Paul Weller. Once upon a time an angry young man, shaking his impotent fist at the blue faces of Tory oppression. Once upon a time leader of The Jam, the angriest young guitar band in Britain. Once upon a time the leader of The Style Council, the angriest collective of mid-twenties soul fops in Britain. Now: the modfather of dadrock. And, seemingly, no longer relevant.

Though Weller coasted the crest of the Britpop wave in the mid-nineties, held aloft by Oasis, Ocean Colour Scene et al as a beacon of musical inspiration, as the Britpop flame has sputtered, so Weller has, apparently, faded from the frontlines of musical fashion. His sonic template – stitched from the aural corpses of 60s Britpoppers Traffic, The Small Faces and their brethren, and as showcased on new album Heliocentric – is considered passé. The Fashion Police have decreed that Weller is a relic, a man out of touch with the charts, and Radio One aren’t playlisting his new single. It would seem that the only over-35s allowed to make music and be relevant are superstar DJs (the average age of The Chemical Brothers, Fatboy Slim and Basement Jaxx is 68).

 Can this be right? Can it be right that old people are forced to the sidelines, leaving the youngsters to take credit for their musical pioneering? Can only young men make music that other young men want to listen to? Bubblegun sticks its fingers into the musical pie, and plucks out six withered plums. We’re sucking on them now. Here’s how they tasted.


Still, apparently, an ongoing concern, The Stones were once upon a time the most dangerous, sex-fuelled rock group on the planet. Now, with a combined age of around 230 – the equivalent of 14 Britney Spears clones – the Stones are living legends, improbably propping up their instruments like their non-gigging contemporaries prop up zimmer frames. Having been gigging for almost 40 years, the Stones show little sign of hanging up their amps; a 2001 tour is mooted, along with the possibility of another album.

Singer Mick Jagger is rarely out of the tabloids, his tangled love life, and tales of illegitimate offspring making for semi-engaging reading among the masses, and underlining the fact that the rubber-lipped legend is still ruled by the cock.

Even when he’s not bedding exotic lovelies, he’s having performing arts schools named after him, or penning screenplays. And with the exception of the aged dignity of drummer Charlie Watts, his bandmates seem content to extend their hedonistic lifestyles as long as their livers and libidos will allow.

Musically, the Stones authentic Islington Blues is still being ripped off today, on both sides of the Atlantic. But what’s more authentic; Mick Jagger crooning “Awww wrrrright” into the mike, or some greasy-haired middle class upstart trying to sound like Mick Jagger crooning “Awww wrrright” into the mike?

8/10 The Rolling Stones; pensioners that don’t give a fuck.


Never remotely a sex icon, nor, for that matter, an icon, Mr Phil Collins – wide of face and balding since the age of eight – began his musical career at 13, starring as The Artful Dodger, in a stage production of the musical Oliver. At university he joined prog rock softies Genesis as drummer, and once the Tsar Of Uncool, Jonathan King, had discovered them, he was on the road to fame and sacks of cash. He assumed the mantle of singer when Peter Gabriel left the group, gradually imposing his more soulful, poppy, funk-free white-boy sensibilities on the group until there was no discernable difference between Genesis and Phil Collins’ solo efforts.

From a career high in the mid-to-late eighties, which included acting stints in the movie Buster, Collins has seen his fortunes slide. From the tabloid horror which saw his nice guy façade tarnished by an angry, four-letter-strewn fax to his ex-wife, and vocal support of the Conservative Party, Collins has ceased to be, well, liked. At least, not in his native Britain.

He left Genesis a few years ago, the subsequent solo album Dance Into The Light – penned from the Switzerland where he now resides, with some tasty 27 year-old (thus making him more hated still) – was a critical and commercial flop.

Surprisingly, he recently won an Oscar for some song he wrote for Disney’s Tarzan, and was also awarded a heap of money after successfully suing members of his backing band for overpaid royalties. Suffice to say, the millionaire Collins – who once wrote a touching song about what it’s like to be destitute and penniless – needed the money like a fish needs a hook through its gob. However, not everyone hates Collins; a tribute album, recorded by a host of R&B stars, including Eternal, Lil Kim, Montell Jordan and – astonishingly – Ol’ Dirty Bastard, is in the works, and Genesis is rumoured to be reforming for a one-off performance at this summer’s Wembley Stadium farewell concert. But, well, y’know… this is Phil Collins, man.

