A Jam gig with­out Weller? That’s still en­ter­tain­ment

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - Opinion -

The worst book ever writ­ten is The Jam: Our Story by the other two in The Jam – bassist Bruce Fox­ton and drum­mer Rick Buck­ler. Pub­lished about 10 years ago, the book is at its most lit­er­ary when the duo in­dulge in Prous­tian rec­ol­lec­tions about their time in the band. To this end you get res­o­nant and evoca­tive im­agery along the lines of: “We got re­ally pissed and tied a roadie to a chair and ran off laugh­ing . . . mean­while, Paul wrote Sound Af­fects.” At the end of the book, Fox­ton and Buck­ler won­der why Weller hasn’t spo­ken a word to ei­ther of them since the band sud­denly split in 1982.

While the text is lit­tered with dis­guised snide re­marks about their front­man, the two ob­vi­ously didn’t want to ruin their chances of an­other big pay­day if a Jam re­union is still on the cards, so they don’t go for a full-on as­sault, rather a cau­tious “we were very dif­fer­ent peo­ple” approach. You fin­ish the book not only re­al­is­ing why Weller hasn’t spo­ken to ei­ther of them since their last gig to­gether but also per­plexed at how such an ob­vi­ously clever man man­aged to tol­er­ate the two of them for so long.

Fox­ton and Buck­ler were es­sen­tially ses­sion mu­si­cians in the band, with lit­tle creative in­put (Fox­ton wrote one song for the band – the Ray Davies-in­flu­enced Smithers Jones) and Weller was right to leg it the first chance he got. It’s just a pity he went on to lose him­self in retro-land.

The de­ci­sion by Fox­ton and Buck­ler to go on tour as From The Jam, play­ing all the group’s hits, was dis­turb­ing news for Jam fans. “I have re­flected on the con­tin­ual de­mand from the pub­lic for a full Jam re­union,” said Fox­ton rather pompously. “Rick and I talked this over care­fully as The Jam means so much to ev­ery­one, in­clud­ing our­selves.”

“From The Jam is not a Jam trib­ute band,” in­sists Buck­ler. “How dare peo­ple sug­gest that. Paul Weller still does Jam songs and no one dares call him a trib­ute band. Bruce Fox­ton and I were two-thirds of the orig­i­nal Jam – so it’s not like we’re pay­ing trib­ute to some other per­son. There were three guys in The Jam and two of them weren’t called Paul Weller. It bugs me and Bruce a lit­tle that he took all the ku­dos.”

To avoid be­ing called The Drum ’n’ Bass Jam (no doubt) two other mu­si­cians will join Buck­ler and Fox­ton on stage in From The Jam. Some­what ridicu­lously, Fox­ton has in­vited Weller to join them in their new ven­ture. “If Paul came to see us, I think he would be pleased with the way we’re per­form­ing the songs,” he says. “He’s more than wel­come to join us.”

For his part, Weller has said that a Jam re­union would “never, ever hap­pen” and that all re­for­ma­tions are “sad”. Most tellingly, he added: “The Jam’s mu­sic still means some­thing to peo­ple and that’s be­cause we stopped at the right time – it didn’t be­come em­bar­rass­ing.”

From The Jam be­gin an Ir­ish tour next week. Will I be go­ing? Of course I bloody will. Weller and the other two re­leased 18 sin­gles dur­ing their five years to­gether. They are 18 of the best sin­gles you could ever hope to hear. As some in­di­ca­tion of how pop­u­lar the band were at their peak, con­sider that two of th­ese sin­gles – That’s En­ter­tain­ment and Just Who Is The 5 O’Clock Hero? – were only avail­able on im­port, and still charted.

From The Jam have al­ready sold out their 20-date UK tour and are hav­ing to play in big­ger venues on an­other tour later in the year be­cause of pub­lic de­mand. The re­views from the early UK shows in­clude the phrases “grown men were weep­ing” and “no one seems to miss Weller”.

What­ever name you want to put on this, it’s still the mu­sic of The Jam.

Where’s Weller? He writes ’em, the other two re­hash ’em

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