We Baptize You In The Name of Mod - The Sons of Mod (Method Records and Music)
Mod was a prominent part of underground music in Australia in the ‘80s - especially in Sydney and Melbourne. While their obsession with fashion was both a defining trait and a limiting factor, the mods had a great collective ear for what made British music great in the ’60s. The same goes for Adelaide band, The Sons of Mod.
Led by expat Pom Andrew McCulloch (lead guitar and vocals) and with ex-Ratcat bassist Amr Zaid in the ranks, The Sons Of Mod evoke the sounds of freakbeat, a retrospective term for music from the harder-edge of the original mod spectrum. Think The Move or The Creation as prime examples.
This 10-track album celebrates mod rousingly, if a little self-consciously at times. The Sons cover a lot of stylistic bases. The playing is top-shelf and McCulloch’s unaffected, well-rounded vocal is up-front and confident. Drummer Hayden Wackerman’s feels are on the money with the odd nod to Moon the Loon in his fills.
“Hamburg Stomp” is the sort of soul-tinged instro’ hand-clapper that would fill dance floors without knocking over glasses. Annie McKee lends vocals to “I Think You’ve Hard Enough Now” which is a cute beat pop-flavoured duet confection.
“Ghost Train” is more high camp fun than scary and the guitar-work is too well-mannered. One of three CD-only bonuses, “Also Sprach Mod/Electric Silverfish” is a live blues thing that seems out of place with the studio tracks, largely for its lo-fi nature. “Who The XXXX Are You?” is a demo.
As you might twig from the title, “Lovebirds“ owes as much to McGuinn and Co as it does to psychedelia with the multi-tracked guitars of McCulloch and Stephen Di Girolamo at its heart. A bit more dirt around the edges might have been nice. Album production was by McCulloch-Zaird and might have sounded punchier with another set of ears doing the mastering.
“Our Man In Havana” veers into funk territory with Amr Zaid’s bass undercurrent and McCulloch’s intricate lead guitar and spacey vocal delivering tn spades. “Yer Bones Are Made Of Chocolate” is a companion piece that also showcases McCulloch’s playing.
You might wonder where conforming to a style stops and carving out your own path begins with this sort of music. Mod was a little more constricted by the rules of the game than punk - at least in Australia where the fashion didn’t matter as much. The Sons of Mod bring enough of themselves to avoid the parody tag - much like the equally “authentic” High Learys from Perth.
If you want to catch The Sons of Mod live you may be waiting a while as word on the digital Facebook streets is that Andrew McCulloch’s Aussie visa has run out and he’s been sent packing back to the land of warm beer. As if playing rock and roll isn't tough enough aleady...