April 30, 2009

Mod-A-Day: Greenberry Woods

If 90s power pop is your thing, you probably loved Greenberry Woods. Even with everything going for it (talent, major label, growing fame) Greenberry Woods, like power pop in general, was relegated to the back of the bus. The band produced only two albums, due in part to the timing, and in part to band members inability to get along. The band came along just as grunge was exploding and rap was in its decade long reign over MTV, which I think made it hard going even for good power pop bands. Greenberry Woods finally self destructed allowing brothers Matt and Brandt Huseman to go forward with Splitsville, a band that was admittedly more modish than Greenberry Woods ever was. Still, the Woods produced some good power pop, at times with nice sixties overtones, such as "More and More" and the track here "#37 (Feels So Strange)" from their debut album 1994's Rapple Dapple.

Greenberry Woods -- #37 (Feels So Strange)

April 29, 2009

Mod-A-Day: The Cheeksters

What can you say about a band whose music touches upon the very nature of our being? They contemplate the conundrums that afflict every mod. Mods are nothing if not obsessed with their appearance, and here comes a band that ask the importnat "mod" questions that leave philosophers drooling, the issues that are at the very essence of human nature: "Should I go with drainpipes, or should I wear flares?" Such is the importance of the questions that one band is unafraid to ask. The Cheeksters.

The Cheeksters serve up a bit of Kinks-like goodness with a poppy bounciness that is both British invasion evoking, and Britpop posturing. The songs have to-die-for melodies and harmonies, and at the same time there is a cleverness to the lyrics that fits just right with the ocassional garage rock vibe. While you can hear influences from northern soul and sixties folk rock, there are obvious nods to sixties era Bowie, the Kinks, and the Beatles. All of which is a good thing.

The song here is simply a great song, "Movers and Shakers". The band clearly loves what they're doing and it shows here, and in all their songs.

The Cheeksters -- Movers and Shakers

The Cheeksters -- Movers and Shakers

April 28, 2009

Mod-A-Day: The Lyres

Out of Boston comes one of the granddaddies of the garage rock movement. In 1979 The Lyres rose up out of the ashes of early punk band DMZ -- which was already showing a strong sixties garage leaning. So when Jeff Connolly formed The Lyres the band kept right on moving in that direction. For three decades Conolly has been pounding his keyboards, following in the footsteps of The Standells as well as The Ramones, and has consistently produced fantastic music with various lineups. While the lineups often changed, it was always rock and roll, and there was always a solid sixties influence from garage to folk to even some soul.

This track, "Dolly", from the band's debut album is a real stomper with Conolly's farfisa organ wailing just underneath a driving beat. It's a simple song, but some of the best things in life are simple.

The Lyres -- Dolly

April 27, 2009

Mod-A-Day: The Diplomats of Solid Sound

The Diplomats of Solid Sound have been pumping out solid soul with style from the heartland for about a decade. The band started in the late 90's but really took off with the addition of Hammond B3 master Nate "Count" Basinger around the turn of the century, and immediately started producing some fine recordings of Memphis style soul.

The sound, pure soul, over the years has ranged from the cool, swingin' and at times even loungey sound of their first album Instrumental Action Soul to more bluesy and sometimes modern jazz sounding tracks of Destination...Get Down!, incorporating more saxophone and horns than you might expect.

The song here, "Lights Out" is from the new release by The Diplomats of Solid Sound - for the first time featuring the Diplomettes. The Diplomettes add vocals to the Diplomats mix for the first time, and what vocals. Gritty and rough, and then equally velvety smooth at times. This latest CD puts all this together simply sizzles with soul and wicked good R&B. Nate Basinger's Hammond playing is inspired throughout. If you're jonesing for a soul fix then this one is highly recommended.

The Diplomats of Solid Sound featuring the Diplomettes -- Lights Out

April 25, 2009

From The Vaults: Modcast #12 - Myspace Becomes Modspace

Once more into the vault my friends, once more into the vault. Step back in time, to a time when the modcast was young and fresh. Take a giant step outside your current listening constraints and journey with me all the way back to the fun filled days of summer 2006. I've opened up the vaults and dusted off a classic modcast that I think you'll enjoy. Again.

This week it looks like it's Myspace that has become the Mod Mod World. The site is bursting with cool mod, garage, power pop and punk bands. So, I decided to single out some of the best ones and highlight them on this week's Modcast. Hope you enjoy!

(Click on band names to visit their Myspace site, websites are listed separately.)

Bands take note: If you'd like your band fatured on Mr. Suave's Mod Mod World e-mail me today at rob@mistersuave.com.

