* Prices may differ from that shown
When I first started listening to The Jam, they had long since split up, I would never be lucky enough to witness them live. Instead, I would have to content myself with whatever I could get my hands on audio or video wise, I have even seen some great tribute bands, I have even seen Paul Weller live on a number of occasions. I don't think Weller or the tribute bands can really convey exactly how much of an exciting live act The Jam actually were, and I am talking from watching footage of them, watching their fans, it was just pure passion and energy at those gigs, from start to finish. Anyway, I had only bought a couple of their albums, when I wondered what they would sound like live. I saw a tape (yeah remember these things??) of 'Dig The New Breed' and as this was THE only live album release by The Jam, I decided to purchase it. The tape has since seen better days and I now have a digital copy and a CD version of this album, there is also more variety of the bands live stuff out there now. This album is told from a time when there was only one live album from The Jam....
== The Jam ==
The Jam were formed in Woking in 1972 and eventually got their break on the back of the punk movement in 1977, when they signed for Polydor on a one album, one single deal for the sum of £6000 (a paltry sum, considering the amount of money that was being bandied about for The Clash & the Sex Pistols). The band consisted of Paul Weller (Guitar, Keyboards & Vocals), Bruce Foxton (Bass, Vocals) and Rick Buckler (Drums), for a trio the band made a lot of noise. From 1977 - 1982, the band went from strength to strength, culminating with them being without a doubt the best band in Britain in 1982. This is why when Paul Weller decided he didn't want The Jam to carry on anymore (in Weller's words "I want us to count for something"), at the height of their popularity it came as a great shock to first of all Bruce and Rick, and then to the legions of fans. The Jam were known throughout as a great live act and with one final album obligation to Polydor, and no new songs planned, the band decided to release this live compilation whilst on tour themselves bidding farewell to the nation. Six studio albums, four UK number one singles, and one live album in the space of five years and The Jam were no more. Interest in The Jam is still there, and to tie in with that interest, various demo albums, best of albums and live albums have been released. This is a review of their first live album and the only one to have been released before the band officially split for good. This album spans the live recordings from September 1977 - The Trans Global Unity Express Tour 1982.
==Track By Track ==
=== In The City ===
The album opens with what I consider THE best version of The Jam's debut single, 'In The City'. The version of this song is played at 150mph, considerably faster paced than the studio recording. Weller starts of by introducing the song as "Here's a tune you might know", before just letting rip in a frenzied attack on his Rickenbacker. This was recorded at the 100 Club 11th September 1977, , I do hope they release the rest of the 100 Club tracks on one album, I know they did record the full concert and a few of the other tracks from this concert went on to form the B-Side of 'The Modern World' single in 1977, it is a bit disappointing not to hear more of them on this album.
=== All Mod Cons ===
Three tracks from 'All Mod Cons' are up next, with the first two being the albums openers. All three of these tracks were recorded on 13th December 1979 at The Rainbow, Finsbury Park, London and appeared in their entirety on the bonus disc of 'Live at the BBC' in 2003. Again 'All Mod Cons' is played at a faster pace than the studio recording, with Bruce Foxton and Rick Buckler, showcasing that there were three members in The Jam, their bass and drums is really evident on this track. The highlight of this track for me was Paul replacing the word "Bricks", for an expletive, I don't know if it was meant or if something happened to make him say a different word, but it totally works on this track.
=== To Be Someone (Didn't We Have a Nice Time) ===
This track seems to just tag on the end of 'All Mod Cons' nicely and as I have said on a previous review, these two tracks seem to go together really well, almost like part one and part two. The song tells the story of wishing you were famous, then to be famous, followed by, losing the fame and reminiscing. The song kind of goes full circle with it's message, before going back to the beginning. I prefer the two tracks back to back on here than on the actual studio album, they seem to have a much more punchier edge to them.
=== It's Too Bad ===
A cross between The Who's 'So Sad About Us' and The Beatles 'She Loves You' , this is a great little number, which was still played live on their final tour. As buckler's drum beat is played out, Weller announces the track "Alright this one's called It's...Too...Bad", before playing the unmistakeable riff. This is another one of those tracks which sounds just the same live as it does on the studio album, the only difference being the drum intro and the middle eight instrumental with Paul, Bruce and Rick having a little instrument sparring going on.
