The Jam was a small portion of history in which Paul Wellerís
British soul, punk, and jazz influences came together. Whatever
caused them to separate, we may never know. But for a brief
moment, something pure was formed. Something greater than
the sum of itís parts. But like Cat Stevens, Paul abandoned
the music that he had created, leaving it for the fans to
own and cultivate, preferring instead to become a curmudgeonly
old fart Rod Stewart clone.
"Carnation"- Liam Gallagher & Steve Craddock--Paul
Weller never wore the Beatles influence on his sleeve. So
this is a little like hearing an Elvis impersonator sing the
Cramps. Anemic bubblegum from the Oasis frontman. The production
from Craddock is the most engaging aspect of this number.
Itís very slick, and layered, and lacking in grit. The tempo
slowed down enough to drain the life out of the song (and
the listener.) "Because I am the greed and fear and every
ounce of hate in you."
"Start"-The Beastie Boys & Miho Hatori--Aggravatingly
cleverÖfor the first 6 measures. The boys completely rework
this tune. By removing the vocals and subtlety, theyíve created
a stylized caricature of an important song. Billy Preston
would be proud of the organ holding the groove together. The
plastic sound on the mouth organ (not harmonica) replaces
the vocal line, and cheapens the feel. Very cute if they had
written it. Anyone remember the Devo easy listening album?
More of an homage to Beck, really. Miho is sublimely out of
place reminding us what song we are hearing. This is a Gap-ready
interpretation of a manic. "What you give is what you get."
"Thatís Entertainment"-Reef--Apparently, no one told these
cats that the tradition of these endeavors is to drag the
song to a screeching start. Leave it to the lesser-known band
to actually add energy to a classic. Of all the nerve! They
must have had the audacity to listen to the message and the
emotion of the band. All the elements are in place. The bitterness,
the immediacy, the youthful outrage are on board this runaway
train. Reef blasts through with more concern for purity than
precision. It may not be pretty, but it is beautiful. Add
this band to your checklist.
"The Gift"-Heavy Stereo--A difficult song to address and
make it work. Heavy Stereo fearlessly grabs this song with
the sort of desperation that someone is going to steal it
out from under them and make a mockery of the Jam. No trademark
Slade or T-Rex comparisons here, this may be the best song
they ever did. And since Gem is now part of Oasis, this will
stand as his finest work.
"Art School"-Silversun--Silversun forego the Urge Overkill
70ís consumer sound. They opt instead for dirty garage punk.
Nice surf drums appropriated from Iggyís "Lust For Life."
Vocals arenít quite as adolescent as Blink182.
"English Rose"-Everything But The Girl--A surprisingly adequate
rendition of this ballad. Ben Wattís guitar work is engaging.
Tracey Thornís voice is intriguing, if wandering and off-key.
Listenable, without being an album buyer.
"Going Underground"-Buffalo Tom--The liner notes bill the
Buffaloes as Bostonís finest band. Even though Morphine are
no longer, Tom is nowhere near next in line. Drudgery and
complacency drip out the corners of this jig. Like a high
school band weaving side to side here. This awful version
slowed down to Cowboy Junkies speed has the singer struggling
to breathe. Weller puts a lot of words in, thatís why he spit
these lyrics out with abandon. So why does Janowitz even bother?
If he doesnít want to sing, he should be hanging around downtown
with Marcy Playground. Sounds as though he has a million other
things heíd rather be doing than this song. Absolutely no
heart. "Some people might say my life is in a rut" Yep.
"The Butterfly Collector"-Garbage--Shirley (the other Manson),
whose presence here raised the most suspicion, defies logic.
Altering the rhythm of this bitter, pointed tale would seem
like a travesty, but it works perfectly. The slow drive catches
you nodding agreeably. Gives it the feel of "Personal Jesus"
until the bridge kicks in. Darkly produced and executed for
the listener to observe from a higher vantage. This track
was not recorded specifically for this compilation, which
is probably why it is the most enjoyable dish here. Interesting
note that they ripped off The American Breed, and now the
"This Is The Modern World"-Ben Harper--Harper performing
one of the signature Jam pieces had the potential for greatness.
Benís guitar work is as fine as ever. However, in an odd turn
of events, he has managed to suck every bit of venom out of
the vocal delivery. It brings to mind Mel Tormeís version
of "Superstition." He couldnít have listened to the pitiful
finished track before it was released. Pale and toothless.
I hope you donít give two fucks about this review.
"Town Called Malice"-Gene--Itís no wonder that Morrisey has
taken to them. The music is tight and driven, but the Martin
Rossiters warblings float over it like a detached entity.
Like a wimpier Michael Stipe, if thatís possible. "Town Without
Pity" would have been more appropriate, as Gene sounds like
a nod to Pitney. "I could go on for hours and I probably will."
"To Be Someone"-Noel Gallagher--Noel has a much more interesting
voice than his brother. Obviously a heartfelt rendering of
sentiments he otherwise is unable to express safely in his
own words. When he gets out of control, he sounds a bit like
Ozzie, which actually isnít a bad thing. But the tortured
artist thing has gone too far.
"No One In The World"-Paul Weller--Answering the age-old
question of what the artist thinks of all this rubbish, Weller
adds a hidden track of his own to the bonfire. Recorded with
the Jam, this rarity has him sounding like Bowie after an
all nighter and 3 packs. Which is pretty good, to be sure.
Where is the nod to the great songwriting of Bruce Foxton?
Where is the steam, the bite, the beat surrender, the point?
R.I.P the Jam. Forget the Style Council. Screw Oasis. God
bless Bruce Foxton. And God damn Paul Weller.
Around the turn of the 9th decade, music aficionados
began to honor their forebears with well-intentioned offerings,
which we know as tribute albums. While a noble thought, the
results have been spotty at best. As parents are judged by
the offspring they produce, admirers are often a reflection
of the icon. These packages if not executed well, may turn
away potential new fans from the object of affection as well
as repulsing the die-hard fans of said artiste. And yet, every
fan is curious to hear different interpretations of the songs
they love. If we quit buying the crap, they will quit making
- "Carnation"- Liam Gallagher & Steve Craddock
- "Start"-The Beastie Boys & Miho Hatori
- "Thatís Entertainment"-Reef
- "The Gift"-Heavy Stereo
- "Art School"-Silversun
- "English Rose"-Everything But The Girl
- "Going Underground"-Buffalo Tom
- "The Butterfly Collector"-Garbage
- "This Is The Modern World"-Ben Harper
- "Town Called Malice"-Gene
- "To Be Someone"-Noel Gallagher
Bonus Track: "No One In The World"-Paul Weller