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What's new in iJamming!...
Mon, Feb 3, 2003
30 Albums, 10 Songs, 5 books and a handful of movies.
Eight Days in A Week's Music:
Ed Harcourt, Vines, Candy Butchers, Timo Maas, Ashley Casselle & Adam Freeland, Aerial Love Feed, and enough little club nights to shake several sticks at.
Tony's (lengthy) trip down nostalgia lane from his visit home at the end of April. Stop-offs include Death Disco, old Jamming! Magazines, life-long friendships, road trips to Brighton, Damilola Taylor and political frustration, Morrissey-Marr, Zeitgeist, Oasis, Dexys, Primal Scream, the current British music scene and more.
Jack magazine comes out of the starting gate with the banner headline "best new men's mag in years."
Why I re-wrote the book: The introduction to the new edition of my R.E.M. biography, due out this summer through Omnibus.
Chemical Brothers, Neil Young, Van Morrison, Paul Westerberg, Skywalking, Joe Strummer, Radio 4, and Aquatulle.
A weekend with John Mayer, Sugarcult - and Elvis
Michael Greene's Grammy Speech: An Invitation to Download?
Plus: 10 things they forgot to tell you at the Grammys.
What the Hell Is Going On Here?
From the Jamming! Archives:
interviewed in 1978
"A number one single would be a bit scary."
The iJamming! interview:
"'Acid Trax' by Phuture came out and I was just 'Okay, forget all hip hop and all old school rare groove right here, this is it.'"
The Best Of 2001
Tony Fletcher's Top Albums, Concerts, Singles and Books - and comments on the Village Voice Poll
MUSING on The Manhattan 'Edge':
Will the Island Ever Again Be A 'Cultural Ground Zero?'
hostess 'Lee Patrick' recalls her time as Keith Moon's amour
ECHO & THE BUNNYMEN: "Flowers is Echo & The Bunnymen's finest hour since Ocean Rain."
An intrigue of early 90s New York nightlife.
NEW CHAPTER now online
From the Jamming! Archives:
U2 interviewed in 1984.
"It's not U2 that's creating this great art. . .There's something that works through us to create in this way."
iJamming! Wino/Muso:
"New world wines are just too techno for me."
Featured wine region 3:
Featured wine region 4:
iJamming! interview:
Jesse Hartman, aka LAPTOP
"Every New York band knows the meaning of failure"
MIX Albums:
Who, what and why you should bother
"I don't think people realize that life can become so exciting and interesting that it can draw you away for long periods of time from creating music - & why not?"
From the Keith Moon archives:
the JEFF BECK interview .
The iJAMMING! chat:

"If I was asked why Sniffin' Glue was so important, it was the way we conducted ourselves, the style of it, just the attitude. It had attitude in abundance didn't it?"
Forgotten Classics:
THE CHILLS: Brave Words
THE iJAMMING! Book Review:
SNIFFIN' GLUE: The Essential Punk Accessory
From the JAMMING! archives: PAUL WELLER ON POP
Featured wine region 2:
From the JAMMING! archives: ALTERNATIVE TV
interviewed in 1978
Fran Healy explains why "you cannot own a song." (And why Liam Gallagher "is going to turn into a really great songwriter.")
Featured Artist Web Site:
From the JAMMING! archives: The Story That Spawned Creation
Featured vine:
Finally, a worthy rival to Chardonnay.
The iJAMMING! interview:
"Once you've had your go, what-ever it may be, they want you to piss off, and they can't bear it if you come back, they can't bear it."
Featured wine region 1:
The full iJamming! Contents
London Musing:
Back to Blighty to clear out the past - and living in it instead
Tony Fletcher's UK Diary, May 2002 Part 1 (Click here for part 2
All journeys home to the Mother Land - anyone's journey, anyone's Mother Land - are bound to be emotional. My ten-day return to south London at the end of April was one of my most stirring since moving to New York in the late 1980s. My mother is finally moving out of the capital city, where she has lived since I was two years old, back to the lovely market town of Beverley, in East Yorkshire, where I was born. It's a deliberate down-scaling in size and structure, a return of her own to a community where she was happy for many years, where she still has friends, and where I know she will be content in the years to come. But it brought upon me the moment of reckoning I'd been putting off for ever: that is, clearing out the attic of all my possessions and memorabilia, some of which extend back to, well pretty much the moment I was able to collect things.