Bonus Videos

The 88 - Hide Another Mistake

This week's second video is a classic from the Easybeats, Sorry. Enjoy!

Sorry indeed. Is this ironic or what? YouTube's link to embed the Easbeat's video right here has blownup, so you'll just have to click here to enjoy.

Mod-A-Day: The Equals

A decade and a half before the 2-tone movement (and record label) spearheaded the modern ska explosion, 1965 saw the rise of probably the first ever 2-tone group: The Equals.

Made up of Jamaican Londoners the band's sound was as eclectic as its members. They are best known for their huge 1968 hit, "Baby Come Back", which was a pure pop song. And the group knew how to write pop songs, and how to infuse them with a wide range of sounds from northern soul to ska to R&B and even some psychadelia from time to time. There's the funky soul of "Black Skinned Blue Eyed Boys", the mid-sixties beat of Viva Bobby Joe, and the Caribean flavors of "Rub A Dub Dub", "Soul Brother Clifford" and "Laurel and Hardy". The Equals sound is shot through with influences just as wide ranging as well from The Temptations to Sly Stone, The Equals drew equally from just about all musical styles.

While "Baby Come Back" put them in the public's eye (and on millions of turntables worldwide), they are secondarily remembered for being fronted by a young Eddy Grant who nearly 20 years later would ease on down "Electic Avenue" with his own million selling chart topper.

This song here, "Police on My Back", will be recognizable thanks to The Clash who famously made it popular when they covered it in 1979.

The Equals -- Police On My Back

The Equals -- Hold Me Closer (1967)

April 24, 2009

Mod-A-Day: Fuzztones

Anytime you bring up the Fuzztones with garage rock afficianados you know you're going to get an argument. Either they love 'em, or they hate 'em. I'm in the love 'em category. They've gone through more line-ups than a Mariner's single season roster, and yet have managed to keep their "brand" in tact. And it's that sixties soundin', garage rockin', punk lovin' thing they do so well that keeps the fans coming back for more.

Ever since I picked up 1984's Lysergic Emenations I was a huge Fuzztones fan. For me they encompassed everything a sixties revival band should be: crunchy guitars, fuzzy farfisa organ, simple songs, and catchy choruses. Whether they were living out their own fantasies as the ultimate Sonics cover band, or churncing out their own wickedly cool original garage rock, the band was always forging new ground.

It was pretty hard to narrow down their discography to just one quintessnetial song. Should I have chosen an original? They've got some brilliant ones, like "Ward 81". Or, should I have chosen one of their Sonics covers that they just shred to death? Like "Strychnine" or "Have Guitar Will Travel"? Ultimately it really didn't matter what I chose because all of the songs are equally good, which is what makes the Fuzztones such a great band. So, you get to enjoy "Bad News Travels Fast".

The Fuzztones-- Bad News Travels Fast

Below is the video for one of my all time fave garage punk songs -- in fact one of my fave songs period -- "Ward 81". It's a pretty sophisticated video, even by today's standards. It's sharp, clean, and packs a punch like so few music videos do anymore. It's hard to believe this video is coming up on 30 years old.

The Fuzztones - Ward 81

For a bit of a laugh and giggle, here's Larry King trying to keep pace with The Fuzztones. I wish there was video of this, but alas only the audio has ever been mass released.

Larry King Fuzztones Interview

April 23, 2009

Mod-A-Day: American Breed

Perhaps the name was a statement about the British Invasion, perhaps not. No matter, the Chicago based American Breed scored one bona fide top ten hit with "Bend Me, Shape Me", a song that voiced every teenage boys true feeling -- bend me, shape me, anyway you want me, long as you love me it's alright. (Married men everywhere are aware of the dangerous tone of this song.)

The band had a sound that echoed their British cousins, but like the Monkees and others was really only a softened, Americanized version of the mid-sixties beat sound of Britain. It was good enough for Americans though, and the band cruised to success behind their one sole hit song. The song here, "I'm Gonna Make You Mine" though is not that one, this is from the second of their three releases in 1968 Pumpkin, Powder, Scarlet & Green.

American Breed -- I'm Gonna Make You Mine

April 22, 2009

Mod-A-Day: The Event

There isn't much info online about The Event. They were a late 80s mod garage rock outfit from San Diego. I saw them play a few times, at least once at a New Sounds of the Sixties gig. I remember that they had a tendency to smash to bits old TVs and radios as part of their act, which I thought was pretty cool at the time. No matter, the sound was pure sixties garage psychadelia and R&B. The Event only ever had the one release, cleverly titled This Is The Event. The track here is from that record, "Pop Think In" and was my favorite.

