Thursday, December 20, 2007

It's a Mad, Mod World

"Nothing gets in my way, not even locked doors
Don't follow the lines that been laid before
I get along anyway I dare
Anyway, anyhow, anywhere"
--The Who, Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere, 1966

When Roger Daltrey sang those lyrics in 1966, he was throwing down a challenge to the stale crumpet of British society that remained entombed in "the English way." The English way was not merely, as Pink Floyd put it "hanging on in quiet desperation," it was also a romanticized postcard rubric both exploited and enjoyed by the British government.

Daltrey was anthemizing the aggression his generation felt towards the quaint, the genteel, the seaside hotels and the tea rooms, residual Victoriana, the wartime deprivation. The difficulties of the post-war years still lingered in certain pockets of the country, with inadequate countermeasure being taken to address them. Meanwhile, a number of British youth were finding dynamic cultural clues beyond borders. From Italy came the Vespa and Lambretta scooters and the sleek suits; jazz, the fishtail parka, and Benzedrine were imported from America.

Remember when America was cool?

Between the Teddy Boys and the punks were the Mods and Rockers, with Daltrey's The Who being one of a number of musical spokespersons for the former. Consider Keith Moon's full-frontal attack on My Generation, propelling the non-conformism forward one ballyhoo crash at a time, and the disintegrating feedback Townshend employed to advance chaos in the ranks.

The Mods and Rockers enjoyed a brief day in the English sun, for a period lasting roughly from 1964-1966. Forever intertwined as opposing cultural forces, they became post-history emblems of media-manufactured aggravation. Nothing that boys don't do when boys get together, burning a few deck chairs, smashing a few windows, but certainly not the moral epidemic the British public were led to believe.

Every gang must have its colors, so the Mod had his slim Italian suit, his coif, his Chelsea boots, and his surplus jacket from the U. S. Army forces in North Korea. The M1951 this coat was called, with a genuine wolf-fur collar attached. You can see one today on the cover of Quadrophenia; if you want to buy an original it'll set you back 347 quid or more but you'll have to paint the logo on yourself.

Even if Daltrey and Co. went on to become one of the biggest arena-rock bands of the seventies, they were still Acton garage Mods underneath it all; even if they jettisoned their skinny duds for rich-hippie rags they still burned Mod fuel: purple-heart speed and sonic noise. Put your ear to the canyon of time; you can still hear the roar of the crowd, the reverb, and the sound of the television going thud, SPLAT as it flies from the hotel room window and hits the ground of Anywheresville, USA.

Vintage fishtail parka


Iheartfashion said...

Great post!
I love your insightful observations about style.

WendyB said...

Great post. I LOVE the Mod look. I went to see the Who a while ago and they showed lots of video from back in the day. I would have been happy to just watch the video!

Fashion Tidbits said...

you have a mad blog!!! :)

Fashion Tidbits said...

mad blog!!!!:)

Bobble Bee said...

WONDERFUL post.... ah... those were the days!
British style and fashion has been always something to keep an eye on. I guess foggy weather inspires your wardrobe!

get well soon