Album Details

May 21, 2002
Universal International
Pop/Rock, New Wave, Punk, Mod Revival, Punk/New Wave, Alternative/Indie Rock, British Punk, Pop

Album Review

Amid the plethora of Jam compilations and anthologies issued, the arrival of a full BBC sessions collection was long overdue. Past glimpses into the archive, after all, were never less than illuminating, and the knowledge that the single session (from February 1977) released on a Strange Fruit EP in the late '80s was merely the first of five broadcast between 1977-1981 had long frustrated fans and collectors. The Jam at the BBC doesn't quite answer every prayer. Three discs wrap up four of the studio sessions, together with three In Concert live broadcasts; absent, for who knows what reason, is a mid-1978 session for DJ David Jensen's show, featuring spiky renditions of "News of the World," "The Night," and the then-latest single "'A' Bomb in Wardour Street." Live versions of the first and last named offer vague consolation, but the lack of completeness is irritating. On the plus side, the growth of the band from the deeply indebted post-mod rockers who first emerged in the shadow of punk to the brightly individualistic successors to the throne of classic Kinks and Who is documented with unrelenting precision. The opening blast of eight songs from two John Peel sessions races past in a roar of snarling adrenalin; the first In Concert, from June 1977, likewise. A leap to 1979, however, finds the band furiously pushing the post-punk envelope, as "Eton Rifles" and "When You're Young" place a questing finger firmly on the pulse of late-'70s youth disaffection; skip over to the bonus third disc included with initial pressings of the package, and an hour-long concert broadcast from the same year finds the band juggling ambition and energy with almost untoward enthusiasm. Sandwiched between "Mr Clean" and "Private Hell," "The Butterfly Collector," truly one of Paul Weller's most accomplished numbers, has rarely sounded more fragile. The remainder of the set is devoted to 1981, a session/interview dominated by the unabashed nostalgia of "Absolute Beginners" and reinforced by a note-perfect rendition of "Sweet Soul Music" and a near-Christmas fan club concert that rounds up the best of the band's most recent hits, and peaks with a positively fiery version of the funk workout "Precious." Added to the neo-Two Tone instrumental "Circus" and a dirty grind through "Pretty Green," the Jam's scarcely remembered flirtation with the fringes of the early-'80s Brit-funk scene comes screaming back into focus. Completed by a booklet rounding up the bandmembers' own recollections of both the band and the BBC, The Jam at the BBC captures a side of the Jam that their core catalog has long cried out for. It might well be the best album they've ever released.
Dave Thompson, Rovi

Track Listing

  1. In the City
  2. Art School
  3. I've Changed My Address
  4. The Modern World
  5. All Around the World
  6. London Girl
  7. Bricks and Mortar
  8. Carnaby Street
  9. Billy Hunt
  10. In the Street Today
  11. The Combine
  12. Sounds From the Street
  13. Don't Tell Them You're Sane
  14. The Modern World
  15. 'A' Bomb in Wardour Street
  16. News of the World
  17. Here Comes the Weekend
  18. All Around the World
  19. Thick As Thieves
  20. The Eton Rifles
  21. Saturday's Kids
  22. When You're Young
  23. Absolute Beginners
  24. Tales From the Riverbank/Interview
  25. Funeral Pyre/Interview
  26. Street Soul Music
  27. The Gift
  28. Down in the Tube Station at Midnight
  29. Ghosts
  30. Absolute Beginners
  31. Tales From the Riverbank
  32. Precious
  33. Town Called Malice
  34. In the Crowd
  35. Circus
  36. Pretty Green
  37. Start!
  38. Boy About Town
  39. Girl on the Phone
  40. To Be Someone (Didn't We Have a Nice Time)
  41. It's Too Bad
  42. Burning Sky
  43. Away From the Numbers
  44. Smithers-Jones
  45. The Modern World
  46. Mr. Clean
  47. The Butterfly Collector
  48. Private Hell
  49. Thick As Thieves
  50. When You're Young
  51. Strange Town
  52. The Eton Rifles
  53. Down in the Tube Station at Midnight
  54. Saturday's Kids
  55. All Mod Cons
  56. David Watt
  57. [Untitled Track]