There's nothing quite like spring time in England: the house where so many Jamming!s were written, Crystal Palace pub life, and the view looking north from Gypsy Hill.

Given that this was destined to be a nostalgic voyage anyway, I opted to multiply the experience several times over. Firstly, by timing my trip to coincide with a similar journey home by two close friends who'd moved from south London to Australia around the time I left for New York. Secondly, by ensuring that this overlap included my birthday - on a Saturday night, no less. And finally, by lining up a DJ gig at London's primarily retro Death Disco night on Oxford Street two nights after I got home. The weekend before departing NY was therefore spent going through my old record collection, selecting way more 1960s and '70s 7" singles, 1980s 12"s and 1990s compilation CDs than I would possibly need, but which certainly helped put me in the mood for what would prove a draining trip down memorable lane.

My first encounter with London is always with the media - picking up papers at the airport for the long journey across what is still a geographically vast city. Every British newspaper bar one that morning of Tuesday April 23 was pre-occupied by the success of the French National Front's Presidential candidate Jean-Marie Le Pen at the polls the previous Sunday, picking up a frightening 17% at the first round of voting - and thereby finishing in second place. It was a rude return to European reality and one that would project a rather unpleasant pall around the entire trip - not just because a significant minority of French people are seriously entertaining the entire of fascism only a couple of generations after being over-run by the Nazis, but because the political situation across Europe appears increasingly depressing, and subsequently more desperate, every time I return home.

It's true that Le Pen's vote was only fractionally above that of the left-wing candidate Jospin and represented only a slight increase over his last Presidential showing, but it's equally apparent that Le Pen gains another percentage point or two with every passing election. Whether his supporters are merely registering protest votes against politics-as-usual, are expressing their distaste at unchecked immigration and failed integration, or are xenophobic racial purists, his incremental increasing popularity speaks ill of Europe's attempts to project itself as the cornerstone of international democracy.

The British are also far from excused in this regard. In the late 70s and early 80, my generation took to the concert halls, the ballot boxes and, when necessary, to the streets to fight off our own National Front and their equally odious message of racial purity. I was naive enough to think we'd won that one. Yet here I am returning home 25 years later, reading of the very real likelihood that the extremist British National Party - the National Front's electoral successors - would be gaining council seats in towns like Burnley and Oldham, where race riots recently took place and where the white working class appear to be just as dissatisfied with the status quo, and just as willing to cast their support to the fringes as in France.

The one paper not to put Le Pen on the front cover that April Tuesday morning was, reassuringly, the Sun. Murdoch's top tabloid was more concerned with the love triangle of the English football coach Sven Goran Eriksson, whose current desire for TV Presenter Ulrika Johnson over his Italian lawyer long-term girlfriend would seem to have gripped the nation, if newspaper coverage was anything to go by. Yet this is a classically British media mirage. Throughout my ten days in the country, I felt as if the public - the punters who'll be cheering on England in the World Cup - couldn't care less about Eriksson's love life as long as his team scores as frequently on the field as the coach appears to be doing off of it. In almost every country around the world, the World Cup is an occasion for national unity, and if skeletons are found in a leading player or coach's cupboard, they're usually kept there until the tournament's conclusion, for fear of knocking the team's collective confidence. Hopefully Eriksson was fore-warned that the English media do things differently, and will not be sufficiently distracted from his primary task - somehow getting Britain beyond their 'group of death' and into the last sixteen. That alone would represent success. Anything more and he'll be a national hero and he can have all the sexual partners he wants.

