Jun 192012

I’ve always been on the fence concerning the Mod or Rocker schism. I do love my Eddie Cochran and Link Wray, but I also love my natty attire, Small Faces, The Creation, and The Action.

[audio:https://www.rocktownhall.com/blogs/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/07-Brain-1.mp3|titles=The Action: Brain] [audio:https://www.rocktownhall.com/blogs/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/01-Come-Around-1.mp3|titles=The Action: Come Around]

So, I’m not going to give a Wikipedia-style account of The Action here. Let’s just let them be the soundtrack for an inquiry.

Certainly, the Mods vs. Rockers clashes of the ’60s were overemphasized, and it’s not like they even mattered over here. Is it even a valid argument anymore, or did Ringo do away with the question in his famous Hard Day’s Night quip?

[audio:https://www.rocktownhall.com/blogs/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/02-Something-To-Say.mp3|titles=The Action: Something to Say] [audio:https://www.rocktownhall.com/blogs/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/02-In-My-Lonely-Room.mp3|titles=The Action: In My Lonely Room]

It comes down to a question of the importance of subculture and semiotics: the expressive forms and rituals of our groupings, be they mods, rockers, punks, skinheads, Portland-types, or Brooklyn-types.

This is superficial stuff, to be sure. We become intrigued by the mundane objects—an R.A.F. roundel, motorcycle boots, a safety pin, a flannel shirt—which nonetheless take on a symbolic dimension, and also grant us something of a self-imposed exile.

I don’t give a fuck so much, but there was a time when it was a serious rock-existential dilemma for me: “Wait, can I have a mod target, and love Gene Vincent? Can you do that?” Can I, to bring it up to the present day, dress like Jimmy in Quadrophenia and still be caught dead at Rock of Ages?

[audio:https://www.rocktownhall.com/blogs/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/07-Just-Once-In-My-Life.mp3|titles=The Action: Just Once in My Life] [audio:https://www.rocktownhall.com/blogs/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/10-Since-I-Lost-My-Baby.mp3|titles=The Action: Since I Lost My Baby]

In this context, the music we listen to serves as entertainment, diversion, and relevance, yes, but we also identify, adopting the sounds and their singers as signifiers to help us discover “where do I fit in?”


  12 Responses to “Shake Some Action”

  1. I’ve never greased my hair nor have I duck-tailed it out. I’ve never been able to grow a sideburn worth a rip. I like Elvis and Eddie, I’ve sung them “in the style” at karaoke bars before. I’d like to look cool on a motorcycle, but the one time I did take one for a ride solo I slid it out while cornering into a suburban mailbox. So much for being cool.

    But when fourteen years old I did accidentally rip down our shower curtain while windmilling with “I Can See For Miles” on the bathroom radio. And I am and always have been sort of transfixed by the Union Jack design.

    “Schizophrenic? I’m bleedin’ quadrophenic.”


  2. I don’t think I’ve ever dedicated myself to a particular fashion other than maintaining a general rule that my Mom established for me: my hair is always at “Beatles’ length,” no shorter than the early Beatles’ moptops. Since I turned 20 or so I’ve been dedicated to maintaining my sideburns. I’ve never had a ponytail. All around I’d say a “blossoming” 1966 Look along the lines of Rubber Soul and Revolver-era Beatles (and their peers) does the trick for helping me feel like “me.”

    In recent weeks, as I contemplate my advancing age and continue my ongoing tear through episodes of The Rockford Files I’m thinking that the Jim Rockford Look may be where I’m headed.

    I’d never heard that collection by The Action until about 3 years ago. They did some good stuff.

  3. The closest I came to emulating any rock hero was when I got a couple of button down, short sleeve, wide stripe shirts that looked like the ones The Beach Boys are wearing on their In Concert album.
    Of course, this was 15 plus years after the album, so I caught this Look on the rebound.

  4. Whoops –http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beach_Boys_Concert

  5. Ah, yes! I had a shirt along these lines and wore it with great pride and visions of being part of that scene! Funny – and scary – to think of what brief flirtations with a certain rock style might come back to me.

  6. misterioso

    Mod, I had you pegged for this super-groovy Mike Love look http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8vJT5TyMEwI

  7. alexmagic

    “So, like, we’re agreed, right? We’re all gonna work this Fred from Scooby-Doo look? OK, somebody remember to tell Mike and let’s adjourn this band meeting, fellas.”

  8. Wow, Bruce Johnston switches from keyboards to bass in five seconds after the first song. That’s impressive!

  9. Gotta say, though, Carl and Al’s guitars look pretty sweet.

  10. Hey cdm,

    Just received the GBV compilation today. Thanks again, pal, I look forward to digging into it!

  11. My pleasure. Let me know what you think of them.

  12. The Denny Wilson green pocket tee on Pacific Ocean Blue is a good look too. I used to hate pocket tees, but have a few myself now.

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