Monday, 6 May 2013

The Jam

It was thirty years ago that The Jam released their greatest hits farewell LP, “Snap”, having disbanded at the very end of 1982. Since that time, the band’s appeal has never diminished, helped I guess by leader Paul Weller continuing to have a fairly high profile career with both The Style Council and as a solo artist. There have been continuous calls for the band to reform, and even though each member of the band has collaborated with one other on at least one occasion in the last decade, Weller has shown no interest in revisiting his past.

Last year saw a 4 disc reissue of the band’s final studio LP, “The Gift”, and with expanded reissues of most of the group’s celebrated studio outings having already been released beforehand, you would assume that should be the final repackaging of the band’s quite prolific output - six studio records in five years. It probably won’t be, but let’s pretend it will be, and thus this article is designed to look at what has appeared in Jam Land.


Like most bands, The Jam had a long gestation period at the start of their career, with some minor variations in line up, the earliest recorded incarnation of the band dating way back to 1972. By 1977, the line up had settled down into the classic trio of Weller, Bruce Foxton and Rick Buckler. Emerging just as Punk was going overground, The Jam’s power pop energy saw them being categorized alongside the likes of the Pistols and The Clash, but the band’s sound and look was not quite 100% Punk. Not only were the band happily acknowledging influences of bands from the sixties, groups that Punks were supposed to hate as being “dinosaur acts”, but the group’s love of soul music and mod culture, saw them decked out not in day-glo hair and safety pins, but in sharp suits and matching ties. Detractors of the group tagged them retro style “revivalists”, but in truth, the fact was that The Jam were really one step ahead, and this would prove to be to their advantage.

Debut album “In The City” appeared in May 1977, the title track of the LP having been trailed as a single a month before. It had a vibrant energy running through it, and the inclusion of songs also covered by The Beatles and The Who showed their primary influences. The album went top 20, the single top 40, and The Jam looked to have arrived seemingly overnight. Following a glorious stand alone single “All Around The World” a few months later, the band’s second album, “This Is The Modern World” appeared before the end of 77. It has long been dismissed as a rush job, an attempt to cobble together something for the record company, but it has it’s admirers, and it’s reputation seems to have improved in recent years. It came in a superb sleeve of the trio standing near a pair of tower blocks, Weller looking ultra-cool in his “double arrow” jumper.

Another stand alone 45, the energetic scowl of “News Of The World”, followed in the spring of 78. Written by bassist Foxton, who also sang lead vocals on it, it suggested good times ahead. But Weller, seen as the band’s principle songwriter, was going through writers block, and material for a planned third album was put together consisting mostly of Foxton penned tunes, which the band’s label flatly refused to release. The Jam, having survived “second album syndrome”, were now in danger of actually struggling to release a third.

Weller decided to fully embrace his love of The Who and The Kinks, and set about writing songs that either recalled the spiky R&B of the former (the final guitar shredding section of “In The Crowd”, the pumping energy of “’A’ Bomb In Wardour Street”), or the pure Englishness of the latter (the lyrical detail in “Down In The Tube Station At Midnight”, the cover of The Kinks very own “David Watts”), and in doing so, came up with a more coherent, and memorable LP, than the “Modern World” record. 1978‘s “All Mod Cons” is now seen as the band’s first bona fide classic, if not THE bona fide Jam classic. It was also home to the astonishingly beautiful “English Rose”, written by Weller about his first girlfriend, consisting of nothing more than Weller, acoustic guitar, and a recording of waves crashing on a beach. Originally, the LP made no mention of the song, it appeared as a bizarre “hidden” fifth track, and although some claimed this was because the band were worried it was so un-Jam-like, Weller later explained that the song only made sense when you listened to it, and that having the title and lyrics printed on the album would have meant nothing.

“All Mod Cons” resurrected the band’s career. The singles released from the LP, all of which appeared in “single mix” form, were all sizeable hits, and the album was a critical and commercial success. More stand alone singles followed in 1979 (“Strange Town” and “When You’re Young”), before the release of album number 4, “Setting Sons”, trailed by the politically charged “Eton Rifles”. Determined to not sit still now that he had rediscovered his song writing mojo, the album was originally designed to be a sort of concept album about three friends who lose contact with each other, but get in touch after a war, only to find that they have grown apart - the concept was abandoned, but the cover image of three soldiers in an embrace depicts the original plan, and is a quite touching image. The album retained the band’s trademark spiky power pop sound, and despite some reservations about the inclusion of another cover-version-via-The Who at the end of the LP, “Heatwave”, it’s seen by some as being as good, if not better, than “All Mod Cons”.

