The Jam
Classic Album Selection

Released: 3rd December 2012
Label: Universal

They say that you never forget your first love, well that is certainly true when it comes to music. As a child my older cousin gave me a tape cassette of The Jam - ‘In The City’ and told me this is the music you need to be listening to, thankfully I took his advice and my love for The Jam has just continued to grow over the years. As I grew up their music helped me make sense of the world, and their songs would inspire me to do something with my life. You only have to listen to ‘Town Called Malice’ to realise that you can do something to make a change, “stop apologising for the things you’ve never done, time is short, life is cruel, it's up to us to change”. I once wrote those lyrics on a resignation letter from a job I hated.

The Jam are, without a shadow of a doubt, one of the greatest bands that Britain has ever produced. Their name is rightly up there with the likes of The Beatles, The Who and The Kinks. Paul Weller, Bruce Foxton and Rick Buckler were everything a three piece band should be, they had an incredibly tight sound, songs full of passion and belief and they had a look that would be copied by fans up and down the country. Their influence has more than stood the test of time, this is a band who have influenced countless generations and will continue to do so. Noel Gallagher summed up the importance of The Jam when he once said that the 90s sounded the way it did because everyone was a fan of The Jam. Blur, Oasis and Ocean Colour Scene were all fans of The Jam as they were growing up.

To mark the fact that thirty years have passed since The Jam decided to call it a day, Universal are releasing a box set of all The Jam’s classic albums. Each CD is individually packaged with a rigid slipcase designed to replicate the LP gatefold sleeve. This is a box set that anyone who loves music, or just has a passing interest in music, should add to their Christmas list. Compared with most box sets this is one that has a very reasonable price, ensuring that you really will not be left disappointed if this is in your stocking come Christmas morning.

The box set contains all six albums ‘In The City’, ‘This Is The Modern World’, ‘All Mod Cons’, ‘Setting Sons’, ‘Sound Affects’ and ‘The Gift’. I do not intend to spend the rest of this feature reviewing each album as in my mind each one is a classic and sounds as fresh and exciting as the day they were recorded. I will, however, draw your attention to some of my favourite tracks across the six albums, ‘Art School’, ‘Slow Down’, ‘In The City’, ‘This Is The Modern World’, ‘London Girl’, ‘To Be Someone (Didn’t We Have A Nice Time)’, ‘A Bomb In Wardour Street’, ‘Eton Rifles’, ‘Saturday’s Kids’, ‘Monday’, ‘Pretty Green’, ‘Dream Time’, ‘Just Who Is The 5 0‘Clock Hero’ and ‘Carnation’.

You may notice two obvious omissions from the above list, there are two which I want to give special attention to, ‘That’s Entertainment' and ‘Town Called Malice’. All be it obvious choices but these are my two favourite Jam tracks. Both of these tracks say everything about what was happening in ‘Thatcher Britain’ and both of these tracks conjure up images of working class life and society during that era in such a poetic way.

“Days of speed and slow time Mondays / Pissing down with rain on a boring Wednesday / Watching the news and eating your tea / A freezing cold flat and damp on the walls / That’s entertainment, that’s entertainment.” (That’s Entertainment)

“Rows and rows of disused milk floats stand dying in the dairy yard / And a hundred lonely housewives clutch empty milk bottles to their hearts / Hanging out their old love letters on the line to dry / It’s enough to make you stop believing when tears come fast and furious” (Town Called Malice)

2013 is going to be the year when our society is plunged further into despair as the welfare reforms kick in. Thirty years after they split, the songs of The Jam are going to be just as relevant now as they were all those years ago.

If you have a younger member in your family and are unsure what to get them for Christmas, then I seriously recommend this box set. Hand it to them and say this will change your life.

Steve Tay

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