THE ACTION: IN THE LAP OF THE MODS
by Ian Hebditch and Jane Shepherd
with Mike Evans and Roger Powell
foreword by Sir George Martin
“We all tried our hand at getting that [Motown] sound you know... all the bands in the mid ‘60s.
The best ones at it were the Action... They were an amazing band.” (Steve Marriott, 1987)
Of all the groups to emerge during the 1960s British beat explosion THE ACTION are most deserving of the epithet “unsung”. Formed in 1964 this sharply attired North London quintet attracted a legion of diehard followers as well as the envy and plaudits of their peers. Most notably they were arguably the best Anglo outfit to successfully interpret the American soul and R&B so beloved of their Mod audience.
Comprising a rock solid rhythm section of drummer Roger Powell and bassist Mike Evans – faithfully modelled on the Funk Brothers who so defined the Tamla-Motown sound, a pair of inventive guitarists, Alan ‘Bam’ King and Pete Watson, who could harmonise like angels, and Reg King, blessed with a soulful voice that could pass for pure Chicago or Detroit, the Action were continually tipped for greatness.
And yet fame eluded the Action. While similarly inclined outfits like the Small Faces, the Spencer Davis Group and the Who turned Mod attitude into chart glory the five singles the Action released during their relatively short career failed to sell in significant numbers. However those recordings from 1965-68 were revered by a switched-on fan base and have continued to inspire successive generations of Brit Beat enthusiasts. The Action’s reputation has even belatedly spread across the Atlantic particularly in 2002 when Rolled Gold – a collection of startlingly original songs cut during the band’s final phase that had preciously circulated on lo-fi bootlegs - was released to rapturous praise.
To those with a passing knowledge of the era the Action remain an enigma due to their low commercial profile but for those lucky enough to see them – and for those who wish they had - the Action cast a considerable shadow.
Their story was played out against a backdrop of societal upheaval in which the Mod movement played an integral part. Co-author Ian Hebditch was a first generation Mod from Portsmouth - a regular at the town’s legendary Birdcage Club - and his memories and insight, untainted by revisionism, of this subculture and with exclusive comment from all original band members, In The Lap Of The Mods helps to provide a unique first hand account of what Mod and the Action were really about. Cameo appearances from the likes of the Beatles, the Who, Rod Stewart, David Bowie and Captain Beefheart indicates just some of the interesting circles the Action moved in.
Now at last after some ten years in development (worth a book in itself!) The Action: In The Lap Of The Mods provides the final word on this legendary band and illustrates how their music, image and attitude transcends the times it was made and continues to inspire.