027: The Jam - Setting Sons (1979)
“People say, ‘Why don’t you write any more political songs?’ But I would just write exactly the same f***ing things I wrote thirty-odd years ago.”
—Paul Weller (in 2015)
Get jammed by Discord & Rhyme! This week, we spotlight British punk rockers the Jam, specifically their 1979 post-punk opus Setting Sons. John, Rich, Dan, and host Ben unpack Paul Weller's dark subject matter and make the case that it can still result in fun — and even uplifting — music. It doesn't hurt that the band's spare, crackling energy makes even the dourest songs danceable, and that the 20-year-old Weller's worldview — cynical and biting, but somehow still hopeful — transcends the grimy streets of late-1970s England. Join four Yanks (plus one expat in an edifying guest appearance) as we discuss how Paul Weller's message resonates with us — even 40 years later, even Over Here, and even in our decidedly un-punky mid-thirties.
Rich notes Paul Weller's inexplicable participation in the 1984 charity mega-single "Do They Know It's Christmas?" In the video, amongst Phil Collins and Bono, Weller looks like he'd rather be in line at the MMV (Ministry of Motor Vehicles).
Ben mentions — and Rich confirms — that the guitar riff in the Sex Pistols' "Holidays in the Sun" is lifted from the Jam's debut single "In the City". Not that the Jam were above that sort of thing: their hit "Start!" steals the riff from the Beatles' "Taxman"; and "Town Called Malice" does the same with the Supremes' "You Can't Hurry Love" (incidentally, Discord & Rhyme co-host Phil Maddox's favorite Motown song).
We reference a number of Kinks songs in the episode. If you're seeking them out, "Party Line" is on 1966's Face to Face; "Do You Remember Walter?" is on 1968's The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society; and "Some Mother's Son" is on 1969's Arthur (or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire). You can also hear them on our Spotify playlist for this episode.
We forgot to mention Weller's most high-profile modern appearance: he sings backing vocals and plays one of the morass of guitars on Oasis's monster 1995 hit "Champagne Supernova". Noel Gallagher is a well-known fan of Weller's biting misanthropy ("You're a musician??").
Points to anyone who catches the How I Met Your Mother reference during our discussion of track three.
Here's an example of then-Leader of the Opposition David Cameron going full Paul Weller on then-Prime Minister Gordon Brown during Prime Minister's Questions. You can almost believe Cameron's claim that he was a Jam fan in his teens.
We quote the band's use of the word "f*gs" in "The Eton Rifles,” as it was 40 years ago and Weller was using the British slang for "cigarettes.” It goes without saying, but we're not down with any, any, any other use of that word.
Ben pretends he knows how to pronounce "Eton.” But he doesn't, not in the slightest.
The full text of T.S. Eliot’s “The Waste Land” (Poetry Foundation)
Discord & Rhyme’s Setting Sons playlist (Spotify)
Discord and Rhyme Roll Call
Ben Marlin (host)
Rich Bunnell (moderator)
Dan Watkins (birthday boy)
Amanda Rodgers (special guest Eliot consultant)
Setting Sons tracklist
Girl on the Phone
Thick as Thieves
Little Boy Soldiers
The Eton Rifles
Other clips used
The Modern World
In the City
All Mod Cons
Town Called Malice
Paul Weller and Pete Townshend - So Sad About Us
Paul Weller - Private Hell (Live on Radio 2)
Electric Six - Getting Into the Jam
The Kinks - Party Line
The Kinks - Do You Remember Walter?
J.S. Bach/Andras Csaki - Lute Suite in E Minor, BWV 996 (Arr. for Guitar) - V. Bourrée
Ted Leo and the Pharmacists - The High Party
The Kinks - Arthur
Rather Rum - Eton Style
Martha and the Vandellas - Heatwave
Songs we mentioned but didn’t clip
When You’re Young
The Who - So Sad About Us
Band Aid - Do They Know It’s Christmas?
The Beatles - I Want to Hold Your Hand
The Beatles - She Loves You
The Beatles - I Should Have Known Better
Genesis - Watcher of the Skies
Emerson, Lake and Palmer - Karn Evil 9, 1st Impression, Pt. 2
Blondie - Hanging On the Telephone
The Cure - Just Like Heaven
Buzzcocks - I Don’t Mind
Sex Pistols - Holidays in the Sun
The Who - My Generation
The Kinks - Some Mother’s Son
Joni Mitchell - The Last Time I Saw Richard
The Byrds - Turn! Turn! Turn!
The Monkees - Pleasant Valley Sunday
The Kinks - A Well Respected Man
The Beatles - Eleanor Rigby
Randy Newman - I Love L.A.
Jethro Tull - Bourée
Lee Greenwood - God Bless the USA
Bruce Springsteen - Born in the USA
PSY - Gangnam Style
The Who - Heat Wave
Ted Leo and the Pharmacists - Ghosts
Paul Weller - vocals, guitar
Bruce Foxton - bass, vocals
Rick Buckler - drums
"Merton" Mick – piano
Rudi – saxophone
The Jam Philharmonic Orchestra – cello, timpani, recorder
Pete Solley – score for strings
Vic Coppersmith-Heaven - Producer
Alan Douglas - Engineer
“Discord & Rhyme (theme),” composed by the Other Leading Brand, contains elements of:
Amon Düül II - Dehypnotized Toothpaste
The Dukes of Stratosphear - What in the World?? ...
Faith No More - Midlife Crisis
Herbie Hancock - Hornets
Kraftwerk - Autobahn
Talking Heads - Seen and Not Seen
The Jam - Private Hell (this episode only)
You can buy or stream Setting Sons and other albums by The Jam at the usual suspects such as Spotify, iTunes, YouTube, and Amazon. Follow Discord & Rhyme on Twitter @DiscordPod for news, updates, and other random stuff. Ben @BenjaminM1019, Rich @zonetrope, Dan @DanSWatkins, and John @tarkus1980. Editing is by Rich, and special thanks to our own Mike DeFabio, the Other Leading Brand, for production. See you next album, and be ever wonderful.