By now, The Jam were fast becoming superstars in the UK. And I don’t mean that lightly. Gigs were selling out, and single sales were improving rapidly. When another stand alone 45, the double A of “Going Underground” and “Dreams Of Children” was issued at the start of 1980, it went to number 1. So did “Start”, the lead single from the next studio LP, “Sound Affects”, and the band’s own “tribute” to the Beatles’ “Taxman”. Such was their popularity, that when German import copies of the “That’s Entertainment” 45 began to appear in the UK, sales were so brisk that the single charted at number 21 on import sales alone, as no UK release was planned. Never before had an imported single sold so well before, not by The Beatles, Stones or anybody.

1981‘s “Sound Affects” was the third classic LP on the trot, drawing influences from both post-punk acts like Joy Division (listen to the rhythmic strut of “Pretty Green“), and in a throwback to their mod days, soul acts and the likes of Michael Jackson (“Boy About Town” is a euphoric horn driven Northern Soul style stomper). The original plan was to try and make each song less then three minutes in length, giving it the feel of being an LP full of hit singles in waiting, but this didn’t quite work, and a number of songs that made the LP exceeded this time limit. In the UK, it became their highest charting LP to date, reaching number 2.

At the tail end of the year, the band released another stand alone 45, the incendiary “Funeral Pyre”, driven along by Buckler’s insistent drum patterns, and Weller’s own terrifying lyrics (“in the funeral pyre, we’ll watch the flames grow higher”). It too seemed to recall the edgy post punk stylings that inhabited parts of “Sound Affects”, but the follow up single changed everything. “Absolute Beginners” sounded unlike anything the group had ever recorded before. At a push, it did take the Northern Soul influence of “Boy About Town” as it‘s starting point, but this time, expanded the concept to it’s limits - up until this point, The Jam were very much a three piece power pop guitar band, now they sounded like Earth Wind And Fire, guitars being used simply to fill the spaces rather than being used to drive the song along, and there were horns and trumpets everywhere. I bloody love it. The record company later claimed they wished it had been a B-side, presumably because it didn’t sound like The Jam, but it’s a crucial 45, because it more or less shows you how the band were about to split up.

In January 1982, The Jam returned with a double A side offering from their next studio album, “The Gift”. On one side was “Town Called Malice”, another Northern Soul style whammy, but with some rather dark and depressing lyrics, perfectly summing up the hopelessness and humdrum of Thatcher’s Britain, whilst on the flipside, was a non more groovy outing called “Precious”, all wah-wah guitars and operating at a level of funk that Prince would have been proud of. A 12” single was issued, offering alternate versions of both sides - “Malice” appeared in live form, whilst “Precious” was extended to 12-inch length, the first time the band had really gone totally disco. The single hit number 1, and the band got to perform both songs on “Top Of The Pops” one after the other on the same edition of the show, a feat unheard of since the days of The Beatles, and offered to the band due to their now huge popularity.

“The Gift” became the band’s first number 1 album. It was originally housed in a striped carrier bag, which bore the legend “A Gift...”, which are now as rare as gold dust. The album was a full blown funk and soul horn-driven party-style extravaganza, absolutely buzzing with energy, most noticeably on the gloriously simple yet thrilling “Trans Global Express” (sample lyric: ba ba ba ba ba ba, ba ba ba ba), or on the pounding “Running On The Spot”, but it was not all hi-energy Maximum R&B excursions, “Carnation” with it’s beautiful piano solo recalled early John Lennon. Some critics were unsure, and you will see some so-so reviews scattered around the net - the idea of three punks making an album that sounded more like a Hot Chocolate LP seemed to baffle some people. And indeed, it seems that nobody in the band except Weller was fully convinced or enamoured by this about-turn transition.

