100 Greatest Songs of the 80’s #98 – The Monochrome Set – The Jet Set Junta

Released: 1983

The early 1980’s was such an incredible period for British pop’s diversity that anything which felt orthodox became somehow uncool: whilst the likes of Billy Mackenzie, Julian Cope, Alison Moyet, Matt Johnson and in particular Johnny Marr were busy reinterpreting what it’s acceptable boundaries were, at the time The Monochrome Set’s retro-classicism seemed dated, even passé.

This quiet condemnation meant that it would be a decade before Damon Albarn would channel Jet Set Junta’s essence on Blur’s eerily cathartic Modern Life Is Rubbish. In these ten years the way points which had linked it’s sixties garage rock, feverish post punk and the midas touch of Ray Davies to our dreams of a globe-conquering musical Albion had seemingly been lost, like the musical equivalent of misplacing an old umbrella.

In hindsight, it’s perhaps a little too pleased with itself, lyrics like “Pop, pop, goes the Cliquot magnum at the reading of the will/Hiss, hiss, goes the snakeskin wallet stuffed with Cruziero bills” seemingly crafted to prevent a connection with the public of either then or now.  But that sort of argument is for churls: every second of this song is cravat smart, punting on the Cam, duty bound ma’am espionage-perfection. There should after all always be an England – especially if it sounds like this.

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