There was an article in the NME in 1977, entitled "All Change, and back to 1964" This excellent piece introduced The Jam to people like me, who had really only heard them through John Peel, the "live at the Vortex" compilation and In The City. With sharp suits, just-so hair, skinny ties and Rickenbacker guitars, they unashamedly wore their 60s influences- The Kinks, and The Who, mainly- on their immaculately tailored sleeves. Paul was eminently quoteable, this is where the "I might just vote Conservative" riff came from, and the whole article painted a picture of a band who knew where they were going, and weren't gonna hang about getting there.I was sold and eagerly sought them out.The sixties sensibility infused with punk aggression and teen frustration, and with more than a modicum of F.U attitude and ego,gave birth to a band we would cherish, and we watched as they grew to be the biggest band in the UK.
Right from the beginning they had the attitude of doing it their way. Check out the lyrics to second single "All Around the World" "Modern World" had Weller snarling and spitting with rage about journalists teachers and everyone he perceived as having put him down. 3 Singles in, and it was already clear. The Jam were a truly great band, and Weller a genuine phenomenon. His songwriting, and musicianship was exceptional.His delivery just spot on. The Jam started to be recognised as the true heirs to the English pop throne, and the glut of quality singles just kept spilling out. "When Youre Young" "Strange Town" "Tube station", every one a masterpiece of description wrapped in explosive white boy pop guitar."Eton Rifles," "A Bomb," even the homage to the Kinks "David Watts", a steady stream of unforgettable, irresistable pop nuggets. "Underground," straight in at number one, cemented their reputation as THE band of the moment.
Then, something happened. Keyboards to be precise. Paul was moving on. The next few singles weren't too immediate, like Absolute beginners, and Malice, and Funeral Pyre, some even had brass bits. Weller had grew tired with the three chords and the truth format, and broke out."Bitterest Pill", "That's entertainment"the wonderful "5 o clock hero" and the sign off of "Beat Surrender" proved beyond any doubt that Paul had set his sights on other things, but also that he was a truly brilliant observer of life with a sensational talent for articulating his view on it.
Paul is a true gem, an English songwriter that we should truly celebrate. I haven't mentioned Rick or Bruce, the glue that held them together. Understandable maybe, but wrong. I apologise. I haven't quoted any lyrics here, there are so many great ones. As a way of sampling the best English White Boy Guitar Pop there is, this is unbeatable.
I bought this on cassette when it first came out. As a Jam fan the 2 CD is the best collection of Jam Material available.Paul Weller went on to have success with The Style Council and as a solo artist. However in my opinion The Jam was Weller at his best. All the 21 singles are here from "In the City" to "Beat Surrender". As well as the singles there are some really great "B" sides. How they never made it as singles heaven knows. Particular favourites of mine include, "Away from the Numbers" "Billy Hunt" and "Thick as Thieves" Not a duff track on this C.D. If you want the definitive collection of the Jams work then go with this 2 C.D. Set. You will not be disappointed.