THE TVV 2022/2023 FESTIVE SERIES (Part 14)


I bought a second-hand CD a long time ago, specifically for the purposes of having a bit of fun on the blog, and I’ve decided to use the normally quiet festive period, when the traffic and number of visitors drops quite dramatically, to go with it.

The CD was issued in 1996.  It is called Beat On The Brass, and it was recorded by The Nutley Brass, the brains of whom belong to New York musician Sam Elwitt.

The concept behind the album is simple. Take one bona-fide punk/post-punk/new wave classic and give it the easy listening treatment.

There are 18 tracks on the CD all told.  Some have to be heard to be believed.

Strap yourselves in.

mp3: The Nutley Brass – The Eton Rifles

And, just so you can appreciate the magnificence (or otherwise) of the renditions, you’ll also be able to listen to the original versions as we make our way through the CD in random order.

mp3: The Jam – The Eton Rifles

Released as a single in September 1979.



Before getting on to the main business of the day, just an update on the Bastard Virus here at Villain Towers.  I continue to feel very little in the way of symptoms and am hopeful that I’ll test negative tomorrow to get back on my feet and going about my business.  Rachel did, as anticipated, test positive the other day and looks set to be confined indoors till after Easter.

Oh, and if anyone is interested, there are two tickets still going free for Luke Haines + Peter Buck at Hebden Bridge Trade Club tomorrow night.

This post was originally scheduled for yesterday, but I’ve let if drift for 24 hours and, as it turns out, is something of a companion piece,

It’s almost 42 years since the release of Sound Affects, the fifth studio album by The Jam.

It followed All Mod Cons and Setting Sons, as well as being on the back of what the success of Going Underground, a non-album #1 single.

It proved not to be immediate as these previous releases, lacking the fast, angry, raucous anthems that had made the band such an attraction to us teenage adolescents, germ-free or otherwise.  It was, however, packed with different types of anthems, this time less frantic, with messages that the world was an unfair place, particularly if you were not from the landed gentry or the monied class, themes that would continue to be examined by Paul Weller in what time remained with his band and later with The Style Council.

The opening song on the album is proving to be timeless:-

mp3: The Jam – Pretty Green

Power is measured by the pound or the fist.

Aye…..Rishi Sunak and Vlad Putin will vouch for that.

Pretty Green reflected the existence of £1 notes as the main tender in circulation for most folk in 1980.  Just eight years later, the note was withdrawn by the Bank of England in favour of a coin, although Scottish banks continued to print their own version of the £1 note until 2001, a fact on its own which indicates we’ve never been as well-off as many of those who live in the south-east pocket of the UK.

I looked up the cost of a £1 note on eBay just now.  It’s fair to say it varies, from £3 to £10,000.  Do folk believe their eBay listing will attract such a stupid bid?



Album: Setting Sons* – The Jam
Review: Uncut, 12 December 2014
Author: Garry Mulholland

*the review is of the deluxe and super deluxe editions

Remastered with bonus tracks. Weller and co’s fourth album improves with age…

“There is still a widely-held perception that Jam albums follow a numerical pattern; an inverse of the Star Trek Movie Curse. That is, the odd-numbered Jam albums are excellent, while the even-numbered ones are… well… not.

This has always affected the reputation of The Jam’s fourth album, with its healthy sales and inclusion of breakthrough Top 3 single “The Eton Rifles” undercut by a half-finished concept and a dodgy cover version closer that inevitably leads to Setting Sons feeling rushed and inconclusive.

But comparing Setting Sons with, say, the frankly awful second album This Is The Modern World is pushing a nerdy fan theory way too far. The excellence of six of its ten songs, and the tougher, denser sound fashioned by loyal Jam producer Vic Coppersmith-Heaven, make Setting Sons the successful link between the creative breakthrough of 1978’s career-saving All Mod Cons and the February 1980 triumph of the “Going Underground” single, an anthem of nuclear panic and social alienation that revealed that The Jam had stealthily climbed to biggest-band-in-Britain status by becoming the first single to enter the UK charts at No.1 since 1973.

The bonus tracks added to this remastered version – the brilliant pre-album singles and B-sides, the work-in-progress Setting Sons demos including three previously unreleased songs, the final Peel sessions, and the vinyl-only “Live In Brighton 1979” set – give the Jam loyalist an overview of exactly how Paul Weller, Bruce Foxton and Rick Buckler made that creative leap at the end of a decade that had began with the Beatles’ split and ended with the anti-rock experiments of post-punk.

Setting Sons saw Weller basing more of his lyrics on his own poetry, and established his credentials as an ironic commentator on both the British class system and the fleeting bonds of childhood friendship. The typically tough-but-tuneful “Thick As Thieves” and “Burning Sky”, and the ambitious mini-rock operatic “Little Boy Soldiers” are the most explicit survivors of the original album concept (as revealed to NME’s Nick Kent in September), of three male friends torn apart by a British civil war who meet up again after the war’s conclusion.

But “Private Hell”, “Wasteland”, “Saturday’s Kids”, “The Eton Rifles” and the orchestral version of Bruce Foxton’s “Smithers-Jones” are all close relations; bitter reflections on ordinary English men and women – working-class and suburban middle-class – alienated and manipulated by corporate and military power.

Only the closing “Heatwave” – essentially a cover of The Who’s cover of the Martha Reeves And The Vandellas hit, featuring future Style Councillor Mick Talbot’s first keyboard work with Weller – and the hilarious, out-of-character opener “Girl On The Phone” break ranks. One of the most underrated Weller gems, the latter examines the power of an imaginary stalker who knows everything about our bemused boy wonder, even “the size of my cock!” It’s the first evidence of Weller’s dark humour.

The new remaster gives freer rein to the density of the sound Vic Smith gradually developed for The Jam, with Foxton’s bass punching through, revealing just how much space his busy, lyrical lines open up for Weller to use guitar as sound effect rather than straight rhythm and lead. And while the Brighton live show is inessential, two of the three newly unearthed songs, Weller’s “Simon” and “Along The Grove”, are stark, caustic and could have been contenders. Foxton’s “Best Of Both Worlds” may have been best left in the vaults.

But Setting Sons has improved with age. It reminds us that working class life was best captured, not by The Clash, nor PiL, nor even The Specials, but by the mock celebration of The Jam’s “Saturday’s Kids”, with its life of “insults”, beer and “half-time results”, and Weller’s recognition that we – and our parents, with their “wallpaper lives” – were “the real creatures that time has forgot”.

At the time we were stunned, and grateful, that any dapper young rock ‘n’ roll star had noticed. The insight and empathy shown here marked Weller out as the first pop hero of the coming decade.”

JC adds…….

I’ve said before that, if pushed, I’d name All Mod Cons as my all-time favourite album.  The follow-up album, Setting Sons was in the shops on 16 November 1979, just 378 days after the release of All Mod Cons, but that doesn’t come close to telling the story as The Jam had released three astonishing stand-alone singles and quality b-sides in Strange Town (April 1979), When You’re Young (August 1979) and The Eton Rifles (October 1979), albeit the latter was also included on the later album.

At sixteen years of age, music really was beginning to mean the entire world to me.  I was finally being allowed to go to live concerts and was feasting on all sorts of post-punk new wave bands who were calling in at the Glasgow Apollo on their tours.  But The Jam were my go-to band, the one for whom I would have given absolutely anything to have been able to share a stage with, even for just one song, not withstanding that I had no musical ability at all.  I’d have mimed just as they did on Top of The Pops.

Setting Sons was the first album by The Jam I actually bought on the day of release – All Mod Cons was one that had waited until I had plenty of spare money from the Christmas tips given to me by customers on my paper round.  Setting Sons was played to death back in 1979, along with all those singles and b-sides, to the extent it soon got all sorts of scratches and marks as typical 16-year-old boys really don’t know how to take care of their records.  The copy from back then is long gone, thrown out when it became unplayable maybe six years later, replaced by a copy picked up cheap but which turned out to be a different pressing with a standard Polydor Records label in the middle of the record rather than the rustic drawings that had been on the original.

