From Bebop to Britpop, Britain’s Biggest Youth Movement
A rollicking ride through the jazz-fuelled, scooter-riding years of the quintessential British culture – and what it continues to mean for us today.
Welcome to the world of the sharp-suited ‘faces’. The Italianistas. The scooter-riding, all-night-dancing instigators of what became, from its myriad sources, a very British phenomenon.
Mod began life as the quintessential working-class movement of a newly affluent nation – a uniquely British amalgam of American music and European fashions that mixed modern jazz with modernist design in an attempt to escape the drab conformity, snobbery and prudery of life in 1950s Britain. But what started as a popular cult became a mainstream culture, and a style became a revolution.
In Mod, Richard Weight tells the story of Britain’s biggest and most influential youth cult. He charts the origins of Mod in the Soho jazz scene of the 1950s, set to the cool sounds of Charlie Parker and Miles Davis. He explores Mod’s heyday in Swinging London in the mid-60s – to a new soundtrack courtesy of the Small Faces, the Who and the Kinks. He takes us to the Mod–Rocker riots at Margate and Brighton, and into the world of fashion and design dominated by Twiggy, Mary Quant and Terence Conran.
But Mod did not end in the 1960s. Richard Weight not only brings us up to the cult’s revival in the late 70s – played out against its own soundtrack of Quadrophenia and the Jam – but reveals Mod to be the DNA of British youth culture, leaving its mark on glam and Northern Soul, punk and Two Tone, Britpop and rave.
This is the story of Britain’s biggest and brassiest youth movement – and of its legacy. Music, film, fashion, art, architecture and design – nothing was untouched by the eclectic, frenetic, irresistible energy of Mod.
“This [is a] highly entertaining and discursive mixture of social history and cultural theory… As an analysis of Britain’s youth tribes of the past 50 years…Mod: A Very British Style is definitive”
Mick Brown, Daily Telegraph
“Richard Weight’s splendid new book… The writing is witty…the judgments are pinpoint accurate… The research is formidable in its scope and detail”
Alwyn W Turner, New Statesman
“MOD is an important book because it shows how a style so often dismissed as trivial is in fact an important determinant of Britishness... This is a great book because it has the courage to celebrate what is wonderfully modern”
Gerard DeGroot, Sunday Telegraph
“Well-written throughout, crackles with reflection on fashion, music and film”
Ian Thompson, Observer
“A serious and worthwhile insight into a fascinating aspect of youth identity”
Will Hodgkinson, The Times
“The book to get Sir Bradley Wiggins for his birthday”
“This is a must-read for Weller wannabes”
Evening Standard ES
“For anyone who wants an accessible, thorough and discursive audit of youth culture over the past 50 years, MOD will be immensely satisfying”
Paul Connolly, Metro
“We can’t seem to get enough of the mod look. Now you can swot up on the originals with Mod: a Very British Style”
Sunday Times Style
“It’s an ode to youth culture and the Britain it created”
Wall Street Journal Off Duty
“He has done his job well. As we age, we need to be reminded that our youth was special and that nostalgia was good for the soul”
Walter Ellis, Spectator
“MOD is a weighty book. Its scope is almost as impressive as its Conran-esque endpapers…”
Gavin James Bower, Independent
“The perfect gift for someone who wants to walk down memory lane. The '60s, '70s and '80s are investigated thoroughly, with clubs, fashion, music and geography carefully described”
“It’s the history of an attitude, and [Weight’s] captured it very well”
William Leith, Evening Standard
“An impeccably written, thoughtful, provocative, at time shocking, yet most compelling book describing the uprising of modernism in Britain, from the 1940s onwards”
Elaine Holland, Nudge