.


Steve Shannon

jeffen said...

Kudos are due to Modest Proposal for their dedication to the music in the face of all prevailing trends.
Thanks as well to Mr. Sauve, the championing of of the neglected obscurities is the highest calling of a music blog.
I've had a vinyl rip of Single Minded in my blog ideas folder for over a year. I was waiting to find a cover for it before I posted it on Music Ruined My Life. Now that I know the band is active, I'll also have to find out if they would object to such a post before I do it as well.

Anonymous said...

News from The Reply. "The Reply The Reply and the Untouchables - Together Again! Thursday night in Costa Mesa, CA. Caught up with the UTs and FIshbone. Do you remember when the Reply played with the UTs at 9:30 club, April of '89?" Lucky Californians, wish I could be there!


--Steve (

Marcos said...

I've the LP and I love it to death. Always puts me in a great mood when I throw it on. Too bad I came across this thread late. Would have loved to have seen the reunion.

Colin Stewart said...

Hi I was bassist in the outlets one the unicorn ep. We played with MP at 100 club when they came to London.

Mr. Suave said...

Colin, I really liked 'Love Someone' by The Outlets. How long was the band together? Was there another mod revival band with the same name, in the late 70s/early 80s?

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