At the time, I didn’t think it had any flaws, although it was clear that some of the songs weren’t as immediate or as strong as the intermediate singles from earlier in the year.  I even liked Heatwave, which I suppose came from my love of dancing rather than just being wedded to the idea of angry men playing angry songs via fast guitars, basses and drums.

I was becoming ever increasingly politically-conscious, aware now that young people, just like me, were seen as being unimportant and dispensable.  I had stayed on at school beyond the summer of 1979 but could see that some mates who I’d played football with for years were now pretty fed up, with very few having got the sort of trade or job they had hoped for and were being forced into something they didn’t want to do for not all that much more money than I could make from my six-nights a week evening paper round and the big shift delivering Sunday papers for three hours from 7am every week.  There were even a couple of boys who had signed up for the army, and I had it in my head that I’d soon be reading about them in those very same papers having been shot dead while doing service in Northern Ireland as we were very much at the height of the ‘troubles’ (or so it seemed).

Setting Sons spoke to me as I imagine it did to a lot of late-teens in the UK, and it was no surprise that by the time Going Underground came out just three months later,  it did the unthinkable and went straight in at #1, as Gary Mulholland points out above, the first single by any singer or band to do so in seven years.  This was our time and The Jam was our band.  Nobody who had come beforehand was relevant, and nobody who was to follow would be meaningful.

Nowadays, I can see some failings. Brilliant though it is, the concept of including the orchestral version of previous b-side Smithers Jones, as well including what I can now accept is a perfunctory cover of Heatwave, demonstrates that Setting Sons was a bit of a rush-release, timed to get out to coincide with the UK tour and in the shops so that lots of folk could get it as a Christmas present or, as in my case from the previous year, something to be bought with the tips from the paper round.

Three songs from Setting Sons made ICA 52 back in December 2015, itself an effort which precluded any single or b-side. I make no apologies for repeating those songs today, along with the words I wrote at the time

mp3: The Jam – Thick As Thieves

“It is astonishing to look back and realise that Weller was barely 21 years of age when he wrote the songs that made up Setting Sons, the band’s fourth and most ambitious album. There’s no doubt that in his head he wanted to pull together a concept album telling the story of three childhood friends whose lives don’t go the way of their youngdreams with everything changing after them fighting but surviving a war. The concept wasn’t fully realised, possibly being down to him deciding it was an ‘unpunk’ thing to do or perhaps it became just too big a challenge in too short a timescale.  It’s a real pity and begs the thought ‘if only….’ for the foundations that were laid down, as exemplified by Thick As Thieves, make you think that the result could well have been a record forever feted to be near the top of the all-time classic lists.”

mp3: The Jam – Little Boy Soldiers

“A song like no other in the history of the band and perhaps the new wave era’s equivalent of Bohemian Rhapsody – or at least that’s how I initially felt when listening to this as a 16-year old back in 1979. It was earnest and it was thought-provoking stuff but above else it was unsettling, thanks in part to its constant changes in pace and rhythm but also as a result of the doom and gloom nature of the lyric.

OK, I was sure that I was going to leave school, head off to university and find myself some sort of job  linked to whatever qualifications I manged to get but I knew quite a few folk who were hell-bent on joining the armed forces and seeing what happened from there….none of them of course even remotely considered that in doing so they were putting their young lives at risk. I wanted so much to give every one of them a cassette with this song on and ask them to have a serious think about things….”

mp3: The Jam – Saturday’s Kids

At 16, I had no idea what the line ‘stains on the seats – in the back of course’ was all about. Nor did I know who smoked Capstan Non-Filters (Embassy Regal? yup….that was my dad’s choice of habit) and for Selsey Bill and Bracklesam Bay you would have had to substitute places a little nearer home or insert Blackpool which around half of Glasgow seemed to migrate to in the last two weeks in July back in the mid-70s. Otherwise it was a song that resonated with me and even now I can recite every single word of the lyric. But I do accept that, with its descriptions of things that aren’t part of modern society then it’s a lyric very much of its time and so probably won’t resonate much with today’s kids….except perhaps the bit about hating the system. Some things just never change.

And finally, one that made a second ICA, #152, in January 2018.

mp3: The Jam – Private Hell

This tale of a lonely, depressed, drug-dependant and mentally ill housewife was scheduled to feature in the ‘songs as short stories series’ but it has rightly fought its way into inclusion on this ICA. I used to think the lyric was all a bit melodramatic as I honestly couldn’t think of any female relative or mother of any friends of mine whose behaviour was like this. Looking back, I was wrong…it was just that some folk were exceptional at keeping things well hidden….

I also can’t imagine, to this day, just how brilliantly and accurately a 21-year old working class lad was able to put himself in the shoes of a middle-aged, repressed woman.



Taking my inspiration from The Robster‘s great new series on the imaginary 7″ singles from R.E.M albums, I’m offering up as today’s high quality vinyl rip what could have been a superb effort by The Jam almost forty years ago (!!!!), as a follow-up, or indeed alternative, double-A single to Town Called Malice/Precious which had provided what was then the UK’s biggest and most popular band with their third #1 hit in January 1982.

On one side would be the opening track from the album The Gift.  Here’s what I wrote back in December 2015 as part of The Jam ICA, itself an effort, consisting only on album tracks not issued as singles or b-sides:-

“Let’s get this party pumping. This is one where Bruce Foxton and Rick Buckler really come into their own, driving the song along at a tremendous pace and in the bass player’s instance adding an essential backing vocal. The ending where Paul Weller chants out NOW!!!!!!! Is one of my favourite moments on any Jam song – single, b-side or album track.”

It would have been a sure-fire #1, blasting out of the radios at all times of the day and night. Some folk would likely have bought it simply for the short spoken word intro and the heartfelt shout of ‘BAAAAAAAABBBBBBBBYYYYY’

mp3: The Jam – Happy Together

But what would have been the ideal flip-side?

The then 23-year-old Paul Weller was worshipped by a congregation of fans, most of whom were around blokes his age or marginally younger.  While each of us will spout many different reasons for such devotion, I can safely say that the late-teenage me truly believed he was the spokesman for my generation and I hung on to just about every word he said, especially when he got political in his song lyrics and during his interviews.

I hated the Tories, and in particular their leader and the divisive Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher.  So, the b-side has to be one of his more subtle political lyrics, one which I’ll be honest I didn’t get right away, only picking it up a few months later during a drunken session in the student union. It was a much older and wiser person, who was at university as a mature student who pointed out that it was really all about the hated PM and her desire to destroy anybody and anything who got in her way; he also helpfully explained that the unsettling and, to me, confusing final lines about looking in a mirror and seeing greed fear and hate, was really a warning of what often happens as you age and move on in life away from your teenage ideologies.

mp3: The Jam – Carnation

And here was me thinking it was a love song written by a bastard…….

So there you have it.  Two tracks what the band’s final album, one which has many high points but a couple of tunes that didn’t quite work out as expected as the frontman tried to take the band in a new direction but at the same time came to the realisation that his hopes, dreams and ambitions could only be achieved by breaking up The Jam and starting all over again.  There really was irony in opening up this album with a track called Happy Together…….



Album: The Gift – The Jam
Review: Uncut, 19 November 2012
Author: John Lewis

The Gift remains a mysteriously unloved part of The Jam canon. For many Jam loyalists it’s a record that’s tainted by Paul Weller’s decision to split the band at the height of their popularity, the headstone to a premature burial.

It’s also a record that, for many, strays a little too far out of The Jam’s comfort zone. While the introductory chimes of the opening track “Happy Together” recall the fractured post-punk of Sound Affects, we’re quickly into the Motown beats, the wah-wah guitars, the big horn sections: the birth of what sneerier commentators later dubbed “soulcialism”.

