Mojo Talkin' The Soundtrack
A selection of tracks and personal favourites chosen by myself. Non-definitive or representative of a particular chart of original mod faves, merely a choice soundtrack to ideally complement the book Mojo Talkin' - Under the Influence of Mod [click on song titles to listen to the songs]
Mark Murphy Why Don't You Do Right
Combining post-war crooner vocal mannerisms and evocative of swing, pop and a certain jazz feel throughout, this popular issue on Riverside records (1962 ) was originally recorded way back in 1936 under the title of Weed Smoker's Dream. Written by Joseph 'Kansas Joe' McCoy, this rendition manages to sit perfectly within the realms of mod musical preferences.
(Photo shown is taken from the author's collection)
Ike & Tina Turner A Fool in Love (1960) UK London records USA Sue records.
Spread across various US labels & UK London, are some of the most outstanding soul/r&b issues from Ike &Tina Turner. Spanning the whole of the decade of the 1960s, these releases never fail in quality & are a must for any record collection. A Fool in Love is, perhaps, one of their greater known early singles & one that never fades in popularity.
Georgie Fame & the Blue Flames In the Mean Time (1965) UK Columbia records
Of all the live acts witnessed by early mods, Georgie Fame & the Blue Flames were one of the most enjoyed and accepted.
Their classic Rhythm & Blues at the Flamingo is widely recognised as one of the most popular among mods across each generation.
This track was released on a single in 1965 on UK Columbia and is one of a consecutive run of class singles released before Fame went it alone.
Ernestine Anderson Keep an Eye on Love (1963)
Released on the desirable UK Sue records label, from the opening bars and introductory vocal line of From Brazil to Sugar Hill ... this pure classic of a song ticks every box for top notch, timeless quality.
The Blenders The Graveyard (1962) A.F.O records (USA)
Much in line with the briefly popular fascination with monsters, death and the macabre (epitomised by Bobby Pickett's gimmicky pop crossover hit The Monster Mash) of the early 60s, this rare 45 on US Sue subsidiary A.F.O has also proven to be a dance floor fave among contemporary mods of recent years.
Tiny Topsy Just a Little Bit (Federal records 1959)
Magnificent voice, rhythm and pace perfectly pitched with an infectious backing vocal refrain make this an eternal r&b 45 for mod dancers and fans of the exemplary sound of the King/Federal/Bethlehem roster of labels.
Sam Cooke A Change is Gonna Come (1964 RCA records)
Though released posthumously in December 64, A Change is Gonna Come [partly inspired by the event when Cooke & his entourage were refused entry to a Louisiana whites only motel ], remains a powerful & major musical signpost for the Civil Rights movement, equality and social change. In 2007, the song was selected for preservation in the Library of Congress, with the National Recording Registry for being significantly "culturally, historically, or aesthetically important."
Later covered by the legendary Otis Redding on his seminal soul classic long player Otis Blue (1965), A Change is Gonna Come is surely one of the greatest and most iconic singles ever released; its flip side featuring mod fave Shake resulting in the double-sider being an immediate purchase for mid-sixties period mods.
Booker T & the MGs Can't be Still (1964 US Stax)
Sat on the flip side of Terrible Thing, this track is the perfect example of the MGs' trademark instrumental style. Hypnotic organ fills, rhythmic bass lines & drums complemented by Steve Cropper's unique guitar style. In-house band for many of the major soul stars of the 60s, both in the studio and on stage, the MGs released a consistent run of quality singles and albums; their sound still as contemporary as the period in which it was conceived.
The Impressions You Must Believe Me (1964) UK HMV / USA ABC Paramount.
Simply one of the greatest and most influential vocal groups ever and containing within their ranks the musical genius of Curtis Mayfield. A huge catalogue of important releases that deserve the attention of any and all music fans.
