It appears that there is an actual football world cup causing much excitement across parts of the planet, but surely it isn’t anywhere near as important as the competition which has been dominating the Saturday pages of this little corner of t’internet these past few months……………it’s perhaps a pity that neither The Wannadies or The Cardigans had an ICA eligible to begin with…..just imagine the fun we could have had if they had been still standing at this stage and ready to play today against one of the titans of late 20th century contemporary England……

You all know from last week that The Clash and The Jam are going to square up for place in next week’s final….and I’ll get to that in just a moment. First of all, here’s the outcome of the first semi-final in which Babies was pitted against Between The Wars:-

Pulp 16  Billy Bragg 18

It was a titanic struggle. One in which nobody was ever more than three ahead at any time….and going by the responses, many of you had a real tough time with your eventual choice in a match-up that would have made a great final.

Dirk (aka Sexy Loser), not for the first time in this tournament, perfectlly captured the dilemma facing many of you:-

This sucks. And it’s a bit like when someone asks you “Would you like to have a glass of ice-cold beer, a German one, or one from Belgium – not a British one? Or would you like a glass of real good Shiraz from Australia instead”?

The point I’m trying to make is: you cannot compare the two drinks, can you really? Personally, I’d like to have BOTH of them, in exactly that sequence! Then again I say that about almost every alcoholic drink being offered to me … but, if I HAVE to choose, at the end of the day, the decision would depend on the mood I’m in, I think.

The very same is true for the two songs in question. Let’s say Bragg = beer and Cocker = Shiraz. And as it’s already 30 degrees Celsius in this bloody office (and it’s not even 11 AM my time!), I’d currently favour the cold beer …

Follow that Joe/Mick/Paul/Topper/Paul/Bruce and Rick……..


The home side have long been seen as the firm favourites for the overall tourney while the away side have, in some ways, defied incredible odds to get this far given that the ICA selections are restricting them only to album tracks as the 45s had been featured in their entirety in a separate series. However, the home side may have one weak spot in an otherwise stellar line-up of songs and it may be exploited in this semi-final.

Capital Radio 2 v To Be Someone (Didn’t We Have A Nice Time)

The Clash track was used to close the ICA. In doing so, I wanted to find a way to bring out the humorous side of the band and to demonstrate that the very best ICAs aren’t always the greatest or most admired 10 songs but the tracks which hang well in a particular sequence. Capital Radio 2 was the fourth and final track on The Cost Of Living EP. The original was something that I only had on tape….and it was a poorly recorded low-quality effort straight from the radio. I loved the idea of getting my hands on the new version which is why I was desperate to but the EP the day it hit the shops….indeed I played this track before any of the others.

As I said in ICA 12, the fact that it came with an outro that spoofed the sort of ads you could hear on the actual radio station was, to my ears, a stroke of genius. I spent a few hours back then wondering whether this or Train In Vain should close the ICA….if it had been the latter and it was your option today, then I think it could edge towards a landslide win. As it is, this is perhaps the one song which might not appeal to everyone, especially considering the opposition.

The Jam had to wait until ICA 52 but this was down to the fact that they had been appearing each week via a singles series. As I said at the time, it was self-indulgent to pull together an ICA without any of the songs that ever appeared on the 45s and extending that to excluding songs which had been live tracks on b-sides (thus no appearance for Away From The Numbers). The quality of the album tracks has been such, however, that the band has fairly coasted to this stage, albeit they have had a fairly kind draw….so you could say they are doing it the quintessential English way!

This track was slotted into the ICA following on from Saturday’s Kids and in advance of Man In The Corner Shop. It did seem strange to have it slightly out of context with it not being preceded by the title track of All Mod Cons, but it worked perfectly as far as I was concerned. I still find it incredible that this was written by someone who was barely out of his teens at the time with the world at his feet and not by some crinkly, ageing old has-been who was jealous of the new wave who were breaking through. I hung on every word Paul Weller was saying at that time….and if he was warning me that there was a huge downside to being famous and rich, then I was going to take heed.

