About The Young (Ish) Idea – The Jam
Stop dreaming of the quiet life..
Growing up there are those bands that stay with you for life from the first time you hear them. They smack you right in the guts, help shape you and have a huge impact on so many areas of your life it’s often hard to count.
For me, The Jam were one of those bands. Everything about them fitted, although I was only 9 when they split, but I had already had my baptism in the fountain of Weller from songs like this.
At first I suppose it was all about emulating whatever the bigger boys were doing at the time. That was either being a Skinhead, a Mod or a Casual. For those of you too young to remember, it was almost like the playground scene at the start of the excellent film ‘This is England’.
This, alongside my watching Quadrophenia, had a major impact. Seeing the Mods around I was always attracted to it – the sharp dressing peacocking, the Motown listening – again this was even before I knew what it was, it drew me like a magnet.
I was too young to really understand the deeper political and ideological themes within the lyrics, I was too busy racing on my BMX. I was misquoting the songs and singing them out loud, desperately trying to dress like them and being draw in by the visuals of the record covers that we poured over in Woolworths on a Saturday, wishing our pocket money would stretch to buying them.
Seeing the logo sprayed on carpark walls was commonplace. Next door to dodgy football slogans, and the obligatory – ‘Dazza is a Gaylord’ and was part of what made growing up in 80’s Britain great.
Though now a dirty word that it was ‘Britpop’ came and brought about another Mod revival. This time around I was 20. I worked in London, had my own money to spend going to gigs and second-hand shops for clothes. I was able to rediscover the back catalogue, research more about the band and their history and fall passionately in love all over again.
Weller doesn’t just sing those songs, he soulfully spits out tales of teenage suburban life with heartfelt venom. You’ll see kidney machines replaced by rockets and guns… – To this day, this love and those words still remain true.
From them on, The Jam and Paul Weller was pretty much part of my religion. I must have seen him in concert over twenty times – I tried unsuccessfully to get my hair like his – this is quite hard when essentially you have a ginger afro. I’ve been on stage at the Albert Hall gig when he started doing Jam songs acoustically, the crowd just rush the stage and danced – security didn’t stand a chance and Weller himself could see music meant to so many of us – he let it be.
When my revolution started – I wanted to have time to explore and understand more what had made me who I am. The music plays a huge part in this.
When I heard about the “About The Young Ideas” exhibition, there was no option but to “Sup up my beer and collect my fags”, dust off my Desert boots and head to Somerset House with my old pal Vix to revel in some incredible nostalgia.
“The Jam: About the Young Idea. With unprecedented access to The Jam’s archive, Somerset House has curated the first comprehensive exhibition about the extraordinary band whose music immortalised life for Britain’s disenchanted youth during the late 70s and early 80s. Through unseen material and fan memorabilia, the exhibition charts the trio’s journey from Sheerwater Secondary Modern in Woking to superstardom, kick-started by the release of their debut hit single ‘In The City’, whose lyrics are referenced in the exhibition’s title, and ended six years later with 18 consecutive UK top 40 singles and over 14 million global album sales”.
The exhibition finishes this week, but given its success there is already talk of it going on a national tour.
If that happens and you are the slightest bit interested in 70’s & 80’s music and culture, not just a Jam fanatic then make sure you attend. Because you know >
Make sure you check out the brilliant new AboutTheYoungIdea website for some cracking official Jam merchandise.
So what bands changed your life? let me know below.