The first of the singles that I didn’t buy on the date of its release for the simple fact that it was only available on import from West Germany and thus it was a bit hit’n’miss as to when it would arrive in the my local record shop in the east end of Glasgow.
I remember having to shell out a bit more than I would normally have to do for a standard single with this being attributed to the cost of getting the record over from mainland Europe. I recall being initially disappointed as for some reason or other I was expecting the recording to be slightly different from the version made available a few months back on the Sound Affects LP but nope, it was identical:-
mp3 : The Jam – That’s Entertainment
The fact that this reached #21 purely on import sales shows the folly of Polydor Records in not choosing any second single from the parent LP. The b-side was a live version of Tube Station but it was the same recording as had been made available previously as a song on the extra record with the initial copies of Going Underground.
A gritty and bleak snapshot of life in a decaying Britain with its lyrical blend of youthful boredom and frustration at the inability to change things this masterpiece was claimed by Paul Weller to have been written in about 10 minutes one night after he’d come home drunk from the pub. In fact, it was a lyrical re-working of a poem called ‘Entertainment’ which he had previously written for a fanzine-type publication which isn’t to say he initially churned most of the song out rather quickly while pissed.
Two alternative versions available today. The first is a demo version in which the drums are more prominent :-
mp3 : The Jam – That’s Entertainment (demo)
And then there’s the version from the Dig The New Breed live album in which your humble scribe, along with about 3,000 other fans, can be heard in the background at the Glasgow Apollo on 8 April 1982:-
mp3 : The Jam – That’s Entertainment (live)
Worth mentioning that Polydor would give the single a proper release in the UK in 1983 (at a time when all of the band’s 45s were re-issued) and it reached #60. Fast forward to 1991 and the release of a Greatest Hits album that was promoted by another re-release of That’s Entertainment backed by two live recordings of Tube Station and A Town Called Malice, neither of which were new or previously unreleased recordings. Despite this rip-off, the 1991 single reached #57. I didn’t buy it…
I thought for a change that I’d offer up three cover versions by some very well known English singers/bands, none of whom do anything to better the original – indeed there’s a case to be made that at least two of the versions are shit – which is evidence that The Jam delivered something akin to a perfect recording :-
mp3 : Billy Bragg – That’s Entertainment
mp3 : Morrissey – That’s Entertainment
mp3 : The Wonder Stuff – That’s Entertainment