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October 19, 1984 - Image 11

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1984-10-19
This is a tabloid page

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By Steve Kaminski
A Beat Concerto
By Paolo Hewitt
omnibus Press
FOR THOSE unfamiliar with the
Jam, I'd like to point out that the
Jam were the group in Britain in the
late '70s and early '80s, bigger than the
Police, the Olash, or Journey (who are
unknown in the U.K., testifying to the
average Briton's musical sense). To
those more. familiar, they were the
greatest rock group since the heydayof
the Who, and Paolo Hewitt captures the
slice of time more Americans should've
known about.
The Jam consisted of Paul Weller
(guitar/vocals), Bruce Foxton
(bass/vocals), and Rick Buckler
(drums). Weller, the writer of almost
all of the band's material, grew up ob-
sessed with the Beatles and then
modernism. Modernism, better known
as "mod," was and is a lifestyle. In the
early '60s, mods were into Motown,
young British groups like the Who,
Yardbirds, and Small Faces, clothes,

amphetamines, and scooters, not
necessarily in that order.
Weller had by chance heard "My
Generation" on a K-Tel compilation
album and immersed himself in mod
tradition. He teamed up with Foxton
and Buckler, both turning out to be ex-
ceptional players. When the punk ex-
plosion of 1976 erupted, Weller (then 18)
found excitement in the new scene.
Soon, the Jam signed wiht Polydor and
In the City was released.
Paolo Hewitt, a New Musical Express
writer, covers these early years deftly.
The star is Weller, of course, seen by
Hewitt in all his moods. Hewitt's jour-
nalistic tendencies fail him in a few
areas. His first gaffe is his criticism of
the Jam's second album, This is the
Modern World. He slags Weller for rip-
ping off Who riffs for "The Modern
World" and "Standards." If Hewitt had

pieces such as the Joe-Strummer-can't-
"Mr. Clean" and the gorgeous "The
Butterfly Collector." At the age of
twenty-two, Weller would then lead the
Jam to the top with Setting Sons and
Sound Affects.
The Jam continued to move, and
Weller continued to write great songs,
like the amazing "Liza Radley" hidden
away on The Jam EP. The Gift was
their last studio album, spawning their
only U.S. hit, the classic "Town Called
Malice." The various musical styles on
the album boasted this Motownish won-
der, arguably the best single of the '80s.
Weller's lyrics address the individual
listener and the world: Better stop
dreaming of the quiet life/'cause it's
the one we'll never know ... time is
short and life is cruel /

through this period with the Style Coun-
cil, Elvis Costello's Punch the Clock,
Paul Young, and Culture Club.
With typical Weller stubborness, the
Jam's leader argues that rock music is
"totally redundant - it's just a big em-
pty fucking vehicle for nothing." Soul
was now the god on the Woking Won-
der's altar. He says further that his
favorite songs "hadn't got any politics
at all" and depended on feel to reach
people, but his first Style Council single
"Money Go-Round" is so political it
ridicules that notion.
Weller had jumped about wrenching
great rock from his Rickenbacker and
chucks it all for (at best) brilliant
Motownish pop-soul and (at worst)
jazz club muzak. Hewitt doesn't ask
him about this switch - he walks in
fear of asking about his idol's incon-
Despite those inconsistencies, Weller
remains a pop figure far above all
others in honesty -he refused to call
the Jam's 1982 world tour a final tour to
avoid fan hysteria (d'ya hear that, Pete
Townshend?). But Hewitt's good effort
isn't good enough - the reader is left
with a few nagging questions about this
songwriter who carried on the Len-
non/McCartney, Townshend, and
Davies songwriting tradition.
But A Beat Concerto reminds you of
that sudden glow, a flushed smile, that
outstanding riff, and the touching lyric.
As Paul Weller wrote on the back of the
Jam's live LP, Dig the New Breed,
"What have I learned? BELIEF IS
ALL!" Yep.

'Hewitt... walks in fear of asking about his
idol's inconsistencies.'

ever picked up a guitar, he would have
known that Modern World's chord
progression differs frm "Pictures of
Lily," and "Standards" isn't "I Can't
Explain." To his credit, Hewitt includes
short record reviews from other writers
The Jam move on to the triumph of
All . Mod Cons, showing more of a
Beatles ("It's Too Bad") and Kinks
(their cover of "David Watts") influen-
ce. Although U.S. and U.K. albums dif-
fered slightly, Weller wrote master-

and it's up to us to change / This
town called malice. A fierce howl
against Thatcherite Britain (and
Reaganite America) that points to you,
yes you, to give a damn.,
With the Jam's story coming to a
close, Hewitt makes another mistake.
As seen by the group's last two singles,
"The Bitterest Pill (I Ever Had to
Swallow)" and "Beat Surrender,"
Weller had recaptured his fascination
with soul music. The U.K. is still going

at the Union?
Why not bowl at Colonial
Lanes? Challenge your
friends or roommates to a
few games and then join us
in the newly remodeled Pin
Room Bar and Grill for big
screen TV., cold drinks and
good food. There's no rea-
son to give up bowling
when you can go to
Colonial Lanes.
Colonial Lanes
1950 S Industrial Hwy Ann Arbor e 665-4474

, °


12 Weekend/Friday, October 19, 1984

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