Enough harping about the media. There will be plenty more time for that later. Look out the window of the train and it has to be said that there's nothing quite like spring time in England. As we all know, the weather in the UK is notoriously fickle, but when it's pleasant, it's just about perfect. When I arrived, it had been in the mid-70s (or high-20s, given that Europe is metric) for weeks on end, and my first couple of days were enlivened by such an effortlessly enjoyable climate. Sadly, it wouldn't last: I spent my first couple of days fighting daytime jetlag and by the weekend the weather had turned, for the relentlessly worse. In England, you learn to take it when you get it.

Still, probably just as well. When I wasn't trying to hook up with my close friends I was in the attic, reliving several lifetimes. I'm sure everyone goes through this at some point - and some in sadder circumstances, such as when parents die - but still, even I was amazed at how much material I had hoarded over the years in such a surprisingly small space. In no particular order, my treasure trove included:

• Several hundred copies of Jamming! Magazines, going all the way back to issue 10

Just about all the original layouts for the above, and even some of the printers' films should they ever have needed reprinting.

The 1/4" master tapes for most of the music released on Jamming! Records, along with the 24-track masters for a couple of my old band Apocalypse's recordings.

Birthday cards from my 18th birthday (I held a memorable party at Chislehurst Caves that night)

Just about every NME, MM or Sounds to have ever had the Jam on the cover

Love letters from India sent by my first 'serious' girlfriend. (She left to spend the summer there the day after we got off with each other; I have a short story written about all of that somewhere.)

My stamp albums. All three of them.

My coin collection. All one box of it. (What the...?)

cigarette card collection. (This is a strange one. I was obviously given all these, some of which date back to the 1930s; I just don't remember who by.)

Folders full of correspondence and daily events relating to Jamming! Magazine, Jamming! Records and Apocalypse, some of it more pleasant reading than others.

Tax returns. (Ha!)

The red, gold and green 'teddy bear' jumper I used to wear all over London when I was 15.

Photographs of my first real girlfriend taken, after we broke up, by my supposed best friend and band mate - without my knowledge. (Talk of love triangles...!)

A box and a bag full of old button badges, (Americans call them pins) including - surely - almost every Jam badge ever designed, a full set of Adam Ant S&M badges, various Jamming! and Apocalypse designs and a few 4" monstrosities from before I got vaguely hip to the fact that biggest is not always best.

Rough books from my 4th year at school. (In which I regularly compiled my top 40 and also composed the typically 4th-form lyrics of 'Railway Station Love.')

My secondary school report book.

A souvenir folder from our school holiday to Nantes in France in May 1979, signed by all 30 of us who attended from my all-boys school and the local all-girls school.
My diary from my school holiday to Guernsey in 1975.

A writing book in which I had listed every single football match I attended throughout the 1970s. (First game: Crystal Palace-Inter Milan, June 1971. Second game: Crystal Palace-Manchester United, September 1971. And so on.)

All my old football programmes, including about every Palace game I ever attended (several hundred of them), a run of 10 FA Cup Finals, and a plethora of 1960s obscurities I must have been given down the line
A box full of Echo & The Bunnymen memorabilia from when I wrote the band's biography, including live tapes, press cuttings and several personal members' tour itineraries.

. . . And that's just the stuff that I can remember as I write.

Much of the above I kept. Some of it I tried to offload while in the UK and failed. A small amount I succeeded in offloading while in the UK. And much of it went on the skip we hired for the week. It was, after all, time to dispose of the past.

Given the extent to which Britain is currently wrapped up in a nostalgia buzz, that was easier said than done. The UK's obsession with its history is a given, allowing that the country always looks better through rose-tinted glasses than through a crystal ball, but it's particularly apparent right now and for good reason. 2002 is the year of the Queen's Golden Jubilee and while some of the real old-timers might be casting their minds back fifty years to when the monarchy actually meant something, most around my age are using it as an opportunity instead to remember the Silver Jubilee Year of 1977, a time of punk revolution and urban chaos. So while on the one hand the loyalist royalists are bringing out the patriotic bunting, the punk generation are digging out their old records and press cuttings.