1/10 He’s bald, he’s rich, and he writes songs for Disney.


Practitioner of tantric sex, saviour of the rainforests, and seemingly immortal – he hasn’t aged in 20 years – Sting has nevertheless settled in a gentle, easy-listening groove since The Police split in the mid-eighties. The former reggae white-boys stuffed a clutch of quality “choons” beneath their strap during their short life, and even managed to be credible for a time. ‘Twas only when Sting dulled himself up, and – as all rockstars of a certain age seem to do – attempted acting that former teacher Gordon Sumner ceased to be credible.

Nevertheless, Sting’s most recent album, Brand New Day, and supporting corporate-backed tour, have seen the lithe, gravel-voiced songwriter grasping at the fires of relevance. A mix of jazz, hip-hop, worldbeat and, most improbably, trip-hop, Brand New Day is, nevertheless, wearyingly dull. Then again, Sting and wife Trudi Styler were the financing force behind uber-hip Brit flick Lock, Stock And Two Smoking Barrells, so he’s not a total fad-vacuum

3/10 Stick to the executive producing, son.


Was anyone aware that The Quo had a new album out? Having a few years ago unsuccessfully sued Radio One for not playing their records, Status Quo have seemingly accepted that they are no longer wanted by anyone but the dedicated legion of denim-clad misfits that make up their fanbase. Though to be commended for refusing to bow to Daddy Cool, and change their clothes, hairstyles or musical blueprint in over 30 years, the Quo have become a Jive Bunny-like cabaret act, peddling their wares to the Butlins granny crowd.

Their latest album, the perhaps ironically-titled Famous In The Last Century, is yet another collection of rock and roll cover versions (and one ”original” track). Perhaps they don’t care anymore, or perhaps they do. Either way, there’d be few who’d mourn their passing.

1/10 Not even Rick Parfitt’s anecdotal 1970s cocaine intake could make them hip again.


Undoubtedly the most influential solo artist Britain has ever produced, David Bowie was the eponymous musical chameleon, kick-starting glam, androgynous rock, electro-pop and new romanticism before leaving the trends behind for newer pastures, while others recycled his droppings. And yet by the early nineties he was faced with public indifference, and out-and-out derision when his recital of The Lord’s Prayer at the Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert was heckled by an amused crowd.

However, Bowie, now 53, has somehow engineered a reversal in his fortunes. The nadir of his career – signposted by the ill-conceived Tin Machine group project – is behind him, and last year’s Hours… album ushered in a new critical respect for the former Thin Funny-Eyed Bad-Toothed White Duke. Though no longer a musical pioneer, Bowie nevertheless can churn out a decent song, and his experiments with the Internet – though viewed by some as naïve bandwagon-jumping – are in keeping with his adventurous, restless spirit. If nothing else, you have to admire a man approaching pensionable age who can get away with that haircut.

7/10 He used to bum-up men, you know.


The Who’s songwriter and spiritual leader, Pete Townshend is an angry, uncompromising old man. The big-nosed freak has apparently mellowed not one iota with maturity; at a pair of recent shows he was still verbally sparring with his bandmates, and trashing equipment. In contrast to singer Roger Daltry – whose trout farms and American Express commercials are the uncool yang to Townshend’s angry old ying – Townshend can still cut it as a proper rock star.

As a collective The Who – sans dead drummer Keith Moon – can still cut it live. Those recent London reunion shows were attended by the glitterati of contemporary British rock, underlining the influence the 35 year-old group has had on the musical landscape. The promise of a new tour, possibly followed by an all-new studio album, is a prospect to savour. If any one rock dinosaur can keep the music real, it’s the venomous, confrontational Townshend, miserable old guitar bugger that he is. That said, we hope he gets mugged for his pension money if the record is crap.

7/10 They are the mods. 


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