Sunday, 15 November 2015

40 About the young idea

With my 1978 Xmas money, I bought my first album. 

At the time, I really loved the Cars, who had a number 3 hit with "My Best Friend's Girl".  Off on a spending spree, I gave my brother my money and asked him to buy me their album.  "What if they don't have it, he asked?"  "Just get me that other one our friend has been bringing round.  I quite like that."

Of course, the Cars album was sold out so he came home with my second choice.  It turned out to be the record that ignited my passion for a band that I still love to listen to. 

I was fanatical about the Jam and especially Paul Weller.  I smoked his brand of cigarette (Rothman's Kingsize, seen on the inside sleeve of the album) and avidly read his favourite author at the time (Alan Sillitoe).  I met Sillitoe at a book reading many years later and he laughed when I told him the story of how I came to find him.

Anyone who saw The Jam live will tell you, they were one hell of an outfit. They looked and sounded amazing and made an incredible amount of noise for a three piece.  But, they were more than that. Paul Weller crafted clever, opinionated, melodic songs that made me feel he was singing to me.  Or young people just like me.  As Paul Simon says - "every generation throws a hero up the pop charts". Weller felt like my punk and new wave hero. And not just mine.  Their star rose pretty quickly and they went from the lower reaches to regular chart toppers in only a few years.  Unfortunately for us fans, they didn't shine for very long.  Some of us were left bereft when Weller called it a day in '82.

Going out on a high was always his intention and, much as almost everyone criticised his decision, he's more than proved himself  with a successful career that takes him right up to today.  I believe, my first ever album, All Mod Cons, is some of his very best work.  

If you asked me the best song that's ever been written, I might tell you it's this. 

Earlier this year, I made a trip to London to see the Jam exhibition, About the Young Idea. Curated by Nikki Weller, Paul's sister and with lots of input from fans, it was sensational and took me right back to the late 70s, where it all began.  

I felt lucky.  Then and now.

I wonder if anything would've changed, had my brother brought the Cars album home...

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