The Event -- Pop Think In

April 21, 2009

Mod-A-Day: Ordinary Boys

Sadly, it took a reality show to get the Ordinary Boys some much needed exposure to go with the critical acclaim they'd been garnering all on their own. While the original army are well aware of the band's heavy mod/britpop sound, the rest of the world has been a little slow on the uptake. The band's sound ranges from obvious adoration of Madness and The Specials, to clearly being influenced by The Who, The Kinks and The Jam. And of course nicking a band name from a Smiths' song gives just a hint of where this band is coming from. And throughout there's no doubt that they are a product of the 90s Britpop explosion.

Starting out in 2002 as Next In Line, they changed their name and moved more into synch with the new post-punk sound sweeping the musical world. Their first big break was "Week In, Week Out" a top 40 chart hit from their 2004 debut album Over The Counter Culture -- which also boasted two other top 40 hits. The Ordinary Boys drew upon the mod revival, as well as ska and power pop, to put together two solid albums, but still were unable to break into the music buying public's awareness in any really significant manner.

The band finally became better known in Britain thanks to lead singer Samuel Preston's appearance in 2006 on Celebrity Big Brother UK. After that "Boys Will Be Boys" from their second album was re-released and went to #3 on the charts and became the band's biggest hit. Their following third album How to Get Everything You Ever Wanted in Ten Easy Steps was a bit poppier and more electronic than previous releases and entered the charts at #15. In spite of being their best charting album it went on to be their least successful in sales.

The song here, "Over The Counter Culture", is indicative of their early sound with more of a mod revival and post-punk influence than would be apparent in later releases.

Ordinary Boys -- Over The Counter Culture

April 20, 2009

Mod-A-Day: Beat By Five

Beat By Five is a German mod/garage band that was very popular around the turn of the century. While their recorded output isn't that extensive they still garnered quite a following playing live across Europe and, obviously, all over Germany.

The song here, "Marquee's Party" is nice, driving beat number that is exemplary of the band's overall sound. Lik this one, all the band's songs have a swingin' sixties feel to them, but with a healthy dose of rhythm and blue. Whether they are singing in English or German the garage rock vibe is strong, the guitars are loud, there's some nice organ work, and overall it's pretty great.

Beat By Five -- Marquee's Party

April 19, 2009

Modcast #126: You Know You Wanna Be In The Show

Welcome to Mr. Suave's Mod Mod World. This week's opener is from The Che Men doing their cover of The Jetset's "Wednesday Girl" and comes from the brand new Jetset tribute album out from Wham Records called Do You Wanna Be In The Show. Besides the Che Men it features 17 other mod groups like The Risk, The Eddies, The Ringles, Mega Super Ultra and tons more all covering Jetset songs. Like the Squire tribute album they put out last year, this one has some really nice covers paying homage to the band, and like with The Che Men who infuse a ska vibe into their version of "Wednesday Girl" there are a few tracks that reinterpret the originals as well. All in all a real nice collection for Jetset fans.

Besides that I've got loads of new stuff here from some usual suspects like The Fantastics and Madness, and from some new faces like The Ladders and Tommy Atkins. You won't be disappointed.

  • The Che Men -- Wednesday Girl (2009)
  • The Fantastics! -- Nine Lives (2009)
  • Greyboy (feat. Quantic & Sharon Jones) -- Got To Be Love (2008)
  • The Makers -- Metro (Soul Driver) (200
  • The Ladders -- We Can Have It (2009)
  • Tommy Atkins -- Cry No More (2008)
  • Madness -- Rainbows (2009)
  • The Jags - Little Lloyd Wright (1981)
  • Code Blue -- Other End Of Town (1980)
  • The Now -- Reaction (1979)
  • The Decibels -- Good (2000)

    The Makers - Are You on the Inside Or the Outside of Your Pants

    The Jags - Party Games

  • Download

    April 18, 2009

    Mod-A-Day: The Booby Traps (and roller derby!)

    Got another Aussie band for you. In honor of my first roller derby match of the season I'm serrving up some good ol' kick ass rock and roll from The Booby Traps.

    The first actual punk rock sport comes along and damn if it isn't just ladies only. Sadly, roller derby seems to have gone mainstream -- hell, here it's in the Key Arena these days. Gone is the thunderdome feel of watching girls skate in an old hangar while the crowd guzzles inhuman amounts of Pabst beer. Now it is all Key Arena luxury boxes and $12 microbrews. Still, the punk rock ethos abounds, there's no way to get away from that when there are chicks on skates crackin' each other's skulls while rock music blares from the speakers. (Note to the Key Arena organizers: If there's no garage punk playin' I won't be stayin.)

