The Generation Game

Classic youth cult soundtracks to ITV's Sounds Of Underground London series

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THE MOD GENERATION

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THE SKINHEAD GENERATION

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THE NORTHERN SOUL GENERATION

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THE SOUL BOY GENERATION

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THE MOD REVIVAL GENERATION

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THE RARE GROOVE GENERATION

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THE ACID JAZZ GENERATION

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ALL CASTLE

It’s difficult to picture the youth of 2003 mustering up the audacity to walk the streets dressed like Edwardian gents with sculpted duck’s arse hair-dos dripping with pomade while tottering on soles as thick as tractor tyres. Today, kids play ‘beat-em-ups’ on X-Boxes. Back then, they rumbled for real. So we’d like to believe anyway.

There will always be something richly romantic about the benchmark youth cults?the teds, the mods, the northern soul boys. On the surface all hemlines and haircuts, there was still plenty of musical passion behind the elitist fashions as demonstrated on these eight accompanying compilations to the S.O.U.L. TV documentary series. Nearly all exemplify young English white kids’ love affair with black music, be it the Skinheads’ appropriation of Jamaican ska, the northern soul crowd’s debt to East Coast R&B, the ’70s soul boy and rare groove sets’ shift towards funk and finishing with the ’80s acid jazz gang’s reinvention of Blue Note and hip hop as a man-made genre unto itself. Like aural dictionary definitions, these discs do a grand job of marking out each generation’s stylistic boundaries, aided by series producer Eddie Piller’s instructive sleeve notes.

Personal preference will, of course, be dictated by one’s own gang allegiance, though it’s hard not to recommend the excellent Mod CD or even its somewhat farcical sequel showcased on 1979’s Mod Revival (Secret Affair’s ridiculous “Time For Action” included). But nothing really tops The Teddy Boy Generation. Its opening hat-trick of Vince Taylor (the original “Brand New Cadillac”, even better than The Clash’s cover), Hank Mizell (“Jungle Rock”) and Johnny Burnette is simply unbeatable. Who needs the New Rock Revolution when the old one sounds this good?

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