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Wednesday, September 24, 2008

That's Entertainment

At times in the last forty-eight hours, when I haven't wondered whether my parents have electricity again or felt woozie because of my Monday night food poisoning, I've thought about something Jason Heller wrote on From the Jam. Who's From the Jam? Well it's a band comprised of Bruce Foxton and Rick Buckler, formerly of the Jam, with two other guys, playing songs by . . . the Jam. Whether or not to call this a tribute act, cover band, or just a bad idea is not really my call. What I've thought about is this comment I left:
I have no problem with Journey continuing without Steve Perry and Steve Smith. However, in the case of From the Jam, this is like Creedence Clearwater Revisited. Something about having the rhythm section from an iconic band with note-perfect hired hands replacing the still-alive-but-still-bitter-ex-members is a tad off.
The Creedence Clearwater Revisited, not Revival, reference is to the band that bassist Stu Cook and drummer Doug Clifford formed in 1995 and continues to this day. Playing Revival favorites, the band did the right thing and did not bill themselves as Creedence Clearwater Revival. For whatever reasons John Fogerty refuses to play with Cook and Clifford, Creedence Clearwater Revisited is, as it was bluntly put to me once, "a cover band with CCR's rhythm section."

Now, the purist in me thinks that a band's day in the sun should remain when it was. On the other hand, it's not a bad thing to hear classic songs done live again. I can't fully slag former members of an iconic band who want to play those old songs again. But you can run the risk of tainting a great band's legacy that way, especially if this new lineup decides to record new material and release it. So far, I don't think CCR's or the Jam's legacy has been tarnished for me.

The notion that has made me wonder why I am willing to pay to hear the post-Steve Perry/Steve Smith version of Journey while I really have no interest in seeing From the Jam. I thought I'd break it down:

--Journey's current lineup features two original members, along with a longtime member when they were a blockbuster act in the 1980s. Their current drummer has been in the band for ten years, is as good as Steve Smith, and can sing his head off on top of that. Their newest member, the singer, can hit those tenor high notes with ease, and well, makes me believe.

--From the Jam features two original members of the trio. The iconic frontman/guitarist still plays Jam songs live, but just not with the Jam's rhythm section. The difference between Paul Weller and Steve Perry is wide, and I think that's a key distinction. I don't think anybody considered Steve Perry the voice of a generation back in the late 70s/early 80s.

--Journey has issued new material since the departure of Steve Perry and Steve Smith. To me, Arrival, Generations, and especially Revelation, all have worth because there are great songs on them. So, it's not like the band is just doing the hits that the fans want.

--From the Jam, as far as I know, only does songs from the band's original run.

So, that's where I stand. As much fun as From the Jam might be, there's something that seems less-than-enticing for me as a Jam fan. As cooler as it is to like the Jam and poo-poo on Journey, I hold both bands' material in high regard. Whether or not I'll pay to see the latest incarnation/permutation of them is another thing.

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