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Sunday, 23 March 2014

Puts Up The Closed Sign Does The Man In The Corner Shop

Man In The Corner Shop was on side two of The Jam's 1980 album Sound Affects although I should think I heard it first on Snap! The lyrics had a deep impact on me, possibly the first time I kind of understood that pop songs could be about something important. Paul Weller's 'Marxism for beginners in three minutes' still affect me today, even though I know them off by heart.

Puts up the closed sign does the man in the corner shop 
Serves his last and says goodbye to him 
He knows it is a hard life 
But it's nice to be your own boss really 
Walks off home does the last customer 
He is jealous of the man in the corner shop 
He is sick of working at the factory 
Says it must be nice to be your own boss (really) 
Sells cigars to the boss from the factory 
He is jealous is the man in the corner shop 
He is sick of struggling so hard 
He says "It must be nice to own a factory" 
Go to church do the people from the area 
All shapes and classes sit and pray together 
For here they are all one 
For God created all men equal

Man In The Corner Shop

It's a song that stands out musically on Sound Affects, with a chiming intro, 60s chords and middle eight, and powerful finish. I listened to the full album the other day. I'm not sure it's a 'great album', more a collection of songs recorded at the same time. Many of them are good but too similar in tone,Weller moving on from All Mod Cons and trying to absorb Gang Of Four's clipped guitars, while the rhythm section stretch out a bit. That's Entertainment and Start! are both career defining. There's some experimental pop-art. But Man In The Corner Shop (and That's Entertainment as well) seem to be the moral and human heart of the record.


Scott said...

Great post today Adam, particularly like the Paul Weller's 'Marxism for beginners in three minutes' part. Man In The Corner Shop would certainly be in my Top 5 fave Jam tunes.

Echorich said...

Weller has done his best over the past 3+ decades to be a most admired, most hated and politically fickle pop artist. I remember him getting tagged as a Tory over a very misunderstood series of quotes and doing his level best to show his red wing leanings with songs such as this beautiful one and support for Red Wedge and The Council Collective single.

For me he is just one of the most important songwriters of the Punk and Post Punk era. Whatever the political bent to his songwriting, he has put out some of the most wonderful songs about people and their experiences in pop history.

davyh said...

A Record Of My Life, for sure.

Artog said...

I always listen to Sound Affects all the way through, I think it's amazing. He's totally up there with Lennon, McCartney etc., obviously.

Swiss Adam said...

Ta Davy. Must have been from before I started reading your pages.

Listening to it through the other day I veered between thinking it was bold and fantastic and then thinking that as a whole it lacked something. Too one paced perhaps. I could think differently next time.

Echorich said...

Could Sound Effects be seen, and I posit this with an expectation of empty beer barrels being thrown at me, as Weller and Co's Post Punk album? There is certainly a diversity of sounds and beats going on on the album and some darker, moodier tracks such as Scrape Away which is all bass and drums with some shard edged guitar from Weller. Ok, got my Football helmet on...

Swiss Adam said...

I think you're right Echorich- definitely post punk influences going on, Weller must have been soaking up the sounds of 79-80.

dickvandyke said...

Blimey - had also forgotten Davy's 'Sound Affects' post from 2008.
I was clearly in the juices flowing zone at the time with my earnest-yet-rambling Comment ....

"You crafty young bastard Davy. You knew some of us couldn't resist a response - even though considering the 'best' Jam album is akin to standing back and commenting objectively on the back of one's hand.

Is the criterion for 'the best' the one we liked listening to the most?

As a 'vision of Albion' at the turn of the decade, Sound Affects sure cuts the English mustard. I used to have a great big recruiting poster entitled "Into the 80s With The RAF" depicting a new and majestic rising Tornado jet.

The beauty of 'Monday' aside the vitriol of 'Scrape Away' highlight Weller's versatility and maturity, but what's the Frenchie stuff at the end of the latter all about?

Bizarrely, 'Set The House Ablaze' works better now in the Carling Arenas as 'From The Jam' step into their Autumn tour. I never really totally bought into the track back in the day, and found it somewhat er, cold! However, Foxton, Buckler and Russell Hastings bring poker-hot spinetingling new life to it on stage.

I heard 'Pretty Green' being used as a backdrop to Football Focus last weekend - which was rather apt! Unlike some, I'm certain that Pretty Green would have made No 1 if chosen as the single release - as wanted by Polydor on the back of 'Going Underground/Dreams Of Children' earlier that year, they couldn't fail. 'Start' is always a summer song to me, whereas 'Sound Affects' will always be a winter album.

'But I'm Different Now' has Weller more than nodding to the fact that he'd began to freely admit his fuck ups. (This certainly made him more endearing to those of us young men who were unable to keep a girlfriend).

Weller's teens were all gorn by 1980 and the jaded cynicism seeped through the seams. Although the vitality of the brass section (and albeit a far superior flex-disc version of) 'Boy About Town' suggested otherwise. His mind was widening - and wandering, if not his stay-press strides.

Sure, there is the bright, warm pop amongst the chill, but fuck me, 'Music For The Last Couple' is for lying down and avoiding.

I could go on, but I suspect there's a few younger eyes glazing over at the back.

From whistful & dreamy to punchy & poppy, this chiefly 'studio creation' wasn't their 'peak' to my lugs. But then I suspect our age may have a lot to do with it? I'm 46 this year and 'All Mod Cons' is (and always will be) the red, white and blue measuring stick.