September 22, 2009
Captain Mod
Pop/Rock, Mod Revival, Alternative/Indie Rock, New Wave, Power Pop, Punk/New Wave

Album Review

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 company 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 before fading into the ether. They resurfaced briefly in 1982 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 and 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," "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 Hearts' strengths, although one must admit that their version of "Scooby Doo" is the only obvious misstep here. Released on Captain Oi!'s excellent offshoot label Captain Mod, Mod Singles Collection includes a booklet containing informative liner notes, release information, and reproductions of the picture sleeves. Needless to say, this is the best place to start your Purple Hearts collection.
Steve "Spaz" Schnee, Rovi

Track Listing

  1. Millions Like Us
  2. Beat That
  3. Frustration
  4. Extraordinary Sensations
  5. Jimmy
  6. What Am I Gonna Do
  7. My Life's a Jigsaw
  8. Just to Please You
  9. The Guy Who Made Her a Star
  10. Plane Crash
  11. Scooby Doo
  12. Gun of Life
  13. Friends Again
  14. Head On Collision Time
  15. I'll Make You Mine [*]
  16. Concrete Mixer [*]
  17. Hazy Darkness [*]