Wherein I take three songs I like and play them as kind of a mini-set. These all come out of a particular time, the ’80’s when rock still ruled the airwaves. For the most part.
First up – The Jam. There’s probably a ton of songs I could do by them but I’m gonna feature the song that Paul Weller considered a not-so-happy “tribute” to his teen years in Woking, Surrey England. This is “Town Called Malice.” Love that organ that swirls throughout the song. And that drum roll at 2:07 that seems to last for an hour but is really, like, five seconds:
Rows and rows of disused milk floats stand dying in the dairy yard
And a hundred lonely housewives clutch empty milk bottles to their hearts
Hanging out their old love letters on the line to dry
It’s enough to make you stop believing when tears come fast and furious
In a town called malice, yeah
Who doesn’t know or like at least one R.E.M song? (A 100% definite series on these guys sometime next year.) From Athens, Georgia, interestingly they were active for about the same period as Violent Femmes. A terrific and highly influential band, they had a keen sense of melody and just enough edge and quirkiness to keep them on that side of new wave.
Anyway, fuck it. You know them and I’ll save all the good gossip and bullshit for the series. So many good songs but this one, “Pop Song 89,” is currently stuck in whatever is left of my brain.
“Shouldn’t talk about the weather
Shouldn’t talk about the government”
The Violent Femmes (pictured at top of post) were active for a good thirty years starting in the early ’80’s. They list their style as “folk punk,” a fusion of those two genres. While maybe not as influential, they got back together in 2013 and released an album last year.
Originally from Milwaukee, according to Wikipedia, “They were discovered by James Honeyman-Scott (of The Pretenders) on August 23, 1981, when the band was busking on a street corner in front of the Oriental Theatre, the Milwaukee venue that The Pretenders would be playing later that night. Chrissie Hynde invited them to play a brief acoustic set after the opening act.
“What the Femmes are,” says bassist Brian Ritchie, “and I think we always have been, is a repository for American roots music. Most people think of us as a kind of rock band but we’re a lot more than that and I think this album represents all that in a really natural, cohesive way. It just flows smoothly between all these ideas.”
From their eponymous 1983 debut album, “Gone Daddy Gone,” which has the audacity to borrow some lyrics from Willie Dixon’s “I Just Want to Make Love To You.”