What do Vivienne Westwood, klezmer music, a man with the adopted last name Terricloth and Billy Joel have in common? Well, frankly, not a lot except for today’s Traffic Jam, which happens to be “Only Anarchists Are Pretty” by the incomparable World/Inferno Friendship Society. I’ll explain that Billy Joel thing in a second.
If you’re not familiar with The World/Inferno Friendship Society – and let’s face it, you probably aren’t – they were a revolving collective of musicians from Brooklyn, NY, that got its start way back in 1996. The band fused the sounds of punk, cabaret, jazz, klezmer and soul music into a totally unique vibe that carried the band through seven full-length albums, including a concept album about actor Peter Lorre. Singer Jack Terricloth (real name Peter Ventantonio) was the only constant member throughout the band’s history until his death in 2021 at age 50.
Our song, “Only Anarchists Are Pretty,” was released on the 2006 album Red-Eyed Soul and is a reference to a shirt that Terricloth saw on a young woman in Prague while on tour in the 1990s. That shirt – unbeknownst to him at the time – was an homage to a shirt created by fashion icon Vivienne Westwood in the late 1970s as a celebration of nascent punk culture in her native England.
Ok, that takes care of Vivienne Westwood, klezmer and Terricloth, but what does Billy Joel have to do with any of it?
Here’s the thing: Billy Joel pretty much sucks (except Glass Houses, which totally fucked, and I don’t want to hear whining from the commentariat. This is not a cheerocracy, it’s a cheertatorship), but songs with a hard BJ vibe tend to rule (see also: Spoon’s “The Underdog”) and “Only Anarchists Are Pretty” definitely skews Joel, plus it adds one of the best singalong choruses to come out in the last 20 years.
So, drop the top on your shitbox, crank up the Blaupunkt and let ‘er rip with this absolute banger because it’s not going to stay summer forever.