Headstart For Happiness – the early Style Council years

When the curtain came down on The Jam in late ’82 it was undoubtedly a relief for Weller. The intensity of their message was simply weighing too heavily on his young shoulders. The music just too constrictive for his burgeoning mind. It should have perhaps come as no surprise that his next musical venture was going to be lighter in tone.

What was perhaps most shocking was just how adventurous and carefree he sounded on those early singles and albums. Formed almost immediately after the demise of his former charges Weller joined forces with South West Londoner (and fellow Mod) Mick Talbot, who had already played on a couple of Jam tracks (including, single The Eton Rifles) to rage against the Rock machine that had gone before.

Taking MacInnes’ Absolute Beginner’s template to Modernism the duo eschewed Parka’s for continental Alan Delon style cream macs and the monochromatic punk-rock xerox machine palette was swapped for vivid spruce green shirts and pillar-box red summer-weight knitwear. Gone were the stage-shoes and white terri-towelling socks and in came horse-bit suede loafers and correspondence toned tassel loafers; shoes so beautiful that socks were simply not needed.

The gritty high-rise and dirty-grey London town backdrops to their photo shoots were replaced first by the artful and romantic Parisienne streets; all Gauloise smoke, bitter espresso’s and La Monde newspapers before succumbing to the sun-kissed azure skies and fields of gold spun wheat, wind-blown scarlet poppies and dancing effervescent waterfalls of Europe’s capitals. Truly; The Style Council were a band that were broadening their horizons.

Musically, the pair of passionate Modernists did what all Modernists should do and magpied the best of everything, whilst adding their own personal twist. Debut single Speak Like a Child (March ’83) was the opening salvo with its title taken either from Herbie Hancock’s ’68 Blue Note album or the possibly the single by Tim Hardin, both of whom were influencing the pair at the time; It had a joyful soul swing married to an organ groove that mined from Surrender to the Rhythm by Brinsley Schwarz. It’s light-hearted video atop an open-top bus around the desolate fields of Wales was a long way from the claustrophobic intensity of The Jam. It shot up the charts before nestling at number 4.

Money Go Round (Part’s one and two) followed just a couple of months later. It’s title a steal from The Kinks (Lola verses The Powerman and the Money Go Round LP) and despite its taut slap-bass funk groove, trombone hook and half rap half socialist rant it is perhaps closer to The Jam sound than even later hit single Walls Come Tumbling Down – it really wouldn’t have been out of place on The Gift; alongside Precious or Transglobal Express. Far better was the track hidden away on the reverse of the 12” Headstart For Happiness.

This beautiful uplifting song defines the spirit of the band like no other – the stunning lyrics were the new manifesto for the new breed:

‘Naïve and wise with no sense of time, as I set my clock with a heart-beat, tick tock
Violent and mild, common-sense say’s I’m wild, with this mixed up fury, crazy beauty…’

Lyrically Weller was in a purple patch, and the cinematic beauty of their next single, the bona-fide classic Long Hot Summer (title from 1958 Paul Newman film) was a huge hit across Europe – provisionally entitled the A Paris EP (plaintive pieces from the Parisian pair) it also contained one of Mick Talbot’s finest contributions Le Depart, which echoed the cinematic feel of the A-side.

Its video though was another nail in the Rock coffin – playful and coquettish and taking a visual lead from the homo-eroticism of Brideshead Revisited (not for the first time – check out the lyrics for Pity Poor Alfie) with a half-naked Weller fondling Mick Talbot’s earlobes to the synth bass-line soft bongo percussion of new drum lieutenant of just 17 summers Steve White – it had many a Jam fan spluttering into their Cappuccino. The single reached number 3 and became their highest chart position and deserved higher. A revisited and remixed version also charted in 1989.

Steve White also appeared on the follow-up single (and fourth in a year – imagine that now kids!!!) A Solid Bond In Your Heart, which like Money-Go-Round reached No 11, was another hark back to The Jam days. The song was actually written the year before and was vetoed as their swan-song in favour of The Beat Surrender. It sounded dated in comparison to what had preceded it and despite a wailing saxophone the four-to-the-floor Northern Soul stomp belonged a life-time away. Again, significantly better was the B-side It Just Came to Pieces in My Hands. Even the video seemed to be a throw-back to a Jam Mod image, although Weller’s hair in it is rightly considered as the definite Mod barnet.

Part Two To Follow

Two Colour MOD Shoes – Cool or MOD parody?

Two Colour Shoes – Cool or MOD parody?

I thought I would put this piece together to look at why I think some two tone colour shoes (and the ‘Co-respondent’ shoes) look good, and others, well dont !

So, where to start; well I think the first mention in MOD terms, is the Roger Daltrey shoe that he wears in The High Numbers. There may have been others before, but this is the first photographic evidence I can see. As you can see in the pic, the shoe is white on the front and down to the sole. The lace is a derby style with 2 hole eyelets for the lace. The back part of the shoe is black.