The NME has compiled an excellent Punk special of its superb journalism from the years 1975-79, much which I remember clearly from when it affected me so strongly first time around. (But why, oh why, put Sid on the cover of all cartoon punk icons?) 'God Save The Queen' will be re-released in time for Jubilee week, with that strange Leftfield remix I heard Pete Tong play at the New York Chemical Brothers show earlier in April, and Polydor Records - who have never passed up the slightest opportunity to plunder the Jam's back catalogue - were dutifully re releasing the Jam's debut single 'In The City' while I was over on the occasion of its own 25th Anniversary. If every punk band and record label was to join in this Silver Jubilee Celebration with re-releases, we'd be quickly revealed as the sad nostalgic fuckers we pretty much already are. 'In The City's a classic, and I'm personally thrilled that my childhood heroes have stood the test of a quarter century, but we don't need another Jam compilation album any more than we needed the last several beforehand. Enough, already.

It's not just music, mind. The popularity of has seen a generation hooking back up with all the people they once shunned in school, and the dominance of our generation in the media ensures a non-stop run of revivals and retrospectives. Christmas time saw the return of Only Fools and Horses (and what a disappointment that was); the last weekend of April saw the return, for a whole series, of Auf Wiedersehn Pet. (Didn't get to see it.) There was even a two part special on Channel 4 while I was over on Football's Fight Club, with hardcore ex-hooligans looking back wistfully on the days they would throw entire benches through pub windows and chase visiting supporters around the terraces and streets with bricks and darts - all set to the music of Clash, Jam, Specials, Madness and New Order. I found myself equal parts thrilled and appalled by how we once gloried in such behaviour; but when Part One ended, all too poignantly, with the Liverpool-induced deaths at Heysel Stadium in '86, I felt the shame of a nation that some idiots took it to such stupid extremes - especially whenever they stepped abroad. I taped the second part of Football Fight Club to watch back in New York; before I had the chance, history was repeating itself and I couldn't but wonder if that was a mere coincidence.

Thursday April 25th: "Teenage kicks are hard to beat..."

After spending the day in the attic sorting through my past, I headed down to West Norwood armed with nostalgic gifts for my own friendsreunited: old Jamming!s, some button badges, those music papers with the Jam, some 'O' Level Exam Papers to remind us how smart we once were and the folder from that French school holiday back in 79. Of the eight of us gathered, four of us had been on that trip to Nantes together: our host Jeni, the ever-vivacious Shona, my best mate at school Richard, and myself. Richard had autographed the folder as 'The King Mod' which tells you all you need to know about 15 year olds in 1979; I took a picture of him holding one of the music mags from the time and he looks no different than he would have done holding it then.

Richard and I rarely see each other any more, but we've great memories of running together in our teens. We saw the Jam together several dozen times, my most memorable being when we went to Manchester in 1980 and I deliberately neglected to tell him the last bus to London left at 8pm - and of course we couldn't afford the train - so that I would have company for when we inevitably ended up wandering the Manchester streets all night in the frigid cold. To his credit he didn't hold that against me.

Such are the memories that make friendships worth holding onto. And this gang has held together - in duos, trios and in recent years, at collective international gatherings like weddings and millennium festivities - far longer than most. Once I started adding it up, I realised I was looking at something like 27 years friendship with Richard, 23 years since that French trip with both Jeni and Shona (and to a lesser extent, with Jeni's closest school friend Jean); over 16 years with Denise, just back from Australia and looking radiant from her healthy down-under sun, sand and surf lifestyle, and likewise with her Secondary School best friend Kate (this is how they looked when we first started hanging!); and just about as long with Lee, who joined the Jamming! Football team back in the mid-80s and has been a close pal ever since.

An entirely representative cross-section of our south London generation (and friends since our teens):
Kate, Richard, Jean, Denise, Tony, Shona, Jeni and Lee, April 25 2002.

