The mod revival was a music genre and subculture that started in England in 1978 and later spread to other countries (to a lesser degree). The mod revival's mainstream popularity was relatively short, although its influence has lasted for decades. The mod revival post-dated a Teddy Boy revival, and mod revivalists sometimes clashed with Teddy Boy revivalists, skinhead revivalists, casuals, punks and rival gang members.
The late 1970s mod revival was led by the band The Jam, who had adopted a stark mod look and mixed the energy of punk with the sound of 1960s mod bands. The mod revival was a conscious effort to harken back to an earlier generation in terms of style. In the early 1980s in the UK, a mod revival scene influenced by the original 1960s mod subculture developed.
The late 1970s mod revival combined musical and cultural elements of the 1970s pub rock, punk rock and new wave music genres with influences from 1960s mod and beat music bands such as The Who, Small Faces and The Kinks. The revival was largely spurred on by the band The Jam, who had adopted a stark mod look and mixed the energy of punk with the sound of 1960s mod bands. Their debut album In the City (1977), mixed R&B standards with originals modelled on The Who's early singles. They confirmed their status as the leading mod revival band with their third album All Mod Cons (1978), on which Paul Weller's song-writing drew heavily on the British-focused narratives of the Kinks. The revival was also spurred on by small concerts at venues such as the Cambridge and Hop Poles Hotels, and Howard Hall Enfield, the Wellington, Waterloo Road, London, and the Bridge House in Canning Town. In 1979, the film Quadrophenia, which romanticised the original 1960s mod subculture, widened the impact and popularity of the mod revival across the UK. The original mod revival fanzine, Maximum Speed started in 1979 and spawned other home-produced fanzines from then until the mid-to-late 1980s.
Pub rock bands like Red Beans and Rice, The Little Roosters, The Inmates, Nine Below Zero and Eddie and the Hot Rods, became major acts in the growing mod revival scene in London. Other bands grew up to feed the desire for mod music, often combining the music of 1960s mod groups with elements of punk music, including The Lambrettas, The Merton Parkas, Squire, and Purple Hearts. These acts managed to develop cult followings and some had pop hits, before the revival petered out in the early 1980s.
Another British tradition that returned at the same time was the penchant for members of youth subcultures to go to seaside resorts on bank holidays and fight members of other subcultures. This originated in the early 1960s with the mods and rockers fighting each other at places such as Brighton. The phenomenon returned in 1969 through to 1970 with skinheads fighting Teddy boys and bikers. In 1977 it returned yet again, with punks fighting Teddy Boys at Margate, and revival skinheads fighting Teddy boys, bikers and rockers at Southend and Margate. This carried on until 1978. In 1979 and 1980, the resorts became major battlegrounds on bank holidays for young skinheads and mods together against Teddy boys and rockers. By 1981, the unity between skinheads and mods had mainly disappeared, and by the mid-1980s, casuals (well-dressed football hooligans) had joined in the disturbances. Some of the main resorts involved were Margate, Brighton, Southend, Clacton, Hastings and Scarborough.
Two highly accessorised "mod-style" Lambretta scooters
Paul Weller broke up The Jam in 1982 and formed The Style Council, who abandoned most of the punk rock elements to adopt music much more based in R&B and early soul.
In the mid-1980s, there was a brief mod revival centered on bands such as The Prisoners, Makin' Time and the Gents. Fanzines following on from Maximum Speed – such as Mission Impossible, Patriotic, Roadrunner, Extraordinary Sensations and Chris Hunt's Shadows & Reflections – helped generate further interest in this stage of the mod revival. Another main player in the 1980s UK mod revival was Eddie Piller, who went on to develop the acid jazz movement of the late 1980s.