For most of us of a certain age, The Jam was an unavoidable part of our youth. There was a time when you couldn’t ignore them and you couldn’t avoid their music – songs like ‘Town called Malice’, ‘Eton Rifles’ and ‘That’s Entertainment’ have influenced hundreds of us and dozens of new bands.
But it wasn’t the album sales, the record company support or the legendary management techniques of Paul Weller’s indomitable father, John, that made this band so successful. It was the passion of the fans.
It’s approaching the 30th anniversary of the dissolution of The Jam and yet those Jam fans are still as passionate as ever they were. Out today is their story in Thick as Thieves. For the book’s authors – Stuart Deabill and Ian Snowball – their job was made easier by the fact that so many people wanted to tell their stories about their own memories of being part of The Jam history.
“There have been plenty of books written about The Jam over the years, but this wasn’t about setting the record straight,” Ian told me. “This book is mostly about the people who were there at the time and who saw them live. It’s not about the fact, but more about the state of the carpet in the venue. The stuff you could only know if you were there and that made the whole experience real.”
When Paul Weller, who left The Jam to form The Style Council with Dexy’s Mick Talbot and then to pursue his solo career, has welcomed ‘Thick as Thieves.’. Pictured above with Ian, Stuart and Jam super-fan Mark Baxter, Paul called it: “The best book on The Jam and its audience I’ve ever seen.”
“For me, getting Paul to write the foreword to the book and to support us was amazing,” said Stuart. “We had more than 90 contributors, including most of the people who’d been around at the time, including Rick Buckler and Bruce Foxton, plus Polydor A&R man Dennis Munday. Everyone was happy to give us their reminiscences.”
And this book is definitely a celebration of a band that changed lives. Lyrically, the songs themselves were inspirational and retain that quality after three decades. Many people talk about their favourite performances and how relevant it all was to their own lives.
Alongside the words are unseen photographs from concerts, back stage meetings and informal gatherings of the band. No matter how many times Paul is asked to reform the band, it seems an unlikely happening. In which case, this is probably the closest you’ll ever get to The Jam. Get your copy soon. This is one you’re going to want to be dipping into for years to come.