The album’s release was followed by another stand alone single, the towering epic beauty that was the string laden “Bitterest Pill”, which - excluding the import singles that were charting inside the top 30 - was their seventh top 10 hit in a row, proof that even though some were unsure of their new direction, the somewhat devoted fan base were not disowning them. But despite the group’s continuing popularity, Weller was starting to feel edgy. He was being torn in different directions. Firstly, he was worried that the band were in danger of outstaying their welcome - I seem to recall he had been quite vocal about why some heritage acts were still carrying on for years after their best days were behind them, I am sure he had a bit of a falling out with Pete Townshend for not splitting up The Who after Keith Moon died - whilst he was also not sure that the three piece guitar band was the ideal vehicle for carrying on with the funk and soul direction he was now taking, and wanted to continue to take. And so, he decided to split the band with them at the very top of their game both on stage and in the charts, something which left the remaining band members distraught and upset. A final farewell tour in December 82 saw them filling the enormodromes of Wembley Arena night after night, and a live album consisting of recordings from throughout their career, from club gigs in 77 up to the present day, called “Dig The New Breed” was released to coincide. After a final, slightly bad tempered show in Brighton, Mod Central if you wish, where the band climaxed as you might have expected from such a single minded man like Weller, with the title track of the last LP, rather than say “Going Underground”, that was it.


In 1983, Polydor issued “Snap”. It was a double album trawl through the hits, padded out to double LP length via the inclusion of various bonus album tracks. Where a single had been lifted from an LP, but issued in “single mix” form, it was these single mixes which made the set. “Funeral Pyre” appeared in a slightly remixed form to the original 45, whilst the version of “That’s Entertainment” was a previously unheard demo version. The album included a free 4-track “Live” EP, consisting of some previously unheard recordings from one of the Wembley “Farewell” shows in 1982. Some of these songs later appeared on a live album included with the 2012 boxset edition of “The Gift”, but not all.

In 1985, a CD version of the album was produced entitled “Compact Snap”. Space restrictions meant that some songs from the original would have to be omitted for this release, and so the decision was taken to remove all of the extra album tracks for this release (the “Live” EP was also, obviously, not included). Nonetheless, you did get all sixteen of the singles the band originally issued in the UK, and where the single was a double AA you got both sides, so this in many respects was a perfect singles collection, more so even than “Snap”. The demo version of “That’s Entertainment” was included again, and only “Just Who Is The 5 O’Clock Hero” was missing from the set, on the basis it was only officially released on 45 in the UK after the band had split.

In the years that followed, The Jam were allowed to be laid to rest, and it was The Style Council who kept Weller in the public eye. The fluidity of the line up, along with the fact that instrumentals were in, and anyone, not just Weller, could take lead vocals on any song, saw him achieving his aim of having a “collective” as his outlet for his more pop-oriented songs, something he thought was impossible to do with The Jam. But by 1991, with Weller now having gone solo after the short lived Paul Weller Movement had come and gone, Polydor decided to bring The Jam back into public gaze. This was done by the release of the “Greatest Hits” LP, a slightly pointless release post-”Snap”, but which went down a slightly alternate route by offering up all of the band’s 18 (including imports) singles, along with “Precious”. Quite why one AA side made the set, and none of the others did, I don’t know, but it was obviously designed to try and showcase the band’s 45 output in the UK. Also issued at the same time was a collection of promo videos, but this was simply nothing more than a track by track reissue of an earlier VHS, “Video Snap”. To help plug the LP, “That’s Entertainment” was reissued in a new sleeve, on a variety of formats. The various B-sides had all been issued before, but were nonetheless interesting items - the live version of “Down In The Tube Station At Midnight” that appeared on the flip of the original German 7” was here again, whilst the 12” and CD editions added the live version of “Town Called Malice” from the original “Malice” 12”.

