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As a massive fan of The Jam, I was over the moon when this came out. I had collected every single by The Jam on vinyl and to have most of the B-sides on one album was fantastic. This doesn't have just most of the B-sides though, it also has a lot of rare tracks and unreleased demos, some with Paul Weller on his own with a guitar. Released in 1995 on compact disc and 1992 on cassette, it reached number 15 in the UK album charts 10 years after their split; a great feat considering it doesn't contain any singles. The low point of this album is the omission of "War"; the B-side of the 12" of "Just Who Is the 5 O'Clock Hero". Aside from that, it is a great introduction into the songwriting of Paul Weller, especially as some of the B-sides and demos could have been good enough to be A-sides.
The album starts off with "Dreams of Children", originally intended to be an A-side in it's own right, but due to a pressing mix up in France it became a double A-side with "Going Underground". "Going Underground" got the most radio airplay, which took it to number one in the charts in March 1980. The backwards tape at the start of this song is actually "Thick as Thieves" from the album "Setting Sons".
The next track is a lovely number called "Tales From the Riverbank". This song is about Paul Wellers childhood escape in Woking and it reminds me in parts of George Orwells '1984'(A place to escape Big Brothers watchful eye). The song starts of with a melancholic baseline before the haunting guitar riff kicks in. This is one of my favourite B-sides by The Jam.
Up next we have a demo version of "Liza Radley", this song later became the B-side of the number one single "Start". It would seem this song is about a girl who doesn't fit in and life never gets her down, the singer likes this about the girl and wants her to take him with her into her little world, but despite the singers advances she doesn't believe in love. Not the strongest song Weller ever wrote but a lovely little tune none the less.
The first of three tracks from The Jams final single and fourth UK number 1 "Beat Surrender" double pack is included next (There were four extra tracks altogether, the 4th doesn't appear on this album and is a another cover of Edwin Starrs "War", you can find this on "Direction, Reaction, Creation" box set on disc four). "Move on Up" is a cover of a Curtis Mayfield track and was already a live favourite by the time this was recorded and released in November 1982.
"Shopping" is a jazz influenced number and another part of the "Beat Surrender" double pack. Written by Paul Weller, the song gives a little bit of a hint as to what musical direction he would embark on the following year with The Style Council.
Bruce Foxton, not known for his amazing song writing skills, pulled off this little gem in 1979(not without a little help from his mate Paul with the final part of the song, but we won't take that away from him). "Smithers-Jones" is a story about a hard working man, who upon going into a meeting thinking he is about to get a promotion from his boss, is told that there isn't a job for him anymore. This song could have come straight out of the Ray Davies songbook such is the way the story is told. It was originally the B-side of "When You're Young" and was reworked with strings for "Setting Sons", it also became a live staple of The Jams set.
"Pop Art Poem" is an experimental track, written by Paul Weller. My favourite lyric is the line "I made this up as I went along...it's good innit?". It was given away free as a flexi disc with Flexi-Pop magazine in 1981, backed with an alternate version of "Boy About Town". The song is filled with lots of sound effects and echoey voices, not a great song lyrically but it's still a cut above some of The Jams weaker songs.
The version of "Boy About Town" that appears here is explained above. This is a different version to that which appeared on the album "Sound Affects"
When Paul Weller decided to split up The Jam after 6 studio albums, plans went underway to release a farewell single and tour. Originally the Weller composition "Solid Bond In Your Heart" was a strong contender for the bands final single, but for some reason this was scrapped and "Beat Surrender" was released. Weller held onto "Solid Bond in Your Heart" however, and it was later released by his next project, The Style Council, reaching number 11 in the UK singles chart in 1983. The version that appears here is The Jam demo version.
"No One In the World" is a demo for a song that was recorded around about the same time as "Sound Affects" in 1980, it was never finished and thus never made the final cut of the album.
"And Your Bird Can Sing" is a note perfect cover of The Beatles song from "Revolver". There was talk about The Jam recording a covers album, but I that idea was scrapped. This is the first time this track has been released.
The demo of "Burning Sky" shows how almost complete Paul Wellers demos actually were. This demo is just Paul with an electric guitar, before all the other parts were added. "Burning Sky" eventually appeared on "Setting Sons" and was one of the songs originally intended to become part of a concept album idea that never materialized. The song is written as a letter to an old school chum explaining how his ideals have changed since he grew up and got a high flying career, which happens to be more important than reliving all our yesterdays.
"Thick as Thieves" is another almost complete demo intended for the same album as "Burning Sky". It was another of the concept album songs and discusses the same issues, about how we arn't as close as we used to be when we were young.
"Disguises" is a cover of a song by The Who; The Who version appeared on their EP "Ready Steady Who", which also contained "Batman", which The Jam also covered for their debut album "In the City". This song appeared as the B-side to the number 4 UK single, "Funeral Pyre". The song makes great use of clanging guitars and psychedelia.
"Get Yourself Together" is another cover version, this time from another of Pauls favourite bands; The Small Faces. I love this version but I have to say, I definitely prefer the original, look for it on youtube and you'll see what I mean.
Next up is a total classic track, a set list favourite, this song about a groupie during the punk era, who used to like to collect men like butterflies, is one of Wellers finest moments and far to good to be relegated to the B-side. "The Butterfly Collector" was the B-side of "Strange Town" and has some truly amazing lyrics, such as "There's tarts and whores but you're much more, you're a different kind cause you want their minds and you just don't care cause you've got no pride, Its just a face on your pillowcase that thrills you". The song starts of slow before hitting into a punchy chorus and then switching the tempo back and forth before peaking and then ending on a slow note.