Lyrically, The Gift does not have the cohesiveness of the two Jam LPs generally regarded as classics – All Mod Cons and Sound Affects – but it certainly has at least as many great songs as either of them. There’s no arguing with the singles “Town Called Malice” (effectively “You Can’t Hurry Love” reimagined by Ken Loach) or “Precious” (hypnotically itchy punk-funk, with a nod to Beggar & Co), but, for all Weller’s professed “anti-rock” agenda of this period, there is plenty here to please any element of The Jam’s fanbase. You want Ray Davies-style kitchen-sink realism? Try the militant vaudevillian turn “Just Who Is The 5 O’Clock Hero”. You want a stunningly poetic ballad with heart-wrenching chord changes? Try “Carnation” (“I am the greed and fear/and every ounce of hate in you”). You want haunting and graceful post-punk? Listen to “Ghosts”, with its elegant horns, fluid bassline and uplifting lyric (“there’s more inside you that you won’t show”).

The first CD contains all 11 LP tracks, along with a further 10 singles, B-sides or covers from this period which didn’t make it onto the album. Weller has always upheld the uniqueness of the flipside (“I always felt the shackles were off,” he says. “You can experiment a bit”), and all of the supplementary tracks on CD1 share that same spirit of adventure, creating a secondary album that’s almost as good as the primary one. Even the covers, which were approached as enthusiastic recreations of the band’s new favourite songs, add a twist to the originals. “Move On Up” replaces Curtis Mayfield’s sweet-voiced earnestness with punky urgency; The Chi-Lites’ “Stoned Out Of My Mind” benefits from Rick Buckler’s heavily syncopated, Afro-Cuban rhythm track.

As well as a riotous live CD, and an excellent DVD of promos and Top Of The Pops appearances, there’s a CD that comprises demos of most of the album tracks and B-sides. It includes early versions of some contemporary sides not included on CD1, such as “Tales From The Riverbank” (here titled “We’ve Only Started”), “Absolute Beginners” (titled “Skirt”), and a Northern soul-style re-reading of the Small Faces “Get Yourself Together”. All of them are multi-tracked solely by Weller on guitars, bass, piano, keyboards and even drums. Unfashionable though it might be to point this kind of thing out, Weller really is an extraordinarily accomplished musician; even his drumming has a certain wonky, Stevie Wonder-ish flair. Some of the demos are virtually identical to the finished versions, only without the horns: a couple (“The Planner’s Dream…”, “Shopping”) sound better. One gets the impression that three or four Wellers might have made a great stadium rock band.

The Jam’s studio versions of “A Solid Bond In Your Heart” (separate mixes of which have previously appeared on The Sound Of The Jam and Direction Reaction Creation) are notably absent from CD1 of this package, although Weller’s drumless original demo does appear on CD2, with a piano-led arrangement that’s almost identical to the version later recorded by The Style Council. There are certainly premonitions of The Style Council all over The Gift, be it the heavy-duty funk workout of “Precious”, the militant call-to-arms of “‘Trans-Global Express’”, or the insistent Northern soul drumbeats on at least half the tracks. And, with veteran Trinidadian percussionist Russ Henderson playing steelpan, “The Planner’s Dream Goes Wrong” is an early example of the outsourcing philosophy that Weller and Mick Talbot would later adopt (the song also shares the same lyrical territory as “Come To Milton Keynes”).

In fact it’s the 10 extra tracks on CD1 that seem to prefigure The Style Council’s revolving door policy. Most of the singles of this period are dominated by hired hands, not least the backing vocals of Jennie McKeown from The Belle Stars (on “The Bitterest Pill”) or future Respond starlet Tracie (who almost steals the show on “Beat Surrender”). “Bitterest Pill”, “Beat Surrender” and “Malice” are all dominated by Peter Wilson’s piano or organ lines; while “Precious” and the three soul covers are dominated by the horns of Steve Nichol and Keith Thomas. Other tracks point out the limitations of the three-piece. A jazz-waltz like “Shopping”, or the off-kilter “The Great Depression” are the kind of beats that Style Council drummer Steve White would breeze through; likewise you could imagine an early incarnation of the Council transforming “Pity Poor Alfie” into a more limber soul gem. And that maybe explains why The Gift rankles a little for certain Jam loyalists: it’s a reminder that Weller really did need to break up the biggest British band since The Beatles to pursue his musical vision.

JC adds…….

The first time around for this festive mini-series back in 2019/20 kicked off with All Mod Cons and I would have finished 2020/21 off with The Gift except for tomorrow being a Saturday and thus set aside for an album from a Scottish singer/band.

The above review is a reminder why Paul Weller, wary of being labelled as one-dimensional, had little option but to kill off The Jam at a time when they were, unarguably, the most popular band in the UK, with the fanbase growing with each album and each tour.

I was gutted when it happened, but as soon as I heard the debut single by The Style Council, I was fully on board with the new direction, albeit it was one that had been well sign-posted. It was a very brave thing to do – he was just 24 years old at the time – and it was an era when he couldn’t have just turned back and asked Foxton and Buckler to get back together again. He was very much all-in.

I liked The Gift at the time, more so in the live setting around the tours in early 82 when the album came out and the farewell shows later that year.  Some of its songs perhaps don’t sound so great almost 40 years on, but it has its fair share of classics:-

mp3: The Jam – Happy Together
mp3: The Jam – Town Called Malice
mp3: The Jam – Ghosts
mp3: The Jam – The Gift



Kind of beggars belief that it has taken this long to highlight such an outstanding debut single as part of this occasional series

mp3: The Jam – In The City

I’d be lying if I said I can remember this being released on 29 April 1977 and it reaching No. 40 on the UK Singles Chart in May 1977.  I can’t even recall seeing it on Top of The Pops on Thursday 19 May 1977 (when it aired despite being outside the Top 40, sitting that particular week at #45).

Yup…..feel free to cringe at David ‘Kid’ Jensen‘s awful shirt and his half-arsed effort at playing air guitar.

It would actually be a couple more years before I fully cottoned on to The Jam, but when I did, they quickly became my favourite group in my mid-late teenage years as my tastes shifted increasingly towards new wave/post-punk. In The City is a tremendously energetic and exciting debut.

I didn’t, even in 1979 as I became familiar with it, get the comparisons with The Who, a band I only knew from their rather dull mid-70s releases such as Substitute and Who Are You?, or from staple songs of ‘The Golden Hour’ such as My Generation and Pinball Wizard, none of which had the attitude or vibrancy of The Jam. But, in my defence, I had a lot of learning/catching-up to do in years to come.

mp3: The Who – In The City

The b-side of I’m A Boy, their #2 hit from 1966, that had never been included (at that point in time) on any album and despite its relative obscurity, was a track which Paul Weller was clearly very familiar with.



Here we go again, it’s Monday at last
He’s heading for the Waterloo line
To catch the 8 a.m. fast, it’s usually dead on time
Hope it isn’t late, got to be there by nine

Pinstripe suit, clean shirt and tie
Stops off at the corner shop, to buy The Times
‘Good Morning Smithers-Jones’
‘How’s the wife and home?’
‘Did you get the car you’ve been looking for?’
‘Did you get the car you’ve been looking for?’

Let me get inside you, let me take control of you
We could have some good times
All this worry will get you down
I’ll give you a new meaning to life, I don’t think so

Sitting on the train, you’re nearly there
You’re a part of the production line
You’re the same as him, you’re like tin-sardines
Get out of the pack, before they peel you back

Arrive at the office, spot on time
The clock on the wall hasn’t yet struck nine
‘Good Morning Smithers-Jones’
‘The boss wants to see you alone’
‘I hope it’s the promotion you’ve been looking for’
‘I hope it’s the promotion you’ve been looking for’

‘Come in Smithers, old boy’
‘Take a seat, take the weight off your feet’
‘I’ve some news to tell you’
‘There’s no longer a position for you’
‘Sorry Smithers-Jones’

Put on the kettle and make some tea
It’s all a part of feeling groovy
Put on your slippers turn on the TV
It’s all a part of feeling groovy
It’s time to relax, now you’ve worked your arse off
But the only one smilin’ is the sun-tanned boss
Work and work you wanna work ’till you die
There’s plenty more fish in the sea to fry

mp3: The Jam – Smithers-Jones (single version)
mp3: The Jam – Smithers-Jones (album version)

Written by Bruce Foxton.  Originally released as the b-side to When You’re Young in August 1979.  Completely re-recorded for the album Setting Sons which was released three months later.