I think the style is a play on a pair I have seen Gene Vincent wear, and there are some very similar ones worn by The Shadows. I think I am right in assuming that Pete Meaden choose the outfits, and certainly the one Roger is wearing, is his part of making Roger of the band the ACE face.

The style of the shoe has a slight point to the front and I assume was a fashion shoe at the time. Would love to know where the shoe was brought! And why it has never really been seen since. Was it bespoke ?

As you can tell I like this shoe.

A very cool picture of Brian Jones in Two colour shoes
Jagger in Co-respondent shoe.

The next two tone shoe to enter, is the Regency look that the Stones adapted in I think around 65-66. I recall them in semi gangster look blue striped suits with quite wide lapels.

In terms of MOD I think it is the dandy look that came in the later sixties, as some mods went ‘dandy’ pre hippy look, whilst the rest went Hard Mod / Skinhead.

Classic Carnaby Street from The Troggs

Pete Townsend said that a lot of the groups followed the audience rather than the other way round, so I suspect the look was very Carnaby Street . Bands like The Troggs and The Creation have elements of the sixties look that suits the Two Tone shoe.

The ‘Co-respondent shoe‘ is also known as a ‘Spectator‘, the name referring to its use in sports, you can a pair on Mick Jagger above. Lobb claims to have designed the first ‘spectator’ as a cricket shoe in 1868. The most usual styles are a brogue or a half brogue, in black or brown leather against the white buckskin. The white should not be leather, but often is these days.

I can hear someone at the back saying, surely you are forgetting Mr Marriott?

Steve Marriot wearing two colour shoes

Not forgotten at all and why we see the shoe today. Steve can be seen on the ‘colour me pop’ show wearing a very distinct pair of brown and white , I think, brogue shoes. He also is wearing late 60’s classic rock look, red velvet pants and waistcoat. The look is a mess of colours, but is held together well and shoes add to the effect.

My thoughts on this look, great on Steve, but I don’t know that it has aged well.

Status Quo and numerous others stole the look going into the seventies, and when I see it now, it just reminds me of Rock Covers band in your local pub!

Weller wears this style of two tone brogue well, he normally sets it off with a nice double breasted suit. Another that does that look well is Suggs from Madness.

Classic Mod Revival Jam Shoes

Now the MOD revival had lots of two tone varieties, The Jam shoe, The Jam Stage Shoe sometimes known as Badgers and of course bowling shoes. But let’s go back to Jam Shoes. I swear blind Weller was just ripping the style from the original by Roger Daltrey. He has said on many occasions early Jam tunes were rewrites of Who numbers, so it seems logical to borrow the style as well.

The shoe is still available now, Ikon make one and there are others on the net. The Ikon is pretty close to the Jam shoe, but not quite the same, the white carries around the shoe.

What I have always liked about the shoe, is that it firmly states “I am a MOD“. Now a lot would argue it is not MOD at all, but let’s not get into that. When you were 15, it was the uniform you needed with very clear boundries. Green Parka, Sta Prest , Fred Perry and pair of Jam shoes.

No different to a Skin with his 14 hole Air Wears or a Metal fan’s first leather jacket.

Followed on by the badgers and the bowling shoes, the multi colour shoe epitomized the MOD revival. This though, is where I think this style hasn’t aged well.

You see some lads on rallies in the shoes today. I dont have a problem with it, but some turn their noses up at them. I am not sure we are going to see a revival of red white and blue jam shoes any time soon. But as we all know MOD is built on snobbery!

Endorsed by Neville Staple of The Specials – These are Delicious Junction Rudeboys

There are also some Tassel Loafers in two tone, which some of The Specials wear. Again I think this is a dated look.

So maybe you are starting to think that I just think everything looks dated, well I suppose most of them do, there is a but coming though.

Why do we have going out shoes?

Meaning that we have different shoes for work, the pub and proper going out. So are you going to be wearing a pair of dowdy black shoes or are you going to be wearing ‘look at these, these are my going out shoes’?

When you are deciding what to wear, you want a range of good looking shoes. As you are getting dressed and slipping on your shoes you look in the mirror and think yep these are cool. You walk down the street, thinking these feel great.

When you dance to your favourite soul tune you want to slide across the floor.

I like the subtle two colour mix of these shoes, Oxblood and Black

What I am trying to say is that there are many reasons why we buy and wear shoes, and making a statement is maybe just one of them.

So does a two colour shoe work, yes I think it does, DNA groove do some really cool shoes with a leather and suede combination, so the effect is more subtle.

Not for everyone, but i like these with jeans.

The Bowling shoe looks great with jeans out and about on a sunny afternoon . I have always liked the look the Smart Skins did in the 80’s with Cherry Reds, of mixing a little black polish to go in the cracks to give shade to the boot, make it look older.

The Rudeboy loafer we sell has the Oxblood effect of black and cherry colour combined and looks great. It goes really well with jeans or a suit. Also Delicious Junction sell a two colour brogue, white/black and the very cool, Tan/White.

Is there a conclusion!

Well there are shoes that

  • I dislike and would not wear
  • those I like to look at but not to wear
  • those that just look and feel spot on !