She’s A Mod / Mod Rap

New releases in New Zealand, 30 July 1989

She’s A Mod / Mod Rap – Double J and Twice the T with Ray Columbus 

i

I tried to like Andrew Lloyd Webber.  Someone lent my mother the double LP of Phantom of the Opera.  I didn’t get it.  What was it?  Andrew Lloyd Webber is the reason I grew up thinking that I didn’t like musicals.  I would say: “I hate musicals.  Except Rocky Horror.”  Later I would say:  “I hate musicals.  Except Rocky Horror.  And Singing in the Rain.”  Once I realised that Disney movies were musicals I realised that musicals were actually kind of cool.  Like Crazy Ex Girlfriend is cool.  So now I can say – without hesitation – that musicals are fine, but Andrew Lloyd Webber is not my cup of tea.

I raise Webber before you because of Double J and Twice the T.

ii

I was trying to think of music I hated from 1989 to go alongside this post, but then I realised  – after remembering Phantom of the Opera and Piano by Candlelight (with Carl Doy) – that I actually liked Mod Rap when it came out.  Probably because I had never heard She’s a Mod before and it’s catchy and features a super weird dance by Ray in pencil thin suit.  The happy-unhappy marriage of Ray with Double J and Twice the T works completely because they are doing the same thing: impersonating a hot new trend.  Ray was doing a Beatles impression, and Double J and Twice the T were doing a Fat Boys impression.

The video for Mod Rap is pretty cool really – except for the ending where all the white people stand in a semi-circle and dance – and features baked beans, tomato sauce, see how it runs salt, and Weet Bix in a shot that you feel couldn’t exist now because you’d have to secure the rights for all those products to be placed.  Also, props for the simplest special effect ever: “what if we film you being dragged across your nan’s furniture by your feet?”  Charisma is the secret sauce that makes this video work.

iii

I had a friend who knew how to play Memories on the piano.  I think it was the only thing he knew how to play.  Every time we went somewhere with a piano he would sit down and pretend he was just fooling around trying to recall a song by ear.  It was charming because it was so transparent.  I remember sitting in the faded frumpy lounge of the THC Waitomo prodding at a cup of tea and scone while he tapped out the familiar notes.  My friend and I rolled our eyes.

There must have been a point in time when I listened to the Cats soundtrack.  My mother had a copy of T.S. Eliot’s Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats.  I think I read some of them.  I liked the song Memories.  Like I enjoyed Don’t Cry For Me Argentina.  For some reason Cathy convinced me to go and see Evita.  It was a movie it took me 30 seconds to dislike.  I think it starts in a bar with Antonio Banderas and he turns to the camera and starts singing and I remember groaning – audibly I think – and simultaneously realising: (i) it was a musical, and (ii) of course it was. In other words: that I was an idiot.

Madonna was indeed perfectly “cast” but given my dislike of Evita I’m not sure if that is a compliment.

iv

I have a friend now whose initials are J.G. and she has a child with the same initials.  This leads to me always mentally referring to them as Double J and Twice the G.  When I made this reference out loud once there was silence; the kind where an imaginary dog barks in the distance.  Perhaps Mod Rap had made less of an impression on my peers than it had made on me I concluded.

The beat box breakdown in Mod Rap probably impressed me, although it now sounds quite a lot like someone hyperventilating.  Rap was very much more clunkier in that era.  Obvious lyrics landing heavily at the end of each line on the rhyme and very brash, harsh beats.  I liked some of it.  Run DMC and LL Cool J.  For some reason I had a tape that had LL Cool J’s Can’t Live Without My Radio on it that I loved.

I have spent many hours in the shower beat boxing over the decades which is even more hilarious now as a 46 bald white guy with glasses.  I think I could still be tempted into joining what would be the lamest rap band ever as the beat box guy.

v

While we lived in Japan there was a theatre in Osaka where you could go and see Cats.  They just did performances of Cats.  It was one of those things where they had broken a record for longest run of something or other.  I don’t know what the record was.  We never went.

It seems like being employed as a performer in that theatre would be like being in hell.

I feel like that theatre company eventually stopped doing Cats, and switched to, wait for it, The Lion King.  I can’t imagine the disappointment of the troupe; feeling the sweet taste of escape from stupid cat costumes only to told they would be performing in stupid cat costumes.

I wouldn’t mind one Andrew Lloyd Webber related thing though: to hear my friend’s shitty version of Memories again.

*

New releases in New Zealand, 30 July 1989

  • Double J and Twice the T with Ray Columbus – She’s A Mod / Mod Rap
  • Lita Ford and Ozzy Osbourne – Close My Eyes Forever
  • The Cult – Edie (Ciao Baby)
  • Swing Out Sister – You On My Mind
  • Vanessa Williams – Dreamin’
  • Warrant – Down Boys

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John-Paul

I wrote a book called Kaitiaki o te Pō

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