I hate the idea of the blog completely closing down, but at the same time I recognise that the number of visitors drops off substantially at the end of December and beginning of January, so it’s something of a waste of time to churn out original stuff. Last year, I dug deep into the archives for the daily posting, but I want to do something different this time round. It’s kind of been inspired by what proved to be a short-lived series earlier this year when I posted a review of album from 1999 and then offered up my own thoughts on it from a current day perspective. But what I’m going to do is post an original review from back in the day of some albums that I’ve always had a lot of time for, playing them to death when they were first released and returning to them occasionally nowadays

Here’s the first of them:-

Album : All Mod Cons by The Jam
Review : NME, 28 October 1978
Author : Charles Shaar Murray

Third albums generally mean that it’s shut-up-or-get-cut-up time: when an act’s original momentum has drained away and they’ve got to cover the distance from a standing start, when you’ve got to cross “naive charm” off your list of assets.

For The Jam, it seemed as if the Third Album Syndrome hit with their second album. This Is The Modern World was dull and confused, lacking both the raging, one-dimensional attack of their first album and any kind of newly-won maturity. A couple of vaguely duff singles followed and, in the wake of a general disillusionment with the Brave New Wave World, it seemed as if Paul Weller and his team were about to be swept under the carpet.

Well, it just goes to show you never can tell. All Mod Cons is the third Jam album to be released (it’s actually the fourth Jam album to be recorded; the actual third Jam album was judged, found wanting and scrapped) and it’s not only several light years ahead of anything they’ve done before but also the album that’s going to catapult The Jam right into the front rank of international rock and roll; one of the handful of truly essential rock albums of the last few years.

The title is more than Grade B punning or a clever-clever linkup with the nostalgibuzz packaging (like the target design on the label, the Swinging London trinketry, the Lambretta diagram or the Immediate-style lettering); it’s a direct reference to both the broadening of musical idiom and Weller’s reaffirmation of a specific Mod consciousness.

Remember the Mod ideal: it was a lower-middle and working-class consciousness that stressed independence, fun and fashion without loss of integrity or descent into elitism or consumerism; unselfconscious solidarity and a dollop of non-sectarian concern for others. Weller has transcended his original naivety without becoming cynical about anything other than the music business.

Mod became hippies and we know that didn’t work; the more exploratory end of Mod rock became psychedelia. Just as Weller’s Mod ideal has abandoned the modern equivalent of beach-fighting and competitive posing, his Mod musical values have moved from ’65 to ’66: the intoxicating period between pilled-up guitar-strangling and Sergeant Pepper. Reference points: Rubber Soul and A Quick One rather than Small Faces and My Generation.

Still, though Weller’s blends of acoustic and electric 6 and 12-string guitars, sound effects, overdubs and more careful structuring and arranging of songs (not to mention a quantum leap in standard of composition) may cause frissons of delight over at the likes of Bomp, Trouser Press and other covens of aging Yankee Anglophiles, All Mod Cons is an album based firmly in 1978 and looking forward.

This is the modern world: ‘Down In The Tube Station At Midnight’ is a fair indication of what Weller’s up to on this album, as was ‘A-Bomb In Wardour Street’ (I can’t help thinking that he’s given more hard clear-eyed consideration to the implications of the Sham Army than Jimmy Pursey has), but they don’t remotely tell the whole story. For one thing, Weller has the almost unique ability to write love songs that convince the listener that the singer is really in love. Whether he’s describing an affair that’s going well or badly, he writes with a penetrating, committed insight that rings perfectly, utterly true.

Weller writes lovingly and (choke on it) sensitively without ever descending to the patented sentimentality that is the stock-in-trade of the emotionally bankrupt. That sentimentality is but the reverse side of the macho coin, and both sides spell lovelessness. The inclusion of ‘English Rose’ (a one-man pick’n’croon acoustic number backed only by a tape of the sea) is both a musical and emotional finger in the eye for everyone who still clings to the old punk tough-guy stereotype and is prepared to call The Jam out for not doing likewise.

Weller is – like Bruce Springsteen – tough enough not to feel he needs to prove it any more, strong enough to break down his own defences, secure enough to make himself vulnerable. The consciousness of All Mod Cons is the most admirable in all of British rock and roll, and one that most of his one-time peers could do well to study.

Through the album, then: the brief, brusque title track and its immediate successor (‘To Be Someone’) examine the rock business first in a tart V-sign to some entrepreneurial type who wishes to squeeze the singer dry and then throw him away, and second in a cuttingly ironic track about a superstar who lost touch with the kids and blew his career. Weller is, by implication, assuring his listeners that no way is that going to happen to him: but the song is so well thought out and so convincing that it chokes back the instinctive “Oh yeah?” that a less honest song in the same vein would elicit from a less honest band.

From there we’re into ‘Mr Clean’, an attack on the complacent middle-aged “professional classes.” The extreme violence of its language (the nearest this album comes to an orthodox punk stance, in fact) is matched with music that combines delicacy and aggression with an astonishing command of dynamics. This is as good a place as any to point out that bassist Bruce Foxton and drummer Rick Buckler are more than equal to the new demands that Weller is making on them: the vitality, empathy and resourcefulness that they display throughout the album makes All Mod Cons a collective triumph for The Jam as well as a personal triumph for Weller.

‘David Watts’ follows (written by Ray Davies, sung by Foxton and a re-recorded improvement on the 45) with ‘English Rose’ in hot pursuit. The side ends with ‘In The Crowd’, which places Weller dazed and confused in the supermarket. It bears a superficial thematic resemblance to ‘The Combine’ (from the previous album) in that it places its protagonist in a crowd and examines his reactions to the situation, but its musical and lyrical sophistication smashes ‘The Combine’ straight back to the stone age. It ends with a lengthy, hallucinatory backward guitar solo which sounds as fresh and new as anything George Harrison or Pete Townshend did a dozen years ago, and a reference back to ‘Away From The Numbers’.

‘Billy Hunt’, whom we meet at the beginning of the second side, is not a visible envy-focus like Davies’ ‘David Watts’, but the protagonist’s faintly ludicrous all-powerful fantasy self: what he projects in the day dreams that see him through his crappy job. The deliberate naivety of this fantasy is caught and projected by Weller with a skill that is nothing short of marvellous.

A brace of love songs follow: ‘It’s Too Bad’ is a song of regret for a couple’s mutual inability to save a relationship which they both know is infinitely worth saving. Musically, it’s deliriously, wonderfully ’66 Beat Groupish in a way that represents exactly what all those tinpot powerpop bands were aiming for but couldn’t manage. Lyrically, even if this sort of song was Weller’s only lick, he’d still be giving Pete Shelley and all his New Romance fandangos a real run for his money.

‘Fly’ is an exquisite electric/acoustic construction, a real lovers’ song, but from there on in the mood changes for the “Doctor Marten’s Apocalypse” of ‘A-Bomb In Wardour Street’ and ‘Tube Station’. In both these songs, Weller depicts himself as the victim who doesn’t know why he’s getting trashed at the hands of people who don’t know why they feel they have to hand out the aggro.

We’ve heard a lot of stupid, destructive songs about the alleged joys of violence lately and they all stink: if these songs are listened to in the spirit in which they were written then maybe we’ll see a few less pictures of kids getting carried off the terraces with darts in their skulls. And if these songs mean that one less meaningless street fight gets started then we’ll all owe Paul Weller a favour.

