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

LEGACY OF BRIT NOIR – BLOODY SCOTLAND POSTSCRIPT

I was lucky enough to join the exodus north to the glorious city of Stirling last weekend for the Bloody Scotland crime writing festival for the panel, The Legacy of Brit Noir. Joining novelists Cathi Unsworth and Harry Brett and ably directed and moderated by crime writer, Douglas Skelton, the conversation was free-flowing and the audience ready to engage with the discussion at Q&A time. All in all a fantastic weekend with some interesting and thought provoking debate, great scenery, a healthy dose of end of the pier entertainment, and a few beers with old and new friends.
For the most part, the Brit Noir panel covered ground we knew well: in brief, an attempt to define noir in the US and European tradition, how the genre in Britain emerges from an influx of European artists, writers and film makers in the 1930s and 40s and, similarly, blacklisted writers and film makers forced to leave the US in the 1950s. The noir sensibility, particularly of the film-makers, permeates Britis…
Life writing, memoir, autobiography. However you describe it, sometimes you just want to tell your story. Or to know how to make the most of the life story of someone you know. Writing nonfiction, particularly when you're so close to the subject, can be a daunting task. The idea behind these workshops, delivered in partnership with the Lil Drama Company at PAD Studios, is to demystify the writing process, to give participants the techniques and tools to enable them to approach their writing with confidence. In many ways, traditional history tends to focus on the momentous; but now, arguably more than ever, everyday life experiences of people are the places we go to hear the truth. I'd hope that over the three weeks of workshops participants can work towards finding their voice, bringing together memory and history to make sense of their own experiences, framing them on the page in a way that communicates and gives us all a greater understanding. For more info on this, Dave Wind…

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…