Album Reviews

Various – This Is The Modern World

(UMTV) UK release date: 24 May 2004

Various - This Is The Modern World This is what might be called a “high concept” compilation, the basic idea being to combine songs from the past 40 years or so that are associated with the Mods.

The package says “49 Mod Anthems” so, as you’d expect it’s the usual mix of mid-60s beat staples, from the likes of The Kinks, The Who, and Motown favourites such as Martha and the Vandellas and Smokey Robinson. So far, so predictable, with a sprinkling of New Wave tracks, from The Jam, The Lambrettas and the truly awful Secret Affair.

As with so many of such compilations there’s a certain lack of thought. The Jam’s In The City, or All Around The World would, for instance, have been a more incisive choice than Town Called Malice. And if no room was found for The Kinks’ David Watts, then surely The Jam’s cover of the same record would have been an imaginative selection.

Imagination, however, is what these two discs seem to be singularly lacking. Admittedly no Mod compilation worthy of the name could omit The Who’s My Generation, but I Can’t Explain and The Kids Are Alright would have been equally worthy. Similarly, Curtis Mayfield‘s Move On Up and Wilson Pickett‘s In The Midnight Hour certainly earned their place, but did Freda Payne‘s Band of Gold or The Chords‘ Maybe Tomorrow?

Perhaps if the compilers had restricted themselves to a narrower period – perhaps the mid-’60s rise of Mod, or the late-’70s revival that coincided with the emergence of punk – they might have come up with a collection that’s more insightful, and meaningful, than this one.

Of course it’s great to have all these tracks on one set, but in this age of the iPod, and the self-compiled mix CD, compilations need to justify themselves more than ever, and this one doesn’t.

Ultimately it’s not clear exactly who, or what, this compilation is aimed at, other than ageing Mods, who will doubtless have all these records anyway. Nice graphics though.

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