Groovy Times Are Here Again

If yesterday’s song could only have been written by Paul Weller in 1978 then today’s is very much Joe Strummer but a year later. The Cost Of Living ep was released in 1979, a four track 7″ single and one of the finest releases the band put out. Led by their cover of I Fought The Law and closed by the re-recorded version of Capital Radio it is bookended by raw, high octane rock ‘n’ roll. In between these two are a pair of songs, one sung by Strummer  (Groovy Times) and one sung by Jones (Gates Of The West) that are lesser known but utterly essential Clash tunes.

Groovy Times opens with a burst of acoustic guitars, electric guitars and harmonica (a nod to Bob Dylan from Mick) and becomes a state of Britain in the late 70s address from Joe. He starts with the effects of economic recession- ‘the high street shops are boarded up’ – and then moves onto the fences put up in football grounds to pen the fans in, a wall of riot police with shields and then contrast it with  housewives all singing ‘groovy times are here again’ (groovy, a word that in ’79 would be completely associated with hippies from a decade earlier). The sleeve of the ep was packaged to look like washing powder and this song seems to be the where the sleeve comes from- ignore the news, focus on the adverts! The second verse picks up with more imagery of wasteland Britain and urban decay but never mind because the radio is still saying ‘groovy times have come to pass!’. In the final verse Joe takes some kind of aim at ‘the king of early evening ITV’ (Bill Grundy) and apparently Elvis Costello (‘put him in a dog suit like from 1964’). It’s the work of men at the top of their game, branching out after the punk orthodoxy of ’77 and the tensions and difficulties of 1978’s Give ‘Em Enough Rope album. Coming a few months before London Calling it shows a group throwing off the shackles and on a roll.

Groovy Times

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