Headstart For Happiness – the early Style Council years – Part 2

The year ended with the mini album Introducing The Style Council which was released only in Japan, Australia, Holland, Canada and the US containing their recorded output to date, but still sold well in Dutch Import sales alone.

‘Daylight turns to Moonlight and I’m at my best…’ is Mod captured in less than 10 words.

The first line of their 1984 single My Ever Changing Moods with its Isley Brothers soul-funk groove was another big hit (UK No 5), including for the first time the US where it reached top 30 – Weller’s highest single chart position there; before or since. The success of the single meant that their debut album   Café Bleu released in March was renamed after the single in the US.

Café Bleu has got to go down in music history as one of the most surprising and eclectic albums of all time. It is a massive departure from The Jam (and indeed Rock in general) – It is a melting pot of the band’s influences musically and incredibly Weller (arguably the bands biggest draw) sings on less than half the tracks. The Hammond-cool opener Micks Blessing (similar to Moods B-Side Micks Company) is a great introduction its Jazz stylings and echoes throughout the album with its use of Jazzy chords and all out BeBop on the Steve White showcase Dropping Bombs on the White House.

Guest vocalists Tracey Thorn (from Everything but the Girl) adds her haunting tone to A Paris EP tune The Paris Match and Rapper Dizzy Heights appears on cod-rap (and probably one weak track) A Gospel. In amongst the jazzy-acoustic near solo numbers are reworked versions of Moods, Headstart For Happiness (featuring new band member D C Lee) and future single You’re the Best Thing before ending on another Hammond Workout Council Meetin’ – A truly stunning debut that (A Gospel aside) still sounds incredibly fresh and vibrant today.

Taken from the Album, You’re the Best Thing was the lead track to the Groovin’ single backed with track The Big Boss Groove a jazz-swing number complete with a wailing harmonica courtesy of Weller also charted at No 5, and up until the release of You Do Something To Me some 20 years later You’re The Best Thing was the go-to Weller Wedding song of choice, with its beautiful glissando guitar line and Curtis falsetto; it remains one of his most complete all-round songs.

Amazingly the run of incredible singles continued with soul stomper Shout To The Top, with a strident piano and uplifting lyric it reached number 7 in the charts. Perhaps a little at odds to the earlier singles was the use of Warsaw in the video with its purveying greyness and communist brutalist architecture showing the way to the following year of Miners, Militancy, Live Aid and Lenny Henry as well as an increasing political bent. The B-side, the haunting and sombre beneath the gun-towers love song of Ghosts of Dauchau was as sobering as the 12” companion The Piccadilly Trail, again flirting with homoerotic tension, was as uplifting with its summery percussion.

The Style Council became a household name across the World in 1985 and released their best-selling album Our Favourite Shop – it was a return (in part) to the intensity of The Jam albeit with perhaps more direct lyricism and less direct musical assault, and as brilliant as it is I can’t help but miss those first two years of incredible spiritually uplifting output and simple joie De Vivre that so defined their sound. It remains one of Weller’s favourite times musically ‘like being in a youth club’ as he once described it… and who doesn’t want to relive their youth every once and a while.

Number One in Our Hearts – Going Underground The Jam

By anyone’s yardstick Going Underground is a stunning single. Pre-sales alone ensured it debuted at number one (a trick The Jam pulled off twice more before taking their bow). It is probably the most overt political record EVER to top the charts. It’s a measure of its quality (and a general failure of society) that it still stands up today as a chilling warning of Kidney machines being replaced by Rockets and Guns; nearly 40 years after its initial release we’re still greeting the new boss… same as the old boss.

It is also the very moment that is maybe the beginning of the end of The Jam. Going Underground was the pinnacle of the Jam sound. That taut slashing art-guitar pop over a driving drum heart-beat and nimble bass, runs from Tubestation some 18 months earlier, through a brace of non-album tunes Strange Town and When You’re Young and the biting Eton Rifles before culminating in the stabbing guitar intro to Going Underground.

It’s catchy, key-climbing chorus and its rumble of boots hooks of ‘Ho! La La La La! and an air-punching ‘Pound! Pound! Pound!’ made it a ready fan favourite in its live setting and its transition to vinyl (again single-only) lost none of its power. It was however, pencilled as a double A side until a French pressing plant error made it the A-side with the slightly-delic and heavily paranoid Dreams of Children on the flip. Sadly, Dreams’ live intensity (check out the blistering version on Dig the New Breed) failed to translate to the vinyl press and so to the radio pluggers it was no contest and Going Underground was championed and heralded as the group’s first Number One.

Interestingly enough the B-side is a huge indication of where an uncomfortable Weller was at and taking the band next. Lyrically it is more poetically oblique than anything penned before and sets the tone for much of Sound Affects. At a gig in Newcastle earlier is the year, a clearly edgy Weller is already bemoaning his gold-fish bowl existence. The slightly unhinged lyrics ‘waking up sweating’, choking and cracking on his dreams draw a direct line into Dream Time where he was so ‘scared dear that my love comes in frozen packs bought in a supermarket’. The bells are beginning to toll.

Having strived so hard to get to number one though, Weller wasn’t prepared to give up on The Jam without a fight. All those early gigs to half empty rooms, the transit van tour years, the occasional critical mauling, the lost period between Modern World and subsequent triumphant return of All Mod Cons before honing their sound and image until its peak with Going Underground in both sound and vision.

Watching the video again now you are struck by just how sharp the band looks. A besuited Rick sporting the famous black and white Gibsons that flash up as part of the pop-art intro. Bruce as ever looking sharp in his tight fitted suit adorned by the monochrome skinny tie that so defines the era and his Jam/Badger shoes that made many a young Mod (myself included) hot foot it to Shelleys. Sharpest of all is Weller with his pop-art sheriffs badge and gold and burgundy Tootal scarf – its been a staple of the Modernist wardrobe ever since.

The rush to embrace the band and the image though added weight to already young shoulders. Realising its self-fulfilling prophecy, it’s no wonder Weller preferred the B-side, taking the Revolver era Beatle template into a modern post-punk angular guitar spark onwards to (second number one) Start and the astonishing Tales from The Riverbank.

Whatever way he turned he was feeling hemmed in, unable to move without his every word being picked over as ‘spokesman for a generation’. The NME polls from 80 and 81 are wall-to-wall Number Ones for The Group in every category. Fearing that the youth were no longer listening he even looked to some Soul salvation over their final year before calling it a day on October 30th 1982. It was only later in The Style Council he rediscovered his joie de vivre, but that’s another story.

It is something that many Jam fans never forgave Weller for, but he had warned everybody if you were listening ‘I don’t get what this society wants…’

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 !