This has been floating around for ages. I had it, I listened to it, I tried to sell it, and somehow it ended back in my "to listen pile".
At the time I thought this sounded too much like Elvis Costello and I found lot of Elvis Costello boring (yes, even the early stuff before he became American) but to be fair I haven't listened to all of Elvis Costello's albums.
It seems I'm not the only one that thinks this.
That The Jags sound like Elvis Costello not that a lot of Elvis Costello music is boring. Every review of the time or subsequently compares The Jags to Costello or The Rumour – some positively and some referring to them as mimics.
Wikipedia: "The Jags were a British rock band formed in North Yorkshire in 1978, composed of Nick Watkinson (vocals), John Alder (guitar/backing vocals), Steve Prudence (bass), firstly Neil Whittaker and then Alex Baird (drums), Michael Cotton (bass/backing vocals) and Patrick O'Toole (piano/keyboard) … They signed to Island Records in July 1978 and initially released a four-track EP … On 8 September 1979, the power pop single "Back of My Hand", written by Watkinson and left-handed guitarist Alder, entered the UK Singles Chart. It had a chart life of 10 weeks and peaked at number 17. "Back of My Hand" was included on their debut album Evening Standards, which was released the following year. Their follow-up single "Woman's World" entered the UK chart on 2 February 1980 at number 75 – dropping out the next week … 1981 saw the release of their second, and what proved to be, final album, No Tie Like a Present. The Jags disbanded in 1982".
There is a massive power pop fan base on line and The Jags first album seems to get reviewed and commented on a lot but a lot of it is just rehash because the band were short lived, a one (small) hit wonder (in England) and didn't really have a big, lasting impact.
Does this mean they are bad?
No, not at all, music is about enjoyment (for us the listener) but for the band some longevity, notoriety or substanital success would have helped pay the bills.
The Jags were a product of their time but it was a good time. Both sides of the Atlantic (but especially the US) were overrun which power pop bands. The Knack, The Romantics, The DBs, Cheap Trick, The Cars, Dwight Twilley, The Vapors, Bram Tchaikovsky . The Nerrves, The Plimsouls.
Strong song writing, nice harmonies, punchy guitars or touches of 12-String Rickenbacker, lyrics about love or love lost make for pretty good toe tapping listening.
I prefer my power pop American because there seems to be more of a tradition to the 60s (as opposed to just trying to sound 60s) and they also like to mix it up a little and experiment in a genre where bands are not known for their experimentation. Power pop bands tended to stick to the formula (a good one though) and only experimented on subsequent albums. Most power pop bands (like the Jags)) did follow up albums in a different styles altogether rather than tweaking power pop by adding to it.
By all accounts The Jags had the live chops but couldn't escape the Costello shadow.
"One positive constant of the band’s early press coverage is the assertion they were one of the most professional, musically tight and entertaining live acts on the U.K. new-wave/punk-pop circuit. Great rock ‘n’ roll lives onstage; by all accounts the Jags were a great live band. It should be also explained to American readers that the U.K. music press has the deserved reputation in some circles as being vicious and just plain arbitrary. Then, as now, they can saddle a band either as a “next big thing” or as unworthy of any attention—and then hammer the public relentlessly with their pontification. By 1979, Costello had been anointed by the U.K. music press as a pop savior, with all others to be seen as unworthy of even attempting his singular style. The Jags were easy targets as industry newcomers". http://www.magnetmagazine.com/2009/07/31/the-jags-power-goes-pop/
Guitarists Watkinson and Alder join on vocal harmonies and recall the young McCartney and Lennon and others but they aren't The Beatles and they lack the new-wave anger of Graham Parker, Elvis Costello or and Jackson which was rewuired.
Power pop died pretty quickly on the UK whilst in America its legs were a little longer, just a little.
As steam ran out of power pop, the band attempted to change their sound a bit. 1981's "No Tie Like The Present", featured a new direction (and some new personnel) but it was overlooked. They toughened up their sound, toning down the keyboards, amping up the guitars, and ending up sounding more like The Clash
All songs by Watkinson and Alder
Tracks (best in italics)
- Evening Standards – Like a poppy version of The Jam and a good one.
- Party Games – This mid tempo song sounds a little like any number of US power pop bands. Again, this is pretty good.
- Tune Into Heaven – so so
- Last Picture Show – I quite like this
- The Tourist – not too bad
- Desert Island Discs – very Elvis Costello (there! Another person has compared them to Costello). Good lyrics.
- Woman's World – more Costello, still it is quite good.
- Back Of My Hand – an undeniably good song. Very catchy. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Back_of_My_Hand_(The_Jags_song)
- She's So Considerate – zippy, familair power pop which is a lot of fun.
- Little Boy Lost – a power pop song about a little boy lost.
- Single Vision / BWM – more familiar power pop.
This is familiar stuff but done well, and I'm a sucker for some power pop … I'm keeping it.
1979 Back Of My Hand #84
1979 Back Of My Hand #17
1980 Woman's World #75
Tune Into Heaven
Desert Island Discs
Back Of My Hand
- Producer, Engineer – Simon Humphrey, The Jags, Producer – Jon Astley and Phil Chapman (tracks: B3