I can’t decide whether I love or hate Devlin’s cover version of The Jam’s classic track Town Called Malice. As anyone who knows me, or has ever seen my last.fm profile will know, I think Paul Weller is an absolute genius, and one of the best British musicians of the last 30 years. In fact just one of the best musicians of the last 30 years from anywhere. I’m therefore a bit nervous of cover versions of his work, and one by a young British rapper, such as Devlin, isn’t one that I would imagine liking.
It’s not even really a cover version, as he changed the lyrics (which were originally about Weller’s home-town Woking, which was also the nearest town to where I grew-up and is, as the song suggested, what one might politely describe as a bit of a shit-hole. Devlin keeps the spirit of those lyrics, but moves them to modern-day Dagenham, another place that is unlikely to win the award of the prettiest place in England. He raps these new verses in a typically English shouty style, but has quite a pleasant voice when he signs a few bars towards the end.
So, what’s the final verdict on Devlin’s cover of Town Called Malice? I think it’s a positive one – it’s nice to see it being given a fresh sound, and good to know that Weller is still inspiring new music over 30 years since he was a young musician himself. And the great man obviously likes it as he asked Devlin to remix his recent track Fast Car, Slow Traffic. Which is crap. So let’s finish with the original version of Town Called Malice, still an amazing track, even now.
Woking station by Mark Hilary on flickr