=== Start! ===
The next three songs are all from the same concert. The Jam had seen four of their singles reach the coveted number one spot (no mean feat, you had to sell a lot more singles than you do these days), two of their number ones are showcased on this album, their fourth hadn't been released at the time of this album being released, even though it would have been good to tag a studio version of Beat Surrender on the end of this album as a little bonus. I quite like this version of 'Start!', recorded live at the Hammersmith Palais 14th December 1981, as part of the fundraising mini tour, for Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. Weller introduces the song "This next song is called Start!", as if this song needed any introduction, as soon as the first bars of the 'Taxman' rip off riff is played, the crowd roars with delight.
=== Big Bird ===
Up next we have a cover version of a song written by Eddie Floyd (he of Knock on Wood fame), apparently he wrote this while waiting for a plane in a London airport to fly back to the U.S. as he was going to Otis Redding's funeral. The song wasn't a hit but became big on the Northern Soul scene and this was the music Weller was getting into, as was evident with the horn section on The Jam's latest music. Weller makes this song sound like a rock number, not the Northern Soul stomper, he makes this song his own. This is the only place you can find The Jam playing this track, aside from bootleg recordings.
=== Set The House Ablaze ===
The final set of the three from the Hammersmith Palais gigs, 'Set The House Ablaze', with it's heavy sounding riff is from The Jam's fifth studio album 'Sound Affects'. It is pretty much an anti National Front song, about a friend who he knew, but doesn't recognise him anymore because of his far right political views, it still holds some relevance in today's culture with the BNP now the more prominent far right party. When I first heard this, I hadn't had the chance to listen to 'Sound Affects' and it did take me a while before I could actually feel this track, but after hearing the studio version and hearing this for revisiting purposes of writing this review, I have to say, this is a really strong track, lyrically and musically. Rick Buckler just keeps this marking time with his strong punctuating drum beats throughout, this version definitely has something extra that you don't hear on the studio version.
=== Ghosts ===
This is one of my favourite songs from 'The Gift' album, and is also in my top five tracks by the band. I just love the haunting guitar riff and the lyric, which is basically saying "just be yourself" and "don't be scared to at least try". This version just seems like a carbon copy of the studio version, although with added audience participation hand claps, it was recorded live at Bingley Hall 21st March 1982. I thought they should have waited before releasing this album, as the version on The Jam's final television performance on The Tube, had a different arrangement and was better in my opinion.
=== Standards ===
This album was doing alright chronologically until they stuck this track on here, it was like a case of "oh, we were supposed to put 'Standards' on side A, that's alright let's just stick it on here". This was recorded at Reading University on 16th February 1979 and is a great track from 'This is a Modern World', I also think this is a great live version, played at a faster pace than the studio version (Anyone who has heard The Jam live, will know that they were a totally different band to the one from the albums and singles, everything was louder, faster and more punchier).
=== In The Crowd ===
This is the first of five tracks, which were recorded on their Scottish leg of the Trans Global Unity Express Tour of 1982, to promote 'The Gift' album. This version of 'In The Crowd' was performed live at The Edinburgh Playhouse', which was a fantastic concert venue in the 1980's, until concerts were moved to bigger venues like Murrayfield or Ingliston Showground. I was quite pleased when I noticed that the Edinburgh Playhouse was showcased on this album, as although I didn't see The Jam perform there, I could relate to the venue having moved to Edinburgh in 1982.
=== Going Underground ===
Sticking with the Scottish audiences, we finish the album with four tracks from their Glasgow Apollo concert on 8th April 1982, two days after their Edinburgh gig. The Glasgow Apollo held a special place in Paul's heart, he returned to play here with the Style Council on the Apollo's closing night. When I first got this album I was really looking forward to hearing a live version of 'Going Underground', what a disappointment I was in for. Weller just seems to shout his way through this power pop anthem, as if he just can't be bothered, because he has sung it so many times. I would have preferred an earlier version of this song on here, perhaps one from when the song had just been released, I have seen and heard better versions.
