Paul Weller David Fricke - Essay

David Fricke

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

Paul Weller is always one to take his responsibilities seriously. The Jam have become Mother Britain's top post-'77 band because—more so than ambulance-chasing leftists the Clash—the articulate high-octane anger and no-lead passion at the heart of this flash trio's mod-ified thrash speak directly to the people who feel it most, the disenfranchised youth quickly growing up into that country's broken, dispirited adults. With Bruce Foxton and Rick Buckler's Union Jacked-up bass and drums thunder and Weller's Rickenbacker slam, they still can't help sounding like the Who. But it is that sound that has always given Weller's lyrical barrage of apocalyptic prophecy and working class cheerleading … its explosive force.

Weller is aware that the comfy rock life can reduce the strongest anger and heartiest passion to pretentious fizz, and The Gift … is his confrontation not only with the usual foes—racism, economic fascism, apathy—but the possibility of his own failing. Contrast "Happy Together," classic Jam crash'n' burn …, with the headbanging frustration of "Running On The Spot," a scathing indictment of liberal knee-jerking and a confession of his own ineffectualness. (p. 102)

He has a tendency to tilt at too many windmills and then wonder if he's spread himself too thin. But there's no question Paul Weller's causes have effect…. The revolution could receive no greater gift. (pp. 102, 104)

David Fricke, in his review of "The Gift," in Musician (© 1982 by Musician), No. 46, August, 1982, pp. 102, 104.