February 6, 2009

Mod-A-Day: The Untamed

There was probably no more ignored, no more underrated, no more eclectic mod freakbeat band in the sixties than The Untamed. And there certianly wasn't a group of their caliber that produced less commercial material. The Untamed by all counts only had five singles, and nary a full-length release while they were together as a band. All of that would come later, much later.

They are perhaps the quintessential mod band, incorporating almost all of the sounds that mods down through the decades have loved -- blues, R&B, jazz, lounge, garage and all with a steady rock and roll foundation (one rock steady or ska influenced track and they would have become the most incredible mod band ever). There is simply no pigeon-holing these lads from London. Just listen to any of the compilations of their tracks, from the complete hits of It's All True, or the release of demos and rarities, Gimme Gimme.

You can't not love The Untamed. Overall they certainly fall into that cool, smokey-jazz sort of mod vibe that was perfected so well by Georgie Fame & The Blue Flames. Still they managed to do a lot of different things and produce a lot of different sounds. From the cool, Georgie Fame styled blues-jazz of "Once Upon a Time" and "I'm Asking You"; to the garagish "Daddy Longlegs"; to the Small Face's like blue eyed soul of "I'm Going Out Tonight"; to the easy listening, cocktailish lounge vibes of "Mayfair 4321" (a personal favorite). It's all mod, and all good.

But I've got to highlight at least one track, and the one I've chosen wasn't penned by The Untamed. Here you get a taste of "Kids Take Over" allegedly penned by Pete Townsend for The Who. Both bands were produced for a time by Shel Talmy and I suspect it was at that point that The Who's lesser lights and cast off's (The Untamed also recorded The Who's "It's Not True") were made available to The Untamed for recording. The lyrics and the arrangement of "Kids Take Over" have Townsend's fingerprints on it, but The Untamed's version is both poppier and jazzier than what you'd expect from The Who. One wonders why, when they had so many other avenues to go down, they chose this one. No matter, The Untamed produced some of the jazziest, and best, mod sounds of the sixties.

The Untamed -- Kids Take Over