So many to choose from, but I have managed to narrow down 30 of the best budget Mod compilations around. Most costing about a fiver.
It really is a growth market too. Some years back there were barely any Mod compilations around, budget or otherwise. But in the last few years, they have grown in number, ranging from the more obvious Mod tunes and floor fuller to collections that are far more niche than you would expect from the price tags and covers.
And with the cost of physical media on the slide, prices have dropped. Yes, there still are some classy compilations from the likes of Demon and Cherry Red at full price. But many albums are available for very little now. Which is good news if you want something to hand in the home or especially in the car.
Talking of covers, the artwork on many of these isn’t exactly impressive and I wouldn’t expect in-depth sleevenotes on a lot of them. That’s usually the trade-off. If you want both of those things, look at those premium collections, which I might compile a list of soon.
Note that I’m also focusing on CD compilations here too. Again, I’ll pull together a list of vinyl collections soon – but vinyl collections never come cheap these days. Vinyl prices keep going up. CD pricee keep going down.
Anyway, onto those albums, which are in no particular order, but hopefully take in most of the genres you would associate with the Mod movement.
1. The Mod Scene
Let’s start with the obvious one and an album that everyone should own.
The CD is the cheap format here, although a vinyl version did get released for Record Store Day a couple of yeats back. If you want that, expect to pay £30 and upwards. If you can find a copy on vinyl. getting harder to spot these days
But this one is just £7 for 25 beat-based classics, including the likes of Bert’s Apple Crumble by The Quik, Girl Don’t Make Me Wait by Timebox and Grow Your Own by Small Faces. A must-buy at this price.
2. 20 Original Mod Classics
Possibly the oldest compilation on the list and the fact that it is here is a testament to what it does.
This is al album that offers an entry point to the sounds of the mod scene. Nothing rare here. In fact you would probably describe what is here as ‘obvious’ to many already on the mod scene. But this is a great overview over those 20 tracks, taking in the likes of the Small Faces, The Creation and The Action, along with some Motown classics, a bit of Georgie Fame, as well as Benny Spellman, Gene Chandler and Jackie Wilson.
As a first step, well worth the £6.73.
3. Mod Anthems
A nice follow-on from number two, with another selection of more obvious tunes, but expanded over three discs.
80 tracks in total, with most of the more well-known side of mod, but not so obvious if you aren’t familiar with mod. I’m sure you’ve heard a good never and there are some northern soul tunes I would have happily left off if I was compiling, but there is a high-quality quota here and plenty of dance floor mainstays.
£6.99 for this one, which is excellent value.
Worth noting that the label also put out a second collection of this, which is also well worth checking out at roughly the same price.
4. The Jazz In You – Mod From The Jazz Side
If you want something jazzier, this one is worth checking out too.
One of a couple of collections that take inspiration from the Mod Jazz series of albums which are worth investing in if you have the money. They are a little pricier, but are excellent collections.
This one take in 40 tracks from the 1950s and 1960s, generally lesser-known tracks but with plenty of familiar names amongst them. £4.89 for the double CD.
5. Greatest Ever Mod
You know I was talking about some albums having less-than-impressive packaging? This is one of them and it certainly isn’t the last.
Described as ‘the definitive collection’ (but you can make your own mind up on that one), this is a three-disc set that tries it best to cover all original 1960s genres, as well as mixing up the obvious and some you might not expect.
If I was criticising I would say that adding in some later mod revival and two tone tracks is a bit of an afterthought and again, throwing in some tunes that are more northern soul than Mod lets it down. But you can’t argue at £2.47 for 60 tracks. Yes, you did read that price right.
6. 60s Mod Soul
I am going to sound like a stuck record when I talk about some of these as many cover similar ground. 60s Mod Soul treads similar ground to many others on here.
But let’s not discount this double CD straight away. It does what it says, offering 1960s souks that appealed to mods, ranging from the blindingly obvious to a good number you might not be familiar with.
40 tracks for just £4.89, so a strong contender.
7. What Made Mods
If you want a lot of tracks for not much money, then this is the one for you.
What Made Mods has 75 tracks over its three CDs, including classics from the likes of The Marvelettes, Barrett Strong, Phil Upchurch, Derek Martin, Ray Charles and Richard Berry to name a few. A lot of lesser-known tunes too, but nothing too obscure.
In light of the number and quality of the tracks, the selling price of £3.64 is an absolute steal.
8. Copasetic! The Mod Ska Sound
Plenty of ska compilations out there and a good number from Trojan. Here’s one of them.
I recall this one coming out and it was a decent little collection too. I think I recall some decent sleevenotes too, which is unusual for this price bracket.
Some of the obvious ska classics of the day are here, but a good number of others that might be new to you. 56 in total, with a price of £7.99 for the lot. Many others out there if you want to do a compare and contrast, but this is up with the best of them.
9. Mod, Rhythm & Blues
Not the biggest collection on here, but available for the right price.
