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The Lambrettas

The Lambrettas, featuring Jez Bird (guitar/vocals/keyboards), Doug Saunders (guitar), Mark Ellis (bass), and Paul Wincer (drums), jumped on the Jam-inspired mod revival bandwagon of the late '70s, dressing in matching mohair suits and naming themselves after one of the mod-favored motor scooters. Although decidedly derivative, the Lambrettas proved to be one of the most fondly remembered bands of the mod revival. The band formed in the mod mecca of Brighton and, under the leadership of Bird's catchy songwriting, proved to be more than just Jam sound-alikes, leaving behind mod-life arrogance/elitism in favor of a pure pop sensibility.

The band signed to Elton John's Rocket Records in 1979 and after one failed single, "Go Steady," had a U.K. hit with their cover of Leiber & Stoller's "Poison Ivy." The follow-up singles "D-a-a-ance" and "Another Day (Another Girl)" also charted in the U.K. The latter (originally titled "Page Three"), with its not-so-thinly veiled jabs at the Sun newspaper's practice of placing photos of topless women on page three, earned them some notoriety when the newspaper threatened legal action. Their 1980 debut LP, Beat Boys in the Jet Age, collected the early singles and other similar-sounding originals. Though it did make it into the British charts, the mod revival fad had pretty much run its course. Subsequent singles and a second album, 1981's Ambience, were commercial flops despite efforts to break from the mod mold. The Lambrettas called it quits in 1982, playing their final gig in London on April 14, 1982. Bird regrouped the band in the '90s, playing small venues in England, and recorded several demos for a new album that never saw the light of day.

In 2008, Jez Bird lost his battle with cancer, passing away at age 50. After playing what was to be a one-off gig in 2009, original members Doug Saunders and Paul Wincer decided to reunite the band with two new members, Philip Edwards (guitar) and Chris Venzi-James (bass). As the band continued to tour periodically in the U.K. and Europe, where the cult of the mod revival never truly died, Chris Venzi-James dropped out of the lineup, with Ant Wellman taking over on bass. The Lambrettas also added a three-piece horn section, with Mark Mansell on saxophone, Helen Kane on trumpet, and Dan Rehahn on trombone. In 2017, the Lambrettas surprised fans with their first new release since 1981, a four-song EP titled Go 4 It. ~ Chris Woodstra
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R.I.P. Jez Bird

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