Living as a Mod in the 21st Century

Friday, December 31, 2010

Baracuta, a Mod favorite

Baracuta has long been known for making the best Harrington jacket on the market. It's hard to argue with the ones who are credited with creating the first-ever Harrington in 1937. The G9 has been imitated the world over but never surpassed. With a long tradition of "Made in England" quality jackets, it's not surprising that Mods have adopted the look since the sixties. After the M-51 US fishtail parka, the Baracuta Harrington is not far behind in the list of must-have outerwear in the Mod closet.
But how many of you are familiar with the other "top of the line" products Baracuta has to offer? I have to admit that, before a few weeks ago, I never paid close attention to their clothing line. First, let's be honest, Baracuta products don't come cheap, in every sense of the word. For instance, expect to pay around £150 for your traditional Harrington jacket.

That was until I discovered their "deal of the day" promotion. I noticed one of their tweets on Twitter promoting it and decided to click on the link. I was directed to their website ( ) and this jaw dropping sale section. We are talking serious discounts here folks!

For us quality and budget minded Mods out there, these types of promotions are well worth seeking out. I first selected this navy Baracuta shawl collar knitted cardigan. It's the perfect option for those cold Canadian winters. Wear it with a clean shirt and slim tie and instantly achieve the unmistakable Mod look.  It will also pair up perfectly with a checkered button down Ben Sherman shirt, a pair of dark blue Levi's and your classic suede Clarks desert boots for a more casual look.

Next came the Baracuta cyan blue, striped 4-button polo shirt. The stripes and light blue color gives it a definite sixties vintage feel. I also like the fact that it has 4 buttons. Am I the only one who thinks that we need more polos with more than 2 buttons?

Now for the "No-way-I-don't-believe-you-why-are-you-lying-to-me-you've-gotta-be-kidding-me-get-out-of-here-stop-pulling-my-chain" moment. I got both of these wonderful garments for £16 each. You read right. Now, usually when you find these types of deals, they will only have a very limited stock, in some unusual sizes. Not in this case! I wear a large and all I needed to do is let my finger do the clicking.

So the moral of this story is that those Mod friendly brands we all love are sometimes within our wallet's reach. And for those of you, who are not convinced that Twitter has things to offer, think again. Aside from this great deal, I also got a free, yearlong subscription to the Lambretta Club USA a few months back.

To follow Baracuta on Twitter, simply search for BaracutaG9com or to follow yours truly, type in ParkaAvenue.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

A Mod Christmas

With the holidays upon us, I thought it would be fitting to present to you a couple of Mod friendly Christmas albums that will surely put you in a groovy festive mood. First up is a rare Christmas Garage compilation I recently discovered. Three obscure 60s garage bands from Quebec are featured on the album Noël Dans Le Vent. Les Loups, Les Intimes and Les Chantels sing the joys of Christmas in French. But the best part about this album is that all the songs are original. They might not be the best musicians you ever heard but at least you don't have to listen to another bad version of Rudolf The Rednosed Reindeer for the millionth time.

Most of the tracks are pretty slow so it might not be the first record you drop to get that holiday family gathering rockin'. It's more of a soundtrack for a quiet evening spent with your lucky lady lounging in front of the rolling log of a fake 70s kitsch fireplace.

Do NOT try this at home! Leaving you rare vinyls in front of the fireplace will result in a few choice expletives.

My favorite tune has to be Noël Étrange (Strange Christmas) by The Chantels. Clearly the most talented group of the bunch, the song recounts the struggles and perils of shopping at the last minute on the eve of Christmas. It's one of the more upbeat tracks on the album and a little garage gem through and through.

An honorable mention should be given to Les Intimes and the track Nous Allons Nous Amuser. There attempt at having horns in the song is almost laughable but it will go perfectly with those jelly cranberries in the form of a tin can.

Second is the 1968 release of Soul Christmas on Atco records. With familiar Soul greats like Booker T. & The MG's, Otis Redding, King Curtis, Clarence Carter, Carla Thomas, Solomon Burke and William Bell, it's hard to go wrong. This one is sure to please the whole family and have Aunt Gigi dance along in the living room.

A few Holiday classics have been given the soul treatment like The Christmas Song by King Curtis, White Christmas by Otis Redding and Jingle Bells by Booker T. & The MG's. Even if Otis Redding is one of my favorite performers, nobody will ever surpass Bing Crosby's version of White Christmas.

