What a broadcast this must have been. In 1979, the BBC aired Something Else, featuring The Jam as they were establishing their reputation, and Joy Division as they were still creating theirs. Remarkable.
Brand-new from Paul Weller. Just posted today, in fact, to his YouTube channel, this video is for an advance single from the album Sonik Kicks, which is out (grammar be damned) on March 26, at least in the U.K.
In 1982, Paul Weller broke up The Jam, started the Style Council, and lost one of his oldest friends to a heroin overdose. Dave Waller had played in an early, schoolboy version of the band. His death led Weller to write A Man of Great Promise, a surprisingly upbeat song about self-destruction and a moth drawn to a flame, as the song puts it. [You can read more about the song, and much else, here.]
This version of the song was recorded for British TV in the fall of 1984, several months before it showed up on Our Favourite Shop.
Paul Weller's Thatcher-era pep talk to the downtrodden was given a new life on the Billy Elliot soundtrack, which put Weller (rightfully, in my view) among Marc Bolan and Strummer-Jones as key English songwriters for the Seventies and Eighties. The Jam's A Town Called Malice is the emotional centrepiece of the film, but the Style Council's Shout to the Top fits, too, particularly as it was written during the miners-strike era that the film depicts.
The video, of course, gets that other side of Weller at the time: posh clothes, sleek lines... and an inability, it seems, to clap on the beat.
Click on the tag below for other songs of the day. There've been dozens!
Paul Weller has been a figure in my life for more than three decades, which isn't bad, given that I haven't clocked out five yet. He's an incredible songwriter, a durable performer and a music-business survivor. And he must have one hell of a liver.
He also has a notorious temper, which is no secret at all, but now there's a book out from Paolo Hewitt, who used to interview Weller for NME back at the start, and went on to become one of Weller's best friends. No more.
In the way that only the Daily Mail can, here's the headline on the book that Hewitt has produced on what Weller can be like, all too often:
Why, after 30 years of endless tantrums, I’ve had enough of Paul Weller’s ever changing moods, says a former close friend
"Rows and rows of disused milk, stand dying in the dairy yard / And a hundred lonely housewives clutch empty milk bottles to their hearts." - Paul Weller
The lines are of course from Town Called Malice by the Jam. Motown beat meets U.K. economic malaise of the early Eighties. The original tune:
The song became known all over again in 2000 in the film Billy Elliot. Town Called Malice didn't just appear in the movie; it formed the emotion centre of it. Here's the sequence, in which Billy (Jamie Bell) is at the centre of a heated argument between his brother and father and his dance teacher (Julie Walters). The song plays as he bottles up and then unleashes all of his anger and frustration and humiliation; I remember the exuberance I felt as Billy kicked out the door. I love the sequence of Billy's head coming up over the horizon, as if his spirit is actually lifting up and out of the city... only to see him run into a dead end.
A warning to those who haven't seen it: the clip here has some salty language.
Dot Dot Dot is Morse code for the letter 'S,' the full message Guglielmo Marconi claimed to have received atop Signal Hill in St. John's in 1901. It ushered in the age of telecommunications. My maternal grandfather worked as a telegraph operator for Canadian Marconi on Signal Hill for many years.
As well, I have a habit of overusing the ellipsis when I write ... as frequent readers might notice.