[16] The Jam, ‘That’s Entertainment’

The Jam

By now firmly settled in the pantheon of Britain’s great sub-/urban chroniclers – a line stretching from Ray Davies through Tilbrook, Le Bon, Ryder and Doherty (in his Arcadian dreams), right down to Lily Allen – Paul Weller was knocking out the sure-eyed classics with spittled ease. ‘That’s Entertainment’ makes you feel awfully jolly about your lot as you watch the telly and think about your holidays, as it pisses down with rain on a boring Wednesday, as you decide – Jesus – let’s get right out of Dodge. Controlled aggression slips its moorings and soon a ditty turns into an anthem.

Junior strums her imaginary acoustic, bearing a look of fierce Wellerian concentration. She tells me that she doesn’t like it, but that’s difficult to believe and soon she breaks into a smile: “I was only joking!” Just like our Paul? Some chance.

[14] Blondie, ‘Sunday Girl’

Light as air, carefree and – what? – hard to get? Junior’s mum pointed out that Junior and Juniorer are both Sunday Girls (“You were born on a Sunday, J” “I was very born on a Sunday”) but perhaps not in the way Debbie Harry is hinting. We all love the song, know the words – even the French ones on this Best Of version – and Junior sways in front of her sister, hips in time to the gossamer rhythms.

Blondie were bang into their flow by this point, succeeding ABBA as the singles band du jour, knocking the classics out at a rate to make Paul Weller jealous; not that he was far behind. I’m always seduced by a band that respects the single, that can put so much care in for so sustained a period. You know the suspects: Wham!, Erasure, Pet Shop Boys, Girls Aloud… hmmm. I feel like I’m coming out.

I shared a bed with Debbie Harry last year. Well, she draped herself across it, while I perched at the end, asking questions she’d answered a thousand times before. In all the excitement, my tape recorder broke, but she let me have an extra five minutes once I’d taught myself shorthand. Lovely. Anyway, that’s one for the After Dinner circuit.

[18] The Police, ‘Message In A Bottle’

“Sending out a nesso ess”. The lad really needed to sort out his diction. And that Jamaican accent was fooling no one – I mean, have you ever seen a whiter man? His only competition was, erm, Stewart Copeland and Andy Summers.

The most hated man in pop? Even Paul Weller – hardly Mr Popular himself – spat at a picture of Sting backstage at the Royal Albert Hall recently. Does he get a tough rap? There’s no doubting he’s conceited, but really everyone’s just jealous of Sting and his month-long mating rituals. And the zillion records sold. And the fact he still cuts a dashing figure in middle-age.

Of course, it’s possible that people simply hate his music but a) check out those zillion units and b) come on, some of it’s been smart. ‘Message In A Bottle’ was a monument from the minute it was released. Edgy, memorable, carrying universal appeal around in bags, it’s a classic pop moment in a year brimming with them. Like so many greats, it even has a massively clunky metaphor at its heart.

Junior wielded the plastic Stratocaster throughout, showing her credentials as a proto-Hendrix by imploring me to watch her playing it with her chin. Face it – you’re impressed just reading about it.

[5] The Jam, ‘Town Called Malice’

Please feel free to write your own piece, tackling the following issues:

– Yes, ANOTHER Jam single, but I promise it’s the last one
– Doesn’t particularly hint at the Style Council
– Did Ocean Colour Scene ruin Weller or was it the other way around?
– It’s like Motown on amphetamines
– I had to buy it secretly because my mum disapproved
– ‘The Bitterest Pill’ IS possibly better
– She bounced a bit, but soon asked to be rescued from the playpen
– (Not my mum)
– Actually, Jesus, what a record
– Still to come: Charlene, Fat Larry’s Band, Toto Coelo and the Kids from Fame.

[20] The Jam, ‘The Bitterest Pill (I Ever Had To Swallow)’

1982. ‘A Little Peace’ taking the Eurovision crown, The Falklands “Conflict”, a harrowing single term at boarding school, the Kids from Fame, the Goombay Dance Band, the lion sleeps tonight, dropping out of the Cubs to practise being Zico in the back garden, spending £1.25 on my first 7” single. They’re cheaper NOW.

The Jam’s penultimate single, then. I felt the pain of their break-up keenly, I didn’t understand why they’d stop. Perhaps it was some kind of law. A law that should be enforced more often, come to think. ‘The Bitterest Pill’ has a beautifully succinct lyric, a string-soaked, white-boy soul tune and rousing choruses. Hindsight shows us the tension that was pulling Weller towards the more mannered stylings of his Council.

I’m worried that Junior’s dancing doesn’t discriminate. She rocked out to an arrhythmic beat I was tapping on her toy drum at the weekend, unable to help herself. For what it’s worth, she cut some rug to this song like she hasn’t for a while.

She thought it should be higher up this chart, but I said I had to put some space between the Jam singles.

[7] Young Disciples, ‘Apparently Nothin”

Young Disciples

More real-time Junior reviews, live and direct, as they happen. The Young Disciples apparently inspire nothing less than throwing oneself back in the inflatable and kicking the legs over the side. She’s now sitting up again, yelping, trying to attract attention and find Carleen Anderson.

Released by the Talkin’ Loud label, I suppose this is meant to be an acid jazz record. I don’t think it’s sculpted beard-stroking enough to really fit in – more a razor-sharp funk tune than a Galliano ‘jam’ (man). And, more to the point, it hasn’t dated.

Can’t remember the full story, but I know the band fell out before building on the first album’s success. Maybe it was just Carleen’s pursuit of solo glory. She, of course, was struck down by the Weller Curse. A decent, soulful debut, then an Ocean Colour Scene-assisted second LP. Oops.

[All my vinyl rips seem to have corrupted; Top 11 mp3s to follow… later]

[7] The Style Council, ‘Shout To The Top!’

Junior was trying to drink from one of her stacking cups, clearly getting into the spirit of café culture. She’s not one of the luddites who believed that Weller had cooked his goose as soon as he hooked up with Mick Talbot and ditched the spiky Woking-class anthems. She knows that he was taking colour from a broader palette, not afraid to wear flat-fronted trousers and pink sweaters, not afraid of a female backing vocalist, a falsetto delivery, a mannered sleevenote, a little tickle of his keyboard player’s ear.

‘Shout To The Top!’ was the Style Council’s seventh single in 18 months. A rich, rich vein of prolific form. I’ll brook no argument.

The Jam, ‘Going Underground’

As a kid, I thought this was the start of some kind of Jules Verne adventure. Weller was standing proudly on the lip of a pit, a yawning chasm leading underground to the centre of the earth. A brass band was playing, the boys’ brigade was there, adding up to a fitting send-off for the brave mod explorer. I was a lad brimming with insight.

Jam lyrics continued to cause me problems. The reams of gibberish I must’ve sung along to ‘A Town Called Malice’, the dodgy copy I’d recorded off the Top 40. My mum had her own take on it, because she told me she didn’t like me playing the nasty record, but I had the last laugh when I secretly bought the 7”. In fact, I stuck it on a tape she asked me to make for her a year or two later. That’s a last, last laugh.

Junior dances to ‘Going Underground’, and laughs and points at her dad standing by the stereo again. She’s heard bad things about DJs somewhere. Might’ve overheard me slagging off Chris Moyles. Without pictures, she’s unperturbed by Bruce Foxton’s haircut and seems happy with the whole experience. She’s now braced to discover the Style Council.