Essential New Music: The Jam’s “Fire And Skill: The Jam Live”

Jam

Twas quite a journey for the Jam, from teenage R&B cultists apprenticing in mid-’70s working men’s clubs to England’s biggest pop group, one that enjoyed a unique connection with Britannia’s late-’70s/’80s youth. You’ll literally hear the guys grow across these six CDs documenting as many gigs, dating from 1977 to their 1982 denouement.

Beginning as a cider ‘n’ sulfate punk/R&B outfit none too far up the street from Dr. Feelgood (with likely loads more sulfate rimming their nostrils, judging by the hyperthyroid rhythms), the Jam evolved into a sort of junior-league early Who/Kinks by the time the ’80s began. As Paul Weller’s songwriting grew in sophistication, even as he tapped more into the British working-class zeitgeist, the band eventually became a modern-soul revue with viciously slashed guitar and a Carnaby Street uniform. It makes one weep that Weller dissolved the Jam in its prime. The band had a lot more in its tank.

—Tim Stegall