    So, back to The Booby Traps. Sure they've got a new album out that channels The Who, The Sonics and other sixties greats, and of coure you all are going to go right out and buy it. But, when you're going out to see some heavy duty girl on girl action around the flat track, there's no getting away from the fact that "Ms. Fireball" should be some sort of roller derby theme song. "Ms. Fireball" is a ball burnin' bit of garage rock that evokes the very heart and soul of roller derby. At least derby as we know it here in the northwest -- a punk rock sport championed by the bad ass Rat City Rollergirls. Have to say I've got my money on the Derby Liberation Front tonight, but my heart is with the Throttle Rockets this season. Either way it will be loud, fast, and fun.

    The Booby Traps -- Ms. Fireball

    Blood On The Flat Track

    Youtube this Uncle Leon & The Alibis -- Roller Derby Saved My Soul

    April 17, 2009

    Mod-A-Day: Early Hours

    Hailing from down under, Early Hours (who graced Modcast #83 with this track), were an unabashed mod influenced power pop band. They had two excellent long players, and created a certain legendary garage persona for themselves in the offing. Where their first album was raw and sharp, the sophmore release, Evolution, was more refined, but that only served to make the bands inherent power pop goodness shine through all that much stronger. The track here, "I Wonder If You'll Ever Be Mine" is one of the poppier from that second album, and it highlights the bands sixties sensibilities, their Beatlesque pop sound, and overall a very mod vibe.

    Early Hours -- I Wonder If You'll Ever Be Mine

    April 16, 2009

    Mod-A-Day: The Bristols

    In 1986 garage rock diva Fabienne Delsol joined up with some session players and producers at London's Toe-rag Studios forming the garage rock band The Bristols. The rest as they say is history, and what history. Loads of floor shakin', brain rattlin', ear shatterin' sixties styled garage beat, all wrapped up in Ms. Delsol's coquettish vocals.

    Her voice tiptoes effortlessly across the top of driving beat music in such a charming and delightful manner that you almost forget there's a band rocking out hard right behind her. While The Bristols called it quits in 2003, Ms. Delsol has soldiered on producing quality albums of sixties pop, psychadelia and garage with a soulfulness and ease that most mod bands would die for.

    The song here, "The Way I Feel About You", was never released officially as far as I know, appearing only on the The Sympathetic Sounds Of Toe-Rag compilation.

    The Bristols -- The Way I Feel About You

    April 15, 2009

    Mod-A-Day: Generation X

    What can be said about Generation X that hasn't already been said in dozens of euglogies for Billy Idol's original persona? Not much. Suffice to say that in the late 70s --like The Undertones and The Buzzcocks-- Generation X strode the line between mod and punk with one foot firmly in each camp. Their images was punk, the tone was tough, the songs were snotty, and the attitude was classic punk rock. At the same time their sound was often more in line with the mod revival as they sported an obvious love affair with sixties R&B and power pop.

    Ultimately Idol would sell out to whatever fad he thought would get him some exposure (remember his disasterous cyberpunk phase?). The band's other member of note, Tony James went on to form Sigue Sigue Sputnick, The Sisters of Mercy, and most recently teamed up with Mick Jones of The Clash in Carbon/Silicon.

    In honor of what Mr. Idol once was today you get a threesome, two songs and a video. Enjoy.

    Generation X -- One Hundred Punks

    Generation X -- Ready Steady Go

    Generation X -- Kiss Me Deadly

    April 14, 2009

    Mod-A-Day: The Black Carnations

    The Black Carnations were a short-lived German mod/garage band circa 1985-86 that recorded for the Twang label. The group was apparently a side project of some of The Beatitudes. The Black Carnations had a great modbeat sound with healthy doses of sixties psychadelia and R&B, and they boasted a vocalist with unique, captivating, and (at the appropriate times)lilting voice. My Beat The Attitude release is just a six track EP, although there is posthumously produced LP that includes a live concert recording.

    Black Carnations -- Black Carnations

    April 13, 2009

    Mod-A-Day: The Creation

    One of the first songs that I ever heard labeled as a mod song was "Biff Bang Pow" by The Creation. It's been a favorite ever since. It's a simple song. It simply sizzles with great guitars, crashing drums and one of the catchiest chorus' ever recorded. The Creation were the art-pop sensations of the sixties mods, and while "Biff Bang Pow" doesn't show off all of their musical genius, it is still one of the best songs they ever did. (Check out the video below of "Painter Man" with guitarist Eddie Phillips sawing away on his strings with a violin bow. Phillips was allegedly the first to use a bow on the guitar, though years later Jimmy Page would do to greater acclaim.)

