Taking my inspiration from The Robster‘s great new series on the imaginary 7″ singles from R.E.M albums, I’m offering up as today’s high quality vinyl rip what could have been a superb effort by The Jam almost forty years ago (!!!!), as a follow-up, or indeed alternative, double-A single to Town Called Malice/Precious which had provided what was then the UK’s biggest and most popular band with their third #1 hit in January 1982.
On one side would be the opening track from the album The Gift. Here’s what I wrote back in December 2015 as part of The Jam ICA, itself an effort, consisting only on album tracks not issued as singles or b-sides:-
“Let’s get this party pumping. This is one where Bruce Foxton and Rick Buckler really come into their own, driving the song along at a tremendous pace and in the bass player’s instance adding an essential backing vocal. The ending where Paul Weller chants out NOW!!!!!!! Is one of my favourite moments on any Jam song – single, b-side or album track.”
It would have been a sure-fire #1, blasting out of the radios at all times of the day and night. Some folk would likely have bought it simply for the short spoken word intro and the heartfelt shout of ‘BAAAAAAAABBBBBBBBYYYYY’
But what would have been the ideal flip-side?
The then 23-year-old Paul Weller was worshipped by a congregation of fans, most of whom were around blokes his age or marginally younger. While each of us will spout many different reasons for such devotion, I can safely say that the late-teenage me truly believed he was the spokesman for my generation and I hung on to just about every word he said, especially when he got political in his song lyrics and during his interviews.
I hated the Tories, and in particular their leader and the divisive Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher. So, the b-side has to be one of his more subtle political lyrics, one which I’ll be honest I didn’t get right away, only picking it up a few months later during a drunken session in the student union. It was a much older and wiser person, who was at university as a mature student who pointed out that it was really all about the hated PM and her desire to destroy anybody and anything who got in her way; he also helpfully explained that the unsettling and, to me, confusing final lines about looking in a mirror and seeing greed fear and hate, was really a warning of what often happens as you age and move on in life away from your teenage ideologies.
mp3: The Jam – Carnation
And here was me thinking it was a love song written by a bastard…….
So there you have it. Two tracks what the band’s final album, one which has many high points but a couple of tunes that didn’t quite work out as expected as the frontman tried to take the band in a new direction but at the same time came to the realisation that his hopes, dreams and ambitions could only be achieved by breaking up The Jam and starting all over again. There really was irony in opening up this album with a track called Happy Together…….