Between the eight of us, we've so far parented eleven children (I think), and we've also trailed a few divorces and separations behind us; in a few cases these have been a little too recent for comfort. A couple of us have emigrated to far corners of the globe; one of us did all that and has returned; another is still living in the house where she grew up. Some of us have been dealing recently with illnesses; some have been burying parents; some are in stand-offs with siblings; some are doting new aunts or uncles. We have mutual friends who never made it into their twenties; we have mutual friends who were physically not fit enough to attend this gathering. And it should go without saying that a fair few of us 'went out' with each other at some point or another. All in all, we're an entirely representative cross-section of our south London generation, and looking round the room and taking in the extent to which our relationships have overlapped and inter-locked, I can see a few good movie scripts lurking away in our life stories. Mind you, I already tried a book about some of all this; it got too personal and complicated, which is why you've only so far been offered the introductory, non-confrontational David and Alice chapters of Coming and Going. (Though I think I'm going to offer you the Michelle story I sent out as a Christmas card years ago to see if you can spot the suspects from this picture.)

We warmed up for the night ahead to the sound of Ranking and Skanking, an overlooked Rhino compilation of punk and reggae that barely falters from its opening cut - the classic 'Born For A Purpose' by Dr Alimantado- through its juxtaposition of Pere Ubu, Patti Smith and Devo with Graham Parker, Steel Pulse and Althea and Donna, and on out with some select 2-Tone beat specials. I've been in a serious punky-reggae mood since seeing Joe Strummer in Brooklyn the other week and was delighted on arrival at the Metro in Oxford Street to hear resident DJ Danny Watson playing the same Steel Pulse song 'Ku Klux Klan' we'd just been listening to at Jeni's. Danny and I quickly got to talking about the punk-reggae crossover, and when he let on that 'White Man In Hammersmith Palais' was one of his crowd's two absolute guaranteed floor-fillers (the other, perversely enough, being 'Ant Music'), I reserved that song for myself. I then hung out around the dance floor for the next hour as more and more long-term friends showed up, including Bob Moore, another old school-friend of mine and Richard's who I think takes honour for posting the first message on the ijamming forum; my pal Pascal born, like me, in Beverley, and who attended my wedding in New York as official representative of our birthplace; and my former Communion partner Neville and his new wife Theresa, visiting - by coincidence - from New York.

Alan McGee showed up with his Poptones charges The Hives (drunkenly celebrating their appearance on Top of the Pops) and spun in his own inimitable style - no headphones! - for thirty minutes before I took the decks. My nostalgic birthday-referenced set opened with 'Teenage Kicks' and 'When You're Young' and while lyrically I wanted to follow that with 'Sixteen Again' by the Buzzcocks as an ongoing paean to our teens, I went instead with 'Release' by my own Apocalypse, a song I wrote around that self-same age, that I still stand by, and which I have always wanted to hear on the dancefloor. It sounded bloody good actually. In fact, the only cut that really didn't work all night was 'Wild Dub' by Generation X, which sounded just a little too weird for the dancefloor, and appeared to blow out the speakers anyway. My brief sojourn back to the sixties included a superb Hammond organ instrumental rendition of 'Satisfaction' by Jimmy McGriff; 'Get Off Of My Cloud' by the Stones themselves, the 7" (i.e. electric guitar version) of 'I'm A Boy' by the Who, and one of my prized obscurities, 'How Can I Forget' by The Starlighters. Always nice to play something you know people don't know and still keep 'em on the dancefloor. Had great fun too, going from Iggy's 'The Passenger' to the German language version of Bowie's 'Heroes', the French version of 'Is Vic There' by Department S, 'Public Image' by PiL and out with Radio 4's 'Save Our City,' which had no problems keeping such exalted company.

McGee took over again, filling the floor with The Hives' 'Hate to Say I Told You So', The Strokes' 'Last Night' and Joy Division's 'Transmission'. He also played Led Zeppelin almost back to back with the Sex Pistols and I do believe got away with it. I took the chance to catch up with other friends - Rock Chicks founder and New York expat Tessa Jowers, New York expat but London original Tanya Gerber, former Three Colors compadre and currently Pinnacle Distribution GM Susan Rush, DJ Rad Rice - who recalls one of the first acid house parties being held in this same space - and general dance music reprobate and top chef Gary King. Oh yeah, and James Atkin, once and once-again of EMF. James never seemed particularly attached to pop stardom, which leaves me wondering why he's back in the studio with the band - especially as bass player Zac Foley died a few months ago in unfortunate circumstances. That said, who isn't busy reforming their old bands these days? Besides, James is undoubtedly one of the nicest and most modest singers ever to have had a number one single in the States - the kind of person who brightens up a room while hanging back in the corner of it - and it's always a pleasure to see him.