    The Creation -- Biff Bang Pow

    The Creation -- Painter Man

    April 12, 2009

    Mod-A-Day: Kaiser Chiefs

    "we were obsessed with Mods and 60s music"

    The turn of the 21st century saw an explosion of bands heavily influenced by punk, new wave and Britpop. One of the biggest is the Kaiser Chiefs whose songs show heavy influence from the mod revival of the 70s, the post-punk of the 80s, and the Britpop of the 90s. But it wasn't always so. The band originally formed by childhood friends Nick Hodgson, Nick Baines and Simon Rix was called Parva, and included their college mates Ricky Wilson and Andrew White. Parva had a much heavier and moodier sound, little success, and only one release to show for six years of existence. So, in 2003 they called it quits and decided to start all over as the Kaiser Chiefs.
    How did you wipe the slate clean and change your sound? What happend was, we felt very excited. We didn’t feel down. We felt like it was the beginning of something. One day we said, ‘Right, that’s the last time we play those songs and it’s the last time we’re called Parva.’ We didn’t have another [band] name at that point. We just thought, everything changes from now. We smartened up. We used to wear big jeans with holes in them. We got a haircut and went back to our roots. When we first met and started the band in 1997, we were obsessed with Mods and 60s music, so we retraced our steps. We knew we loved The Jam and The Clash, but hadn’t been referring to them over the years.
    The Chiefs debut album in 2004, Employment, was an explosion of post-punk sounds that crashed all the way to #2 on the UK charts. Employment chocked up a million and a half sales just in the UK alone largely on the success of the huge international top ten hits like the very Jam influenced "I Predict A Riot" (#9), "Everyday I Love You Less and Less" (#10), "Oh My God" (#6), and "Modern Way" (which just missed stopping at #11).

    As great an album as Employment is, it isn't their best. That would be their sophmore release Yours Truly Angry Mob which is a tour de force of mod influenced art punk. Yours Truly hit the top of the charts, thanks to #1 single "Ruby." The whole album is solid, packed with mature Britpop songs like the soft psychadelic pop of "Love's Not A Competition", the sizzling "Everything Is Average Nowadays", and the fuzzy new wavish "Thank You Very Much". The songwriting shows the influence of Ray Davies and Paul Weller throughout, and the orchestration is lavish, but in a way that bolsters the songs without overshadowing them The highlight of Yours Truly Angry Mob for me though has always been the song featured today "Heat Dies Down."

    The band's third release in October 2008, Off With Their Heads, has kept them in the limelight and peaked at #2. While has a more mainstream sound, it still has moments of sharp songwriting. They've also done some great covers -- reinterpretations actually -- of The Beatles, Marvin Gaye and 60s mod rockers The Move. Heavy touring has taken its toll with the band announcing they will take some time off now to relax and refuel their creative juices.

    Kaiser Chiefs -- Heat Dies Down

    April 11, 2009

    Modcast 125: Mod Essentials II - The Revival

    Welcome to Mr. Suave’s Mod Mod World. This is a special episode of the modcast, the second in a series I call Mod Essentials. The first one, Mod Essentials: In The Beginning premiered last summer and featured my take on the most essential mod tracks of the 1960s. As you can imagine it was hardly definitive. And this one likely won’t be either . This is Mod Essentials II: The Revival. You will see that while there are some fantastic songs here, there are a number of key artists missing like The Crooks, Squire, The Amber Squad, Long Tall Shorty, The Cigarettes and lots more.

    From 1977 to 1981 mod was reborn in the UK, which sparked mod revivals around the world. For a few glorious years the energy and angst of punk was wed to the rhythm of soul, the pulse of power pop, and the fashions of the sixties. The Who released Quadrophenia at the height of the revival creating even more interest in all things mod. Inevitably the mod scene became overexposed, it went mainstream briefly, and that more than anything else killed it and drove the remaining mods back to their soul clubs to await the movements next revival -- still more than a decade away.

    Here then are the songs that I think epitomize the wide range of sounds in the mod revival. So, what are your essential mod revival tracks? I'm dying to find out from people what they see as the quintessential mod revival sound. Leave a comment and let me know what you think of my list here, what you would have added, or what you would have scrapped. Don't be shy.

