BE THANKFUL I DON’T TAKE IT ALL

Notebooks out plagiarists, as Mark E.Smith has been known to deludedly say. I, as usual, have an ambivalent view on plagiarism. Yes it is lazy, artistically corrupt and just plain dishonest. That said it stops a new abominable tune being written.

Paul Weller is no stranger to a) being rubbish and b)plagiarism. Much of his career has been spent ripping off the Who, Eric Clapton or Modern Romance for chrissake. If anyone knows where he half-inched the tune for “Sweet Pea, My Sweet Pea”, incidentally, then let me know so I can go round and scoop out their giblets. That said – the crime committed on “Start” by The Jam is notoriously horrendous. Not only is the bass-line a note for note rip-off, it rips off one of the most churlish songs ever written. The Beatles’ “Taxman”.

To call “Taxman” churlish, or merely like a churl, is to suggest that something out there could exhibit more churl than this simulcra. This is not possible – and I urge the makers of The Oxford English Dictionary to add this definition to their organ post-haste:

CHURL a. cf “Taxman” – George Harrison (The Beatles Revolver)

Yes popstars often have little economic understanding, and yes their huge and monumentally undeserved earnings are often taxed so greatly that they may only take home a million quid net. That said, Taxman is a folly of gargantuan proportuions. For George Harrison to complain that his swinishly vast wealth was the upshot of such hard graft kind of downplays the contributions of both Lennon and McCartney on the songwriting front. Now I’m not saying L’n’M’s songs were good, but they did at least write some (for their mate George to rip off in turn). From Revolver onwards George Harrison discovered the Sitar and made appalling plonking noises for the next ten years. When he needed a hit he went straight off and nicked the tune. “My Sweet Lord” ended up not troubling the British Taxman too much.

No, for George to complain about tax is like the Queen complaining about ancestors. It comes with the territory. At least do a Mick Jagger and fuck off out of the country for 349 days of the year. If Harrison had been a payroll administrator or an accountant charged with doing corporation tax returns his ire at Messrs. Heath and Wilson might be justified. Instead suggesting that the Inland Revenue are about to instigate some bizarre foot tax is not very insightful. Besides, the taxman is obviously completely right to be nicking 95% of George’s money, as has been amply demonstrated since the release of his monster whinge, with rivers of money flooding to such obvious chancers as the Maharishi and the Natural Law Party. Mmm yes, much better Yogic Flyers than a dialysis machine, eh George?

Anyhow, as bad as we admit “Taxman” to be, this does not mitigate the fact that Weller used the selfsame tune to make an even worse track. The Jam were no strangers to thievery. Indeed Pete Townshend had placed a restraining order on Weller to prevent him ever doing his windmill guitar technique (though it has already been proven that Weller has gone deaf in a copycat stylee). So after briefly aping Dylan on “That’s Entertainment” (which was about as entertaining as you can get before reaching the Open University) Weller nicked “Taxman”.

“Knowing that someone in this world, feels as desperate as me” Weller says, talking about looking for atune, but there are limits! Paul then suggests “What you give is what you get” (putting him at ideological loggerheads with The New Radicals). The Jam gave us a nicked Beatles song, what they got was a number one – seems hardly fair.

Hardly seems fair George not taking them to court either, since he was so upset about the taxman legally taking his money and spending it on education and the health service. You’d think he would be more pissed off that some jumped-up young turk with sticky-up hair stole his tunes and spent thge ill-gotten gains on Parka Jackets. If he had, think what we might have been spared. The Style Council, Weller solo, Dee Cee Lee, Ocean Colour Scene.

Weller says in “Start”: “Knowing that someone in this world loves with a passion called hate”. That makes no sense at all, par for the course Paul, but personally speaking I hate with a passion called hate – and I hate this bassline.

I Hate Music