Most of my hard-core friends were now several sheets to the wind and some cried off in cabs just as I started a second set. Did the old 'Papa's Got A Brand New Pigbag' -The Jam's 'Precious'- segue. (I'd meant to mix the Chemical Brothers' new album cut 'Denmark' in between them, as all three share the same bass line, but I couldn't find it in the dark.) After a mad ten-minute cross-fade 12" mix of Jedi Knights and Surreal Madrid - just to prove that hard core beats can work on a retro dance floor if you've got them in the mood - I saw my night out with another fail safe, the potentially endless combo of 'Step On' by the Happy Mondays with 'I'm Free' by the Soup Dragons. In 12" form, both these cover versions serve to bring back great memories of the early Communion days when we tried, valiantly, to introduce a little bit of Madchester to Manhattan. Moby, who attended Communion back in those days as another techno hopeful and who now graces the pages of Q surrounded by 18 topless ladies, was out there on the dance floor at the Metro too, reliving those days; it may just have been mutual short-sightedness, but we didn't get to say hello. (I've since read on his site that he was out drinking tequilas with all the other Top of the Pops artists that evening, the Hives included, which would explain it. Former teetotallers should be careful with the hard stuff: even I can't handle tequila anymore!)

I handed McGee copies of the same Jamming!s that he claims inspired him to start Creation, and he e-mailed a couple of days later saying what a treat it was to see me that happy. A few others said the same thing that night, and with good reason: I was that happy. I won't say that life always feels good - I have my down days as much as the next person - but you really can't ask for more than being reunited with so many of your closest friends that date back through so many years, and playing so many of your favourite old records to such a fun crowd. Really. This was a night to treasure.

The UK music mags: still irreverent after all these years.

Just because a generation of thirty-somethings are currently reliving their youth as a method to stave off the inevitable mid-life crisis doesn't mean that everything about the UK is nostalgia-based at the moment.
One of the best selling points of the UK media is the free CD that comes with many monthly magazines; I can put off my New York import record shopping for several weeks with one purchase of a Q magazine or Uncut. The current Q, with Oasis on the cover, boasts a CD containing (some of the best) new music by the likes of British Sea Power, The Cooper Temple Clause and Ed Harcourt. Actually, Q were putting on a week of concerts while I was over, starring these acts as well as The Dirtbombs, Von Bondies, Kosheen and White Stripes and while I'd fully expected to attend some of these gigs, limited time and extended distance - London is a bitch to get around without a car, especially when your accomodation is off the tube map - prevented me doing so. Not like I won't (don't) get the chance to see them all in New York.

Q's Oasis interview was the brother Gallaghers' usual entertaining treat, mostly over their belated realisation that they married the wrong women. "My ex-missus never saw the inside of a pub in her life," says Liam of Patsy Kensit, as if we should take that news as a surprise. "She thought she was fucking Elizabeth Taylor." (Ditto.) "I don't even know why I bothered getting married in the first place," reports Noel casually of his knot-tying with Meg Matthews. Each brother then trips himself up remarkably well when bringing the conversation around to Oasis. Detailing Bonehead's departure from said combo, Noel concludes "The way this band works is, once you're out, you're out," - which sounds right and proper until you remember Noel's own prior departures from the group and subsequent ready reinstatement. His mistruth is roundly and proudly topped by Liam's attempt to bring Oasis down to basics: "We're four blokes from Manchester who happen to be the best band in the world." It's left to the Q sub editors to point out there are in fact five people in Oasis. . .