The Jam brought us The Sound Of ’65 in 1976, and now in 1978 they bring us the sound of ’66. Again, they’ve done it such a way that even though you can still hear The Who here and there and a few distinct Beatleisms in those ornate decending 12-string chord sequences, it all sounds fresher and newer than anything else this year. All Mod Cons is the album that’ll make Bob Harris‘ ears bleed the next time he asks what has Britain produced lately; more important, it’ll be the album that makes The Jam real contenders for the crown.

Look out, all you rock and rollers: as of now The Jam are the ones you have to beat.

mp3 : The Jam – All Mod Cons
mp3 : The Jam – In The Crowd
mp3 : The Jam – Fly
mp3 : The Jam – Down In The Tube Station at Midnight

JC adds : A review that captures exactly how I felt about this record back in 1978/79 and how I feel about now. I think that if pushed to name my all-time favourite album, it would be this one.

21 more old reviews to follow!


The posting on The Lambrettas got me all nostalgic and I shoved on The Jam for a bit. Had a look again at this ICA, which was #52 as it so happens, and thought I’d pull together a second volume of stuff, again on the basis that singles or original b-sides aren’t eligible for inclusion.


1. Pretty Green (from Sound Affects)

It’s quite astonishing to think that the band were so prolific they were able to write something as catchy and memorable as this, the opening track of their fifth album, and not spend too much time before deciding it wouldn’t be a 45. An ode to money and a celebration of what a succesful young man would and should do with. The title refers to the colour of the old £1 note which was withdrawn from circulation as long ago as 1988, which means there are tens of millions of young Britons who had no recollection of that particular piece of currency.

2. The Place I Love (from All Mod Cons)

All Mod Cons was the album that led to me giving the band my undivided and, at the time, uncritical attention. It was never off the turntable and I thought it was a flawless piece of work…well, apart from English Rose as the 14/15 year-old me didn’t do soppy ballads. This was a track that I liked rather than adored at the time, but over the years, as my listening habits have expanded and I’ve been able to realise that some of the best political songs aren’t always immediately obvious, this ode to England’s pleasant lands, green, grey or otherwise, has become a huge favourite.

3. Away From The Numbers (from In The City)

This song had been out for a few years before I picked up on it. The debut LP isn’t one, aside from maybe three or four songs, that has aged all that well, reflecting that Paul Weller was still learning on a daily basis how to improve on his songwriting. It’s genuinely astonishing to reflect on the fact that he was only 18 years of age when he penned this lyric that reflected on the necessity that to make a difference, you had to be different.

4. Private Hell (from Setting Sons)

This tale of a lonely, depressed, drug-dependant and mentally ill housewife was scheduled to feature in the ‘songs as short stories series’ but it has rightly fought its way into inclusion on this ICA. I used to think the lyric was all a bit melodramatic as I honestly couldn’t think of any female relative or mother of any friends of mine whose behaviour was like this. Looking back, I was wrong…it was just that some folk were exceptional at keeping things well hidden….

5. English Rose (from All Mod Cons)

In which the 54 year-old JC admits that the teenage JC got it badly wrong.


1. In The Street Today (from This Is The Modern World)

None of the tracks from the disappointing sophomore album made Volume 1 and this, 90-second blast of amphetamine-driven pop is the only one which makes the cut on Volume 2. One of the few songs that wouldn’t have sounded out-of-place on All Mod Cons. As The Lambrettas said the other day, just Da-a-a-ance.

2. Ghosts (from The Gift)

This almost made the cut on Volume 1. It’s something else to look back in time and realise that in just three short years after All Mod Cons in which I had been dismissive of the ballad, this song had the ability to knock me sideways. The crucial difference being that I had, by this time, fallen in love for the first but not the last time.

3. Wasteland (from Setting Sons)

Another one that I didn’t pay too much attention to back in the day as it seemed so light and inconsequential amidst the magnificent anthems that filled the album. Again, as I’ve matured, so has this grown on me and like the protagonist in this song, I find myself, with friends, reflecting on days of old, albeit its done in pubs and not sitting alongside a vacant and derelict space.

4. Set The House Ablaze (from Sound Affects)

This just seems to fit in perfectly onto an imaginary album right behind Wasteland. I use to think thought it was a bit of a clumsy number but I now acknowledge that this was down to the fact that it never really seemed to come across all that well when it was played in the live setting. One of only two songs by the band that clocked in at over 5 minutes (the other being In The Crowd – that is, if you don’t count the 12″ extended mix of Precious), this politically motivated song demonstrates just how the sound of The Jam really did rely on all three being on top of their game. Has La-la-la-la as a lyric ever sounded so desperately angry??

5. Move On Up (from Beat Surrender EP)

OK. It’s a fair cop. I’m breaking the rules. I’ve gone for a b-side to close things off, but in all honesty, I couldn’t think of a better fit given that I had already used The Gift to round off Volume 1. A joyous anthem…one that I refused at the time to believe was a cover version, such was the way The Jam had made it sound like one of their own.

So there you are, a second ICA for the band without whom I most likely would never really had a passion for, and devotion to,, music. Only think I can’t fathom is that I still haven’t been able to find a spot for Carnation





Oh…..I’m going to be in bother for giving this a chart placing as low as #15. Especially as I’ve used dozens of past postings to tell the world of my adoration for The Jam.

This was the first band that I ever got infatuated with. They were the first band that I ever queued up for tickets overnight, lying on a cold and wet Glasgow pavement in a sleeping bag.

The minute the record shop opened on the day the band released a new single or LP, I was waiting to go in and buy it. My part of the bedroom wall in the room that I shared with my brothers was covered in posters of The Jam.

On day when I saw a friend’s wall had all the picture sleeves from the singles stuck to his bedroom wall, I went home and did the same. My shrine to Buckler, Foxton and Weller had to be better than that of anyone else I knew.

The break-up of the band didn’t send me into a sulk. Instead, I thought this was a chance to watch and enjoy each of their new bands and wait for the inevitable reunion (got that last bit spectacularly wrong, didn’t I???)

Even when The Style Council broke up and interest in The Jam was at a low, I could still be relied to keep talking about them to anyone who was interested. I think it was 1992 when myself and a mate were 40% of the audience at a theatre-show at the Edinburgh Fringe, all about the story behind the formation, success and break-up of The Jam. The other 60% in the audience were Sean Hughes, Phil Jupitus and some mate of theirs who probably worked for Channel 4 or the BBC…

No other band gave me such agony choosing which single to select for inclusion in the run-down. It could easily have been In The City which introduced me to them at an early stage. Or Down In the Tube Station At Midnight, a song that on release I thought would always be my favourite record of all time. Just as equally, Strange Town and When You’re Young are singles that mean so much to me – often because with The Jam, the B-sides were just as good as the single, and this was very much the case with The Butterfly Collector and Smithers-Jones respectively.

In the end, after much agonising, I’ve gone for Going Underground, and I’ve done so because it was the song that allowed me to say, to the watching world and all those who had cast dispersions on the band, YOU WERE WRONG, AND ALL THE TIME I WAS RIGHT.

In 1980, singles didn’t enter the charts at the #1 position. Instead, they came in somewhere in the 20s and that got you onto Top of the Pops. The single would sell well on the back of this TV appearance, would climb a few places and then again the following week into the Top 10. The second TOTP appearance would follow, and if it was different enough from the first one and Radio 1 was still playing it, then the Top 5 and a chance at #1 would follow. It was always a 3-4 week cycle to hit the top slot.

Going Underground broke all the rules of the game. It flew in at #1 and stayed there for three weeks.

Critics of the band said it only did this as the initial copies of the single came with a limited edition live EP, and thus fans rushed out and bought it immediately. The fact that The Jam would repeat the straight in at #1 on two more occasions soon disproved that theory.

Going Underground is my favourite Jam single for a number of reasons.

Firstly, it proved that in March 1980, The Jam were by far and away the biggest and most popular band in the UK – despite which, the band still managed to make long-time fans feel they were still something special.

Secondly, it was an attack on the Thatcher government’s policy of increased spending on nuclear weapons, and as a member of CND (weren’t we all in those days), this song seemed significant in spreading the word to a wide audience.

