Saturday, October 3, 2009

PURPLE HEARTS/the Mod Singles Collection reveiw

PURPLE HEARTS were one of the most popular of the Mod bands that hit the British music scene in 1979 and 1980. The excellent Captain Mod label (an offshoot of Captain Oi) has just issued a collection of all the band's singles (A and B-sides) entitled The Mod Singles Collection.  This is what I had to say about it on All Music Guide.

"The Mod scene briefly took hold of the British (and, to a lesser extent, U.S.) music scene in 1979 in the wake of The Jam’s enormous success. When Weller and Co. released their third album, All Mod Cons, in 1978, it not only sent them straight up the charts, it also freed them from the Punk shackles that had weighed them down since the release of their debut album.
Because of the success of the album and the resurgence of Mod culture, labels began snapping up ‘60s-influenced acts like The Lambrettas, The Chords, The Jolt, Secret Affair, Squire and Purple Hearts. Of these main players, Purple Hearts were the least likely to succeed but it certainly wasn’t from lack of talent or ambition. With a Punk attitude and ‘60s Garage Rock influences, the band’s songs were less chart-friendly than their contemporaries and didn’t quite connect with the fickle public.
Signing to Fiction Records, the band released a handful of singles and one album in 1980 (Beat That!) before fading into the ether. They resurfaced briefly in ’82 and again in 1986 but fame and fortune proved to be elusive.
While not a great ‘album’ band, the Hearts sounded far more exciting on their singles, all of which are collected on this compilation (A and B-sides). The singles are joined here by three excellent 1981 demo recordings lifted from The Beat Generation & The Angry Young Men compilation.
Though Who and Kinks influences abound, the real meat of their sound is snotty Garage Rock, which really comes to the fore on tracks like “Frustration”, “Just To Please You”, “Plane Crash” and “Head On Collision Time”. On the other hand, the band’s pop smarts shine brightly on “Jimmy”, “My Life’s A Jigsaw” and “Friends Again” and all three of the bonus compilation tracks (‘I’ll Make You Mine”, “Concrete Mixer” and “Hazy Darkness”).
This 17 track collection showcases all of the band’s strengths, although I must admit that their version of “Scooby Doo” is the only obvious mis-step here. Released on Captain Oi’s excellent offshoot label, Captain Mod, the booklet contains informative liner notes, release information and reproductions of the picture sleeves.
Needless to say, The Mod Singles Collection is the best place to start your Purple Hearts collection."

Head On Spaz Time,
Stephen SPAZ Schnee

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