October 29, 1999
Fire & Skill: The Songs Of The Jam
Hey, kids! It's difficult to see what the makers of this album were trying to achieve with its release.
2 / 10
It's difficult to see what the makers of this album were trying to achieve with its release. What better way to snuff out the fire and fury of The Jam than to release such a tawdry cash-in album of second-rate acts pissing on Paul Weller's back catalogue? "All right, Weller mate," they grin and wink slyly. "We did it for you, Modfather," they intone respectfully, zipping up and walking away to shop for a new Ben Sherman.
If it wasn't for Liam Gallagher's first new performance since 'Be Here Now' then 'Fire & Skill' would be devoid of any worth whatsoever. His collaboration with Steve Cradock, (dressing more like a member of the cast from Oliver! every day), is a brilliant, melancholic stomp through 'Carnation'. Couple that with brother Noel's hilarious take on 'To Be Someone' and you've got a couple of reasons to buy this album.
Because really, what else have you got? Ben Harper? Reef? Silver Sun? Gene? Heavy Stereo? Everything But The Fucking GIRL? Half these bands haven't got record contracts any more, and the rest of them should have had them taken away ages ago. So it's criminal to suggest that by messily assembling a pack of shitehawks to perform ropy versions of Jam songs you get 'a TRIBUTE album', especially when the Beastie Boys blatantly take the piss with their Playschool house band version of 'Start!'.
It's a good indication of the quality of music on this record that Buffalo Tom's contribution, along with 'Carnation', of 'Going Underground' was chosen as the single. Safe to say, the Buffalo boys have wrung every last drop of fire or skill out of the song, preferring instead to crush this adolescent call to arms into a grunge-lite college-rock dirge.
Rock'n'roll needs this album - just as it needed The Clash tribute album - like it needs another nail in its already well-sealed coffin. The makers of this record should give all the proceeds to charity to atone for their sins.
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