    • The Jam – In The City
    • Secret Affair – Days of Change
    • Small Hours – Hangin’ In The Balance
    • Teenbeats – I Can’t Control Myself
    • Purple Hearts – Can’t Help Thinking About Me
    • The Chords – Something’s Missing
    • The Lambrettas – Go Steady
    • Beggar – Don’t Throw Your Life Away
    • Speedball – No Survivors
    • The Adverts – Bored Teenagers
    • Merton Parkas – Put Me In The Picture
    • The Jam – Precious (12” dance mix)

    Mod documentary clip featuring Secret Affair performing Time For Action


    April 10, 2009

    Mod-A-Day: Chet Baker

    Chet Baker was born in Oklahoma in 1929, but grew up in Glendale California. His big break came when he started playing with Charlie Parker in the early 1950s. Later, Baker would play in the great Gerry Mulligan Quartet. By 1953 Baker had formed his own quartet and was beginning to record for Pacific Jazz. In the 1950s Baker toured the US and occasionally Europe, and played for a while with the Birdland All Stars. Throughout the 60s Baker was one of the leading jazz masters helping to create the cool jazz sound of west coast jazz. Sadly at the same time he developed a lifelong addiction to heroin (which, along with cocaine, was the likely cause of his death in 1988 after a fall from a hotel balcony).

    Baker was always a pure trumpeter, and on tracks like "Isn't it Romantic" and "Moonlight Becomes You" he made the music his very own. He took each song he played and shaped it into something extra special. But, what most people don't realize is that he wasn't just one of the great trumpeters, no even more than that Chet Baker had one of the suavest voices to ever croon a tune. Like smooth velvet, his voice knew no bounds and needed no embellishment. On songs like "Look for the Silver Lining", and the song here 1955's "Let's Get Lost" --perhaps the best lounge-like jazz song I've ever heard-- you will hear a voice that just demands a long, slow swallow of straight, cold gin in honor of such sophisticated coolness.

    Chet Baker -- Let's Get Lost

    April 9, 2009

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    Mod-A-Day: Shadows of Knight

    The mid 60s saw tons of garage bands rise up in the wake of the British invasion, and few had any real staying power. The Shadows of Knight however managed to record a handful of LPs and had some minor hits of covers. Their best album was undoubtedly their sophmore effort, 1967's Back Door Men which included this original, "I'll Make You Sorry."

    Over the years the band has become a sort of cult classic for garage rock fans, primarily for their brash and gritty covers of "Gloria", "Oh Yeah", and Lou Christie's "I'm Gonna Make You Mine" which came to fame on the original Nuggets compilation.
    "The Stones, Animals and Yardbirds took the Chicago Blues and gave it an English interpretation. We've taken the English version of the Blues and re-added a Chicago touch."
    This self description is true, but it does a disservice to the band's orignal compositions which were equally good as a lot of the covers they did.

    Shadows of Knight -- I'll Make You Sorry

    April 8, 2009

    Mod-A-Day: Dobie Gray

    Here's some serious soul music, "Out on the Floor" by Dobie Gray. Gray had his first hit with the top 20 song "The In Crowd" in 1965, but is probably best known for his international mega hit 1974's "Drift Away". Still, for soul fans it will always be "Out on the Floor" and "The In Crowd" both of which are terrific dance numbers. "Out on the Floor" was never a hit in the US, and really wasn't a hit at all. But, in the mid to late 70s it became a northern soul cult classic thanks to heavy play at Wigan Casino and other UK soul clubs.

    Dobe Gray -- Out on the Floor

    Here's a little bonus. This is the only video I could find of Dobie doing "The In Crowd" on an episode of Shindig. (I guess this is actually a big bonus because the video also contains a wild clip of Zsa Zsa Gabor --that's right dahling-- doing a groovy number of her own.)

    Dobie Gray -- The In Crowd

    April 7, 2009

    Mod-A-Day: Long Tall Shorty

    In the late 70s during the midst of the punk explosion and the mod revival there was a blurry line between the two genres. For me, no band more epitomized the pure mod sound and still was able to incorporate the agression of punk than Long Tall Shorty. Always a mod band firmly rooted in sixties beat sounds, they never the less had punk vibe about them that fit perfectly into the mod revival.

    Founded in 1978 the band managed to maintain a very mod sound, and a very punk attitude. Riots seemed to follow them as much as anything making them one of the most loved bands by both mods and punks of the era. Their sound was a sixties infused power pop that fit well within the scenes of the day. But, they also managed to sneak in a fair amount of soul, turning their power pop into something more rhythmic and dancable than other straight ahead power pop outfits of the day.

