December 13, 2004

All I need's a mirror then I'm a star

* Pete Townsend on The Jam. From TimeOut March 1982:

"The Jam's last two singles and albums have jumped straight to number one in Britain's charts. Their list of achievements chart-wise is staggering. And yet this success isn't like that of The Beatles in the 1960s when every record they made shot straight to the top. Jam fans are thinkers and musical reactionists, who tend to reject all politicians pretty much out of hand. They choose to dress in the rather sober style of the mid-1960s rather than adopt the peacock styles of the avant garde and they listen very earnestly to the words written by their spokesman. There is no bitterness in Weller's writing that isn't fully shared by his fans. Everything that is wrong with the world is someone else's fault. God is not in his heaven, and if he is then he isn't doing a very good job of handling the population explosion, political corruption and global disintegration.

"I read recently that Paul Weller has given up night-clubs, booze and drugs, and I suppose they do all go hand in hand. He is quite clearly a man of principle, but isn't he rejecting the only group of people who can really understand his frustrations? Has a musician ever changed any part of the world? Weller seems willing to deal only with Britain at this stage; he leaves America to the Americans and is apparently so disdainful of the States that it causes him pain to even talk about the place."
"When Weller and I met for the first time there was guarded mutual respect, not much else. We differed greatly on the importance of American music audiences. I have never seen The Jam live and don't listen to their records all the time. Weller only likes early Who stuff. From my point of view it's peculiar because I still feel as angry as I ever did, as unhappy about the exploitation of the individual by the difficult-to-pin-down `system'. People like me don't give up being angry, but they start to channel their aggressive frustrations into hard, defined arenas. You don't talk politics in The Embassy Club. You don't arrive in a Bentley when visiting a mate on the dole in Hull. I am not suggesting that the anger of The Jam is futile, nor that Weller will ultimately feel castrated, I am suggesting that as I approach my forties I find it harder to give my time to the proudly independent desperation of the young. I tend to think hard before committing myself in a song or an interview the way Weller does without fail. And yet he feels old at 24. Will it happen to him too?

"Weller is so full of pent-up energy that when he writes he sometimes streams ideas on to a record. He rarely uses controlled metre and never bothers to rhyme a line. The words of his songs laid out in naked print appear art school self conscious but are actually far from it. Weller is a slasher. He cuts and mauls. He drags you from complacency. He buttonholes you so you feel an urge to defend yourself, then you are opened up and weakened. The the attack touches your heart and you realise that the purpose of The Jam is Revolution. Both Weller and Buckler sing with the vengeance of men cornered. Their threat is that if you approach you will feel the full force of their anger: stay at a distance and you will hear their venomous condemnation of your cowardice. There is a fully fledged taunt in `Eton Rifles'. A totally sweeping derision in `In The Street Today'. In both cases there is also the thread of merciless self-analysis; so typically British. I keep coming back to this, The Jam are so fucking British."

* Chromewaves posts his favorite albums of 2004.

* Chomsky (via Wolcott):

"You can find things in the traditional religions which are very benign and decent and wonderful and so on, but I mean, the Bible is probably the most genocidal book in the literary canon. The God of the Bible--not only did he order His chosen people to carry out literal genocide--...but was ready to destroy every living creature on earth because humans irritated Him. That's the story of Noah. I mean, that's beyond genocide--you don't know how to describe this creature. Somebody offended Him, and He was going to destroy every living being on earth? And then He was talked into allowing two of each species to stay alive--that's supposed to be gentle and wonderful."


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