So it should be no surprise if I say that my favorite tracks are original songs. At the top of the list is Back Door Santa by Clarence Carter. With a very familiar intro, it's the perfect mix between a true soul floor filler and a holiday classic.

I will take this opportunity to wish all the faithful readers of this blog a heartfelt Happy Holidays. I hope the jolly fat guy in the red tonic suit left you some nice scooter goodies, a few rare vinyls and a couple pieces of cool clothing.

May your days be Mod and bright, and may all your Christmases be white...

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Parka Avenue talks to Fraser Loveman, frontman of the 60s group The Modbeats

When you think of Mod music from the sixties that came out of Canada, The Modbeats are THE reference. They came out of the unlikely small city of St. Catharines, Ontario in the Niagara region. That didn't stop them from making a lasting impact on the thriving North American garage and psychedelic scene of that era.
Rare photo of The Modbeats given to Fraser Loveman by Ian Sinclair
Fraser Loveman, lead singer for The Modbeats, was not only in the midst of it all but also helped shape the landscape. He was there! This guy has seen it all! And he has a record collection of around 50 000 records to prove it!
Fraser Loveman in his stunning white suit bought on Carnaby Street
The Modbeats LP came out in '67. On the cover, it boldly states "Mod is... The British Modbeats". So it was only natural that I would ask him what he viewed as Mod. He didn't start by reciting the usual "smart clothes, Italian scooter, Motown" rhetoric we usually reserve for people that are not part of the in-crowd. Instead, he gave a nuanced and insightful way of looking at things. "All of the music that the Mods attached themselves to was already here in North America. In England, they liked American music and here we liked British stuff. Today, people are living out what they think it was rather than what it was. The Modbeats during the sixties went way past the traditional Mod ethic and we expanded our look and sound."

I have to admit that I never looked at it that way before and it does make sense. I think we sometimes idealize the way things were and the way things are somewhere else. It's true that in the sixties, North Americans were all about the British Invasion and at the same time, the English had a romanticized version of the American Soul scene. According to Fraser, Mod means "cutting edge, new and modern". It's hard to argue with that logic. His father, James Loveman, was The Modbeats manager. He certainly was a big influence on the band and had a reputation for being one of the few honest managers around. “Make a splash. Be flamboyant. Be different. Don’t fit in.” was the family motto.
Joe Colonna, Greig Foster with James Loveman in the back
As for the "British" that was added in front of their name on the album, that was purely a record company stunt, trying to cash in on the British Invasion wave. In fact, Red Leaf Records had them record the entire album in less then 2 days. This explains in part why there's no original material on the album. Even if Fraser had a bunch of songs under his funky belt, they were rushed into production and they never got the opportunity to have a few original tracks immortalized. He has a clear memory of the photo shoot for the album cover: "The cover shot was taken behind Beattie's stationary on St. Paul Street in St. Catharines. The funny thing is we usually went barefoot but it was so cold that we did agree to boots. Unfortunately, our pants looked way too short!"

Even if they never had a chance to record their own material, they had quite a reputation for being a band to see live. A 1967 Billboard article states: "The live performance was much louder than they sound on disk" and "[...] they are a highly professional outfit."
Greig Foster in his fabulous suit from Carnaby Street
Rob Jeffrey
 A lot of those wild shows were done in a club named The Castle in St. Catherines. "This place was better than anything they had in England or the U.S. A man named Ron Metcalfe ran it. Two stages, two dance floors, a snack bar, a coffee club where folk singers played and the greatest kids any band could hope to play for. It held over a thousand people and was usually packed Fridays and Saturdays.” recalls Fraser. A lot of well-known acts made the trip across the border to play The Castle. Mod favorites like The Marvelettes were amongst them.

The Modbeats at The Castle in 1966
The Modbeats playing The Castle in 1966
The Modbeats also shared the stage with a few sixties greats like The Barbarians, JB & The Playboys, The Byrds, The McCoys, The Four Tops and The Rascals.

Image artists roster circa 1966
The good news in all of this is that The Modbeats have been known to still do concerts in the Niagara region every once in while. So I still have hope that I will one day see them live.

If you want to stay up to date with all The Modbeats activities, make sure to visit their Facebook page and their website.

The Modbeats Facebook page

The Modbeats in 1965
The Modbeats in 1966

To hear one of my favorite tracks from the LP, check out the link below and enjoy.

Somebody Help Me - The Modbeats

I want to thank Fraser Loveman for his generosity, kindness and for providing all the great photos seen in this post.