Fire And Skill

Following the release of Fire And Skill, on 1st November 1999, the following are some of the reviews that I have seen. 

Ok, so I've listened to it a fair bit now. Not sure how welcome this is, but here's my review..

Carnation - Liam & Steve

Mixed opinions all round on this one. I think it would have sounded a lot better without Lynch's involvement. Oh, and without Liam.

Start - Beasties

Austin Powers Vs Mike Flowers Pops. Are they taking the piss? Who cares, I've listened to this track more than any other. Nice bit of Hammond and who is freaky singing

That's Entertainment - Reef

No it's not. Sounds like your embarrassing Uncle stepping up to do Karaoke. Stick to the scrumpy guys.

The Gift - Heavy Stereo

Your embarrassing Uncle widens his repertoire... no, seriously it's a fairly faithful rendition. A strange choice for a cover though. For some reason it falls apart half way through.

Art School - Silversun

After the weediest "1,2,3,4" you'll ever hear, this starts to sound OK until you realise just how many of the words are wrong, "George Washington, your hair's a mess" I know it's been joked about before, but come on guys! Can't take it seriously after that!

English Rose - ETBG

I was expecting big things from this, thought it would sound great in an "Eden" style arrangement. Very disappointed with the outcome. Double tracked vocal (wonder if that bloody Lynch was involved!) and below-par guitar (by Ben Watt's standards). The track listing says it was recorded in 1982 - anyone know anything about that?

Going Underground - Buffalo Tom

I know there are mixed feelings about this, but I've always liked it, and to be honest when you hear it alongside the rest of the album, for me it stands out. A true interpretation that shows respect.

Butterfly Collector - Garbage

This has been around for a while, but I'd not heard it before. Not bad if you like Garbage, I don't.

The Modern World - Ben Harper

OK, so your embarrassing Uncle invites his mad American half-brother on stage... no, it's not bad really, sung with conviction. It's just the nagging guitar that bothered me, like a kind of a dull toothache.

Town Called Malice - Gene

Now I'd better make it clear that I've never liked Martin Rossiter. This starts off OK (if you like Gene) but then you get the "Hanging out your old Lambrettas" I know it's a bit of an old joke but it completely ruins the song, it's supposed to be a tribute album so show some fecking respect Rossiter you effete wanker (told you I didn't like him).

To Be Someone - Noel G

Noel contrives to make this sound like one of his own songs, and does quite well. He changes some words as well ("expensive yard"! Oh well I guess lyrics aren't his strong point) but to his credit, doesn't try and rhyme "pool" with "call". Worth persevering with if only because it leads to..

No one in the world - PW

The only word is... charming. A more polished version than the demo obviously. Comes across like a long-lost Lionel Bart song. As welcome at the end of this album as a nice hot cup of tea!

The packaging is also disappointing, but I guess we've been spoilt by box-sets recently. Basically it's exactly like the web-site.

Overall I'd give it 3 out of 10. Is it worth buying? That's irrelevant cos you all know you're gonna buy it anyway!

        Hywel Griffiths


NO FIRE OR SKILL

The good taste police should be visiting Ignition for letting this insult to the legacy of the Jam hit our shelves. Anger, passion and energy were the hallmarks of the Jam, but you wouldn't think it from this collection of mellow, whiney tunes.

The few tracks with any merit, came unsurprisingly from those artists with an established musical pedigree. Liam & Steve's version of "Carnation" captured the intensity of the original, and Noel's take on "To be someone", was full of emotion, top tune. Garbage's dark and aggressive cover of "The butterfly collector" is also one of the few highlights, and EBTG's version of "English Rose" was surprisingly average. Expected better from them.

Silversun's pathetic, lack-lustre cover of the punky "Art School" was particularly offensive to the ears, and Gene doing "Malice" was soul destroying. A dying animal would probably sound more tuneful than that tosser of a singer. "The Modern World", well what can I say? I couldn't stop laughing for about half an hour after I heard it. It's so unbelievably bad. I think it's the accent? Give me a cockney Londoner any day!

Weller's contribution "No one in the world", is gruffer, more mature (out of tune?!) than his last effort, but in the word's of Shania Twain "that don't impress me much". Like the rest of this cheap and nasty compilation, the original was far superior. But it'll probably grow on me. Give me a few weeks, and I'll think it's his best song ever.

That only leaves Beastie Boys (Start), worse than some of Mick Talbot's efforts; Reef (That's Entertainment), the guy can't carry a tune, he just shouts!; Buffalo Tom (Going Underground). Melodic is not the word I'd use. The anger was the full point of the song.

Bye for now, an extremely dispensable release. Exploited once again!!

Kimberley McKee


"Got mine yesterday.....can't hide my disappointment. I don't really know what I was expecting!!

Most of the songs covered had a lot of potential, unfortunately, I don't think many realised it. Garbage's version of 'Butterfly Collector' was total crap...The Beastie Boys version of 'Start' I thought started out really good, a funky new way of laying down the track but it fell flat... I think the decision to release Carnation (Craddock/Gallagher) flip side

'Underground' (Buffalo Tom) was the right one as they are decent enough....Gene's rendition of 'Malice' was quite good...but I think the best one on the album is a close call between The Gift or Noel's version of 'To Be Someone'....Other than that I don't think I wasted my twelve quid...but if it had been fifteen....mmmmm......."

