A Jam gig without Weller? That’s still entertainment
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