Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Paul 'Smiler' Anderson

Washed ashore on a lonely island in the sea is guest castaway, Paul 'Smiler' Anderson.
Paul has been in love with the Mod way of life since 1979. Throughout the 80's to the present day he has been involved in organising many events, publishing fanzines and running club nights. Alongside Damian Jones he co-compiles and writes sleevenotes for the 'Rare Mod' series of compilations and EP's on Acid Jazz records. In 2011, he presented the biggest ever exhibition of 60's Mod related items. 'Reading Steady Go!' proved to be Reading museum's most successful exhibition to date.

Paul co-wrote 'Circles, The Strange Story of The Fleur de Lys, Britain’s Forgotten Soul Band' which was published in 2009 and is author of ‘Mods – the New Religion!’ which is being published by Omnibus early next year.

It all really started for me around September 1979 when I finally became a Mod after watching it flourish from a distance. I was 14 at the time so I was too young to have been a Punk but I loved New Wave and Punk music, and through The Jam the Mod scene became more noticeable. I was living in Reading (40 miles from London) and there really wasn’t anything more than our local youth club. I was always one of the youngest Mods it seemed, the older lot got scooters and went off to see bands such as Secret Affair, The Chords and other revival bands.
As I got older I too got a scooter and went to bands. By the time I was 18 in 1983, a lot of the older Mods had become scooter boys, so clothing and music became more irrelevant to them as it was more about just having a scooters. I loved scooters and have owned at least one every year since 1982 but it was always clothes and music that took priority to me. Luckily I found a like minded soul in a guy called Richard Molyneux who rejected the local Reading scene in search of something different. In 1984 we went off to London one Saturday night to a club I’d read about called The Phoenix in Cavendish Square. It was fantastic and a million miles away from the local soul nights I had been to up until then (and never felt comfortable at). It was full of sharp suited kids dancing to old R&B, Beat, Soul and Jazz. It was my Mod Nirvana. After that we became regulars at The Phoenix on Saturdays and Sneakers in Shepherds Bush every Sunday. I started getting suits and shirts handmade and collecting vinyl records with a passion. 

Around 1990 I was really heavily involved in the scene DJ’ing, running clubs, writing fanzines and helping organise the Mod rallies. I felt that somehow I couldn’t expand any further and felt very limited. I got very into Acid Jazz, and the whole vintage tops and Duffer St George look. By 1991 I was buying things like The Young Disciples, Galliano, Brand New Heavies, A Tribe Called Quest plus seeing bands like these alive alongside the early Manic Street Preachers, Revs and 5.30 bands. I became a regular at Dingwalls on Sundays and various other clubs.

By early 1992 I literally walked away from the Mod scene. I never stopped being or calling myself a Mod it was just that I had had enough of the actual scene.I sold off all my tailored suits and trousers as well as my hand made shirts. I began wearing Lacoste, Armani, Hugo Boss, Stone Island, Paul & Shark and Paul Smith. Feet were shod in Patrick Cox loafers or Adidas Gazelles. I was riding a  1966 Lambretta SX225 before moving on to a 1964 Vespa GS160 mk 2. 

It was around 2000 that I was asked to DJ at a Mod orientated club for the first time in years as I still had all my record collection. I enjoyed myself and although I have never fully immersed myself back into the Mod scene, I began to get more involved with it again. I started to get my shirts , suits and trousers tailor made again. These days you are likely to find me dressed casually in a Lacoste polo, Levi 501′s with 1 inch turn ups and Adidas Italias or Adidas Japans. Dressed up normally in a handmade shirt, tailor made trousers and either Bass Weejun loafers or vintage shoes.

To me the essence of Mod is always about being smart and sussed. Dressing to fit the occasion rather than just dressing up for the sake of it. To me a true Mod will take the best influences both musically and clotheswise from the past and the present and co-ordinate them to move forward."

Martha & The Vandellas

"I heard this many, many years ago at a soul night and fell in love with it. The lyrics seem so passionate and just make me feel great. I really like The Jam's version too and always find myself singing along to the 'yeah,yeah,yeah,yeah' bit !

Luckily I got to meet Martha and interview her for my book. She's a lovely lady and gladly signed my copy which I'll treasure forever ! "

Little Walter
Up The Line

"As much as I get a kick from soul music, my true love is the blues.

This was such a hard choice as there are so many greats : Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker, Jimmy Reed, the list is endless...  but harmonica driven stuff is my favourite.

It was a close call between this and Sonny Boy Williamson's 'Checkin' Up On My Baby' but I really rate Walter's phrasing, and on this uptempo record he never gives up and shows he has a great voice too."

Prince Buster
Cincinnati Kid

"I'm really into early ska music and there is only one true King... that, of course, is Prince Buster.

His output is phenomenal and once again it was hard to choose from his back catalogue. He transcended the ska thing through to rocksteady with ease. I was lucky enough to see him live a couple of times and got some of my singles signed but sadly never got to interview him. He suffered a stroke a few years back and I don't think we will see him in this country again. 

The spoken word intro on this is brilliant and it seems to draw people to the dancefloor."

Young Disciples
Get Yourself Together (LP Version)

"I had a great time at Dingwalls during that Acid Jazz period when Gilles Peterson and Patrick Forge played some awesome jazz stuff : Brazilian, jazz hip hop and, obviously, new releases such as Galliano, Brand New Heavies and  Young Disciples.

When the twelve inch of 'Get Yourself Together' came out in 1990 I thought it was a great track but the following year when it was re-recorded as the introduction to the LP it sounded fantastic as they had added the Hammond organ and Carleen Anderson's wonderful gospel type opening to the tune. 

I really embraced a lot of new black music during this period after years of only really listening to and playing vintage stuff on the Mod scene. this record takes me straight back there."

The Googie Rene Combo
Smokey Joe's La La

"I thought I should put in an instrumental... but which one ?

'Green Onions' by Booker T & the MG's is worthy here. Although it's an obvious record it is probably the first true funk record. I could have gone for a rare Jimmy Smith, Jack McDuff or Jimmy MGriff Hammond track or maybe some obscure jazz gem. 

No, it had to be this tune which was first released in the UK in 1966. A tune that brings back memories of sweaty London Mod clubs circa 84/85 when we were truly an underground scene : Handmade mohair suits, handmade button down shirts and basket weave shoes. 

The outside world was doing what Frankie said whilst we were gliding across dancefloors to this. I think I made the right choice ! "


Paul's book ‘Mods – the New Religion!’ is being published by Omnibus early next year, but you can pre-order your copy on Amazon now :
click on logo

Paul has written the sleeve notes to a great series of CD's 'Rockhouse : How Mods Got The Blues'. 

Check it out on the website shown below :