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Friday, 26 August 2016

45RPM: #100 David Watts/"A" Bomb In Wardour Street - The Jam (1978)

David Watts / "A" Bomb In Wardour Street
Produced by Vic Smith and Chris Parry
Released 26th August 1978
UK Chart #25

A-Side: David Watts
Written by Ray Davies

A-Side: "A" Bomb In Wardour Street
Written by Paul Weller

I can remember there being a lot of concern regarding the state of The Jam just prior to release of their fifth single. The band had been recording a third album but many of the songs were penned by Bruce Foxton and Paul Weller had writers block! The word was that the producers and Polydor had rejected the songs by Foxton as being poor quality and told them, though especially Paul Weller to get writing more songs. Weller by his own admission seemed to have to a lack of interest during the writing and recording process at the time.

News of the World, the fourth single had been written by Foxton (the only A-Side he ever had released) and whilst it did break into the charts at #27 it was seen by some as a real demise in quality for the band. For myself I thought the single was actually pretty good.

David Watts / "A" Bomb in Wardour Street - a double A-Side - was released on 26th August as forerunner to the new album that was expected in November 1978. The big question was "what on earth is it going to be like?" was on the lips of many. There had been a number of misgivings regarding their second album, This Is The Modern World (though again it's an album I love very much as do many fans despite the fact that Paul Weller hated it!).

The fact that the band had chosen a cover version as a single (The Kinks had released the original as a B-Side in 1967) seemed a little puzzling at first (but Weller had said that he had been listening to a lot of The Kinks whilst he had been trying to write new material) and the fact that the majority of the vocal on it was by Foxton was also seen as a concern (it seems though it was more suited to Bruce's vocal range due to the key it was played in).
As good as their reading of the Ray Davies song is though it was flipping the disc over and discovering the other A-Side that you began to see that The Jam were back on track with possibly one of Paul Weller's finest songs to date!

 "A" Bomb In Wardour Street
Paul Weller
Where the streets are pave with blood,
with cataclysmic overtones
Fear and hate linger in the air
A strictly no-go deadly zone
I don't know what I'm doing here
'cause it's not my scene at all

There's an
"A" bomb in Wardour Street
They've called in the Army, they've called in the police

I'm stranded on the Vortex floor
My head's been kicked in and blood's started to pour
Through the haze I can see my girl
Fifteen geezers got her pinned to the door

There's an
"A" bomb in Wardour Street, it's blown up the City
Now it's spreading through the country

Law and order takes a turn for the worst,
In the shape of a size 10 boot
Rape and murder throughout the land,
and they tell me that you're still a free man
Well if this is freedom I don't understand
'cause it seems like madness to me.

"A" bomb in Wardour Street.
Hate Bomb, Hate Bomb, Hate Bomb, Hate Bomb!

A Philistine nation, of degradation,
And hate and war. There must be more.
It's Doctor Martin's A P O C A L Y P S E Apocalypse!

It makes an interesting read doesn't it? But you know something, this is the kind of violence you were subjected to almost any night if you were up town and if you were a Punk. Weller declared that "it's not my scene at all" and he was right about that, The Jam didn't really fit into the whole Punk Scene but they did ride on the crest of its wave and were often caught up in the violent thuggery of the times that was unleashed against the Punks.

"A" Bomb in Wardour Street was at least a sign that Weller was finding his mojo again and held out some hope that the new album entitled All Mod Cons would be better than its predecessor.

When the album appeared it was like a revelation! In his review for NME, Charles Shaar Murray said that the album was "not only several light years ahead of anything they've done before but also the album that's going to catapult The Jam right into the front rank of international rock and roll; one of the handful of truly essential rock albums of the last few years."

But more about the album another time.
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