A companion release, “Extras”, appeared in 1992. A far more interesting release, this one was aimed more at the collector, and cobbled together B-sides, rarities and previously unreleased material. Many of the band’s B-sides were included, but several for some reason were missing (“War”, for example), this must have been done to try and free up extra space for the unreleased songs. Both tracks from the “Pop Art Poem”/”Boy About Town” fan club flexi issued in the early 80’s were included, although the latter was remixed for the set, as was the cover of The Who’s “Disguises”, originally the flip of “Funeral Pyre”. Also included was “The Great Depression”, a b-side never originally released in the UK during the band’s existence, as it had appeared on the import only “Just Who Is The 5 O’Clock Hero” 45, only appearing in the UK for the first time - officially - when the single was released in 1983. Again, a “new” Jam single appeared to promote the record, “The Dreams Of Children”. Originally issued as a AA-side with “Going Underground”, legend goes that the original 7” was supposed to feature “Dreams” as the lead a-side, but that the labels got mixed up, and “Going Underground” became the lead track. Although issued as a AA, few referred to it as such, and “Going Underground” became one of the most famous Jam records. As such, “Dreams Of Children” got somewhat relegated, which explains it’s appearance on “Extras” rather than “Greatest Hits”. Again, old live b-sides were used as flipsides, with two of the three live tracks from the original “Going Underground” doublepack appearing on several of the editions. The third track on the original doublepack, in case you were wondering, was the same live version of “Tube Station” that had appeared on the “That’s Entertainment” single.

Another live album appeared in 1993. “Live Jam” was for the most part a trawl through previously unheard recordings from throughout the band’s career, although the three live tracks from the “Going Underground” doublepack were here again, albeit in remixed form. Also included was the live version of “Town Called Malice” once again. It was followed in 1996 by “The Jam Collection”, a slightly odd compilation of album tracks and B-sides. Included was the one “missing” single from “Greatest Hits” (“5 O’Clock Hero”) but it was still an odd release. It was the sort of album that you would have expected from a budget label (and The Jam have had a few of those), but this was a much hyped major Polydor release, and seems to have been done to showcase the non hit making side of the band. Trouble was, several B-sides were still missing again, so it feels like a wasted opportunity.

But 1997’s “Direction Reaction Creation” made up for it. A 5-CD boxset which attempted to include everything the band had ever recorded (nearly), it included all of the band’s A-sides, studio B-sides and album tracks, with the final disc being devoted to demo recordings and unreleased bits and bobs. The box ran in chronological order, so it opened with both sides of the “In The City” single (although the LP mix of the track was used rather than the 7”), then you had everything else from the first LP thereafter. Live recordings were excluded, so the b-sides from “The Modern World” etc, were all missing.

In most instances, where a single had been lifted from an album and had been edited for 45 use, it was actually the album mix only which made the boxset, although the 7” mix of “Start” was used instead of the LP version. Both versions of the Foxton penned “Smithers Jones” were included though, mainly because the orchestral remake made for “Setting Sons” was so radically different from the original version that had surfaced as a B-side. The versions of “Funeral Pyre” and “That’s Entertainment” were the originals, and not the revamps used on “Snap”, whilst the 12“ mix of “Precious“ was used in preference over the LP version.

A companion greatest hits release, “The Very Best Of The Jam” appeared more or less at the same time. Whilst you could argue about the pointlessness of this one, it actually nailed it as regards the band on 45, as you got all of the 16 singles, both of the “import only“ singles, and the other songs from the AA releases. 21 songs in total, job done. That didn’t stop the release of another best of set, “The Sound Of The Jam”, appearing in 2002.

To coincide with the “Very Best Of”, “The Bitterest Pill” was issued as a single again. There was nothing rare on any of the formats issued, the CD added some bonus tracks from the “DRC” boxset, but that was it. 1999 meanwhile saw the re-release of the “Going Underground”/”Dreams Of Children” single, which appeared as a 2 track CD Single, designed to look like a vinyl single - it came in a sleeve apeing the old Polydor “red” singles sleeve, and seemed to have been released for no obvious reason, although there was a Jam tribute LP, “Fire And Skill”, issued the same year.

With 2002 marking the 25th anniversary of the band’s debut releases, the original “In The City” 7” was reissued - at 1977 prices. The front and rear covers were basically the same, just the usual variations such as a new catalogue number and barcodes showing a difference between this release and the 1977 one, plus a plug on the back for the “Sound Of The Jam“ comp.

The 45rpm Box Sets

Although they rarely get talked about as being a singles band, a la Madness, The Jam and the 7” single go hand in hand. Not only did they issue a sizeable number of stand alone 45’s, and non album B-sides, but nearly all of The Jam’s singles got a second lease of life - twice - in the early 1980’s.