So there you have it….two incredibly personal songs that I wanted to, needed to and ultimately did include in two early ICAs. Which one will take their performers into a match up with Billy?



  1. Capital Radio is miles better than the original version. On the day the majestic EP was released, it was the first track I had on rotation. I love Gates of the West too. In this semi, Brazil beats Belgium and the Clash go through.
    Yes the draw has been kind to the Jam, but not as kind as it has been to England… (for Sweden see Iceland 2016).

  2. It is very had today to make a decision. Capital Radio is one of The Clash’s finest moments and To Be Someone is probably The Jam’s best song because perfect. It is hard to say Mr. Weller – I want to see The Clash against Billy Bragg.

  3. So, would I, Walter, so would I, still – and this a bit like murdering your own son – I have to say that all in all The Jam deliver the better performance here! Strummer’s outro – although I understand where he was coming from at the time – is a bit too much that early in the morning …

  4. The Jam
    this song is perfect

    this is not the Clash’ finest in my ears

  5. To Be Someone is a remarkable song, especially for a teenager to write as you point out. But semi-finals sometimes hinge on moments of brilliance, flashes of inspiration and when the Spanish guitar intro to Capital radio fades there’s a pause, a moment of tension and just in earshot Mick Jones counts the band in 1-2-3-4 and then The Clash explode out of the speakers, guitars screaming and Joe’s leg twitching, Topper at 100mph. That is what makes it. The Clash. All the way.

  6. The Clash’s Capital Radio 2 wins this tie for me. A strong attack from The Jam, but with The Cost Of Living, The Clash had shown they were on the money, and by adding this update of a hard to find classic, they were providing excellent value. The humour in this remake is great too, “the drummer’s in the box office, he’s counting all the money,” was wit enough, but at a time when Saturday Night Fever and Grease were the words, Strummer came up with “I’m the one that I want!” They make my final.

  7. When we started this World Cup I never dreamt that England would be contesting a World Cup Semi Final – I’m not sure if you’re an ‘anyone but England’ sort of person – but I’m beyond excited about this occurrence. So I can’t get as excited about this semi final as I am about the real thing. This is the team everyone expects to win against a team that have rode their luck but are here or merit. A Brazil v Belgium – and we know what happened there. And I’m disappointed that Pulp got knocked out because on their day with the right song I think they are the only team that could’ve beaten the Clash.

    So for me, it’s got to be a Clash v Bragg final – and Billy had better play a belter or he’ll be in trouble.

  8. Also, are you allowing Bragg to bend the rules?? It looks like you’ve been choosing songs from different ICAs…


  9. The Clash for me, although Capital Radio is a bit of a squad player rather than starting XI certainty.

  10. Weller and the lads have gone very far without the hits, but they never faced someone like the Clash. Gotta go with Joe.

  11. I have to vote with my ears and say I like ‘To Be Someone’ better than ‘Capital Radio 2’, so The Jam it is.

    (but pretty sure it will be Strummer and Co who contest the final, having dispensed with this weaker track).

  12. I was wondering how this one might line up, what song on the ICA would represent the Clash. I had a feeling it would be Capital Radio, surprised I’m right really. To Be Someone is a real stand out moment on All Mod Cons – it’s a stand out moment in The Jam Canon.
    But this is the Semi-Finals. This is to go forward for the win. So it’s power and energy over grace and intent. THE CLASH go through.

  13. I thought the Clash would win it all, I thought a Bragg v Clash final would be perfect, but….. It has to go on the song. Before listening I tried to play the songs in my head. Nothing emerged beyond a repeated Capitol Radio chant, whereas to be someone just played out in full. Getting drugged up with my trendy friends. Out on my arse with the rest of the clowns. Great songwriting wins out. The Jam please.

  14. Great to see BB in the final, but methinks will be rather one-sided, rather like twould be if the Coming Home brigade weren’t Going home and were heading to the final.
    Small-minded Welshman

  15. Oh, this is all, all wrong. But the Jam play a strong card and the Clash a weak one. The Clash should be in the final, but it has to be The Jam.

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