Thursday, November 5, 2015

The Jam: Live Jam

Sentimentally, Dig The New Breed would be the live album to focus on first for this blogger, as it was one of the first The Jam records bought back in 1983, just after the remarkable compilation Snap! (which was profiled here back in early 2012).

Live Jam, however, which was released in 1993, includes much more of this great band at its best onstage.  Whereas Dig has fourteen tracks, albeit great ones, Live Jam packs in twenty-four and, to the great credit of the compiled Dennis Munday, none of the tunes overlap with the earlier album.

Recordings span from December 1979 to the final show in December 1982, showcasing the trio's tight interplay, passion and fire, and the tunesmithing, mainly by leader Paul Weller with a couple of contributions by bassist Bruce Foxton, that made The Jam the top band in England before Weller pulled the plug at their peak.

There're so many great tunes here, it is really asking too much to pick out any highlights.  Munday, however, obviously felt very particular about shows recorded at the legendary Rainbow in London, as he chose eight tracks from one gig on 3 December 1979 and another from the previous evening. Another half-dozen tracks were culled from performances over two evenings in December 1981 at the Palais in London.  Other performances from Brighton in December 1979, Newcastle in December 1980, Galsgow in April 1982 and Wembley, where the band's final shows were performed in December 1982 round out the album--was there something about December that brought out the best in The Jam?

While Munday in his "Researchers Note" indicated that a trio of tracks were remixed, the remainder come out sounding great and the track selection is nicely sequenced among songs from the band's several recordings, as well as the closing cover, a favorite of The Jam, being "Heatwave."

Another nice touch is the inclusion of reminscences from ten fans--this was a lot more fun and enlightening than hearing from critics and the general consensus is that the band and its live shows were nothing short of transformative for the mostly teenage and young adult fans who were a highly-devoted base.

As pointed out by one fan, the most concise way to describe how devotees felt about the group was when Weller's father and the band's manager would amble out on stage to introduce the band thusly:
And now, put your hands together for the best fucking band in the world: The Jam!

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