Days Of Speed And Slow Time Mondays

That’s Entertainment always strikes me as a bank holiday song, easily singable in a beer garden on a rare early May Day of sunshine, pub jukebox cutting through the TV sport and noise. Paul Weller admits to writing it drunk, home from the pub, in half an hour and it’s easy to picture- once a couple of lines of the lyric came to him and the rhythm was there in his head, it must have just poured out. He even manages to make the ‘two lovers missing the tranquillity of solitude’ line work in among the urban and suburban poetry. Each line could describe a British bank holiday too from the screaming siren of the police car to feeding the ducks while wishing you were far away, from a kick in the balls to cuddling a warm girl and smelling stale perfume. Weller and The Jam at their best, although the demo version off Snap! always sounds better than the re-recorded one on Sound Affects.

That’s Entertainment (Demo Version)

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Things Can Only Get…

Election day, 7th May 2015. I’ve been thinking a lot about how to vote. In almost of the elections I’ve voted in since turning eighteen in 1988 I’ve voted Labour. Like many people the Labour party haven’t endeared themselves to me quite as much in recent times. I’m pretty envious of our Scottish friends who have an actual, meaningful alternative to voting Labour in the shape of the SNP, and the same is true in Wales. I would like to vote for a left wing political party- a party who put social justice above narrow personal self interest, who aren’t contributing to paranoid, stoked up fears about immigration, who will fund the NHS and who will support those less well off. You could suggest at this point that this option does exist for me and that I should vote Green. Which has crossed my mind. However I think when I go to the polling booth tonight I shall mark my cross against the name of the Labour party candidate. The bottom line, to my mind, has to be to get rid of the Tories, to vote this shower of shits out of office and I think that voting Labour is the most effective way to do that.

That brings up the dangerous question of voting Lib Dem tactically (and we can all see where that got us last time- the Lib Dems propping up a nasty right wing clique of bankers and ex-public school boys). Fortunately not a problem round here, the Lib Dems trail well off in third but some people may have to make that choice.

In 1997 after nearly twenty years of Conservative government the Labour party had the wind behind them and optimism in front of them. They appropriated D Ream’s pop-house anthem Things Can Only Get Better. I quite liked it until that point. Right now, I’m not sure if things can only get better but if we get five more years of what we’ve just had then things will get a lot worse.

David Cameron (part time punk, Eton mod and class warrior) has stated before that The Eton Rifles is one of his favourite songs. Eton Rifles is a bile-fuelled invective against public school boys (from Cameron’s old school) spitting and jeering at unemployed miners marching from Jarrow to London set to a piledriving post punk tune. As Paul Weller said ‘which part of it didn’t he get?’

Live on Something Else in 1979 (the same episode Joy Division were on).

Le Tour (En Derbyshire)

I cycled up to a few miles east of Glossop yesterday to watch the Tour de France as it dipped out of Yorkshire and into Derbyshire. The Tour passing within twenty-five miles of my front door was too good an opportunity to resist and it was a lovely day for a ride. In fact I sunburnt my wrists. An hour before the cyclists shoot along a cavalcade of sponsors’ vehicles pass along the route throwing out freebies (caps, Haribos, lighters etc). These four Miffys made me smile.

I took this photo moments before the leaders hurtled past- I was on a hillside right by a hairpin bend. You can see everyone in the picture turning their heads to the left as the leaders and then the peloton appeared out of nowhere. Six helicopters buzzed above us. At this point I wondered if I had enough time to both take a photo and watch the riders. Three seconds or so later they had gone, Kittel in yellow tucked in the back of the peloton. A couple of stragglers came past, then the team cars, and that was it. Gone in a flash. Whooosh. Still, brilliant to have seen it, however briefly.

Italian rider Vincenzo Nibali took the stage and le maillot jaune. I didn’t take this picture- I pinched off the internet. Originally I had been planning to go to Sheffield to see the end of the race but plans changed and I cycled home just in time to see the climax on the tv.

I’m feeling a little uninspired with music to post at this exact moment. Here’s The Jam with today’s song.

Monday

Puts Up The Closed Sign Does The Man In The Corner Shop

Man In The Corner Shop was on side two of The Jam’s 1980 album Sound Affects although I should think I heard it first on Snap! The lyrics had a deep impact on me, possibly the first time I kind of understood that pop songs could be about something important. Paul Weller’s ‘Marxism for beginners in three minutes’ still affect me today, even though I know them off by heart.

Puts up the closed sign does the man in the corner shop 
Serves his last and says goodbye to him 
He knows it is a hard life 
But it’s nice to be your own boss really 
Walks off home does the last customer 
He is jealous of the man in the corner shop 
He is sick of working at the factory 
Says it must be nice to be your own boss (really) 
Sells cigars to the boss from the factory 
He is jealous is the man in the corner shop 
He is sick of struggling so hard 
He says “It must be nice to own a factory” 
Go to church do the people from the area 
All shapes and classes sit and pray together 
For here they are all one 
For God created all men equal

Man In The Corner Shop

It’s a song that stands out musically on Sound Affects, with a chiming intro, 60s chords and middle eight, and powerful finish. I listened to the full album the other day. I’m not sure it’s a ‘great album’, more a collection of songs recorded at the same time. Many of them are good but too similar in tone,Weller moving on from All Mod Cons and trying to absorb Gang Of Four’s clipped guitars, while the rhythm section stretch out a bit. That’s Entertainment and Start! are both career defining. There’s some experimental pop-art. But Man In The Corner Shop (and That’s Entertainment as well) seem to be the moral and human heart of the record.

True Is The Dream

‘… mixed with nostalgia, but it’s a dream that I’ll always hang on to, that I’ll always run to, won’t you join me by the riverbank?’

This semi-psychedelic love letter to his childhood in the fields of Surrey is a song I never get tired of and shows Mr Weller, even as the sharp mod and angry young man of the early 80s, could hit the nostalgia button as well as the next man. Especially when childhood is compared to the travails of adult life- ‘now life is so critical, life is too cynical, we lose our innocence, we lose our very soul’

Wonderful stuff. And not a million miles in tone and tune from his solo comeback (as the shortlived Paul Weller Movement) in 1992, Into Tomorrow. At one point I saw the 12″ of this in Vinyl Exchange for £40. I was one of the few who bought it when it came out.

When You’re Young

When You’re Young is one of The Jam’s finest moments, with Paul Weller dispensing hard-won wisdom (from the grand old age of 22 or something, youth becoming relative the older you get) -‘the world is your oyster but your future’s a clam, it’s got you in it’s grip from before you’re born, you think you’re a king but you’re really a pawn’. There’s something about the music that’s very democratic too- guitar, bass and drums all equal in the mix and the dynamics. Then the hair raising breakdown followed by ‘you used to fall in love with everyone….. any guitar and any bass drum’. 

The other thing about it is the video- the kids, passers-by and members of the public, all look pretty much exactly how I remember 1979-80 looking. Except without The Jam miming on a bandstand. Never saw that happen.

I saw a striped blazer just like the one Weller’s wearing in this video recently, reduced but still pricey. Was tempted I have to say.

You Can’t Switch Off The Sun

One of my favourite Jam tracks to open August- So Sad About Us was the B-side to 1978’s Down In The Tube Station At Midnight, a cover of a Who song and tribute to the Who’s Keith Moon who was pictured on the back of the sleeve and who had recently died.

So Sad About Us