Various Artists – 20 Original Mod Classics (Spectrum)

by Modculture 8 September, 2011

20 Original Mod Classics

20 Original Mod Classics

David Walker checks out the new budget mod compilation on the Spectrum label.

A short while back, there was an album out called Mod Mania. It had some decent tunes on it, but it had some real dross on it too. The cheap and tacky sleeve didn’t help, nor did an ad campaign that squeezed in every stereotype into its 30-second slot, right down to the white socks. it was the latest in a series of albums that often pop up around Father’s Day, rehashing the same mix of vintage soul, beat, revival and (usually) two tone, despite the fact that those tunes are rarely sit well together in the same place.

Why an I telling you this? Well, because last week, details of another compilation slipped into the Modculture inbox. it was called 20 Original Mod Classics and as ever, my heart sank. But wait! this one is actually not bad at all.

If mod can be broken down into entry-level, intermediate and advanced, this album is firmly in the first category. So why does this mix of over-compiled tracks work when others fail? Simple – it sticks to its task and its era, it doesn’t try to be clever and it also retails for £3.97. That’s less than 20p per track and to be honest, if you haven’t got the majority of the tracks here, that makes it a steal.

But let me reiterate once more, this Johnny Chandler-compiled album doesn’t bring anything new to the party. Tracks like the Small Faces’ Tin Soldier, The Fleurs De Lys’ Circles and Beggin’ by Timebox have been compiled to death. Even more so he Supremes’ Love Is Like An Itching In My Heart, The Marvelettes’ I’ll Keep Holding On, James Brown’s Night Train and Marvin’s Can I Get A Witness. If you have all of those already, the value of the album has already diminished. Unless you happen to want them all in once place.

But there are other tunes that, whilst not being rare, might not be obvious choices for the album. Stuff like The Eyes’ I’m Rowed Out, Dusty Springfield’ Little By Little, Billy Stewart’s Secret Love, the bluesy I’m Gonna Move To The Outskirts Of Town by Rod Stewart and Tony Jackson’s Fortune Teller.

In addition, if you do fall into that entry-level category, names like Billy Nicholls, Etta James & Sugar Pie DeSanto and The Impressions might be new to you. If they are, well you might be digging deeper after checking out the tracks on here.

So what am I saying? I’m saying that this is mod by numbers, it’s an album that relies heavily on the obvious, but not exclusively so. It’s an album you’ll already own in some capacity if ‘mod’ has been part of your life for some time. But if you want a starting point for classic mod tunes or something to stick in the car, ignore the heavily TV-advertised rubbish and go for this far more unassuming collection. At under £4, you really can’t go wrong.

Find out more about the CD at the Amazon website