Friday, October 1, 2010

The Jam - All The Choice Cuts


And now we've covered it all.  In my total obsession with the Modfather we have now come full circle, from solo to Style Council to The Jam.  Which got me wondering, why he's been such a presence in my life?  There's no doubt he's a consummate songwriter, a great singer, and his looks have only improved with the years.

The Jam were one of many angry young bands that I listened to in that part of my life when I was rather a serious young insect.  Yes, I was growing up in suburban Canberra (the horror) and reading Camus and Simone de Beauvoir and wearing the Mod uniform of skinny jeans and pointy shoes and white shirts with skinny ties under grey or black blazers.  Oh, the pretentiousness of it all!

In those days we didn't dream of making it big in New York - everyone wanted to go to London.  And the Jam were (for all their Woking roots) oh so London.  It may seem trite but their sound evokes the smell of London for me, along with the greyness and damp I always seem to encounter whenever I go there.  And that soundscape heralding Down in the Tube Station at Midnight just puts me there.

I'm looking forward to seeing him again this month.  If the show's anything like last time, we're in for a real treat.



The Jam are more important to me than just about any other of their contemporaries, with the possible exception being Elvis Costello & The Attractions and The Clash.  I was introduced to them through my friendship with a funny little English bloke called Paul.

At my first posting as a young RAAF airman, we became friends, bonding over a common love of alternative music.  I introduced a lot of Australian artists to him and he returned the favour by introducing me to some of the best the British had to offer, including the afore-mentioned artists.  I'm unsure of where Paul ended up as we lost contact many years ago, but if he, by freaky coincidence, is reading this, I'd like to say "thanks, mate."

I had two of their albums on cassette, Sound Affects and The Gift.  I also had their first greatest hits compilation, Snap.  I played these three cassettes until they snapped from wear but I've never replaced them. Listening to this collection has me thinking I should because, while it is a greatest hits, it does miss some of my favourite tracks from their albums.

And I still get a kick from tracks like In The City, Going Underground and Start!, which sound as raw and vital as they've ever done.  We'll be seeing Weller live in the next month or so and while I'm hoping he might play one of these, I know we're probably going to end up hearing Eton Rifles and Town Called Malice. Not that this is a bad thing...


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