=== Dreams of Children ===
No introduction necessary for 'Dreams of Children', this has never been a favourite of mine. Sometimes when you hear a song live, it changes your perception a bit, I have to say this still does not change my feelings on the song, I couldn't wait for it to be over, I was just thankful of the faster pace than the studio recording. The highlight in this song is Bucklers drumming throughout, he holds the other two members of the group together like glue, people who said he wasn't a great drummer should listen to this.
=== That's Entertainment ===
According to the sleeve notes for this album, 'That's Entertainment' was written in 10 minutes after coming home drunk, "Wellers finest moment". This sees Paul and Bruce switch to acoustic mode, for this snapshot of Britain. I wasn't lucky enough to see The Jam perform this live, so I had to contend with Weller performing it solo. This is the closest I could get to hearing The Jam perform this live, as opposed to seeing them, it doesn't take anything from the original, a great acoustic live performance.
=== Private Hell ===
After the pop folk of 'That's Entertainment', this album closes with a fantastic track from the 'Setting Sons' album; 'Private Hell'. A great heavy rock number, the riff often reminded me of a heavy metal song rather than the soft rock of The Jam. Bruce's bass is the driving force behind this track, he sounds like he is thumbing it as if his life depended on it (it probably did, I saw the look Paul gave him on the Bingley Hall DVD when Bruce had some feedback). This is a fantastic way to end the album, it sounds like an explosive finale once it gets going, although the actual concert this was taken from still had another five songs to go!
== Track Listing ==
***All songs written by Paul Weller, unless otherwise stated.***
In The City
All Mod Cons
To Be Someone (Didn't We Have a Nice Time)
It's Too Bad
Big Bird (Eddie Floyd)
Set the House Ablaze
In The Crowd
Dreams of Children
== Price ==
This album can be purchased from amazon.co.uk for £6.43, this includes a free MP3 version of the album to download and free delivery. I don't think it is a bad price and if you are a fan of the group you would probably pay any kind of price for the missing puzzle in your collection, so it is worth it I reckon.
== Verdict ==
When I first listened to this album I was disappointed, that the amount of material The Jam had released over the year, the amount of concerts they had performed, and this was the best they could come up with in terms of live material. Absence are the hits such as Down in the Tubestation at Midnight, A Town Called Malice, Strange Town, When Your Young, & The Eton Rifles to name just a few of the absentees. What the fans received as a farewell Christmas 1982, was an album full of album tracks, with the odd single thrown in along with a cover version. The Bingley Hall gig from 1982 was recorded for a video release, I have a bootleg of the full Bingley Hall gig, which would have probably served as a better testament to the band than this. Fans would have to wait until October 1993 for another helping of live output, with the release of 'Live Jam', which although quite good, still doesn't cut it for me and I was glad when 'Live at The BBC' was released in 2002, I prefer to have a concert from start to finish, than a track from this concert followed by a track from that concert and so on. When I first got this album I had nothing else to go on, so this was the only live album by them, I thought it was OK, and I was yearning for the record company to release more live material (I still am, despite of all the bootlegs I have). I just think that Polydor, & Messrs Weller, Buckler & Foxton could have came up with some better output than this for their only live release at the time. Perhaps they just wanted it over with, so it was a case of "That'll do", which wasn't very like The Jam at all, but Paul had announced the decision to quit, to the media in October that year, and Buckler and Foxton didn't exactly take it well, they just wanted it over with. Overall I will give this album 4/5 stars, and that is only for the best live version of 'In The City' I have ever heard. This album is definitely one for the fans though, I can't see anyone who isn't a fan of The Jam wanting or needing it for their collection. This is not an album I play often, I have quite an extensive collection of bootleg recordings that I seem to rotate the favourite ones, but for a starter of a live album by "the best band in the f***in' world" this is alright.
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 In The City
2 All Mod Cons
3 To Be Someone
4 It's Too Bad
6 Big Bird
7 Set The House Ablaze
10 In The Crowd
11 Going Underground
12 Dreams Of Children
13 That's Entertainment
14 Private Hell