Paul Weller’s discovery of My Generation was a decisive event for a lot of late-seventies British kids. It was what sparked his obsession with long-dead Mod culture and inspired him to bring its style and sounds back from the dead with his own band, The Jam. That great group that fused the mid-sixties sounds of The Who and Small Faces with the contemporary speed and aggression of punk inspired a whole lot of other kids to kick their own bands into gear. By 1979, the U.K. scene was flooded with bands that fobbed off punk’s tattered fashions and nihilistic attitude for sharp clobber and messages of youthful unity.
A modern Mod movement was at hand and it never would really die again, though its most fruitful years were 1979 and 1980. Cherry Red’s new four-disc box set Millions Like Us: The Story of the Mod Revival 1977-1989 culls half its tracks from those two Mod, Mod, Mod, Mod years, when bands across England sang of joining together with their fellow alright kids on Bank Holiday, slashed out Townshend-esque chords, and slammed out Moony drum fills at purple hearts-fueled speeds. Pulling the best elements of punk and power-pop together, bands like The Chords, New Hearts, The Reaction, The Circles, The Lambrettas, and Dead Beats made some of the most adrenaline-pumping records of their generation. They make Millions Like Us an exhilarating listen, especially for a Yank such as myself since very few of these groups had any impact at all on my side of the pond (really, I was only already familiar with The Nips, The Aardvarks, Nine Below Zero, and Red Beans and Rice). So this set is a truly spectacular entry into a must-visit world for fans of The Who, Small Faces, Elvis Costello, and The Jam (who are not represented aside from the slew of groups that sound exactly like them).
Millions Like Us only loses a bit of steam for a stretch in 1985 when groups started making the kind of glossy, very-eighties plastic soul that would be on display in Julien Temple’s adaptation of Absolute Beginners the following year. But we’re talking about a tiny patch of five tracks out of 100, right in between The Combine’s “Dreams Come True” and 5:30!’s “Catcher in the Rye”. Those two numbers are as raw and vital as the mass of Millions Like Us, one of the best various artists box sets I’ve ever heard.
Get Millions Like Us: The Story of the Mod Revival 1977-1989 on Amazon.com here: