Thursday, November 15, 2007

Out of Step, Out Of Time and Out of Breath

Paul over at Never Trust A Hippy Blog is taking a tube trip down memory lane with his recollections of seeing The Jam play live. Spawny get. I'm jealous as hell, and matters aren't helped when Will Rubbish gets in on the 'spawny get' payroll by mentioning that he's also got to see The Jam play live. I'm sure he told me one time that he didn't even like Paul Weller.

As much as I love The Jam now, I have to admit that I was never into them when they were still a going concern. Too young I guess, too pop inclined when they were at their peak, and I didn't have that older brother or older sister pushing their records my way, telling me why it was important that I listened to them (as I've mentioned before on the blog, my older sister was force feeding me Steve Wonder and The Bee Gees at this point. We've since reconciled.)

If anything I was a bit sniffy about them. Bands seem to be like football teams in those days, and for some reason I couldn't bring myself to like both The Jam and Culture Club at the same time (hangs head in shame). My loss, as I seem to remember feigning indifference to their last live performance on the first episode of The Tube, as if it wasn't a big deal. (takes that head that's hanging in shame and whacks it with a two by four).

Timing's everything in life, and four or five months after 'Beat Surrender' was the final Jam number one in the British charts, I was ranting and raving about 'Speak Like A Child', and poring over the album sleeve of 'Introducing The Style Council' as if it was the Communist Manifesto. It's that scene from 'Stardust Memories' all over again and I had to work my way backwards through Paul Weller's discography via the Snap compilation and then all the original albums around about the same time I thought Style Council's 'Our Favourite Shop' was the best thing since 'Cafe Bleu'.

That's enough rambling from me. To get back to Paul's original post; he makes the outlandish claim that 'Happy Together' is The jam's most underrated track. I beg to differ. Though it was a single, I still think that 'Absolute Beginners' was The Jam's most underrated track and the one that pointed to Weller's future with Style Council.

It also lays claim to having one of the funniest music videos I've ever seen. Funny in an unintentional sense. Look at Weller try to run in the video. Therein lies the mystery of why he had to pick up a guitar at such a young age. Jan Molby could have out sprinted him. Also explains the gulf between him and the other two. Looks like Rick and Bruce were the types that were picked first to play footie in the school playgrounds. Paul looks like he was stuck in goal a la Billy Caspar in Kes. Weller should have joined the SPGB when he was stil political in the 80s. He would have found a natural kinship in the old Islington Btanch.

What's that line from 'Funeral Pyre'?

"I could see the faces of those led pissing theirselves laughing . . ."

That would have been Rick, Bruce and the whole video crew for that day. Weller: Out of step, out of time and out of breath.

Hat tip to Will.


gray said...

poor you Darren!

My sister was a Mod and she had all the Jam, the Who, a stack of "Northern Soul" and I don't know what else.

Although I am a "deaf" metal fan, I have a Jam collection amongst the CD collection because of big sis!

She thinks the stuff I listen to is a load of old noise, btw. (But what do I care? She votes Tory.)

Darren said...

Your sister was devoted to The Jam, and yet she ended up a Tory?

What, did she stop buying their stuff after their first album? (*Obscure reference to a 30 year old NME interview that will be quoted by some to Weller on his death bed.)

Well, my big sis has been known to vote for the SSP in the past so youthful record collections are not an exact science when determining someone's future voting intentions.

Paulie said...

Happy Together had everything The Jam were good at - odd vocal intro (like the single version of Dreams of Children), great vocal harmony on the chorus, bass-driven middle 8 with an accompanying lead-line, soaring vocal line (Weller's voice had improved for The Gift - that is more clearly heard on 'Ghosts'), and it also has that unique guitar style that made The Jam so different. Oddly, Weller abandoned it shortly afterwards and no-one else has ever properly imitated it.

So, in short, I disagree with this post.


I'm going to do a poll on 'most under-rated Jam song on my site soon though.

Darren said...


I hate it when someone actually posts a considered and thoughtful comment about why they love a particular song.

It shames the rest of us. Bastard.

*off to listen to 'Happy Together' again with Paul's cliff notes to guide me through the knotty bits*

Paulie said...

Did I say that a good way of describing the rhythm guitar would be 'toppy, fractured, crashing and abrasive'?

If I didn't, I have now. I remember seeing a photo of him playing the guitar into an amp that was pointing as a sheet of corrugated iron - and then mic-ing of the iron.

I could never work out if it were a genuine pic or a staged joke aimed at the tiny fraction of his fan-base that pondered every square inch of every album inner sleeve.

I was like that. Me and my mates used to have conversations where we'd speculate where 'Paul' would stand on things that we were arguing about. It was a bit like those Christians who use the 'what would Jesus do?' way of reasoning - you won the argument by showing that Paul supported you, referencing lyrics and things he'd said in interviews.

Darren said...

Now you're just taking the piss. ;-)

"Me and my mates used to have conversations where we'd speculate where 'Paul' would stand on things that we were arguing about. It was a bit like those Christians who use the 'what would Jesus do?' way of reasoning - you won the argument by showing that Paul supported you, referencing lyrics and things he'd said in interviews."

I believe that the CC of the SWP are currently going through the same process except you have to substitute Tony Cliff for Paul Weller to capture its full flavour.

PS - They've won't be using 'Happy Together' as the finale song at this weekend's Respect Conference. Either of them.

Paulie said...

No. And here's another blog-meme that you can start Darren. A theme tune for the two halves of Respect. What could they play?

How about

- 'Almost certainly will get fooled again'
- 'Shitheads of the World, Unite and take over'
- 'Communalism in the UK'
- Was jaamata you? Hey! Gotta no respect? Hey!

(that's enough Respect theme tunes - ed)