look what happened – less than jake

It’s a neat thing when bands do-over their own songs. Not because they’re cashing in on the hits of yesteryear (that’s not so neat) but when they’re taking another run at something that is already out there.

Less Than Jake are a waaaaay better band than most give them credit for. Admittedly their image as crusty ska punk party animals who unfurl toilet paper on to their audience and wear giant cartoon heads onstage is their own doing. They really don’t help themselves. Underneath all that twatting about they have written some very insightful and heartfelt songs about the suburban condition.

The small town malaise that can kill ambition before it is born and the fear felt in the youth of these places that they will miss their window to get out is something I can relate to. So songs about a boring life in a boring town became LTJ’s stock in trade.

Look What Happened first appeared on their millennium year release Borders And Boundaries. An album full of great songs on which Look What Happened held it’s own as a slow building rocker with twin lead vocals and a spirit of defiance against the mundane. After a phone message bleeps in and out in Japanese the songs  contemplative intro gives way to horns and punk rock riffing.

Both lead vocalists took turns with the refrain ‘And I swear it’s the last time, and I swear it’s my last try’ to tell different perspectives of getting out and getting on. Great song, loved it. I remember it going down a storm at the Astoria shows the band played in 2001 which have since been released as a live album recently.

Three years later the track surfaced again in a different form on the bands Sire records release (and LTJ’s biggest commercial success) Anthem. This time Look What Happened is gruffer, heavier and faster. The verses are snarkier and the gentle ending of the previous version is replaced with bluster.

To a casual listener these two songs are the same. To an obsessive song nerd they’re a fascinating contrast. Look What Happened is a really great song which ever version you hear.

 

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