Wednesday, March 18, 2009

my name is jack

r. crumb by charles burns.

This single, released on Fontana in the early summer of 1968 - dragging on the heels of a 45 version of Dylan's "Mighty Quinn" and Mann's theme from the kitchen sink drama, "Up the Junction" - reached the number 8 spot on the UK charts but did not even break the Top 100 in the US.

A John Simon composition, lyrically there is little about the song to merit critical favour. It is an anachronism which touches on real issues only in the most hideously superficial sense, a populist piece of bubblegum flavoured crap, but for all its crassness it nevertheless seems to form a concrete bridge of sorts between that era and the more cynical 1970's where groups like the Tom Robinson Band were positioned to explore similar avenues with sensitivity and a genuine impetus to effect change.

Whenever I hear this song I think of child actor, Jack Wilde and his rise and descent from "Oliver" through "H.R. Pufnstuf" into alcoholism and obscurity. Worse, it also makes me dwell uncomfortably on newsreel footage of Fred and Rosemary West and their house of horrors on Cromwell Street.

Whatever. In essence, it is greater than the sum of its parts.

MANFRED MANN: MY NAME IS JACK from "My Name Is Jack b/w There Is A Man" 45 (Fontana) 1968 (UK)

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