    This track, "Win Or Lose", was one of their last recorded singles late in 1980. It was a pretty standard mod revival number. It had a solid sixties mod power pop feel to it, was melodic but at the same time offered just enough agression to keep it from being too accesible to the pop music mainstream. After a number of line up changes the band finally called it quits in 1982. Time goes by and lo and behold a revamped Long Tall Shorty has reunited and been playing shows here and there the past few years, and the rumour is that there very well might be a new single and album in the offing. No matter, the excellent revival tracks of their original recordings are worth listening to until the end of time.

    Long Tall Shorty -- Win Or Lose

    April 6, 2009

    Mod-A-Day: Jimmy Page

    Before Led Zeppelin, before The Yardbirds, in the beginning there was just Jimmy. Jimmy Page a kick ass session player, a guitarist so good he both commanded requests to play, and scared off all sorts of opportunities. In the early sixties Page played lead guitar on loads of great songs, for the biggest artists of the day like Lulu, The Tremeloes, Marianne Faithful, and perhaps The Who, Them, The Rolling Stones, and The Kinks -- with all of whom there is great debate about whether or not it is Page's session work that ended up on their hit singles. Regardless, you can't argue that he was one of the absolute best blues guitarists of the day. Eventually of course he was lured into a couple of years work with The Yardbirds, out of which arose Led Zeppelin, and the rest they say is history.

    However, very early on he recorded with The Mickey Finn Group (or maybe it was just The Mickey Finn) and also as a solo artist. Here then is one of his earliest solo tracks, 1965's "She Just Satisfies", a ballsy, bluesy bit of floor stompin, R&B that was allegedly his first single. No matter, it's a blistering track of early sixties blues rock goodness, complete with harmonica.

    Jimmy Page -- She Just Satisfies

    April 5, 2009

    Modcast #124: This is not a polka, this is rock and roll

    Welcome to the flight, your pilot this week is the indisputable king of the guest DeeJays, Ken from The Shingles. Be sure to put your seat in its fully reclined condition, top off your libation and loosen your seat belt because Cap'n Ken's back again with a rock'em, sock'em lineup of mod tunes. Your inflight entertainment will include brand new tracks by Tinted Windows (note to Taylor Hanson, Rick Springfield called and he wants his look back) and Madness, as well as recent goodies from Boss Martians, The Major Labels, Muck & The Mires, and more. Happy landings.

    1. 88 - Go Go Go (Not Only... But Also,
    2. Tinted Windows -
    Kind of a Girl (Tinted Windows, 2009)
    3. Air Traffic - Just Abuse Me (Fractured
    Life, 2007)
    4. Beat Union -
    Disconnected (Disconnected, 2008)
    5. Winnerys - Get Into My Life (Daily
    Urban Times, 2006)
    6. Major
    - Don't Hear A Single (Aquavia, 2008)
    7. Frank Popp Ensemble - Psychedelic Girl
    (Touch & Go, 2005)
    8. Solution - Had You Told It
    Like It Was (It Wouldn't Be Like It Is) (Will Not Be Televised, 2007)
    9. Madness - We Are London (The Liberty Of
    Norton Folgate, 2009)
    10. Metros -
    Last Of The Lookers (More Money Less Grief, 2008)
    11. Muck & the Mires - Hypnotic
    (Hypnotic, 2008)
    12. Boss
    - Mars Is for Martians (Pressure in the S.O.D.O., 2008)
    13. Rulers - I Want My Ramones Records
    Back (The Rulers Single, 2008)

    Tinted Windows - Kind of a Girl

    April 4, 2009

    Mod-A-Day: The Toasters

    Arguably The Toasters did more to bring ska to America than any other band, and they certainly paved the way for the big ska scare of the 90s that featured charting bands like The Mighty Mighty Bosstones and Sublime.

    Formed in 1982 by Brit turned New Yorker, Rob "Bucket" Hingley, the band even created their own label to produce and distribute their albums. The Toasters produced a few albums in the 80s, and then kept right on going producing a fistful through the 90s and their latest one in 2007. They've collaborated with the likes of Joe Jackson, and featured ska legends on their albums and in concert such as Laurel Aiken and Lester Sterling. Their best album, in my mind, was 1996's Hard Band for Dead (a play off of Prince Buster's classic Hard Man for Dead release). The album showcased the band's eclectic influences from jazzy swing to boogie woogie, from rock steady to sixties soul -- all with an obvious nod to the Two-Tone style of ska they've always favored. Here then with "'90s beats and '50s roots," is "2 Tone Army".

