8 February 2009

The Clique - Bareback Donkey Riding

Clique - Bareback Donkey Riding

Label: Detour
Year of Release: 1995

It's a peculiarity of popular culture that mods - rather like goths - have never really disappeared at any point since the phenomenon first appeared. There may have been moments in time where they seemed much more visible than others, such as at the height of Britpop, or during the peak of Paul Weller's powers in the early eighties, but even during moments where the mainstream press couldn't have cared less about their existence, they've still been around. A pub local to me is regularly distrurbed by the hornet buzz of a swarm of approaching scooters, which is the prelude to a bunch of slightly overweight, middle aged mods entering trying to look as cool as a uncooked microwave meal fresh from the freezer. On top of that, there are more retro mod nights in the capital than any music journalist could really give a stuff about, but they're utterly impossible to miss.

During the Britpop boom, some of the more underground mod bands (who almost all seemed to have links to Billy Childish) got swept along in the slipstream of retromania, and almost achieved a certain respectability outside of the usual fanzines and club nights. The Clique - not to be mistaken with the sixties band of the same name - were one such act. A quick listen to the A-side "Bareback Donkey Riding" reveals a tight and energetic outfit who clearly warranted the attention, but it's the flip side, a cover version of Otis Redding's "Security", which really shows how blistering they could be. It's an incessant, pounding, squawking, rough and ready take which shames the likes of The Horrors now, and more to the point knows exactly how not to outstay its welcome. There's obviously nothing original or revolutionary about either side of vinyl, but it's a stark reminder of how few people can actually do this stuff well whilst simultaneously making it sound easy.

If the production style sounds rather familiar, that's because Liam Watson recorded this single at Toe Rag studios - both of which were later used by The White Stripes for their "Elephant" album. The same use of sixties analogue technology is utilised to create an altogether unmodern noise, which is probably one reason why the whole thing hangs together so well. The visitors to this blog who are only interested in sixties vinyl would still be daft not to give this a listen.

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