My views on The Jam, in a nutshell:

  1. Awesomely brilliant singles band.
  2. Can’t stand the whole mod thing.
  3. Their albums just don’t lift my schnift at all.

(Basically my views on The Who as well, but let’s not start that here)

I’ve owned Jam Setting Sons for almost 20 years now, I bought it in a 2 for £5 bin along with KISS Alive!* in Bridgwater, mostly because I loved the track ‘The Eton Rifles’ so much.  I remember devouring the cover and the lyrics on the long journey back to Liverpool afterwards, gearing myself to have my world, if not knocked off its’ axis, then at least dented.  That never happened.  In fact, allow me:

And that’s all properly scientific and statistical and stuff.

I’ve played Setting Sons twice today and I really just can’t get into it.  Every time I have played this LP I find myself just waiting for the comforting aggro of ‘The Eton Rifles’.  Okay so there are some elements of it I do like:

  • I rather like the recorder playing a jaunty little riff in ‘Wasteland’ instead of the guitar.
  • The lyrics of ‘Burning Sky’ are great.
  • I enjoy the Yardbirds-style rave-up cover of Martha & The Vandellas ‘Heat Wave’.
  • I like the fact that ‘The Girl On The Phone’ knows the size of Paul Weller’s cock**.
  • The opening of ‘Thick As Thieves’ is excellent.

It’s hard to put my finger on where it doesn’t click for me, I think, ‘Eton …’ aside, a lot of the tunes aren’t strong enough they fizzle out in a few cases.  the production is quite brash and unsympathetic at times too.  I loathe the cod-Kinksisms of ‘Smithers-Jones’, maybe patronising 9-5ers is a young man’s thing, but it sucks anyway; plus the Kinks were incredible, stop copying them, you can’t do it as well as they did.  There’s also a certain brand of Englishness around this music that doesn’t sit well with me and not just because I’m Welsh, all that mod Union Jack shite has always riased my hackles.  I know the Jam are using it to show a decline here, a slightly outdated, degraded sense of identity but even so … meurgggh!

I should point out in the interests of balance, fairness, Godliness and cleanliness that I have friends who worship at the altar this album, one of my very best friends’ favourite songs is ‘Thick As Thieves’.  That’s the beauty of music isn’t it? we can all hold different opinions and have different tastes and it is all subjective, no-one is wrong; as long as they agree with me totally.  To do otherwise is Thoughtcrime.

‘Eton Rifles’ is just brilliant.  I had this on a great compilation called The Sound Of The Suburbs that my friends and I just used to blast all the time.  It’s raucous, funny tale of class warfare is just streets ahead of anything else on Setting Sons.  The bass sound and indeed the playing of Bruce Foxton on this track is worth the price of admission alone.  Plus it is one of the very few songs I can think of that mentions rugby, which is possibly why I keep this album.

Thought you were smart when you took them on
But you didn’t take a peep in their artillery room
All that rugby puts hairs on your chest
What chance have you got against a tie and a crest?

So the moral of the story is I’m right, stick to the singles and goodnight!

749 Down.

*back in those long lost days before folk were trying to charge you £400 for crappy LPs in ropey condition in every second-hand shop.

**which he does not disclose here.

Girl on the phone keeps a-ringing back
Knows where I get my shirts and where I get my pants
Where I get my trousers where I get socks
My leg measurements and the size of my cock

43 thoughts on “The Size Of …

  1. Yep one of those bands where all I feel I need is my Best Of with one brilliantly catchy single after another. It’s also one of those bands where I tend to separate enjoyment of the music from all the subculture stuff going on around it.

    1. I couldn’t agree more Darren. Friends of mine saw Weller recently and say he was amazing and only played one Jam track in the set.

  2. Mnah. Not my cuppa coffee at all. My brother’s a fan and he’s often attempted to tell me how great they are.

    So, aye… I’m in agreement. Well, mostly – handful of tracks, but that’s it for me.

    Also, your pictures here are ace.

  3. The Jam. Setting Sons tour. Leicester De Montfort Hall. My first ever gig. I understood the mods liked striped blazers and as luck would have it my Granddads school blazer ca. 1913 was still in the house. I’m pretty sure I was the only one there to be rocking the PG Wodehouse look but I’ve never looked back. The album? Well, I thought it was a bit stodgy – “In The City” gets my vote.

    1. I love the idea of you rocking up looking like Bertie Wooster, or Toad of Toad Hall for your first gig! AC/DC for mine didn’t present such fashion dilemmas!

  4. I always liked the idea of the Jam more than the reality as they always seemed either too polite or too sulky, Weller continues this tradition to this day, but they performed some great songs. I actually prefer the Style Council which I know may be sacrilege. The worst thing the Jam did was make fishtail parkas and too many mirrors on your scooter popular again.

    I am with you on the Who.

  5. A band I haven’t yet gotten to… I know, I know… Like Rich asks, compilation or discography? Sounds like a singles collection would be in order, not a discography.

  6. Also, in the Reader version I read, it has that “More on WordPress” thing under the comments. Thought you’d be amused to know that one link for this post is to a baking blog and a recipe for Eton Mess Brownies. I shit you not.

    1. Great spot! I wonder if they had that same feature when I did that post about the Prodigy called ‘Nazi Tits Suicide Anus’ … Readers who read this also liked …

  7. In broad agreement on both bands mentioned above (wiht the exception of Sell Out and maybe parts of Quadrophenia).

    By the way, I have the number of this lovely bloke over North America way who I’m sure would be more than happy to give you some remedial graph lessons. Just in case your pencil breaks, you understand.

  8. You might be onto something regarding the “singles band” thing. I can listen to bits and pieces of the The Jam all day, but I’m not sure I can get through one whole album. They are rather Kinks-y, now that you mention it. Weller was never drunk enough or sad enough to be Ray(though I do enjoy their cover of “David Watts”.) That aside, “That’s Entertainment” is one of my favorite Jam songs, which is probably all wrong I’m sure.

    Now The Who….that’s for another day.

    1. Just like the Police the Greatest Hits (‘Snap!’) is their best LP by far.

      That’s Entertainment is brilliant, so is A Town Called Malice – all great fun.

      The Who? nah, I’m right.

      1. Well, we’ll leave The Who for another day(although, the one Who album I listen to most often is one of their collections.) But I have to say I listen to nearly every Police album top to bottom. Those albums stuck with me. I like the hits, as well as all the weird tracks and instrumental ones.

  9. Superlative photos here! I can’t stick The Jam myself (singles or otherwise) and I’ve got no idea about Weller’s lad. I can tell you however that Bruce Foxton has a right big boaby.

    Also… that comment about The Who. You’re lucky you’re good looking!

    1. Thanks Mr HMO. I can’t believe you’ve never thrown yourself around a dancefloor to the sound of ‘Going Underground’, I thought everyone did that.

      My sources tell me you’re bang on about Donkey Foxton.

      More cute than good looking, but I take your point.

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