James Brown Have Mercy Baby (1965) London records (UK)
The list of classics is almost endless. My particular faves include Prisoner of Love, Come Over Here, I Don't Mind, Night Train, Ain't That a Groove, Shhhhhhh (For a Little While), Shout and Shimmy, Just You and Me Darling and many others.
Ray Charles Don't Set Me Free (1963) UK HMV
The genius talent of Ray Charles reached out across many genres and decades resulting in a series of definitive musical milestones on both long player and 45 rpm single. Whether it be soul,r&b, jazz, country or an amalgamation of them all, the presence and profound influence of Ray Charles is spread across every corner of popular music. This early 60s issued single sits among a number of greatly-loved 45s of his [on both UK HMV & USA issued ABC/Paramount] within my personal collection.
Etta James Payback (1963) Argo records.
One of the most recognisable & powerful voices of soul and r&b, Etta James released a plethora of high quality singles throughout the whole decade of the 60s, be they ballad, fast-paced r&b or uptempo soul, all are eternally blessed with the unique sound of Etta James vocals. One of a number of popular 45s that have remained consistently enjoyed across mod & soul inclined dance floors.
Muddy Waters You Need Love
Spawning a number of imitations across the future of rock 'n roll, Muddy's You Need Love provided the near exact blueprint for Steve Marriot's wailing & extremely effective vocal mannerisms on Small Faces You Need Lovin' on their 1966 debut LP (in turn lifted by 60s mod, Robert Plant, for his Led Zeppelin vocal exercises). Along with fellow Chess label artists, Little Walter & Howlin' Wolf, a template for blues authenticity was established, each delivering numerous recordings that were lapped up by the mod crowd.
Slim Harpo Baby Scratch My Back (1966) UK Stateside and USA Excello labels.
Though issued after mod's original early period heyday, this record manages to evoke an atmosphere of red-hot, smoke filled, sweaty atmosphere of mod haunts such as The Scene Club.
John Lee Hooker Onions (1963) Sat upon what is perhaps the greatest long player John Lee Hooker released The Big Soul of John Lee Hooker (and there are a number of contenders too) and issued on UK Stateside and US Vee Jay records, Onions partially immitates the Green Onions /Mo Onions blueprint as performed by Booker T & the MGs with a slice of pure Blues perfection.
Mongo Santamaria Watermelon Man (1963) Riverside records.
Latin Jazz classic, later recorded and released on Mercury records in 1967 by Chris Kerry, this staple 45 still demands positive enthusiasm over 50 years since its original issue.
The Stranger Miss Reamer (1963) Blue Beat records.
Early mods avidly embraced the Jamaican r&b commonly known as Ska, or Blue Beat after the prominent label. As grass roots later generation 60s mods [the roots of the original skinheads] affiliated themselves with the musical style, new life and a variation of off-shoot styles such as rock steady - &later reggae - were also enjoyed and embraced just as profoundly.
Stevie Wonder Hey Harmonica Man (1964) Tamla records.
The journey from hugely talented child entertainer to prolific & diverse songwriter with a musical maturity - with an array of outstanding albums & hit 45s to boot - is one of pure dedication, against the odds rejection to adversity & pure musical genious. A number of singles - indeed album tracks - perfectly fit the sensibilities & taste of record-buying mods, this being one example.
Arthur Alexander Soldier of Love (1962) Dot records USA.
Perhaps one of the most beautiful records ever released, Alexander's mid-tempo soul tour-de-force is a bar to which soul artists should aim towards.
The Miracles Mickey's Monkey (1963) Any number of early releases - across both single & long player - could be included. The Miracles were one of the most prolific & influential Tamla Motown acts of the early period providing, inadvertently, a formidable set of mod dance floor faves, this, along with Shop Around, I Gotta Dance to Keep From Crying and You've Really Got a Hold on Me, being among the most popular.
Marvin Gaye I'll Be Doggone (1965) UK Tamla Motown records and USA Tamla records.