It’s also an album that suffers from a lot of crossover from others (and vice versa), which is always going to happen if you don’t go rare. But this one is a very strong collection, kicking off with Have Love Will Travel by Richard Berry and ending with You Can’t Sit Down by the Philip Upchurch Combo, with little letting the side down in-between.
At £4.89 for 36 tracks, it’s hard to argue against it.
10. Hip Soul
Hip Soul has something of an identity crisis, but it’s still worthy of a mention.
Another from budget compilation regulars Not Now Music, this is a two-disc set that also drifts into the realms of jazz, creating something of a mixed bag. It’s an interesting collection for me, rather than an essential one.
But again, you are looking past a lot of value with 40 tracks for £4.89.
11. 101 Stax
It doesn’t shout ‘Mod’ in the title, but if you want a collection of soul from one of the greats of the 1960s and 1970s, this is pretty much essential.
101 Stax because there are 101 tracks over five discs from the Stax label catalogue here. All the classics and a whole lot more – this is a set that will keep you going for hours.
Amazing that you can pick it up for just £8.48.
12. You Can’t Sit Down! Original Mod Club Classics
Spectrum has been putting out budget compilations from major label archives for years, with this one being a rather strong collection.
Unashamedly aiming at the entry-level mod market and perhaps the step above too, this is a two-disc set mixing 1960s beat, classic soul floor fillers and a touch of jazz too. Hard to criticise it in light of the quality here – a few years earlier this might well have been a premium collection.
But right now those 40 songs retail for £5.26.
13. Walk On The Wild Side – The Jazz Side Of Mod
You probably want to compare this with number four in the list and make your mind up which one you want.
Yes, another one inspired (right down to the sleeve) by the Mod Jazz series, this is a strong collection of mod-friendly jazz tracks, taking in pretty much everyone you would associate with the genre, as well as a couple of detours into soul and R&B.
32 tracks for £4.89. With that in mind you might want to pick up both of the jazz compilations.
14. The Freakbeat Scene
Like the first one in the list, this is another of the wonderful Decca compilations and if you like the freakier side of beat, definitely one to own.
Yes, a series. There are a number of these albums, all of which got reissued on vinyl for Record Store Day 2019. If you want to dig deeper, have a look at The R&B Scene, The Blues Scene and the Northern Soul Scene to name a few.
This one offers 25 underground classics from the freakbeat genre and is worth the admission just for Fire’s Father’s Name Is Dad. It used to be under a fiver, but the price has crept up to nearer a tenner these days. Big money on this list, but still worth considering.
15. The Birds – The Collectors’ Guide To Rare British Birds
Thought I would stick in a few band and artist collections too. Like this one.
Perhaps best-known as the band that gave the world Ronnie Wood, this is an 18-track compilation of all the singles, the first demos, unreleased recordings, alternate versions & backing tracks the much-loved Mod/beat act.
£4.99 is a bargain.
16. Boogie Chillen – Early Mods’ First-Choice Vinyl
This is one of the pricier collections in the rundown, but you do get a lot for your money.
75 tracks in fact. Annotated and compiled by first-generation mod Rob Nicholls, this is a three-disc set that probably digs deeper than you would expect of a collection of this nature.
Ok, not always. Reed Petite by Jackie Wilson somehow made the cut. But otherwise, this is an interesting melting pot of blues, jazz, soul and R&B that tries its best to reflect the variety of styles within the early years of the Mod scene. £6.99 isn’t that much to be honest.
17. Georgie Fame – Yeh Yeh The Collection
Looking for a Georgie Fame starter? This is well worth a few quid.
Of course, you could dig a lot deeper. There is an amazing The Whole World’s Shaking 1963-1966 box set but they don’t come cheap. If you want to dip your toe in the water, get this one first.
20 classics from Fame and his Blue Flames here and if it piques your interest, you can always pick up the box or the original albums after. Just £3.99 for this.
18. A Shot Of Rhythm & Blues
Not Now Music returns once again with a two-disc set for not a lot of cash.
Pretty strong too, as the set stays within the boundaries of R&B hovering and the late 1950s and into the early-to-mid 1960s. You’ll know a few, not least because they appear on a lot of the other collections mentioned here. Bit overall, this is a good introduction to R&B of the vintage variety.
£4.89 if you want this.
19. 75 MODern Sounds
I know. That cover. I did warn you about some of the artwork being shown off here.
It’s a shame really as it takes away what is an interesting and substantial collection, with 75 tracks over three discs. Yes, Green Onions and Land of 1000 Dances are here, but the obvious is in a minority, with a lot of less obvious tunes making up the majority of this collection.
And when you have the album on, you really don’t need to look at the cover art. £6.19 for this one.
20. This Is Trojan Ska
I’m not just talking about this album, I am talking about the series.
