The BBC will never make a documentary about The Action. To be honest, with two members sadly no longer with us, they’ve missed their chance anyway. But back in 2000, someone did – it was called In The Lap Of The Mods.
It’s not really a documentary, it’s more of a live video, but offering a little more than that suggests. The video (yes, a good old VHS) was produced to coincide with the band getting back together for some New Untouchables-sponsored gigs, with gigs at The Dome and the 100 Club in London featured here. If you are a fan, that’s the selling point.
But thankfully, someone decided to make this more than a live gig recording. We get some cracking original 1960s archive footage, along with interviews and comments from the band about the past, their early inspiration, their idols as kids and the reunion. Quite a considerable amount of chat too, more than you might expect. It’s fascinating stuff if you love the band – and if you are reading this, I guess you do.
It also throws in views of the fans (mainly New Untouchables folk of the day) and Phil Collins. Yes, that Phil Collins. He followed the band round as a kid and had an involvement in these reunion gigs (and the video, where he is credited as ‘executive producer’). He talks enthusiastically and almost comes across as likeable. Then you remember his Motown covers – and we’re back to square one.
It’s also interesting for another reason too – people spotting. The reunion took place at a time when mod was at a peak, post Britpop, when the scene was incredibly hip after some years of decline from the end of the ’80s. Today, with a few exceptions, the mod scene seems to be split between the old school purists and the resurgence of the parka and target brigade, all too often a secondary mention behind northern soul on your average club flyer.
It wasn’t the case in 2000 – and a look round the crowd shots shows a a group of people looking good and looking relaxed with it. Granted, it was a more youthful scene and perhaps a little too ‘swinging London’ for some. But it looked like a scene genuinely enjoying what mod is about – and lapping up one of its most iconic bands.
It’s not perfect, but that’s not surprising. As a video made for ‘fans’, In the Lap Of The Mods, doesn’t give any real background on the band. You’ll have to buy the recently-issued book for all of that. Controversial questions are also left at the door too – nothing about why the band never quite made the breakthrough, nothing about the breakup, subsequent musical projects or Reggie King’s departure from music. The band are credited as producers, so you suspect they also set the agenda. Hence why everything is kept fairly light and focused.
Perhaps this just wasn’t the place for it. After all, the selling point here is the music, not the chat. Talking of that music, the band sounds good, very good. Obviously the performances lack the exuberance of youth, but it’s surprising just how well they tackle the back catalogue – and how well Reggie King’s voice performed (in light if him rarely having a cigarette out of his hand during the interviews).
It’s not quite up there with the recorded music, which were said to be inferior to the band’s live sound in the ’60s. But better than you might expect. For that reason alone, In The Lap Of The Mods is worth digging out.
Good luck finding a copy though. A video-only release in 2000, it’s said to be rare now and there’s no sign of a DVD reissue. Having scoured the credits, it’s not really clear who own the rights on it for a rerelease. If someone does, do everyone a favour and fire out some budget DVDs of this. With the book on the shelves, it would be the perfect companion piece and really deserves more than being just a VHS tape in a few random fans’ collections.