One of the most charismatic & endearing of all the roster of Tamla acts, Marvin Gaye shared a penchant for the crooner vocal style [indeed he released a selection of long players veering towards this style such as A Tribute to Nat King Cole, Hello Broadway & When I'm Alone I Cry] with a knack for creating up-tempo dance favourites such as this track and Can I Get a Witness, Baby Don't You Do it & How Sweet it is to Be Loved By You. His 1962 Tamla 45 A Soldier's Plea (lifted from his 1962 LP A Stubborn Kind of Fella) was a very early ode to the 'overseas fighting soldier love letter home theme', later popularised as anti-war Vietnam period tracks, most profoundly & heartfelt effectively within the grooves of Zerben R. Hicks & The Dynamics 1967 deep soul tearjerker single Lights Out (RCA Victor). Despite Gaye's 1962 interpretation being of a somewhat more traditionally patriotic war ballad style, he fully immersed himself as a serious soul artist with a social conscience towards the decade's conclusion & beyond: most famously with his 1971 album Whats Going On, partly inspired by his brother's overseas service in 'Nam'
Bobby Miller Uncle Willie Time (1964) Constellation records.
Situated on the other side of The Big Question, this mod fave was one of only 4 releases from the artist. However he penned compositions for The Dells & later worked for Motown records. In vogue with a multitude of dance gimmick themed records of the early 60s that appealed to mods across Ballrooms & clubs, this single still sounds as infectiously exciting as the day it was recorded.
The Action In My Lonely Room (1965) Parlophone records.
One of a small set of 60s issued singles that now demand high prices across record buyers, this single by popular live act for 60s mods, The Action, is a faithful & endearing rendition of the Martha & the Vandellas hit with perfectly timed harmonies. Despite their popular live sets, the band sadly never received any serious - and well-justified - recognition during their original lifespan. Morphing into the more progressive Mighty Baby, The Action were belatedly embraced avidly by post-revival mods of the 80s, helped along by Paul Weller's recommendation. Singer, the late Reggie King, possessed one of the greatest soul voices of the whole 60s beat & rock explosion.
Small Faces Understanding (1966) Decca records.
Blessed with an A-side of the all-time classic All or Nothing, this Brit-soul stomper is one of an array of classy flip-sides Small Faces issued. Complete with the trademark vocals of Steve Marriot - & pre-empting the popular use of whistles in soul clubs in later years - Understanding is one of the very first Small Faces tunes I ever heard - and still a regular turntable spinner to this day.
Nita Rossi Every Little Day Now (1965) PYE records.
A double helping of quality blue-eyed soul pop; simple but hugely effective & powerful girl vocals on both sides with exemplary musical accompaniment. This side has the edge [slightly] over the equally superb Untrue, Unfaithful, and includes a truly awesome mid-song organ break: perfect!
Tawny Reed I've Got a Feeling (1965) PYE records (UK)
Red Bird records (USA)
Another top quality female vocal blessed single. B-side to a cover of The Velvelettes Needle in a Haystack, this is the winning track. Nice TV performance with this one too.
Bobby Bland Shoes (1967) Duke records (USA).
A personal fave - among many much-loved releases from one of my most-enjoyed soul vocalists - Shoes is an infectious dancer complemented as always with Bobby Bland's terrific lead vocals.
Toots & the Maytals 54-46 Was My Number (1970) Trojan records.
By the late 60s, and into the new decade, the spartan yet smart style of the skinhead had - by-and-large - replaced the mod as a cultural fashion. Countless ska, rock steady and early reggae releases across labels such as Trojan & Pama, provided a new soundtrack throughout the youth clubs, dance halls and affiliated clubs of the period.
Louisa Jane White Truth in My Tears (1970: Philips records)
Sat on the other side of How Does it Feel, this blue-eyed-soul groover remained virtually undiscovered and unappreciated until revisited and included on a late-90s compilation, Le Beat Bespoke 2.
