Various Artists

Mod City

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A scintillating collection that delves into some of the lesser-known but nevertheless most-deserving corners of the British mod/ska revival of the early 1980s. Centering upon the production work of former Fancy/Ian Gillan Band guitarist Ray Fenwick, Mod City started life as the period compilation Uppers from the South Downs, in which form it offered a sharp introduction to what was then one of the most fertile of all mod breeding grounds, the South Coast. It was there, after all, that the original '60s Mods fought their most famous battles, establishing a local culture that time has never erased. 21-tracks long, the bulk of Mod City comprises excellent cuts by the South Coast Ska Stars, Tich Turner's Escalators, and the Teenbeats; of especial note is a live version of the latter's "I Can't Control Myself," a Troggs cover that became a massive hit in Canada. However, a total of nine unreleased tracks append the original compilation, including three that might well be the most intriguing of all. "It's for You," "Everytime I Do," and "Please Think of Me" were recorded by one of the original British ska bands, early-'60s club heroes Rupert & the Red Devils, exhumed by Fenwick after lying in his personal archive for 30 years. The Red Devils were fronted by West Indian Rupert Claher and are generally regarded as the first U.K.-based band to seize upon the young Mod's fascination with Blue Beat (as ska was then known). Fenwick was just 14 when he joined the band, but composed all three of the tracks here, each a masterful hybrid of Beat Boom pop and light ska rhythms. Detailing both his time with the Red Devils, and his efforts on behalf of a new generation, Fenwick's own liner notes complete an excellent package.

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