Many of the Jam’s singles re-entered the charts in 1980, following the number 1 success of “Going Underground”, and again in 1983 after they had split. As I was far too young to remember quite how this was achieved, I can’t quite confirm if the old singles were simply repressed to meet demand, or if there was a specific reissue campaign. What is known, is that many Jam singles were re-pressed AT SOME POINT, housed not in their original picture sleeves, but in plain white die cut sleeves. It is also understood that these repressings used different coloured labels to the original first pressings. My wife thinks she bought a few Jam singles in these white bags, and seems to think they were later pressings of current singles that were still on the charts, rather than a 1980 or 83 revamp. Even the excellent site seems to be unable to shed any light on these versions, but I did see a reference on the Discogs site claiming the 80‘s repressings were housed in picture covers, but featured differences that set them apart from the original issues.

In 2001, the original 18 singles (the 16 UK ones, and the two import ones) were repressed on CD for inclusion in a pair of excellent box sets, both called “45 RPM”. The first one covered the nine single releases from 1977 to 1979 (Polydor 587 610-2), the second the seven UK 45’s and two import copies from 1980 to 1982 (Polydor 587 620-2). Each disc featured an original single in a reproduced sleeve, with the original B-side(s) present and correct. Because the aim of the boxes was to showcase the link between The Jam and the 7” format, tracks that only ever appeared on 12” were thus absent - so no ’Live’ “Malice” or 12” mix of “Previous”.

Where a video existed for the A-side, this was included as a bonus on the relevant single, but given that previous Jam compilation videos had included clips for tracks that were never singles, this meant that the likes of “Video Snap” retained exclusive material, making the addition of these bonus videos a nice, but ultimately pointless, exercise.

The second box is probably more interesting, simply because it includes the two Jam singles that appeared as 7” doublepacks - “Going Underground” and “Beat Surrender”, and they come in the relevant sleeves with all additional B-sides intact. The “Beat Surrender” disc comes in a gatefold sleeve, thus mirroring the 1982 release, and is therefore also housed in the “flag” sleeve, rather than the “girl” sleeve. The two import singles are repressings of the original German releases, rather than the later UK reissues, and as such, the “That’s Entertainment” disc retains it’s original Metronome, rather than Polydor, detailing.

Each box came with a booklet, and a limited edition art print. Some years later, the two boxsets were repressed as 7” single box sets, and thus, to all intents and purposes, featured individual discs that looked the same as their original releases from twenty plus years before.


This list should be fairly self explanatory. Original Live, Studio and Compilation LP’s from when the band were “in existence” are first, followed by notable posthumous releases. The 7” singles list shows what was used as the source material for the “45 RPM” boxsets, whilst this is a followed by a list of “other” singles that were not particularly represented by these releases. Enjoy.


In The City (LP, Polydor 2383 447)
This Is The Modern World (LP, Polydor 2383 475)
All Mod Cons (LP, Polydor POLD 5008)
Setting Sons (LP, Polydor POLD 5028)
Sound Affects (LP, Polydor POLD 5035)
The Gift (LP, initial copies in carrier bag, Polydor POLD 5055)
Dig The New Breed (LP, Polydor POLD 5075)
Snap (2xLP + 7”, Polydor SNAP 1)


Compact Snap (CD, Polydor 821 712-2)
Greatest Hits (CD, Polydor 849 554-2)
Extras (CD, Polydor 513 177-2)
Live Jam (CD, Polydor 519 667-2)
The Jam Collection (CD, Polydor 531 493-2)
Direction Reaction Creation (5xCD, Polydor 537 143-2)
The Very Best Of The Jam (CD, Polydor 537 423-2)
This Is The Modern World / All Mod Cons (US “2 On 1” CD, Universal 314 549 396-2, plus bonus tracks)
The Sound Of The Jam (2xCD, Polydor 589 781-2)
The Jam At The BBC (3xCD, Polydor 589 6902, limited edition release with free “At The Rainbow” CD, later copies omit this disc)
All Mod Cons (2006 expanded reissue, CD+DVD, Polydor 983 9238)
Setting Sons (US 2001 expanded reissue, CD, Universal 314 549 631-2)
Sound Affects (2010 expanded reissue, 2xCD, Polydor 533 0678)
The Gift (2012 expanded reissue, 3xCD+DVD, Polydor 06002 537 1933 2)
Copenhagen April 1982 (Mail Order LP, Polydor 06025 37185955, all songs lifted from "The Gift" Box Set)


