The Action – In The Lap Of The Mods
by Ian Hebditch & Jane Shepherd with Mike Evans & Roger Powell
With any book about music, film or subculture, the first thing I look at are the photos and graphics. Rest assured, no stone has been left unturned when it comes to the photos and graphics here. This book comes in two formats. The standard edition and the boxed set, which includes the main work plus ‘Where The Action Is’ a meticulous gig guide and press cuttings compilation and a replica test pressing of ‘Why Do You Wanna Make Me Blue’.
Ian Hebditch had spent years working on this project. Sadly, he passed away before it was completed, but his partner Jane Shepherd decided to carry on and finish Ian’s work and what a fine tribute to both Ian and The Action this book is. Intros from Mike Evans and Roger Powell and a Foreword by Sir George Martin CBE set the tone. As you would expect the story of The Action comes in chronological order from the very early days as Mark Twain and The Strangers, which included Keith Moon in the line-up, through to Sandra Barry and The Boys, which was the basis of the band celebrated herein.
The story of The Action is not remarkable in the context of their contemporaries from the Sixties. Many had similar experiences, but in terms of influence on successive generations and having a knack of avoiding the recognition they deserved, it is of particular interest. The interviews with band members and others, such as Pete Townshend are terrific. It’s not always easy getting people to recall events from decades past (I should know, I’ve done it myself) and it is even harder to get them to talk about the difficult times, but Hebditch seems to have managed this. Instead of being a read-it-all-before scenario, I particularly liked the way Ian did not rehash oft-told mod history in the conventional sense. By relating mod history to his own experiences growing up in Portsmouth, the local club, The Birdcage (which The Action played many a time) and Ian’s other mod experiences, it all makes for a refreshing and valid viewpoint.
The story of the band does not end in 1969. They split up and some formed the Mighty Baby. Alan King joined the band Ace with Paul Carrick on vocals, and then many years later our own Rob Bailey begins the painstaking process of getting all the band back together in 1998 for some gigs that will live long in the memory and rock folklore. Perhaps fittingly, the epilogue is provided by long-time fan, Phil Collins. It is a pleasure to read, a joy browsing the photos and interesting absorbing the details of an often-overlooked band. If you ever want to know about The Action, this is the only book you will need.
Record Collector – October 2012 Issue
Not every issue of Record Collector is of interest to us, but as and when an issue does appeal, I’ll happily review it. October’s offering is one such issue. The Kinks are on the front cover and with good reason. Within the pages of the mag is the first of a two-part special about the ‘Muswell Hillbillies’. Ray Davies gives a fairly candid account of the technical side to Kinks songs. The production, the studios, the technicians… all fascinating stuff.
Aside from The Kinks, there are another three great features of interest; Bunny Lee, The Dells and The Merseys.
Scootering – October 2012 Issue
The institution that is Scootering Magazine comes out with all guns blazing for the October issue. The ‘Scootering Sounds’ feature has been a very enjoyable and welcome addition, this time looking at The Clash’s ‘London Calling’.
Then we move on to a really good feature on the inside story of the Olympics closing ceremony and those 50 scooters, but without doubt, huge thanks goes to Sarge for a terrific three-page report on the NUTS Brighton August Bank Holiday. Plenty of great pics (as you’d expect) and we have the first sighting of a new descriptive term: comedy mods. Those of you who were there and witnessed the comedy mods will know what Sarge was taking about. He concluded by saying this year was the best so far, many would agree.
Further in to the mag and we find a nice two-pager on Euro Ye Ye, an interview with Bruce Foxton and Russell Hastings about Bruce’s new album ‘Back In The Room’ and a very nice review of the Strypes EP ‘Young Gifted and Blue’ by Paul Hooper-Keeley.
To top it all, this issue includes a 48 page supplement looking back at reports about the Isle Of Wight Rally from the past. October 2012 will be one of those collector editions I suspect.
Ugly Things – Spring Summer 2012 Issue
For those of you with Garage/Psych/Freakbeat tendencies, you may well know about this very substantial publication from Mike Stax based in La Mesa, California. At $9.95 (£6.21 at time of writing) plus postage, this is quite an impressive offering. I freely admit, I’m not as into this music as some, so I did wonder what there might be to grab my interest.
How pleasantly surprised I was to find some fascinating articles about the San Francisco scene, an interview with Johnny Echols (former member of Love) and my favourite, an interview and article on the Craig (who were formed out of the King Bees).
Meticulous in its research, thorough in its interviews and great photos. A must for anyone who is in to the era.
Uncut – Ultimate Guide to Paul Weller
When you think of the most high-profile influencers on mod and pop culture of the last 35 years, there is only one name that springs to mind, Paul Weller. Love him or loathe him, his impact on British music is without comparison.
So this major retrospective of his career is a timely reminder of the astonishing output spanning over three decades. Every album, from ‘In the City’ to ‘Sonic Kicks’ is re-evaluated. Key interviews are reprinted and there are lots of photos.
This is just about as ‘ultimate’ as you can get for a magazine guide to Weller’s career, whether you’re a long-time fan or someone just discovering Weller for the first time, this publication is a ‘collectable’ in the making. Coming from someone who has been a fan for 35 years, that’s saying something.