Kiki Dee The Day Will Come Between Sunday and Monday (1970) Tamla Motown (UK) Tamla (USA)
One of the most talented female voices to break through during the 60s, Kiki Dee's best work was spread across her 2 outstanding albums I'm Kiki Dee (1968, Fontana records) & Great Expectations (1970, Tamla records), along with a prolific & steady flow of high class soul-infused singles; this one, from 1970, was one of a selection of popular tracks that crossed over into northern soul clubs of the early 70s & beyond. A superb TV appearance of the beautiful & serene Kiki Dee can be viewed on the song link.
Curtis Mayfield We Gotta Have Peace (1971) Curtom records.
Praise can never come too high for the amazing musical legacy of Curtis Mayfield, both solo and with The Impressions. Indeed, his work ranks at the very top of soul music's historical importance, reflecting social & political change & the powerful relevance of the 60s Civil Rights movement, whilst fine-tuning a body of songwriting craft of timeless & pure brilliance.
Betty Wright The Baby Sitter (1972) UK Atlantic USA Alston records.
Following on from a series of class soul releases on USA label Alston records ( 1968 45 Girls Can't Do What the Guys do issued through UK Atlantic records), Betty Wright hit home with a series of genre-defining early 70s soul albums (her debut My First Time Around had already arrived back in 1968) such as I Love the Way You Love (1972), Hard to Stop (1973) & Danger High Voltage (1974). This '72' released single appeared on the following years' Hard to Stop. Perhaps a good few steps removed from the gritty r&b/soul of 60s mods; however, the likes of Betty Wright and other talented soul artists, managed to help guide the tastes of post-mod fans of contemporary black American music into the new decade with finesse, talent & fantastic tunes.
Hammersmith Gorillas You Really Got me (1974) This classic Kinks cover was originally released on Penny Farthing records in 1974. A prototype punk record in every sense of the term, it's Dole Q Rock punk status was later reaffirmed when it was re-issued on Lee Wood's punk showcase label Raw Records in 1977.
Dr Feelgood Back in the Night (1975) United Artists records.
Almost completely deleting the previous years of self-indulgent rock, the Feelgoods stripped every inch of rock 'n roll excess away with a return to down-to-basics dirty old rhythm & blues. 60s Blues enthusiast and staccato guitar playing Wilko Johnson made an impact on future punk musicians, most prominently upon a young man from Woking - Paul Weller. Their signature tune 45 Roxette further fueled the Harmonica saturated rhythm & blues vibe - married to a repetitive riff and primal beat that whet the appetites of a future punk generation. Liberation!!
Toots & the Maytals Reggae Got Soul (1976 - Island records).
Lead track from the classic album of the same title, this single appeared almost in the very centre of a huge seismic shift in music. Coinciding with one of the hottest & longest summers on record, a new musical revolution was ready to overturn the heads of state of rock music in the UK. Along with reggae figureheads such as Marley, Peter Tosh & numerous others, Toots & the Maytals also provided a soundtrack for the burgeoning punk musicians and fans yet to see fruition of their intentions.
Count Bishops Train Train (1976)
One of a clutch of bands that helped bridge the gap between pub rock & punk, Count Bishops (later abbreviated simply to The Bishops) rode the outside wave of early punk with a commendable debut album, associated singles & earlier releases such as this one from 76.
Headache Can't Stand Still (1977)
The year, 1977 was awash with punk bands across the UK; the 'Do it Yourself', 'form a band' garage band sound symbolic of many of them. Headache produced just the one single and with a riff that wouldn't have gone amiss in the song structures of mod revival bands soon to follow - and a member of the band himself joining one such said type of band - Can't Stand Still personifies the mod rock-enthused sound of early period punk.
The Boys Do the Contract (1978) NEMS LP track.
