Various Artists

Mod Scene, Vol. 2

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This single-CD anthology contains 25 mid-'60s mod nuggets from the Decca Records vaults. It is a follow-up to the Mod Scene (1998) and is one of several installments in the U.K.-based label's Scene-related titles. The entire series is chock full of difficult-to-locate hits, misses, and sleeper classics, many making their respective digital debut. The ultra-hip and so-called swinging London scene was the unquestionable mod epicenter in terms of what was being played in some of the more adventurous discothèques and by DJs on Radio Caroline and BBC Radio One. Rather than being embraced by simply one genre or musical style, as the tunes on Mod Scene, Vol. 2 (1999), suggest, the slight angst that defined the mod spirit permeated pop, blues, jazz, R&B, and even folk. As is the case of "Liza Jane" by a pre-Bowie Davie Jones & the King Bees. Their take on the traditional refrain is nothing short of attitude-infused rebel rock. John Mayall's reading of Larry Williams' hit "Looking Back" is likewise laced with the same edgy groove that would translate onto the dancefloor. Among the better known names -- such as Them ("I Can Only Give You Everything"), Lulu ("Lies"), and the Small Faces ("Own Up Time") are some equally brilliant sides that all like-minded parties are encouraged to wrap their lobes around. In fact, it is these second-tier acts that are the primary focus. While the considerations of space prevent a truly detailed assessment, among the many zeniths are the Societie's upbeat rhythm and blues vibe on "Breaking Down," the countrified-lilt of "Can You Hear Me" from Powerhouse, and Zoot Money's boppin' instrumental and unofficial theme song, "Zoot's Suit." The fluidity of mod music spills over into the Questions' rave up "We Got Love," which is something akin to a slightly psychedelic Neil Diamond cut. There is also "Breakdown Blues," the A-side from the one-off Bread & Beer Band that featured contributions from one Reg Dwight, who was merely months away from reinventing himself as Elton John. Mod Scene, Vol. 2, is recommended without reservation for inclined ears. Enthusiasts should note the other Scene entries, including the first Mod Scene (1998), Psychedelic Scene (1998), Rock N' Roll Scene (1998), and Blues Scene (1999).

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