Saturday, March 05, 2005

“I’m not the same as when I began”

I think even Jesse himself feels that his move from band member to solo singer-songwriter has changed his musical direction, but I’m afraid that I just don’t feel that change at all. When I heard PCP Highway, when I heard Bellvue, & when I heard the 169 EP, everything just naturally connected back to that first D Generation album for me. The subjects, the heartfelt passion & the attitude was exactly the same. In fact, the first time I heard the 169 EP I just thought that this is what 'No Way Out' would have sounded like when it was first strummed out & worked out by the band, before they added all the electric guitars and drums. It was like listening to the bare bones of the songs before any of the fleshing out had took place, & as a big fan I found that very exciting. I think Jesse performing 'Capital Offender' acoustically bears this theory out.

I accept that Jesse’s music has moved on to a higher standard, particularly lyrically, but to me, the sentiments & emotions are just the same. I think Bellvue’s To Be Somebody could have easily been the fourth D Generation album; it included songs like ‘Downliner’, ‘Basement Home’ & ‘Brooklyn’, all of which have since become what are considered to be Jesse Malin classics. I feel it’s a big thing for Jesse to have dumped the big hair & big shoes, & if that helps him to sell to a wider audience then that’s great. I want him to be successful & to be able to continue to keep producing great music. But I also feel that the image, the stage interpretation of the music, & the album sleeves are just as valid forms of art as the songs themselves. Of course I would trade all those things for the music every time. But what I’m saying is that D Generation’s debut album sleeve would sit very nicely as the cover art work for 'New World Order'. It just wouldn’t do Jesse’s sales figures much good… Jesse hasn’t changed as much as you might think. I don’t think he could if he wanted to. He’s too passionate & honest to be able to do that effectively…

I guess I just miss the ability to be able to go to a Jesse show & have a good old bop to some of my all time favourite songs without people thinking I’ve just been let out of the lunatic asylum. Or worse still, thinking that I don’t belong at a Jesse show if I want to react to his music in that manner!

"You never listen to a word that I said
You only see me for the clothes that I wear
Or did the interest go much deeper
It must have been the colour of my hair
Public Image"

Friday, March 04, 2005

The Fine Art Of Self Destruction

My brother died on Tuesday… Pretty dark subject I know, but I think talking about it can only help. I was 10 years old when I wrote what I think was the first poem I ever wrote down, that is, I got the words out of my head & put them on to paper… Don’t panic, I’m not going to get all emotional and write some soppy poem about all my grief, it’s just that that first poem was called ‘My Brother’. I don’t even have those words any more, & I can’t remember them. Basically, he was 11 years older than me, he was a builder by trade but also an artist in all the work that he produced... he didn't just build, he created things with feeling and passion. He loved motorbikes (he rode a Harley & a Ducati) & fine clothes. If you ever see me wearing any decent clothes then they’ll be what he gave to me. He was very generous. He didn’t like much Rock’n’Roll beyond Rod Stewart but he did understand the importance of Rock’n’Roll in my life enough to drive out to Nottingham’s Rock City at 2am in the morning just to pick me & my friends up from our first proper Ramones show when we were all too young to drive (and too young to be at Rock City!).

There are too many great lines from poems & songs to choose just one to sum up the way I feel… So all I’d like to say is, “you are always in my thoughts & my heart with love, John Alexander Smith XXXXX”