Skip to main content

The Jam: Made In Britain

BBC 6 Music’s documentary The Jam: Made in Britain tells the story pretty much as you’d expect. You could do without some of the celeb contributions – yeah, we know Noel … without The Jam, no Smiths; without the Smiths, no Roses … etc. Jonathon Ross’s rent-a-links tend to grate, but the band themselves contribute fully and there are interesting insights, particularly from Weller and Vic Coppersmith-Heaven, who produced the band through that astonishing run of singles and albums that took them from post-punk outcasts to (nod to the late John Weller) ‘The best fucking band in the world’.

I’m a sucker for a well put together music doc, even if the story is one that’s well told and a bit frayed at the edges. What makes it worthwhile, and this is no exception, is that odd flash of detail or insight that opens up or illuminates the music in a new way. Weller’s lack of confidence in his own writing during the recording of All Mod Cons is remarkable: he wanted to bin Down In A Tubestation and English Rose. And it’s there you realise the extent of Coppersmith-Heaven’s contribution, not only in the creation of the band's soundscape, but in driving Weller to greater things.

Sometimes you hear songs that are part of the fabric of your past coming at you slightly out of context; it can give them a fresh perspective. It happens here frequently - Away From The Numbers, Strange Town... And there are the clips that remind you of what a potent force The Jam were live. I’ve written plenty on that elsewhere on Electric Lullaby, but for a sense of what they were about and why they inspired such a dedicated following, The Jam: Made In Britain rates as a pretty good listen.

Postscript:

Having listened to the final part of the programme, it's evident that this is an old documentary re-broadcast. The story comes to a halt around eight years ago with a lingering sense of disappointment from all members of the band that they'd been in some way hard done by. Weller talks about the let down of the court case - Bruce and Rick took him to court in the mid-nineties and at the time of recording, the falling-out comes across as something of a betrayal of what the band stood for.

In leaving the story there, The Jam: Made in Britain misses an opportunity to bring things a little more up to date. You wonder, would a 90-second re-edit would have been so hard to drop in? And what might it have said? I guess it would have dealt with the emergence of Bruce and Rick in the slightly unsettling guise of tribute to themselves: 'From The Jam'. It would certainly have paid greater tribute to John Weller who died in 2009. It might have made mention of the way in which Weller pulls a song like Eton Rifles into his solo live set and re-invests it with new fire and passion. And you like to think it would have covered the fact the Paul and Bruce put the past behind them to record and play live again in 2010.



Thanks to Loz Harvey for the shout.
The Jam: Made in Britain is available on the BBC iplayer until: part 1 –24 January; part 2 – 25 January; part 3 – 25 January; part 4 - 26 January.




Comments

Popular posts from this blog

PULP! THE CLASSICS - The Hound of the Baskervilles

You'll be familiar with the story - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's super sleuth Holmes goes down to the Moors in search of the legendary hound. The brilliantly inventive Moffatt and Gattiss BBC version notwithstanding, the story first found its way into the public imagination in serialised form in the Strand Magazine in 1901/02. It was the third of four Holmes novels written by Conan Doyle and stands the test of time as a great crime novel in its own right. 'Murder ... Mystery ... Walkies!' Now a re-published edition from Pulp! The Classics, an imprint of Oldcastle books, features a vivid retro pulp cover with artwork by David Mann, tongue in cheek taglines and  orange sprayed coloured page edges. Each book in the series re-prints the complete original text and The Hound of the Baskervilles is a great addition. Perfect for Holmes completists, crime fiction fans and  lovers of pulp art, it takes its place alongside The Great Gatsby, Wuthering Heights, Pride and Prejudice, Tess …

Paris in the Dark - Robert Olen Butler

Paris 1915, the United States’ entry to the First World War is eighteen months away. President Woodrow Wilson is committed to keeping America out of the war. Christopher Marlowe ‘Kit’ Cobb, American correspondent for the Chicago Post-Express and undercover agent for the US government, is resident in the city, ostensibly to tell the story of the volunteer American ambulance drivers helping the war effort, their nightly convoys ferrying French wounded to the city’s hospitals. With war raging, the city’s morale on the verge of collapse and French authorities desperate to maintain control, Cobb the spy is assigned to investigate a wave of bombings of civilian targets. In the wake of one blast, he returns to pay his Café bill. His waiter catches the prevailing mood: ‘“The Barbarians,” he said. Meaning the Germans. “They are among us.”’ Suspicion falls on infiltrators among the refugees streaming into Paris from Alsace, northern France and Belgium. Cobb picks up the bombers' trail, nav…

GETTING CARTER: Ted Lewis and the Birth of Brit Noir

This weekend sees another long-held ambition realised: for Ted Lewis to be a subject on the CrimeFest Authors Remembered panel. As the festival reaches its ten year landmark, it seems timely to be sitting alongside colleagues, discussing the enduring influence of this crime fiction pioneer, particularly with a copy of Getting Carter in hand.

Since publication last year, the response to the book and interest in Lewis and his work has exceeded any and all expectations. Sometimes an untold story catches the imagination, but never without the help of friends. I'm grateful to all those who have supported Getting Carter along the way, particularly Ion Mills, Steven Mair and all at No Exit Press, Cathi Unsworth and the noir family, Paul Oliver at Soho Press / Syndicate Books, and the writers, readers, reviewers, bloggers and festival organisers who spread the word.

A year ago if anyone had told me Getting Carter would have be shortlisted for the HRF Keating award alongside writers whose w…