Thirdly, the B-side was another brilliant Jam song. So brilliant, it was originally intended as a double-A release, only the printing press got it wrong. Allegedly.

Finally, it did in fact come with a great live EP which didn’t bleep-out the swear words on The Modern World……

mp3 : The Jam – Going Underground
mp3 : The Jam – Dreams Of Children
mp3 : The Jam – Away From The Numbers (live)
mp3 : The Jam – The Modern World (live)
mp3 : The Jam – Down In The Tube Station At Midnight (live)

This was another single that I lost in the Edinburgh flit. But it was one that I chased up on e-bay not long after I got the USB Turntable and re-kindled the interest in vinyl.

So why only #15 in this rundown? Well, its just too good to be at #16 or lower…..

NB : This 45 was of course featured just a few months ago in my look back over all the singles ever released by The Jam.  Click here for a reminder.



Today was meant to feature the latest in the series of singles by The Style Council but this is what I’d rather share with you today.

Some of you will know that this particular blog, which sprang into action in July 2013, is the descendant of The Vinyl Villain which ran with more than 1,000 postings (many of which were from guest contributors) between September 2006 and June 2013 when it was closed down by Google without any advance warning.

The one thing the two blogs have in common is the ability to bring total strangers together and turn them into close friends, even if they never ever get to meet in person. The common bond of course is a love of music and the fact that there are people out there who share similar tastes and whose fandom for certain singers, bands or even certain songs piques an interest.

It was a song that led to a blogger called Helpless Dancer (HD) to get in touch back in 2008, and after a very pleasant exchange of emails, this is what he ended up writing on his blog:-

Music and Dumbarton FC – Two Passions Collide

For a long time I have been searching through my boxes of stored CD’s looking for a CD Single by The Supernaturals which had a B-side entitled “High Tension At Boghead” to no avail.

Recently I have been checking out and enjoying the Vinyl Villain blog which features a massive amount of Scottish related music and as a last resort I posted a comment asking if by any chance they had the aforementioned track and to my great pleasure it has been posted today so many thanks VV!!

I should explain that the song is directly related to HD’s football team, which as you’ll have surmised from the title of his post is Dumbarton FC.

High Tension At Boghead is a strange but enjoyable wee number telling the tale of a young boy’s first venture to a ‘big’ football match, an occasion he found rather underwhelming but thankfully there was enough happening around the ground to keep him amused.

The picture at the top of this post is the rear of the main stand at Boghead, a ground I had the pleasure of visiting a few times and which has a particularly happy memory as being the place that I took a child to his first match – the son of my best mate (RIP) who at this point in time had left Raith Rovers to play for Ayr United at the tail end of his career.

Dumbarton FC left Boghead Park in 2000 and moved a few hundred yards away to a new ground by the banks of the river which flows through the town.  The old ground is now occupied by housing but it has of course been immortalised in song:-

mp3 : The Supernaturals – High Tension At Boghead

HD subsequently became a regular contributor to the blog via the comments section, as indeed did Son Of The Rock another music fan with a love for Dumbarton FC (or perhaps the other way round!!). I actually ended up going to a couple of Rovers v Dumbarton matches with SoTR, always thoroughly enjoying his company, but a couple of plans to meet up with HD fell through on my part.

HD’s blog came to a halt in mid 2011, some 18 months after the very sudden death of his wife at the young age of 49; it was clear to those of us who were reading his stuff that listening to a lot of his favourite music had just become too painful. He was the sort of blogger who wore his heart on his sleeve and the way he wrote about his love and adoration for his late wife was very moving. When he closed down the blog he indicated that archive postings would remain open which is why I’ve mean able to maintain a link over on the right hand side under the section ‘Old Friends No Longer Active In The Field’

The sad thing now is that HD himself has passed away at the age of 55 – very suddenly and very unexpectedly.

And it was only a week or so after his after his death that I’ve been able to join some dots and realise that HD was in fact not just a fan of Dumbarton FC, but one of those hardy souls who devote all their spare energy to their team. In this case, HD had risen from being a fan on the terraces to the position of Chief Executive at his club, a role that also saw him provide sterling service to the game in Scotland as a whole.

The realisation came from reading his obituary in a newspaper which mentioned that he had been widowed back in 2010 which was just too much of a coincidence for me not to delve a bit deeper. For the first time in ages I went back into his old site and there it was, just below the posting announcing he was closing down the blog, vital info that you could catch him on Facebook under his real name of Gilbert Lawrie.

The realisation hit me quite hard for the simple reason that on at least ten occasions over the past few years I will have been sitting a matter of yards away from him at football matches and had many an opportunity to introduce myself and say hello….and I really regret that it never happened. After all, over the years I’ve met a fair number of folk who I got to know initially through blogging, and to a man and woman they have been the most wonderful and warm people imaginable.  HD/Gilbert would have been no different.

The tributes for Gilbert Lawrie last week were many for he was incredibly popular in the small world that is Scottish football. At least one of the formal obituaries which appeared in a local paper made reference to his love of music and in particular that he was a fan and avid collector of all things by The Who. The conversation we would have had about Paul Weller would have been fascinating.

This one is for a good mate who I never ever met, but who I’m proud to say I knew.

mp3 : The Jam – So Sad About Us

RIP Helpless Dancer. The music and football worlds are poorer places without you.


The huge success of the first three singles by The Style Council, particularly the Top 3 chart position of Long Hot Summer, was clear evidence that Paul Weller wasn’t ever going to need to reform The Jam.

While some fans were really struggling to move on and accept the new band, I was one of those who thought TSC were producing some great stuff, albeit I was more than baffled by the overly pretentious sleeve notes that really made little or no sense at all.

Long Hot Summer and all the other tracks on that EP had been on very heavy rotation, and I was thrilled to read that the follow-up single was going to be called A Solid Bond In Your Heart, simply as I remembered that The Jam had, a couple of years earlier, given that very name to one of their UK tours. So I was expecting something really special….a song that would somehow blend the chic sound of Long Hot Summer and the funk/pop of the later singles by The Jam.

Instead, I found myself listening to a single that had the most appalling saxophone sound all over it. I remember playing it something like three or four times in a row looking for something to like about it….I mean Zeke Manyika  was drumming on it so there had to be something my ears could pick up on…..but no, that bloody awful saxophone dominated everything. I was bitterly let down by it. It sounded as if was a record written by George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley

But clearly I was in a minority, for it was a record that sold very well, climbing to #11 in the pop charts.

mp3 : The Style Council – A Solid Bond In Your Heart

To be fair, I really liked the b-side which to this day is one of my favourite TSC compositions:-

mp3 : The Style Council – It Just Came To Pieces In My Hand

And I suppose I really should finish things off by shoving up the third track that came on the 7″gatefold sleeve version of the single….but I’ll warn you, that saxophone features prominently:-

mp3 : The Style Council – A Solid Bond In Your Heart (instrumental)

The Jam’s earlier version eventually appeared as a track on the Extras CD released in 1992 and then a slightly extended version was included in the Direction Reaction Creation boxset in 1997.

mp3 : The Jam – A Solid Bond In Your Heart (extended)

Seemingly a contender for the final ever 45 by the band, it was a late call instead to go with Beat Surrender.

Part 5 of this series will return in the new year with a tune that was, IMHO, a return to form.


So having got all the singles out-of-the-way, I thought I’d be completely self-indulgent and try to pull together a decent ICA without any of the songs that ever appeared on the 45s – and that includes those which were featured live versions on bonus discs. Despite the fact that well over 40 songs were ruled out from the outset, it still proved a challenge to settle on these particular two sides of vinyl.

Side A

1. Art School (from In The City)

Time hasn’t been all that kind to the first two LPs which is why the opening track of their debut is the only one to make the cut. This was seen as a potential single by Polydor Records with a promo video (of sorts) being filmed on the same day as In The City. Most bands would have gone for a second single to boost the sales of the debut album but given that Paul Weller was writing songs at a prestigious rate at the time, and that he was desperate to get the new material out as quickly as possible, then any thoughts of Art School being a 45 were shelved. It’s a more than decently energetic tune, with a lyric that basically said punk/new wave was the modern-day equivalent of art schools where you could dare to be different and challenge the traditional ways of thinking. These were also of course the type of establishments where so many well-respected British musicians of the 60s and early 70s had started out….

