The Thatcher Crisis Years

1980s politics blog from TV historian Tony McMahon

Mod Vespa

The Mod revival was one of several youth cults that burst on to the British pop scene as the last rites were read over punk. Well, most of us moved on except a few recalcitrants who thought they were keeping the punk flame alive.

The early 80s Mod revival ran alongside 2Tone/Ska and shared much of the same aesthetic. Tonic suits, Fred Perry, Crombie jackets, Trilby hats, etc.

There were the so-called Glory Boys from the east end of London who continued the fighting spirit – very literally – of the 60s wave of Mod. Their band of choice was Secret Affair who may even have come up with the term ‘Glory Boys’ according to some sources.

Around Carnaby Street, you could once more bump into chaps who looked like they’d just been auditioning to be in The Who circa 1966. I do remember being on a political demo around 1979 and met a rocker who at some point went off to get a sandwich.

He then returned with a Mod fishtail parka in his hand. I asked where he got it from.


In other words he’d either had a fight or just mugged a Mod revival guy. I didn’t ask any further questions.

The Jam were at the forefront but they were always much, much more than simply a Mod revival combo. The Purple Hearts, The Lambrettas and Secret Affair formed the core of this movement and scored some chart hits.

But it was an 18 month to two year wave that came and went – though the same could be said of the other youth cults of the time.

The classified ads section of the music papers were full of mod gear you could buy. Here’s a shopping list from 1980 with prices of mod gear on sale at a shop in the Midlands.

Union Jack Fabric Belt – £1.75

The Who belt buckles – £2.90

Target Straight Ties – £2.90

Badges were 40p each or 5 for £1.75 with Lambrettas, Merton Parkas, Specials, Selecter, etc.

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