Over at Uncut, there's a little more nostalgia at work. To accompany the magazine's feature on the disastrous third Dexys Midnight Runners album Don't Stand Me Down, the magazine's free CD opens with that album's 'I Love You', promptly suggesting that said album was indeed a dog. (I recall loving the album and wincing at the live show; I need to did out Don't Stand Me Down before passing definitive revisionist judgment.) But the CD also includes the superb and previously (to these ears) unheard Dublin act Pony Club singing the Suede-meets Oasis like 'CCTV,' (apt subject matter for a nation obsessed with surveillance cameras) followed incongrously by The Streets' 'Has It Come To This'. Perhaps it's a sign that leapords will indeed change their spots, but The Streets was the act most frequently hyped to me by London friends I previously thought had no interest in UK garage or hip-hop. Make of that what you will but pay attention to it all the same.

Elsewhere on the UK scene, there's the same fascination with early 80s new wave and electro that's been prevalent in New York these last few months. The trend was proven the night I heard Radio 1 DJ Dave Pierce working his way through a phone-in poll about three new singles from three different countries, each of which heralds this sound: Moby's 'We Are All Made Of Stars,' Tigha's remix of Corey Hart's 'Sunglasses At Night' and Holly Valance's 'Kiss Kiss,' which goes straight to the route of the revival and samples Gary Numan - and duly entered the UK charts at number one the following week end. It's all good fun in a harmless enough way, but to me there's a clear distinction between playing old records for the sake of nostalgia, and making new records that sound like old records for the sake of being current. That's not an assault on any of those three singles - necessarily - but it is a reminder that whether you're The Strokes, BMRC, Miss Kittin, Adult, The Faint, Gary Numan, EMF or Joe Strummer, you need to be looking forward as much as you're looking back if you want to mean something in the long run.

Uncut pretty much nails the complex current international music scene in an excellent uncredited overview in its June, Fifth Anniversary Issue. "Imagine being transported from London 1997 to London 2002," it states of the entropy around the rock mainstream. "It might take you a fortnight even to notice." But then it rightly points out that, in fact, "The problem isn't that there's too little happening but way, way too much. People who complain that there's 'nothing going on' are the sort who can only cope with one big rock happening at a time, who only come out to play when an Oasis comes along. For the rest of us, these are, albeit unobtrusively, the best of times." Well said, that man. (Or woman. But I suspect it was a man.)

I have to give Uncut extra props for nailing Primal Scream in its merciless Sacred Cows column. It says something for the reverence with which Bobby Gillespie and co. are held in music media circles that it's taken this long for this most unforgiving of columns to take them on, but still, better late than never. Like many, I think Screamadelica is one of the great albums of the last twenty-five years (much of which I credit to producer Andrew Weatherall), but that doesn't justify them being given a free pass ever since, through at least one dreadful album (Give Out But Don't Give Up) and two that are simply not as good as their acolytes want them to believe they are (Vanishing Point and XTMNTR). Or, as Uncut states, "the decks are reverentially cleared whenever lead singer Bobby Gillespie so much as clears his throat to vent his thoughts ("It's all fucked, we need more passion," that kind of thing, ad nauseum.")"

But that's only the Sacred Cow warming up. On Vanishing Point, Uncut hilariously reminds us, Gillespie "namechecks, among other civil rights heroes, "Sister" Rosa Parks, (she's not your fucking sister, man) stating that though she may be gone, her spirit lives on - news, presumably , to the still alive Ms Parks."

And Uncut anhialates XTRMNTR as "an unfocused, punky volte-face, with its call to 'Kill All Hippies' (present company in the band excepted, presumably), its general air of someone who's swallowed the whole anti-American,No Logo, globalisation protester schtick without so much as a belch. . ."

I presume the writers at Uncut were merely enjoying themselves when they launched this attack and I've no doubt the mag will be vying for a front cover interview upon the group's next release. I also don't dispute that Primal Scream may have another epic album up their sleeve, nor that they consistently "rock shit" live. But no-one's beyond reproach, and while it can be painful being on the receiving end of it, the British media's refusal to let the publics' idols rest on their egos is definitely one of its greatest selling points.

CONTINUE for more of Tony Fletcher UK Musings: Next up: Brighton Rocks.
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