2. Thick As Thieves (from Setting Sons)

It is astonishing to look back and realise that Weller was barely 21 years of age when he wrote the songs that made up Setting Sons, the band’s fourth and most ambitious album. There’s no doubt that in his head he wanted to pull together a concept album telling the story of three childhood friends whose lives don’t go the way of their youngdreams with everything changing after them fighting but surviving a war. The concept wasn’t fully realised, possibly being down to him deciding it was an ‘unpunk’ thing to do or perhaps it became just too big a challenge in too short a timescale.  It’s a real pity and begs the thought ‘if only….’ for the foundations that were laid down, as exemplified by Thick As Thieves, make you think that the result could well have been a record forever feted to be near the top of the all-time classic lists.

3. Billy Hunt (from All Mod Cons)

Another great anthemic Jam song that many had marked out as a potential 45.

Billy Hunt is actually a pitiful figure of disaffected youth when you analyse it. He hates the idea that he is always getting picked on by everyone, unafirly in his mind, and he dreams of somehow inheriting the powers of fictional film and TV characters and taking his revenge after which he’ll happily head down to a pub that has strip shows for entertainment. He’s not exactly answering the call to arms that so many punk bands were making at the time.

Incidentally, I always thought that the character Ziggy Sobotka from Series 2 of The Wire is a 21st Century Billy Hunt….

4. Little Boy Soldiers (from Setting Sons)

A song like no other in the history of the band and perhaps the new wave era’s equivalent of Bohemian Rhapsody – or at least that’s how I initially felt when listening to this as a 16-year old back in 1979. It was earnest and it was thought-provoking stuff but above else it was unsettling, thanks in part to its constant changes in pace and rhythm but also as a result of the doom and gloom nature of the lyric.

OK, I was sure that I was going to leave school, head off to university and find myself some sort of job  linked to whatever qualifications I manged to get but I knew quite a few folk who were hell-bent on joining the armed forces and seeing what happened from there….none of them of course even remotely considered that in doing so they were putting their young lives at risk. I wanted so much to give every one of them a cassette with this song on and ask them to have a serious think about things….

5. Boy About Town (from Sound Affects)

It doesn’t do well to dwell for too long on the implications of Little Boy Soldiers otherwise you’ll end up depressed, miserable and worried about where the world is heading, so it’s important to bounce back with a great bit of pop music that puts a a smile on your face and makes you leap off the settee/chair/bean bag and flip your 12” piece of vinyl with its classic red Polydor label over to the other side for another fifteen or so minutes of class.

Side B

1. Happy Together (from The Gift)

Let’s get this party pumping. This is one where Bruce Foxton and Rick Buckler really come into their own, driving the song along at a tremendous pace and in the bass players’s instance adding an essential backing vocal. The ending where Paul Weller chants out NOW!!!!!!! Is one of my favourite moments on any Jam song – single, b-side or album track.

2. Saturday’s Kids (from Setting Sons)

And let’s keep things moving along apace with this paean to growing up in a working-class household.

At 16, I had no idea what the line ‘stains on the seats – in the back of course’ was all about. Nor did I know who smoked Capstan Non-Filters (Embassy Regal? yup….that was my dad’s choice of habit) and for Selsey Bill and Bracklesam Bay you would have had to substitute places a little nearer home or insert Blackpool which around half of Glasgow seemed to migrate to in the last two weeks in July back in the mid-70s.  Otherwise it was a song that resonated with me and even now I can recite every single word of the lyric.  But I do accept that, with its descriptions of things that aren’t part of modern society then it’s a lyric very much of its time and so probably won’t resonate much with today’s kids….except perhaps the bit about hating the system. Some things just never change.

3. To Be Someone (Didn’t We Have a Nice Time) (from All Mod Cons)

It will seem strange hearing this out of context with it not being preceded by the title track of All Mod Cons.

As a teenager, there’s just no possibility in your own mind of there being any downside to being famous and rich from getting paid wads of money for doing something you loved like football or music. And yet, here’s someone who I’m looking on as a bit of a role model (despite the fact he’s only 5 years older than me  – although at 14/15 that is such a huge age difference) warning me off. All these years later, and the growth of celebrity and its associated frenzied media feeding makes me glad that I’ve got myself through life without ever reaching the giddy heights of being a someone – I’d never ever want to get as angry or as pissed off with my lot as Mr Weller was in 1978.

4. Man In The Corner Shop (from Sound Affects)

There’s something intrinsically sad about this mid-paced number which I’ve always thought is a hidden gem of a song.

I’ve never thought its central message was that everyone is born equal; nor do I think Paul Weller thinks that to be the case and so his tongue is very much in his cheek when he sings those particular lines. The sadness come from the fact that neither of the factory worker or shop owner are happy with their lot and both believe the grass on the other side is a much more favourable shade of green. Even sadder isturning your thoughts to what was likely to have happened to the protagonists in real life over the subsequent 2-3 years….a factory closure and redundancy for the blue-collar worker and the end of the family business for the shop owner as the supermarkets take over?  Most likely…..and and as for the factory owner….well, he was never really ever any better off than the other two….maybe just a little bit richer in financial terms. In other words, the central message of Man In The Corner Shop is really quite simple……………………….

Life Sucks.

5. The Gift (from The Gift)

Just as Art School as the opening song on Side A of the first album served the purpose of announcing the arrival of a new and exciting band, so the final song on Side B of the final album serves the purpose of providing us with a very fine sign-off.

Go and shout it from your roof mountain top – The Jam were a fucking ace combo and one of the greatest things to happen to music in my generation.

mp3 : The Jam – Art School
mp3 : The Jam – Thick As Thieves
mp3 : The Jam – Billy Hunt
mp3 : The Jam – Little Boy Soldiers
mp3 : The Jam – Boy About Town
mp3 : The Jam – Happy Together
mp3 : The Jam – Saturday’s Kids
mp3 : The Jam – To Be Somone (Didn’t We Have A Nice Time)
mp3 : The Jam – Man In The Corner Shop
mp3 : The Jam – The Gift

That’s the last of The Jam for the time being……



R-6925464-1429642603-4814.jpegOn 30 October 1982 it was officially confirmed that The Jam would be splitting up at the end of the year.  Prior to that there would be one last single and dates on the winter tour of the UK would be fulfilled.  The news was greeted with some dismay but no real shock as the songs were now a long way removed from how they had started out and it was clear that Paul Weller wanted to go in a totally different direction from Bruce Foxton and Rick Buckler.

On Thursday 26 November the band began the farewell tour at the Glasgow Apollo.  Having camped out for tickets some months previously, long before the band break-up had been announced, I had a very hot and in demand piece of paper but there was no way I was giving it up no matter how much I was offered.

The following day, the band’s last single was released in standard 7″ a double-pack of 7″ singles and in a 12″ format.  It went straight to #1 where it stayed for two weeks:-

mp3 : The Jam – Beat Surrender
mp3 : The Jam – Shopping
mp3 : The Jam – Move On Up
mp3 : The Jam – Stoned Out Of My Mind
mp3 : The Jam – War

It was a gloriously upbeat end to the band’s career. Not their best single by a long way but still a decent ending. They had scored eighteen successive Top 40 hit 45s with two of these being via the very unlikely and unusual import-only route. The standard 7″ came with Shopping on the b-side while the double pack and 12″ offered the three soul covers that had been made famous originally by Curtis Mayfield, The Chi-Lites and Edwin Starr.

No other versions on offer today.  And that would be that except that I want to offer a little bonus.


