Wednesday, July 10, 2013

"Mod: A Very British Style" by Richard Weight

Bodley Head Isbn: 9780224073912

The cover and title is basically a magnet and it pulled me in right away. But as I read it there are two mistakes that really bothered me.  One is claiming that Boris Vian was married to Juliette Gréco (he wasn't) and that the Beatles met Elvis at Graceland (they didn't meet there).  The author Richard Weight is a historian, so this is a major mistake on his part or his research assistants.  So as you can gather, "Mod" is the history of that cult, but it goes beyond Mod to what the author feels is their influence on future cultural movements.   I think the book at this point over extends the subject matter or loses the object of desire that is Mod, when focusing on almost every music and youth movement in the U.K. after the golden era of Mod.

When he writes of the original Mod figures of the 60's and before that decade, its very interesting. But he wonders off the beaten path to write about the entire history of British pop culture.   Mod to me was a very unique movement at a very specific time.  It would have been much more interesting if he just focused on that world and nothing else.  Also the author seems distant to his subject matter.  I got the feeling that he isn't really into music or culture - more of a historian looking at his subject matter.   There are other great books out there on the subject matter of Mod, but this one isn't part of that pack.

It doesn't have the colorful appreciation from someone like Andrew Loog Oldham, or even the wit and charm of Simon Napier-Bell.  Mod is a big subject matter, and hopefully there will be more books in the near future.   But this is a very dry history on a fascinating world.  At its best it can serve as an introduction and hopefully the reader will do their own research to track down authors, personalities, and other book titles.  His suggested reading on Mod Culture is good, but not large enough, which is ironic because this book is pretty hefty in the page and text department.

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