The posting on The Lambrettas got me all nostalgic and I shoved on The Jam for a bit. Had a look again at this ICA, which was #52 as it so happens, and thought I’d pull together a second volume of stuff, again on the basis that singles or original b-sides aren’t eligible for inclusion.
1. Pretty Green (from Sound Affects)
It’s quite astonishing to think that the band were so prolific they were able to write something as catchy and memorable as this, the opening track of their fifth album, and not spend too much time before deciding it wouldn’t be a 45. An ode to money and a celebration of what a succesful young man would and should do with. The title refers to the colour of the old £1 note which was withdrawn from circulation as long ago as 1988, which means there are tens of millions of young Britons who had no recollection of that particular piece of currency.
2. The Place I Love (from All Mod Cons)
All Mod Cons was the album that led to me giving the band my undivided and, at the time, uncritical attention. It was never off the turntable and I thought it was a flawless piece of work…well, apart from English Rose as the 14/15 year-old me didn’t do soppy ballads. This was a track that I liked rather than adored at the time, but over the years, as my listening habits have expanded and I’ve been able to realise that some of the best political songs aren’t always immediately obvious, this ode to England’s pleasant lands, green, grey or otherwise, has become a huge favourite.
3. Away From The Numbers (from In The City)
This song had been out for a few years before I picked up on it. The debut LP isn’t one, aside from maybe three or four songs, that has aged all that well, reflecting that Paul Weller was still learning on a daily basis how to improve on his songwriting. It’s genuinely astonishing to reflect on the fact that he was only 18 years of age when he penned this lyric that reflected on the necessity that to make a difference, you had to be different.
4. Private Hell (from Setting Sons)
This tale of a lonely, depressed, drug-dependant and mentally ill housewife was scheduled to feature in the ‘songs as short stories series’ but it has rightly fought its way into inclusion on this ICA. I used to think the lyric was all a bit melodramatic as I honestly couldn’t think of any female relative or mother of any friends of mine whose behaviour was like this. Looking back, I was wrong…it was just that some folk were exceptional at keeping things well hidden….
5. English Rose (from All Mod Cons)
In which the 54 year-old JC admits that the teenage JC got it badly wrong.
1. In The Street Today (from This Is The Modern World)
None of the tracks from the disappointing sophomore album made Volume 1 and this, 90-second blast of amphetamine-driven pop is the only one which makes the cut on Volume 2. One of the few songs that wouldn’t have sounded out-of-place on All Mod Cons. As The Lambrettas said the other day, just Da-a-a-ance.
2. Ghosts (from The Gift)
This almost made the cut on Volume 1. It’s something else to look back in time and realise that in just three short years after All Mod Cons in which I had been dismissive of the ballad, this song had the ability to knock me sideways. The crucial difference being that I had, by this time, fallen in love for the first but not the last time.
3. Wasteland (from Setting Sons)
Another one that I didn’t pay too much attention to back in the day as it seemed so light and inconsequential amidst the magnificent anthems that filled the album. Again, as I’ve matured, so has this grown on me and like the protagonist in this song, I find myself, with friends, reflecting on days of old, albeit its done in pubs and not sitting alongside a vacant and derelict space.
4. Set The House Ablaze (from Sound Affects)
This just seems to fit in perfectly onto an imaginary album right behind Wasteland. I use to think thought it was a bit of a clumsy number but I now acknowledge that this was down to the fact that it never really seemed to come across all that well when it was played in the live setting. One of only two songs by the band that clocked in at over 5 minutes (the other being In The Crowd – that is, if you don’t count the 12″ extended mix of Precious), this politically motivated song demonstrates just how the sound of The Jam really did rely on all three being on top of their game. Has La-la-la-la as a lyric ever sounded so desperately angry??
5. Move On Up (from Beat Surrender EP)
OK. It’s a fair cop. I’m breaking the rules. I’ve gone for a b-side to close things off, but in all honesty, I couldn’t think of a better fit given that I had already used The Gift to round off Volume 1. A joyous anthem…one that I refused at the time to believe was a cover version, such was the way The Jam had made it sound like one of their own.
So there you are, a second ICA for the band without whom I most likely would never really had a passion for, and devotion to,, music. Only think I can’t fathom is that I still haven’t been able to find a spot for Carnation…