At the very height of their popularity, the band made a one-off recording available for publication called Flexipop which had the gimmick of offering an otherwise unreleased recording by some of the best selling artists of the day.  The Jam offered something very unusual indeed along with a different recording of a track from Sound Affects:-

mp3 : The Jam – Pop Art Poem
mp3 : The Jam – Boy About Town (flexipop version)

And that seems as good a way as any to bring the series to a close.

Next up for the singles treatment……The Style Council.

(Well it had to be didn’t it????)



It might well have turned out to be the band’s penultimate 45 but even then it managed to achieve a couple of firsts, not least having a contribution from a female backing vocalist in the shape of Jennie McKeown of The Belle Stars (and NOT Tracie Young as many folk mistakenly believe) while the b-side had the very unusual combination of two tracks running seamlessly into one another, with the first song being a new original and the second a cover of an old R&B number….

mp3 : The Jam – The Bitterest Pill (I Ever Had To Swallow)
mp3 : The Jam – Pity Poor Alfie/Fever

Released on 10 September 1982, it was another surprise to fans in that this was more a classic pop number in the long history of break-up songs while the new original track on the b-side immediately brought to mind the theme tune of The Sweeney, a very popular and at the time ground-breaking TV cop show in the UK from the mid-1970s.

It reached #2 in the singles chart but it couldn’t quite dislodge Eye of The Tiger…….

It was going to be interesting to see where the band went from there.  But what happened next was a shock even if it had been on the cards for some time…

A couple of alternative versions are available courtesy of the Direction Reaction Creation box set.

mp3 : The Jam – The Bitterest Pill I Ever Had To Swallow (first version)

Rather different in tone and sound with much reliance on piano and no backing vocal from Jennie.

mp3 : The Jam – Pity Poor Alfie (swing version)

Totally different sounding (ie nothing like The Sweeney!!) with the bass guitar to the fore and a rather different vocal delivery. It also extends out to well over four minutes with a sax solo and major contributions on the Hammond Organ….

The Bitterest Pill wasn’t re-released in 1983 at time whan all the other old singles came out again, presumably on the grounds it was just too soon after the original release. However, it did appear again in 1997 as a CD single to promote the release of yet another compilation album where it was backed by the first version of the song together with The Butterfly Collector and That’s Entertainment.


It reached #30 in the singles chart



R-1089268-1235096691.jpegMalice/Precious had been followed a month or so later by the LP The Gift which had given the band their first ever #1 album. The problem was the album only had 10 tracks with two of these having been the previous double-A sided single and there was reluctance on the band’s part to authorise any further releases in the UK.

However, such was the clamour for material that a single from the parent album, released only in Holland, sold in such amazing quantities on import that it reached #8 in the UK singles chart in July 1982.  The demand was partly driven by the fact that its two b-sides were previously unreleased material, one being a cover that reflected Paul Weller‘s ever-growing infatuation with CND while the other was a completely new composition:-

mp3 : The Jam – Just Who Is The Five O’Clock Hero
mp3 : The Jam – War
mp3 : The Jam – The Great Depression

Can’t offer any alternative versions of any of these today….standards are slipping.

And just like That’s Entertainment, the previous import hit, this particular 45 was later given an official UK release in the UK but it didn’t break into the Top 100…..



R-1938708-1397825976-9056.jpegR-393298-1233458772.jpegSo there I was, on the back of Absolute Beginners full of fear for what the first single of 1982 might offer up.  I was also bemused by the fact that it was to be released in two formats including the first ever 12″ single by The Jam.  The music papers advised that the 7″ format would have two standard studio versions of what was officially a double-A side 45 while the 12″ would be a live version of one of the tracks and an extended version of the other.

It was a brave or perhaps foolish move to issue a live version of an as yet unreleased song wasn’t it?

mp3 : The Jam – Town Called Malice
mp3 : The Jam – Precious

mp3 : The Jam – Town Called Malice (live)
mp3 : The Jam – Precious (extended)

The single went straight in at #1 on its release on 29 January and caused a bit of a row with other record labels complaining that fans were buying both versions of the single and that it was this use of multi-formatting that had lifted to straight into the top slot. That argument might have held water if the single had immediately dropped down the following week but it stayed at #1 for three weeks, helped by the band being the first in something like 15 years to be asked to perform two songs on the same edition of Top of The Pops. And arguably, Malice remains the most instantly recognisable song by The Jam nowadays and is very much a staple of the golden oldies slots on UK radio.

All of which disguises that many fans were bemused and indeed some were appalled by Precious which was a straight-up funk/soul effort as far removed from In The City just five years earlier as can be imagined.  It took me a while to get used to it, but I fell in love with Malice immediately

The live version had been recorded just a few weeks previously on 14 December 1981 at a gig at the Hammersmith Palais in London. Five days later it would also be captured in the live setting at the fanclub gig at Golders Green Hippodrome

mp3 : The Jam – Town Called Malice (live at Golders Green)

as indeed was the other side of the release:-

mp3 : The Jam – Precious (live at Golders Green)

And finally, from the Direction Reaction Creation boxset here’s a demo version:-

mp3 : The Jam – Precious (demo)

When the decision was taken in 1983 by Polydor to re-release all the old singles it was only the 7″ version that was made available.  It reached #73.



We have now reached 16 October 1981 and the band’s fourteenth single.  And the first since I had fallen head over heels with them that left me disappointed.

I didn’t quite understand at the time that it was impossible for any musician or and to maintain incredibly high standards in their career and that at some point in time there has to be a dip in quality.  It would happen in due course with almost every other band that sustained any sort of lengthy career without a break but as this was the first time I’d seen it happen to one off mine I just didn’t get it….

In addition to fourteen singles The Jam had also released up to this point five studio LPs and all in a little over four years during which time they had toured almost non-stop on those occasions when they weren’t in the studio.  And Paul Weller had barely passed his 23rd birthday….

mp3 : The Jam – Absolute Beginners
mp3 : The Jam – Tales From The Riverbank

I much preferred the b-side but still thought it inferior to many earlier b-sides and album tracks that were unknown to the wider public.   Little did any of us know at the time that the band were going through a bit of a crisis at the time in terms of future musical directions that would only become apparent over the next twelve months….

The first alternative version today again comes from the Studio B15 live show on 25 October 1981.  This time you have to tolerate 17 seconds of jingles and DJ waffle before the song kicks in

mp3 : The Jam – Absolute Beginners (BBC live version)

and then sadly, there’s more waffle from the DJ in the closing few seconds.

From the same show, and again spoiled somewhat by chat at the start and end:-

mp3 : The Jam – Tales From The Riverbank (BBC live version)

The band would play both songs at the Golders Green gig at the end of December 1981:-

mp3 : The Jam – Absolute Beginners (live)
mp3 : The Jam – Tales From The Riverbank (live)

And finally…..a version recorded in November 1981 and issued the following year as a flexidisc to fan club members (and no, I never did sign up and join….for some reason or other I never did that with any singer or band that I liked)

mp3 : The Jam – Tales From The Riverbank (flexidisc version)

Oh and I almost forgot to mention. The single did reach #4 on its original release and then #83 when it was part of the batch of 1983 re-releases.



The thirteenth single contained a first in that it was a joint composition with the words attributed to Paul Weller and the music credited to The Jam.  It was also the first single to have the lyrics appear on the back of the sleeve.

It was released on 6 June 1981 and climbed to #4 in the singles charts. It’s 1983 re-release would only reach #82. Not bad for a song that was very untypical of the band.

mp3 : The Jam – Funeral Pyre
mp3 : The Jam – Disguises

The b-side was the second occasion the band had dipped into the back catalogue of The Who (the previous time being So Sad About Us as the flip-side to Tube Station and a poignant tribute to the then recently deceased Keith Moon).

There’s one additional version available today.  Lifted from The Jam at the BBC 2xCD, it is from a show entitled ‘Studio B15 live’ on 25 October 1981 (which was the day after the band had played for free at a CND rally in London). The downside is that after the cracking version of  the song ends you have to put up with about 40 seconds worth of an interview.

mp3 : The Jam – Funeral Pyre (live)/ interview



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