1979 Mod Power – Maximum Speed
“Maximum Speed” started in 1979, originating in the era of the Mod revival, rather than the original movement of the 1960s.
There were a lot of independent publications from the Mod world, like “The MOD’s”, “Blues & Soul”, which was actually specific of that music genre, “London’s Outrage”.
Other Mod fanzines came out later in the 80’s including “Heavy Soul”, or “DedicatedFollower”, born in 1985 by Eleanor Rigby.
“Maximum Speed” was one of the most known fanzines.
With concert reviews, interviews with musicians from ska , northern soul and jazz it was from the pages of this fanzine that many otherwise unknown artists became known in the British Mod scene.
On the pages of this fanzine appeared bands like The Purple Hurts, The Chords, The Mods, and other bands more or less known in London at the time.
What emerges from the pages of “Maximum Speed”, is that it was a paper platform that was the lo-fi version of modern social. It collected the passions of these youngsters who used independent magazines as meeting points and also as a way of giving voice to their passions; it was something very personal in which the writer put all of himself, his daily life.
Rereading a number of “Maximum Speed” you can imagine that it must have been a young mod of the ’70s, the musical research, the wait for concerts and the scooter rallies, and you clearly understand how all this was important for him, almost a reason for living.
You can read announcements of various types (since word of mouth and paper were the only means to communicate broadly); in the number 8 of “Maximum Speed” we read the heartfelt message of a boy who has lost his Lambretta to a thief , which he hopes to find thanks to the help of the readers, since he “is on the verge of suicide”, says the article. There are announcements of guys who want to form new bands, or those looking for contributors for articles on the various scenes across the country.
Being a fanzine, and an independent publication, it was printed with a low budget, in black and white on a rough paper, unlike the glossy fashion magazines that proposed a mainstream lifestyle. Typos were corrected by hand.
But even in this simple and “underground” being it contains the essence of the real fanzine, the one in which the content is more important than the aesthetics and above all the idea of a magazine made by kids, for kids, a magazine that was born from the road to tell what was happening at concerts or rallies, beachfront fistfights with bikers and new albums releases.
The layout may have not been put together professionally, but this gave the pages of “Maximum Speed” a more youthful and underground flavor.
Sometimes there were captions added by hand, there were drawings and the titles were almost always written by hand and the texts type and obviously grainy photos taken at concerts and images of the various musicians dressed in the distinctive style of the Mod at all points.
Even the writing was young, no frills, direct, practically colloquial, as if those guys were writing just telling a voice to their friends.And in fact it was a bit like this: they were talking to a community of friends who did not have to give too many explanations, because all the readers were on the same wavelength. They talk in a casual way about drugs, fights; and it is done with a phrase in the slang of the young people of the time. Each subculture has its own slang and of course the mods were no exception.
From the story of the Who’s event to launch their clothes line, we read:
“Having been warned that we would end up in hospital if we didn’t behave, and frantic calls of ‘You’re not speeding, are you?’ by certain press agents, we wandered into the Lyceum, Christ, what a sight; Middle-aged funkateers, soul boys and assorted ‘beautiful people’. Me and Clive were astounded, so much so that we had to go to the bar”.
In short, these fanzines represented the Mod universe in all its aspects, not only the music: they also spoke about fashion (a subject very dear to the Mods). How to wear the tailored suits, how many buttons they should have, how short the trousers should be. Parkas, loafers and everything that could not miss in the wardrobe of the perfect Mod.
Like the zines that we have discussed here previously, “Maximum Speed” provided a comprehensive account of the scene, with first hand accounts of the goings on written with knowledge and passion, for enlightenment of others rather than purely for financial gain. Put together in old school “cut and paste “ it was a labour of love.
Words by Federica Diaz Splendiani