Living with…The Jam…for a week
That’s Entertainment is one of the least Jam-like songs they ever made, and probably one of their best known ones. Why? Maybe because it has a lovely 60’s guitar sound with even a splash of pyschedelic guitar thrown in, but for me it is the words.
They fall in to iconic but mysterious. Lyrics that make you wonder. Maybe even puzzle.
What is a ripped up phone booth? What does stale perfume smell like? What does the scream of midnight sound like?
And it made me think of other mysterious iconic favourites.
We skipped the light fandango turned cartwheels ‘cross the floor (Procul Harum, A Whiter Shade of Pale)
I am the son, and the heir, Of a shyness that is criminally vulgar, I am the son, and heir, Of nothing in particular….. (The Smiths, How Soon is Now)
Yup. Sounds great. But, what exactly do you mean Morrissey, Procul? Actually, hang on. What have you meant all these years now?
Ashes to ashes, funk to funky, We know Major Tom’s a junkie, Strung out in heavens high, Hitting an all-time low….(David Bowie, Ashes to Ashes)
Whatever happened to all the heroes? All the Shakespearoes? (The Stranglers, No More Heroes)
Again. Sounds great, but who is Major Tom? Was he a Shakespearo?
What’s that coming over the hill, Is it a monster? Is it a monster? What’s that coming over the hill, Is it a monster? Is it a monster? (The Automatic)
I think we’ll stop there…
with thanks to the (seemingly now defunct) twitter stream @iconic_lyrics for some of the ideas.
That’s a cover
That’s Entertainment is also one of the Jam’s most covered songs – everyone from Morrissey to Billy Bragg to Busted. But my video of the week is an American punk version from Face to Face. This is what Mr Weller could have done with it, if he’d really let rip…
That’s entertainment – Face to Face
Sound Affects (1980)
It’s over 30 years on from Paul Weller’s favourite Jam album, and you can see where he’s coming from. This is a wonderful hybrid of the old thrashy boys from the days of Going Underground and In the City, and as they move on to their more considered sound which eventually evolves in to The Style Council for Mr Weller itself. This is where he was going, even if the rest of the band weren’t necessarily following him.
Apart from Start! and That’s Entertainment I didn’t know the rest of this album before the week and thoroughly enjoyed it. The Jam generally have an aggressive edge to their music suited to a jacked up volume dial and foot on the pedal (if in the car) and they made for good company on this week’s journeys. The lyrics are essentially English – talk of money as ‘pretty green’; communicating for only two minutes (and that will be enough) and frozen packs in supermarkets. It’s the lyrics of normality, of insecurity but rising above it all and saying that’s entertainment. There’s surprisingly a lot of hope in it, despite much of the bleakness.
The standouts for me apart from the obvious two are the openers Pretty Green and Monday and the moving Man in a Corner Shop. This is The Jam’s Eleanor Rigby – doesn’t sound anything like, but it’s essentially the same story of loneliness in a modern world.
Rather puzzlingly for me, Paul Weller claimed at the time that this is a crossover of Michael Jackson’s Off the Wall and The Beatles’ Revolver. It’s the Jacko connection that puzzles me, maybe I need to revisit it one day as I can’t see the connection beyond the fact that there’s drums and a bass in there somewhere. Now Revolver I get, the opening classic Pretty Green has Taxman written all over it and there are psychedelic overtones throughout from the reverse guitar on That’s Entertainment to the raw and twisted on Set the House Ablaze.
And the Beatles connection is handy because that leads in to next week’s album.
Damn it. Given it away.
Twotes of the week
@TonyCowards: I’ve worked out that my new shadow puppet theatre could make millions, but that’s just projected figures.
@BertrumThumbcat: The only sensible thing to do with Monday Mornings is to sleep through them. When I am in charge, they will be entirely optional.