We’re dipping into the Far Out Magazine vault to bring you a poetically powerful cover of The Jam’s ‘That’s Entertainment’ from none other than The Smiths’ dynamic lead singer, Morrissey.
Legend has it that Paul Weller wrote ‘That’s Entertainment’, The Jam’s vision of a society he saw crumbling under Magaret Thatcher’s Conservatives, in under ten minutes while a bit drunk. However annoying that may be, the song’s shining quality remains and has garnered many covers over the years. But none hit quite like Morrissey’s 1991 version.
Released as a B-side in ’91 Morrissey takes Weller’s initial vision and adds a certain poetic quality that only Morrissey can. While The Jam may have been providing the working classes with an indirect hit of poetry in their punk songs for some years now on ‘That’s Entertainment’ Weller is more explicit with his deliberately evocative imagery. That is, until Morrissey takes it to a new level.
Whether it’s because we expect poetry from Morrissey, or are more willing to listen to the poet reciting anyone’s words than we are the average man reciting poetry, is up for debate. But for whatever it’s worth, Moz elevates the song with his iconic vocal and morose leanings.
The 1991 B-side is a touching tribute to the song gone by (and features none other than Chas Smash from Madness on backing vocals), but it is in the live performance that Morrissey really begins to kick things up a notch. Giving Morrissey an audience to connect to will always increase his performance and that can easily be said for this cover of The Jam’s ‘That’s Entertainment’.
Sadly, while Morrissey’s professional admiration for The Jam and Paul Weller is clear, the Modfather isn’t exactly a big fan of Moz’s. After saying he’d enjoyed a few of The Smiths’ singles, Weller said, “I’m certainly not a fan of Morrissey’s solo stuff. It’s a weird thing, because he’s a bit of a fan of mine. But it’s not reciprocated. It bugs me, I don’t want to diss him in print, but he’s a quintessential Englishman but lives in L.A.”
Weller sang the song with a subdued modesty, quiet anger, that resonated through the words with a menacing subtlety. Whereas Morrissey is flagrant and resigned, he adds a poignancy that is otherwise lost.
Listen below to Morrissey covering The Jam’s ‘That’s Entertainment’ with the 1991 official release below.