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In the Crowd – The Jam 1979 to 1982

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In my experience, you’re a fan of either The Jam or The Style Council. Paul Weller either did his best work pre- or post-1982. In your opinion. And most people do have an opinion about Weller. About his songs and his performances. He’s that strange kind of pop star who shuns the title. And yet he’s one of the biggest pop stars the UK has produced.

A new book out on 17 May gives more evidence for stalwart Jam fans of why this was a great era for British pop music. I met with photographer Derek D’Souza just before publication.

“I contributed a few photos to last year’s Thick as Thieves and realised that I needed more space to do my photos justice,” Derek said.

Thick as Thieves includes my favourite image of The Jam – one of a load taken by Derek in Chiswick Park in August 1981 for the single Absolute Beginners. It shows Paul, Rick and Bruce standing behind a wrought-iron gate. Paul is pulling at the bars as if in jail. A metaphor for how he felt at the time and in the months leading to the band’s split? Who knows.

So, Ian Snowball and Stuart Deabill’s book was the spur that Derek needed. “In the Crowd was originally laid out in 1984, but it never saw the light of day. It always had the same title, taken from the track on All Mod Cons from 1978. That is what this book is about – being one of the crowd of fans observing their favourite band.

“Some of the photos have been used over the years for other projects around The Jam, but more than 100 of these have never been seen before. It’s all about producing my best work – I wanted this book to be a quality piece of work that shows the respect I feel for the band.”

In the Crowd shows Derek’s view of The Jam between 1979 and 1982. As a fan, most of the shots are looking up at the band on stage, but some are taken backstage and in soundchecks. “I sometimes had the opportunity to speak to the band and photograph them off-stage, but I didn’t want to intrude. They gave me more access than most fans ever get and I remain so grateful to them.

“They gave me a great opportunity because they were really keen on staying in touch with fans and always knew we were important to their success. The Jam is one of those bands that – even now – their fans feel an intense connection to. Most of us know all the words to all the songs.

“I wasn’t always strict on copyright of my photos, but I’m sorting that now. I’m proud of these photos and the collection is something quite rare. I obviously chose my best photos first for the exhibition last year and then for this book. It’s definitely a fan’s perspective of the band and I hope that it means something to everyone who buys it.”

Out in a couple of weeks, In the Crowd is on pre-order on Amazon and it’s already in the top 50 among similar Music books. It looks like that first edition will sell out fast!

A lifetime spent juggling words and music. At University in London, I studied music and English and ever since have combined the two in my professional and leisure activities. Long may it continue!