What a catalyst you turned out to be

So I put a bunch of The Jam on the fPod yesterday that I’m now listening to. Every time I listen to their songs en masse, I wonder, Are they really any good?.

Sometimes, maybe even most of the time, I’ll be rocking along and then I’ll catch myself wondering, where’s the tune on this one? It often sounds to me like they’re pushing themselves too hard away from what they ought to be — a guitar-led pop-rock group. Like I think I can hear the moments where they’ve decided to be musically “challenging” and to me, that flops. You know, you just don’t need that many changes in a song. But then, maybe I’ve just never let it grow on me.

The thing is, that when they make all the changes work with their guitar-pop, it’s brilliant, like in “Eton Rifles.”

There are a lot of bands who don’t deserve the accolades heaped upon them for the simple fact that they’re just not musical — The Velvet Underground, to wit — but more of a cultural phenomenon. And then there are plenty of bands, who may not have had all the chops but did the best with what they had and crafted some really fine songs that make up for any musical shortcomings. And still there are others who created such a great style that they deserve attention. Where does The Jam fall in there? I’m undecided.

Hm. Oh well, here’s The Jam playing “Eton Rifles” on Something Else.