In The City (7” Mix)/Takin’ My Love (7”, Polydor 2058 866)
All Around The World/Carnaby Street (7”, Polydor 2058 903)
The Modern World (7” Mix)/Sweet Soul Music (Live, London 100 Club 11.9.1977)/Back In My Arms Again (Live, London 100 Club 11.9.1977)/Bricks And Mortar (Live, London 100 Club 11.9.1977) (7”, Polydor 2058 945)
News Of The World/Aunties And Uncles/Innocent Man (7”, Polydor 2058 995)
David Watts (7” Mix)/”A” Bomb In Wardour Street (7“ Mix) (AA 7”, Polydor 2059 054)
Down In The Tube Station At Midnight (7” Mix)/So Sad About Us/The Night (7”, Polydor POSP 8)
Strange Town/The Butterfly Collector (7”, Polydor POSP 34)
When You’re Young/Smithers-Jones (7”, Polydor POSP 69)
The Eton Rifles (7” Mix)/See Saw (7”, Polydor POSP 83)
Going Underground/The Dreams Of Children/Away From The Numbers (Live, London Rainbow Theatre 3.11.1979)/The Modern World (Live, London Rainbow Theatre 3.11.1979)/Down In The Tube Station At Midnight (Live, London Rainbow Theatre 3.11.1979) (AA 2x7”, Polydor POSPJ 113, also available as standard 7” without live tracks with alt. catalogue number)
Start (7” Mix)/Liza Radley (7”, Polydor 2059 266)
That’s Entertainment/Down In The Tube Station At Midnight (Live, London Rainbow Theatre 3.11.1979) (German 7”, Metronome 0030.364, later officially released in UK as POSP 482)
Funeral Pyre/Disguises (7”, Polydor POSP 257)
Absolute Beginners/Tales From The Riverbank (7”, Polydor POSP 350)
Just Who Is The 5 O’Clock Hero/The Great Depression (German 7”, POSP 2059 504, later officially released in UK as POSP 483 with extra B-side “War“)
Town Called Malice/Precious (AA 7”, Polydor POSP 400)
The Bitterest Pill (I Ever Had To Swallow)/Pity Poor Alfie/Fever (7”, Polydor POSP 505)
Beat Surrender/Shopping/Move On Up/Stoned Out Of My Mind/War (2x7”, Polydor POSPJ 540, “flag” p/s, also on 12“)


When You’re Young (Live, Newcastle City Hall 28.11.1980) (7” Flexi, Lyntone no cat. No.)
Pop Art Poem/Boy About Town (Alternate) (7” Flexi, Flexipop FLEXIPOP002, later issued as standard 7”)
Tales From The Riverbank (Alternate) (7” Flexi, Lyntone no cat. No.)
Town Called Malice (Live, London Hammersmith Palais 14.12.1981)/Precious (Extended Mix) (12”, Polydor POSPX 400, striped die cut sleeve)
Beat Surrender/Shopping (7”, Polydor POSP 540, “Girl” p/s)
Move On Up (7” Flexi, Polydor PAULO 100)
The Peel Sessions EP: In The City (Peel Session)/Art School (Peel Session)/I’ve Changed My Address (Peel Session)/The Modern World (Peel Session) (CD, Strange Fruit SFPSCD 080, also on 12”)
That’s Entertainment/Down In The Tube Station At Midnight (Live, London Rainbow Theatre 3.11.1979) (7”, Polydor 867 380-7, 1991 reissue, also on Cassette, 12“ and CD editions add “Hammersmith Palais“ version of “Town Called Malice“)
The Dreams Of Children/Away From The Numbers (Live, London Rainbow Theatre 3.11.1979)/The Modern World (Live, London Rainbow Theatre 3.11.1979) (CD, Polydor PZCD 199, also on 12”, 7” and Cassette copies omit “The Modern World”, 1992 issue)
The Bitterest Pill (I Ever Had To Swallow)/The Butterfly Collector (7”, Polydor 571 598-7, CD adds alternate mixes of “That’s Entertainment” and “The Bitterest Pill” from 1997 boxset)
Going Underground/The Dreams Of Children (AA CD Single, Polydor 561 4792, 1999 “European“ release)
In The City/Takin’ My Love (7”, Polydor 587 6117, 25th Anniversary Edition from 2002)

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