"The Great Depression" is the B-side to the Dutch import single of "Just Who Is the 5 O'Clock Hero". The A-side wasn't released in the UK and like "That's Entertainment"(another import) it still made the UK singles charts, such was the strength of The Jams popularity.
Next up we have the 3rd song from the "Beat Surrender" double single pack; "Stoned Out of my Mind", a cover of a song made famous by The Chi-Lites. This song also has a Style Council feel to it and you can really hear how it influenced some of their early work.
Paul Weller announced he was splitting up the band during the recording for the bands 17th single "The Bitterest Pill(I Ever Had to Swallow), "Pity Poor Alfie/Fever" was this singles B-side. The first part of the medley "Pity Poor Alfie", sounds a bit like a Madness track, it has a ska feel to it, it also segues into a cover of "Fever", made famous by Peggy Lee very nicely. Not one of my favourite B-sides and it makes me wonder where Pauls head was at when he recorded "Fever".
"But I'm Different Now" is a band demo of an uptempo number that would appear on "Sound Affects".
The Jam recorded this demo of the James Brown classic, "I Got You(I Feel Good)", possibly recorded about the same time as "Absolute Beginners". Not the best cover they've ever done in my opinion, but I have never really been a fan of the song anyway so my opinion could be biased.
"Hey Mister" is another demo, this time with just Paul and a piano. Until now this track has remained unreleased. Here Weller is having a pop at a prime minister/president/leader of a country, basically saying that you made all these promises and now that you're in power you don't care about what happens and you've lost touch with the people who voted you in.
Next up is another demo from "Setting Sons", with Weller strumming the near complete version of "Saturdays Kids" before he let the rest of the group play on the track. This version of the song could have appeared on the album without adding anything to it, it sounds so raw and edgy.
The demo of "We've Only Started" sounds a bit familiar. If you listen to it you can hear the resemblance to "Tales From the Riverbank", although this track has different lyrics and a more punchier feel to it
Another cover from The Who, "So Sad About Us" appeared as one of the two B-sides of Down in the Tubestation at Midnight; the other being a Bruce Foxton composition "The Night", which appears on Disc 2 of Direction, Reaction, Creation box set. The song was recorded as a tribute to The Who's drummer Keith Moon, who had just passed away, incidentally, the back cover of the single had a black and white photograph of Keith.
This brings us to the final song on the album, "The Eton Rifles" demo, and what a way to end it than with this classic track with just Paul and an electric guitar. One of the highlights of this album; a demo of a single in almost complete form!
This brings me to the end of the review. This album is definitely worth a listen for fans of The Jam/The Style Council/Paul Weller, what a great insight into how some of these songs developed and also the only place where you can find the majority of The Jams B-sides on one single CD.
All songs written by Weller unless otherwise stated.
1) Dreams of Children (Double A-side of Going Underground)
2) Tales from the Riverbank(B-side of Absolute Beginners)
3) Liza Radley (Demo of the B-side to Start)
4) Move on Up (Cover of a Curtis Mayfield track, part of the double single pack for Beat Surrender)
5) Shopping (Part of the double single pack for Beat Surrender)
6) Smithers-Jones (Bruce Foxtons finest hour, B-side of When You're Young)
7) Pop Art Poem (Originally given away free as a flexi disc with Flexi Pop magazine issue number 2 in 1981)
8) Boy About Town (Alternate version and second track on the flexi disc single from 1981)
9) Solid Bond in Your Heart ( Demo version of a song later made famous by The Style Council)
10) No One In the World (Demo)
11) And Your Bird Can Sing (Cover of The Beatles, from their album Revolver)
12) Burning Sky (Paul Weller accoustic demo)
13) Thick as Thieves (Paul Weller electric demo)
14) Disguises (B-side of Funeral Pyre, cover of a song by The Who, recorded for their Ready Steady Who EP)
15) Get Yourself Together (Cover of a Small Faces album track)
16) The Butterfly Collector (B-side of Strange Town)
17) The Great Depression (B-side of the Dutch import of Just Who Is the 5 O'Clock Hero)
18) Stoned Out of My Mind (Cover of a Chi-Lites song, part of the double pack for Beat Surrender)
19) Pity Poor Alfie/Fever (Medley of a Weller composition and Cooley/Blackwell track, B-side of The Bitterest Pill(I ever had to Swallow)
20) But I'm Different Now ( Demo of a song that would appear on Sound Affects)
21) I Got You(I Feel Good) (Cover of a James Brown Classic)
22) Hey Mister (Demo)
23) Saturdays Kids (Paul Weller Electric Demo)
24) We've Only Started(Demo)
25) So Sad About Us(Cover version of a song by The Who, B-side of Down in the Tube Station at Midnight)
26) The Eton Rifles (Paul Weller Electric Demo)
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 Dreams Of The Children
2 Tales From The Riverbank
3 Liza Radley
4 Move On Up
6 Smithers Jones
7 Pop Art Poem
8 Boy About Town
9 Solid Bond In Your Heart
10 No One In The World
11 And Your Bird Can Sing
12 Burning Sky
13 Thick As Thieves