Book Review

Modzines: Fanzine Culture From the Mod Revival

Title: Fanzine Culture From the Mod Revival

Authors: Eddie Piller & Steve Rowland

Publisher: Omnibus

Price: £16.99

I was around 14 and 15 and the school yard was full of talk of The Sex Pistols, The Stranglers and, “…did you see the singer from Blondie on Top of the Pops last night?” This would be around 1978, 1979 or so. 

But there was one kid. Dave the Mod we called him. He wore a fishtail duffle coat adorned by Mod-style badges. Later, he would turn up at school, proudly riding a scooter festooned with more Mod regalia (he was a bit young but still…) Then there was talk of The Who-inspired film, Quadrophenia. And there was the music too as the Mod revival bands were suddenly everywhere.

There was the Jam of course and classic-era bands were looked at once more from The Who, Kinks and Small Faces. Younger, original bands formed and played too from The Chords, Secret Affair, Back to Zero and Purple Hearts, The Lambrettas and more.

Modzines: Fanzine Culture From the Mod Revival

The Chords

Where there is a scene and where there are bands to talk about and discover then – especially in those days – there were fanzines to support the fans. This is what this book is all about. It’s a celebration featuring original artwork, front covers and spreads, photography and interviews with the key creators. That means fanzine editors, bands, DJs, promoters, journalists and the ‘faces’ who chat about behind the scenes stories, anecdotes and memories about famed publications – run by girls as well as boys – like Direction Reaction Creation, Extraordinary Sensations, Roadrunner, Maximum Speed, Sense of Style, The Way Ahead, Double Breasted, Patriotic, Go Go, In The Crowd, Right Track, Beat That and more. 

Some fanzines only ran for one or two issues but that was often enough to make a statement or to send the creator onto bigger and better things. The book editors estimate a grand total of 1,000 different fanzines were launched to celebrate the Mod revival.

Modzines is a soft back, spanning 176 pages but there is a box-set edition of Modzines limited to 750 copies that includes a 7” single If I Was You/That’s What I Want by Long Tall Shorty (originally issued as a free flexidisc with the Direction Reaction Creation fanzine), a reproduction of issue one of Maximum Speed and a certificate of authenticity which is around and about for £51.99 via acidjazz.bigcartel.com. 

Modzines: Fanzine Culture From the Mod Revival

Special edition version

Modzines editor, Piller edited Extraordinary Sensations before he was headhunted into the mainstream music business, ending up founding the Acid Jazz record label. His cohort, Steve Rowland is a graphic designer and both take the reader through the scene from 1978-1984, from its beginnings and the so-called First Wave and Second Wave of the scene but also fanzines and activities in Europe and the rest of the world. The source was a passion and an energy for the music and the fashion and the attitude but also a reaction against the mainstream music press who often derided the entire Mod revival scene. The tool was the photocopier.

“The fanzine started off as something for a small group of people who knew each other,” said Gloffa Gadding, co-editor of Maximum Speed, “we began by making 30 or 40 copies. It was essentially something that was stitched together, photocopied and stapled and given away or flogged to people down the pun for less than 10 bob.”

Modzines: Fanzine Culture From the Mod Revival

Secret Affair

Profusely illustrated, dripping nostalgia and wrapped in a love for the entire fanzine genre, Modzines is a knowledgable but also inspirational book that presents to the reader the notion that barriers are only created in the mind. You only have to embrace the freedom and doors will be opened. For proof, read the testimony of those who edited, wrote for or were connected in some way to these fanzines. Many of the individuals moved onwards to careers in writing, art and design. Their Mod revival was also a personal revival. 

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2 Comments

  • Reply
    Lenny
    21st December 2019 at 3:41 pm

    Quadrophenia. I think Pete Townshed once said the The Who was at their musical prime when he wrote that album. It was always one if my favorites.

    I’m not sure if it’s historic accuracy, but that is seldom an artist strong point.

    Surely, that was an interesting time in music and English history. Later, the distance between The Beatles and the other English groups may reflect on that period.

    Just musing.

    • Reply
      Paul Rigby
      22nd December 2019 at 1:48 pm

      And you’re very welcome to muse, Lenny,

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