I mentioned there are a lot of ska comps out there, with Trojan behind a good number. The ‘This Is…’ series takes in plenty of variants, including a couple of rocksteady collections, with Trojan Presents Mod Ska also worth checking out.
But this one should be a first port of call, featuring the likes of Desmond Dekker, Don Drummond, The Upsetters, Alton Ellis, Derrick Harriott, The Skatalites and many more.
It’s a great introduction and for a reasonable £6.74 for two discs of music.
21. Essential Motown Northern Soul
I know, I moaned about some of these collections featuring northern soul tracks, then I go and feature a complete box set of northern soul. What gives?
Well, that’s simple. I picked out a Stax collection and thought it was only right to feature a Motown one. Thing is, everyone has a Motown compilation and most just feature the same ‘played to death’ ones you hear constantly on oldies radio. Not so this one.
This is a collection of 66 floor fillers compiled by northern soul legend Richard Searling, many of which are off Motown’s beaten track or only recently unearthed via the Cellarful of Motown series.
66 tracks of lesser-known Motown for the dancefloor for £4.13. Another no-brainer.
22. The Greatest Mod and Northern Soul Album box set
This one has something in common with the Mod Anthems collections I flagged up earlier, with both coming from the Rhino label.
This is an unashamedly commercial offering that borrows from an amazing old Rhino compilation some years back that came in a box that looked like a record box. That was a costly affair (I bought one when it first came out), with this one dropping a similar set of tracks for far less.
80 tracks, in fact, taking in Motown, Stax, plenty of dance floor classics and I’m A Man by the Spencer Davis Group, which is the only detour into beat on here. A wonderful set of tracks – unless you have them all already. The 80 tracks on here come in at £5.15.
23. Mod: The Collection
Another that suffers from a bad case of the cliche Mod cover. But let’s look beyond that.
This is a collection from Rhino, which produces some wonderful reissues and has access to somew great tunes. Some amazing dancefloor soul here, even if you might have one or two in your collection already. But not as obvious as some up the list.
A 4-CD collection of 100 tracks, you can pick it up for around £7.
24. Small Faces – The Essential Small Faces
This is ridiculous value. You get three discs of Small Faces classics for just over a fiver.
It’s a collection that covers both there Decca era and the Immediate years (not all of them do) and if you can think of a Small Faces track, there is a good chance that it is on here.
49 Small Faces classics and just £6.86. Again, you can dig deep with other albums and collections, but this is a great budget starting point.
25. Mod Music two-disc set
This one wins the title for worst cover. it looks like a flyer for a club in the late 1990s. But as ever, don’t judge a book by its cover.
You might be expecting a couple of discs of obvious hits. But that’s not what you get here. This is a collection of blues, soul, R&B and ska that you mijt have heard on the original London club scene and within that, a number of tracks you might not expect. Yes, you’ll have some. But I suspect a lot of these might be new to you.
Sleevenotes and an 8-page booklet too and all for £5.99.
26. In the Beginning – The Mod Story
Similar story here. It looks like a hits collection, but it’s a little more rare than that.
Dance floor soul and related, with plenty of tunes here you might know and might well have danced to. Not always the obvious choices, which is a good thing, but plenty here for your money.
Just £4.89 for this.
27. Forever Mod two-disc set
Not perfect by any means, but again, one that strays from the obvious path.
Two discs and 48 tracks, described as ‘smokin’ jazz, sensual soul, storming’ ska and classic blues’. There are some great tracks here, but you get the idea that there’s a bit of filler too. Tracks you might not thin of as obvious Mod plays.
But at £6.49 I can overlook that.
28. Ska Party three-disc box set
Yes, there are plenty of ska ‘hits’ albums out there and cheap too. But this one has plenty of tracks and a little more variation.
Of course, all the ‘names’ are here, such as Prince Buster, Laurel Aitken, Owen Gray, Jimmy Cliff and so on. But lesser-known tunes. The one word of caution is that there is a to of artist duplication, so perhaps less variety than some albums.
But for £4.99 for around 60 tracks, you might be able to look past that.
29. Mod The New Religion
A single disc that packs in 27 tracks. But a decent collection of tunes.
Taking its name from the iconic 1966 LP The New Religion by Jimmy James and The Vagabonds, it features two tracks off that, as well as plenty of other gems too.
The only downside is that you might have a few off here as it does;t dig that deep. But then again, that might be what you want in your collection?
£6.99 for this one.
30. The Jam – The Very Best Of The Jam
I’m conscious that this is a ‘beginners’ list and as such, I’m throwing in some obvious titles. None more so than this.
The Jam pretty much paved the way (musically) for the Mod revival, but they were a great band in their own right, Mod or not. 21 singles/classics here. Yes, you probably own them all, but a budget list wouldn’t be complete without this.
Also worth noting that you can get Time for Action – The Very Best of Secret Affair too, which focuses heavily on the debut album, but throws in the best of the rest too. Another bargain at £3.99.
That’s it. If I see more I’ll update the rundown.