An outsider may miss out or overlook the style and soul that drives the subculture, on the other hand, an over zealous subculture member might write about his or her movement with rose tinted glasses, overlooking negatives aspects. Think of the man in the pub telling you tales of bravery, after the 2nd pint, the conversation becomes a bore, and you are looking for an excuse to leave.
So balance is required, and Graham Lentz achieves this, with his take on history of Mod, from 1949 to 2002, The Influential Factor. He moves from being a Mod to an observer with great ease, and in turn produces an intelligent and articulate book on Mods, which is not dictatorial, opinionated nor naïve.
Starting with the recording Birth Of The Cool in 1949 and ending with The Hideaway Club in Manchester in 2002, Graham Lentz takes the reader on a journey through fashion, music, attitude and style across the globe. And tells us of how one generation of Mod ends, another generation of Mods begins, to quote The Bow Street Runners “To adopt, adapt and appreciate” For the record, The Bow Street Runners were a gang of Mods from London, in the eighties.
Graham Lentz also presents the economical and political background that helped to shape the style and attitude of each Mod generation. For instance, the origin of Italian scooters to the UK in the 50’s - Italy was in heavy debt after the 2nd World war, and needed to manufacture and export a profitable but inexpensive product . In turn with the UK economic growth during the 50’s and 60’s, and the introduction of Hire Purchase, young adults were able to afford their own transport. Italian scooters fitted the bill perfectly - cheap to run, easy to drive and above all else, highly stylish.
The Influential Factor weaves narrative with transcripts from Lentz’s interviews, which gives the book a Mods in Their Own Words feel. Such as Flamingo Club (London) nightclub owner Jeffery Kruger, who beautifully tells of how a young skinny black guitarist comes to his club asking for his first break in the old smoke. In return, he will play there for nothing when he becomes a rock star. Impressed by his cheek, Kruger allows the kid to play, and of course, the youngster in question was Jimi Hendrix who honoured his debt, after he had played a packed out house at The Royal Albert Hall.
Clothes designer John Simons gives an great insight into the fashion scene of the 60’s, Anthony Meynell of Squire tells what it was like to be in a Mod revival band in the 70’s and 80’s, Dizzy Holmes speaks about the growth of the scooter club scene, and Eddie Pillar goes deep into the passion and politics of the movement. The Influential Factor is packed with more inspiring stories from not just the UK, but all over the world.