Sunday, November 3, 2013

all mod cons

The Jam worked the kinks out of their punk sound and made a major social statement with the deep and soulful reflections of this stirring reversal of fortune.    After the success of their debut album 'In the City',  the band had quickly recorded and released 'This is the Modern World', which was not so well-received; and Paul Weller suffered from writer's block over it.   With Bruce Foxton's single 'News of the World' giving them the third of eighteen consecutive top forty UK hits, the trio went into the studio armed with more songs written by the bassist; but producer Chris Parry shut the sessions down because the songs weren't up to snuff.  Weller went back home to Woking and immersed himself in the music of his youth.  When he returned to London, he had a batch of new songs and a refreshed perspective on his 60's revivalism, drawing considerably on the character studies of the Kinks. Not only did the Jam cover their song 'David Watts'; but they went so far as to release it as the first single, thumbing their noses to the critics who thought they were too hung up on the music of the last decade.  The title of the album is a joke on the housing advertising shorthand for "all of the modern conveniences" and the throwback mod sound of the Who for which they were being criticized.

Foxton recalls:    "We were under a lot of pressure after the lukewarm reaction by the journalists to 'This Is The Modern World'. It seemed they wanted an 'In The City 2', not slow numbers and acoustic guitars, God forbid! We went about writing the third ‘make-or-break’ album. If this bombed, we’d be out on our ear. No pressure then!...Paul was really into Ray Davies’ man on the street’s perspective...Initially we were annoyed and hurt that our songs were panned by the label. On reflection it was a healthy thing to have an ‘outside-the-bubble’ objective view. It made us re-think our approach and we raised the bar. Once in RAK studios, we knew we had a great album in the making. I guess we had a point to prove. We were a great band with great songs and three great players...We were really into that Motown ’60s vibe that Paul had gotten into. You can really hear it on tracks like "It’s Too Bad" and "The Place I Love". Paul’s lyrics incorporated his newfound love of the streets of London, which he still loves today. Musically a lot was happening around us so I guess we were inspired by the whole scene...We knew we had to get it right as so much rested on it. But my memories of recording 'All Mod Cons' are happy, as it was all going right in the studio and the songs were flowing. As I’ve said earlier, we knew we were onto something."

'All Mod Cons' only went to two hundred and four in the US; but became their first top ten album in the UK peaking at number six and going gold.

"All Mod Cons"

Seen you before, I know your sort,
You think the world awaits your every breath
You'll be my friend, or so you say
You'll help me out when the time comes
And all the time we're getting rich,
You hang around to help me out
But when we're skint, Oh God Forbid!
You drop us like hot bricks
Artistic Freedom. Do what you want.
But just make sure that the money ain't gone
I'll tell you what, I got you sussed
You'll waste my time, when my time comes.

"Mr. Clean" 

Daylight dawns, you wake up and yawn - Mr. Clean
A piece of toast from the one you love most - and you leave
You catch your bus in the 8 o'clock rush,
And catch your train in the morning rain
Mr. Clean - Mr. Clean
If you see me in the street - look away
'Cause I don't ever want to catch you looking at me - Mr. Clean
'Cause I hate you and your wife
And if I get the chance I'll fuck up your life
Mr. Clean - Mr. Clean -
Surround yourself with dreams, of pretty young
girls, and anyone you want, but -
please don't forget me or any of my kind
'cause I'll make you think again
When I stick your face in the grime -
Getting pissed at the annual office do -
Smart blue suit and you went to Cambridge too -
You miss page 3, but the Times is right for you -
And mum and dad are very proud of you -
Mr. Clean 

"The Butterfly Collector"

"'A' Bomb in Wardour Street" 

Where the streets are paved with blood,
with cataclysmic overtones,
Fear and hate linger in the air,
A strictly no-go deadly zone.
I don't know what I'm doing here
'cause it's not my scene at all
There's an 'A' bomb in Wardour Street
They've called in the Army, 
They've called in the police to.
I'm stranded on the vortex floor,
My head's been kicked in and blood's started to pour
Through the haze I can see my girl
15 geezers got her pinned to the door
I try to reach her but fall back to the floor
'A' bomb in Wardour Street
It's blown up the West End, 
Now it's spreading throughout the City,
'A' bomb in Wardour Street, it's blown up the City
Now it's spreading through the country.
Law and order take a turn for the worst,
In the shape of a size 10 boot.
Rape and murder throughout the land,
and they tell you that you're still a free man.
If this is freedom I don't understand
'cause it seems like madness to me.
'A' bomb in Wardour Street, Hate Bomb,
Hate Bomb, Hate Bomb, Hate Bomb.
A Phillistine nation, of degredation,
And hate and war. There must be more
It's Doctor Martin's A,P,O,C,A,L,Y,P,S,E,

"Down in the Tube Station at Midnight" 

The distant echo -
of faraway voices boarding faraway trains
To take them home to
the ones that they love and who love them forever
The glazed, dirty steps - repeat my own and reflect my thoughts
Cold and uninviting, partially naked
Except for toffee wrapers and this morning's papers
Mr. Jones got run down
Headlines of death and sorrow - they tell of tomorrow
Madmen on the rampage
And I'm down in the tube station at midnight
I fumble for change - and pull out the Queen
Smiling, beguiling
I put in the money and pull out a plum
Behind me
Whispers in the shadows - gruff blazing voices
Hating, waiting
"Hey boy" they shout - "have you got any money?"
And I said - "I've a little money and a take away curry,
I'm on my way home to my wife.
She'll be lining up the cutlery,
You know she's expecting me
Polishing the glasses and pulling out the cork"
And I'm down in the tube station at midnight
I first felt a fist, and then a kick
I could now smell their breath
They smelt of pubs and Wormwood Scrubs
And too many right wing meetings
My life swam around me
It took a look and drowned me in its own existence
The smell of brown leather
It blended in with the weather
It filled my eyes, ears, nose and mouth
It blocked all my senses
Couldn't see, hear, speak any longer
And I'm down in the tube station at midnight
I said I was down in the tube station at midnight
The last thing that I saw
As I lay there on the floor
Was "Jesus Saves" painted by an atheist nutter
And a British Rail poster read 
"Have an Awayday - a cheap holiday -
Do it today!"
I glanced back on my life
And thought about my wife
'cause they took the keys and she'll think its me
And I'm down in the tube station at midnight
The wine will be flat and the curry's gone cold
I'm down in the tube station at midnight
Don't want to go down in a tube station at midnight

making of

'All Mod Cons' 
full album:

All songs written by Paul Weller except as noted.

Side one
"All Mod Cons" – 1:20
"To Be Someone (Didn't We Have a Nice Time)" – 2:32
"Mr. Clean" – 3:29
"David Watts" (Ray Davies) – 2:56
"English Rose" – 2:51
"In the Crowd" – 5:40
Side two
"Billy Hunt" – 3:01 (UK release)/"The Butterfly Collector" – 3:11 (US release)
"It's Too Bad" – 2:39
"Fly" – 3:22
"The Place I Love" – 2:54
"'A' Bomb in Wardour Street" – 2:37
"Down in the Tube Station at Midnight" – 4:43

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