Dave


On listening to Fire n Skill today, I donít know how they can call it a tribute. Most of the songs have been stripped of the sheer raw guts. Which in my opinion is what The Jam stood for. And as for Noels "To Be Someone" is he just singing the lyrics over a Oasis tune. If young people buy this not hearing the originals they will think The Jam as some pop crap, which is not on.

 Keep the faith

Mark


Fire & Skill is pretty lame IMHO, even the artwork by Halfon looks like a cheap rip off. Some of the covers are OK to listen to (a pretty strange version of To Be Someone, I'd say), and the secret track is definitely nice (though it's annoying to have to skip through Noel Gallagher's contribution to get to it). No one would really know what The Jam was like or about by being introduced to them through this "tribute". Well, let me ask you: How many really good tribute albums are there? (The Small Faces tribute did have a couple of good tracks and a nice packaging, but I very rarely listen to it).

Niels


I think that Buffalo Tom's version of Going Underground is very good. I think that it brings out the vocal melody of the song much more than the original. I personally like it.

My other favourites are The Beastie Boys version of Start, Heavy Stereo's version of The Gift and Silversun's version of Art School. The rest of the cover versions on the album I don't really care for.

I think that Silversun capture the spirit of the original version of Art School, and some people might be surprised to hear me say that I think Heavy Stereo's version of The Gift equals or betters the original.

I will also defend The Beastie Boys version of Start, because personally I think that there's no point at all in performing a cover version that is identical to the original song. You're just duplicating what's been done before. The test as a creative artist is to offer a new perspective, a new take, on the song. Having said that, I don't like what Garbage have done to The Butterfly Collector, as it's lost all of the bitter-sweetness of the original for me. Reef have butchered That's Entertainment in my opinion. The other covers on the album I think are okay. Carnation is too close to the original for me to like it that much.

So I say well done Buffalo Tom, Heavy Stereo, Silversun and The Beastie Boys.

As die-hard Jam fans it's hard for us all to be objective. I think we can be a bit precious about Jam covers. I mean, I wonder what Curtis Mayfield fans thought about The Jam's version of Move On Up?...

Gareth Collins


Fire and Skill - A tribute to the Jam (Various Artists)

On a scale of 1-10? 3

They've shamed one of the greatest bands in music since the Beatles. They've butchered some of the greatest songs ever written. I've never been too fond of tribute albums, but this one had a very promising lineup, and it was a tribute to one of my all time favourite bands, so I HAD to give it a try.

What I found shocked and frightened me. "Start!" A quintessential Jam song. Who's doing it? The Beastie Boys. Oooooh, maybe the kids'll see this and get into the Jam, right? Wrong. The boys rip the song to pieces, slowing the rhythm down a couple notches and replacing the vocal track with a synthesized horn. If it wasn't noted that the Beastie Boys did this song, no one would have a clue who or what the hell it was. Oh well, there's gotta be better, right? Oooh! Garbage! They've had a few hits, and "The Butterfly Collector", that's a cool Jam song, maybe they'll do it right. They take that song, and this feeling comes over you as you listen to it, like, there's nothing. This is it? The Jam's version grabbed you, touched you. This version leaves you sitting stupefied. "Going Underground". One of THE BEST Jam songs, or songs, ever written. A powerful urgent message to the kids and the public. Buffalo Tom? Who the hell are they? Maybe an indie band who can make up for big names, eh? Let's see. Bastards!!!! BASTARDS!!!!!

They've turned the damn thing into a ballad!!!!! What the bloody hell?!?!?

This album is going nowhere. I need salvation. For the past 6 years I've grown particularly fond of Oasis. I think they're a great band, the best since the Jam. And for god's sake, it's like I'm getting two Oasis tracks on this album!!! Maybe that'll be worth the 17 bucks I just spent. I saw Noel Gallagher perform "To Be Someone" live in 1998. Great song, he played with emotion, and at a nice rolling tempo. Unfortunately, he didn't carry it into the studio when he recorded this version which is so lethargic and drags so much it sounds like he was drunk when he recorded it. For once his brother Liam out does him with his and Steve Cradock's take on "Carnation." Good song, I love it. Why? Cos it's the EXACT same version on "The Gift" only Liam's vocal has been substituted for Paul's.

Although, the video for the song is pretty damn cool. It's good to see Weller playing a Jam song again. This album is a sad excuse for a tribute. Aren't tribute albums supposed to be an overwhelming compliment to the band?

Wouldn't you want to put on your best performance for a tribute? Apparently these artists didn't, and you can tell since the music sounds like this was more of chore than a genuine token of respect in the studio. For all the skill that was put into this project, not much fire came out at all.

The Northern Soul


From The Observer  - 

Since Paul Weller doesn't care to revisit his Jam years on stage, a tribute album re-casting his early, influential songbook is no bad wheeze, and should have amounted to more than this scrappy parade of mostly second division acts. Buffalo Tom's stumbling through Going Underground or Reef's mangling That's Entertainment is dismal homage to a vibrant band. Only the Gallagher Brothers bring anything fresh to the originals; Noel's delivery of To Be Someone is splendidly sour. Weller's own secret track, No One in the World, blows a rare kiss to his past. Otherwise, too little skill, and a woeful lack of punk fire.


And, The NME Review - 

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. 2/10