Tales From The Drop Box Episode 64 represents a first for this podcast. Instead of the usual mix of artists you’ve likely never heard of before, this special episode covers an artist that you might recognize if you are old enough, have cool friends, or an interest in the early days of punk rock (whatever that means to you). Part of the rationale for this episode is to address questions that some of my friends pose when they hear me play a track and ask who the #$^! is this? When did this come out? Why have I never heard of them?
For me, this episode, the first of hopefully a series of “occasional” special podcasts, is a chance to revisit one of a select group of bands and their music that not only changed my life in one way or another but formed a critical part of a musical education that had to be experienced live as well as on record. This episode is not intended to be a nerdy dissection of the band that is featured (although I am somewhat nerdy) but rather an introduction for some listeners and a reflection of the genius for other listeners of bands that influenced music and culture of their era and whose influence on music is felt today. So, with that in mind, Episode 64 represents my effort to pay homage to one of my favorite bands of all time – The Jam.
I was only able to see The Jam live twice – April 24, 1979 at the Commodore Ballroom and June 5, 1982 at the Kerrisdale Arena. Both venues are in Vancouver B.C. Even today, after more than 35 years, I can still vividly recall both shows. These two shows coincidentally highlighted the Jam’s live prowess at two different points in their career: on the rocket ride to the top of the UK charts in 1979 and a band breaking apart in 1982.
The 6 studio albums and 18 singles the Jam released during their existence from 1977-1982, were, I believe, one album short of what would have been a perfect career. The last offering, the under rated and under-appreciated The Gift, hinted at a more soulful direction of the band than prior records and if one more album was released under The Jam name I believe it would have been the perfect blend of punk aggression and soul. It certainly would not be the Style Council. But I’m digressing…
The Jam had a tremendous impact on me during my college years as I, like Paul Weller, had left a small town – For me, the journey was from the far reaches of northern Canada to the big city of Vancouver. The songs spoke directly and were unlike anything on the radio.
The Jam were also very much an anomaly in the punk scene of the time as they embraced the past – incorporating obvious Who, The Kinks, Small Faces and the Beatles influences and then spicing up with some Motown hooks. All of this “past” was then blended with punk energy and direction. It was not just “fire and skill” but also “direction, reaction, and creation” that gave The Jam their sound and for me a special place in rock history.
Here is what you’ll find in Episode #64: (N.B. I put these in order from my favorite to my most favorite!) :
- 15. “It’s Too Bad (demo)” – On The Jam’s third album, All Mod Cons originally, this version is from Disc 5 of the Direction, Reaction, Creation Box Set.
- 14. “Funeral Pyre (Live)” – The Jam’s 13th single release May 29, 1981, this version is from the Hammersmith Palais show on December 14, 1981. Not released on an LP. All of the live shows that are mentioned below are contained on an amazing live box set entitled: Fire And Skill: The Jam Live [6 CD].
- 13. “The Modern World – The Jam’s 3rd single released October 28, 1977. This version appears on This is The Modern World which is The Jam’s 2nd album.
- 12. “Eton Rifles” – The Jam’s 9th single released October 29, 1979. This version appears on Setting Sons, the Jam’s 4th album.
- 11. “Ghosts (Live)” – Originally appeared on The Jam’s 6th and final studio album The Gift. This version is from the Wembley Stadium show on December 2, 1982.
- 10. “Strange Town” – The Jam’s 7th single released March 9, 1979. This is the single version. Not released on an LP.
- 9. “Slow Down (Live)” – Cover of the Larry William’s 1958 classic, the original version appears The Jam’s 1st album, In The City. This version is from the Music Machine show March 2, 1978.
- 8. “English Rose” – Appears on The Jam’s 3rd album All Mod Cons although neither the song title or the lyrics are printed on original issues of the LP due to Weller’s feeling that the song’s lyrics didn’t mean much without the music behind them.
- 7. “A Bomb In Wardour Street” – Released as the B-side to The Jam’s 5th single (A-Side was the cover of the Kink’s “David Watts”) released on August 18, 1978 and is found on side two of All Mod Cons.
- 6. “Man In The Corner Shop” – Appears on the Jam’s 5th LP, Sound Affects released on November 28, 1980.
- 5. “That’s Entertainment/Tales From The Riverbank (Live) – The Jam’s 12th single “That’s Entertainment was not released in the UK but charted as an import single from Germany (Metronome Label) released on February 7, 1981. The track appears on Sound Affects. “Tales From The Riverbank is the B-Side of The Jam’s 16th single. Although intended as the Aside, a pressing plant mistake made “Absolute Beginners” (not the David Bowie song) the A-Side. The single was released on October 16, 1981. The song was not released on an LP. This version is from the Hammersmith Palais show December 14, 1981.
- 4. “Down In The Tube Station At Midnight” – This is the single edit released as The Jam’s 6th single on October 13, 1978. Appears on All Mod Cons.
- 3. “Boy About Town” – There are two very different versions of this song. This version is the original which I prefer. This version is on the Sound Affects LP. Although the Peter Wilson fan club remix found on the Extras compilation is pretty cool “jazzing” the song up with horns I guess my sense memory always takes me back to the original.
- 2. “Butterfly Collector” – This was the B-Side to the Jam’s 7th single “Strange Town” released on March 9, 1979. This version was only released on the Canadian Polydor version of Setting Suns. This song was released in the U.S. in May 1979, as Polydor #14553. It did not even come close to charting although it was on brilliant gold vinyl in clear plastic sleeves.
- 1. “Going Underground” – This was The Jam’s 9th single and first UK #1 record released on March 22, 1980. The song was not released on an LP. It is my favorite Jam song.
And the public gets what the public wants but I want nothing this society’s got I’m going underground . . . You use your senses to suss out this week’s climber and the small fame that you’ve acquired has brought you into cult status but to me you’re still a collector