    The Toasters -- 2 Tone Army

    April 3, 2009

    Mod-A-Day: Love

    Hailing from Los Angeles, Arthur Lee's band Love often lived in the shadow of The Doors, but is remembered for a number of songs including their rendition of Burt Bacharach's "My Little Red Book" (a version allegedly hated by Bacharach), and their original compositions like the soulful garage rocker "Seven and Seven Is", and the song featured here "Alone Again Or", a soft piece of melodic psychadelia. The song was the leader on Love's critically acclaimed 1967 album Forever Changes, and features a unique arrangement including a haunting guitar riff, stirring trumpet solo, gentle strings and a mariachi band. While it failed to garner much success at the time of its release --it reached only #99 on the charts-- it gradually became more and more appreciated, eventually landing on Rolling Stone's list of the 500 best songs of all time, and has been covered by numerous artists including The Damned and Matthew Sweet & Susanna Hoffs. Love broke up after their third album and Lee went on to collaborate (briefly) with Jimi Hendrix and later Steve Winwood, before revamping the band and touring it in the late 80s, and after a prison stint in the late 90s. Sadly he died from luekemia in 2006.

    Love -- Alone Again Or

    April 2, 2009

    Mod-A-Day: The Housemartins

    The Housemartins were one of the few truly mod friendly bands to make the charts in the mid-80s. The band's version of jangly power pop combined with political and religious references throughout their songs made them one of the more unique bands of the decade. Their sound borrowed from pop music of the sixties, and had the jangly guitars, lilting vocals and driving beat that was just beginning to become popular among indie and alternative bands of the day.

    Formed in 1984 and hailing from Hull, The Housemartins third single, "Happy Hour", vaulted to #3 on the charts in 1986 and instantly made them one of the most popular bands in the UK. Their first LP London 0 Hull 4 followed suit and landed in the top ten. Singles released throughout the rest of the decade didn't do quite as well, though a fair number did manage to break into the top 20. Their only other full length release, The People Who Grinned Themselves To Death also made it into the top 10 cementing the band's legacy as bonafide hit makers and not just one hit wonders.

    Sadly, the band split in 1988 arguably at the top of their game. Lead singer Paul Heaton and drummer Dave Hemingway soon after formed the even more sucessful Beautiful South, in many ways continuing with a more advanced, more mature Housemartins sound. And that was a sound that apparently the public liked as the Beautiful South's "Carry On Up The Charts" best of disk became one of the biggest selling UK albums of all time, and they have had eight albums reach the top ten. Not to be outdone, bassist Norman Cook changed his stage name to Fat Boy Slim, and well as they say the rest is history.

    This track, "Anxious", is by far my favorite. It's one of their faster and edgier songs, and probably the most power poppish in their catalog. It jigs along, punctuated by Heaton's sharp, succinct vocal delivery, and backed by a catchy riff and chorus. Perhaps not the most representative of their overall sound (though it's not wildly off the mark) it is still a great song.

    The Housemartins -- Anxious

    April 1, 2009

    Mod-A-Day: The Beat (English Beat)

    In many ways The Beat were the heart and soul of the two-tone movement of the late 70s and early 80s. Where Madness was beloved of the working class masses, and The Specials were the political consciousness of the movement, The Beat somehow seemed to have their finger on the pulse of the youth of the day. Maybe that's why they had staying power beyond so many of the other bands (except perhaps Madness).

    The Beat featured a bonafide ska legend in Jamaican saxophonist Saxa, and becuase of that always seemed to infuse their music with a more care-free Jamaican reggae vibe than the other two tone bands. They were able to blend soul, ska, and power pop in such a way as to make themselves relevant to the 'new wave' sound beginning to take hold of mainstream musci. Add to that guitarist and vocalist Dave Wakeling's contemporary voice and style, and the toasting of Ranking Roger, along with an accomplished set of musicians, and the ingredients were all there for a world class band. The Beat didn't disappoint scoring a string of hits both in and out of the UK -- "Mirror in the Bathroom", "I Confess", "Save it For Later", "Can't Stand Losing You", "Tears of a Clown", and featured here, their last single 1983's "Ackee 1-2-3", which only made it to #54 on the charts. Still, it's a fantastic song that I think captures the band's tone and style quite well. The calypso like sound, combined with the overall ska style gave it the indelible Beat sound, but at the same time it embraced enough of a pop element that like all of their tracks made them accessible to both ska lovers and casual pop listeners. That was the main essence of the band's genius.

    After the break up The Beat spawned two other critically acclaimed and extremely popular hit-making bands -- General Public and Fine Young Cannibals.

    The Beat -- Ackee 1-2-3