One of the earliest of UK punk bands, The Boys discarded punk politics of the day for a 60s-ingested punk/pop sound. Lifting the age-old Can't Explain riff as distinctly as The Jam did across tracks on their This is the Modern World LP and The Clash likewise the following year with Guns on the Roof, here these lovable punks, The Boys create a regurgitated mod sound for the punk generation.
(Photos: copyright & courtesy of Julie Longden)
The Jolt Whatcha Gonna Do About it (1978) Polydor records
The Small Faces debut single fed through the energised punk template. The Jolt - who are featured within the pages of Mojo Talkin' were already a gigging r&b band before punk exploded. Riding the crest of the punk wave with their punky power pop, and releasing a clutch of excellent singles, one E.P and the sole self-titled LP, the Jolt were belatedly embraced by a post-revival breed of mod.
R.I.P Iain Shedden drummer of The Jolt.
Purple Hearts Frustration (1979) Fiction records.
Of all the many mod revival bands that sprung up between 1978 & 1980, The Purple Hearts
captured the dual energies of punk aggression & mid-sixties mod amphetamine rock most convincingly. Along with their Millions Like Us of the same year, they may well have personified the revamped sound of mod as filtered through a rock 'n roll jet stream for the modern age. Beat That!
The Step Love Letter (1980) Direction records.
A selection of other bands tied in with the popular mod revival by association presented an authentic re imagining of late 60s soul - think late 60s period Stax label, Joe Tex etc. The Step somehow completely remained off the radar as far as nationwide acclaim was concerned - releasing 4 singles in 2 years, but sadly no album.
The Bureau Let Him Have it (1981) Formed out of the ashes of late 1980 period Dexys Midnight Runners, The Bureau were an other example of talent reaching minimum recognition. Two singles and a non-UK LP offered brassy and infectious horns-infused soul/pop.
The Style Council Mick's Company (1984) Spread across the cosmopolitan Euro-Mod soundtrack of The Style Council are a number of tasty instrumentals such as this organ-led club mover. Originally almost hidden away as the last track on the 12 inch version of My Ever Changing Moods this track re-appeared on the Mick Talbot is Agent 88 E.P three years later.
(Style Council tour programmes part of the author's collection)
Phaze Featuring Fay Hallam Indian Rope Man (1995) Acid Jazz records.
Seriously infectious version of the classic made famous by the Julie Driscoll version of the Richie Havens song. Appearing on Acid Jazz label's Totally Wired double LP in 95, this popular club favourite, driven by an addictive Hammond organ riff & ex-Makin Time singer, Fay Hallam's vocals - sounds as fresh & exciting today.
Big Boss Man Humanize (2001) Blow Up records.
Consistently popular at mod associated weekender events & equally avidly embraced for their series of Hammond-soaked albums, Big Boss Man continue to deliver the goods to a broad mod audience.
Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings Got to Be the Way it is (2002) Daptone records.
Tragically taken way too soon in November 2016, the hugely talented Sharon Jones left behind an exemplary collection of recordings across all formats.
Nick Waterhouse Say I wanna Know (2012) One track among a whole LP of gems on Waterhouse' LP Times All Gone. Nick's other two albums Holly (2014) & Never Twice (2016) are essential listening for any forward-thinking contemporary mod. Truly outstanding!
Nicole Willis & the Soul Investigators Paint Me in a Corner (2015) Timmion records.
One of modern day soul's most talented voices, Nicole Willis (and her soul Investigators) have released 3 essential albums. Two solo album offerings & a recent album with the Umo Jazz Orchestra complement perfectly the series of singles released with her name attached. This single from 2015 is a positive example of her talent and contemporary soul sound.
Fay Hallam Peg (2016) Ex-Makin' time vocalist, Fay Hallam, has manage to consistently deliver high quality contemporary releases during recent years. Sharing an album with The Bongolian a few years back (Lost in Sound: 2012), this is the follow up to 2015's Corona. This instrumental should fill the dance floor of any mod & related club.