The Jam ‘Fire and Skill: The Jam Live’ Review

AUDIO The Jam  Fire and Skill The Jam Live

Available 30 October

September 11 1977. The Jam had recently released their debut album ‘In The City’ and on this particular night were on stage at the legendary 100 Club on Oxford Street, London. Given that the venue holds about 350 people the chances are that you weren’t there to see one of the earliest gigs by one of this country’s most legendary bands. Happily, the gig was recorded for broadcast on American radio ahead of their first tour there and it now forms part of a deluxe 6 disc box set which charts the band’s career through their live performances.

Here’s a description of what’s in the box:

Disc 1: As I mentioned, one of their early gigs at the 100 Club, London.

Disc2: A Music Machine show from 1978, featuring most of the 2nd album ‘This Is The Modern World’. This was The Jam’s sixth live show of the year and one of four low-key shows in the capital to fanfare their new ‘News Of The World’ single under the banner ‘The London Blitz’.

Disc 3: Reading University, Feb 1979. Playing material from their breakthrough album ‘All Mod Cons’, this was The Jam’s first live appearance of 1979, and found the band in a radically different place to their showcase at the Music Machine 12 months before. In that time, their third album, ‘All Mod Cons’, had been released to critical acclaim, and their status as one of the New Wave’s most musically substantial and exciting bands had been secured. And Weller was still only 20 years old…

Disc 4: Newcastle City Hall , October 1980. A preview of songs from forthcoming album ‘Sound Affects’. In the time between the show at Reading University (on Disc 3) and this appearance at Newcastle City Hall 20 months later, there had been more extraordinary developments in the group’s world. ‘Setting Sons’, their fourth album, had given them a Top 3 hit with ‘The Eton Rifles’, which was followed in February 1980 with the stirring Number 1 single, ‘Going Underground’. After three years on Polydor, The Jam had finally become the biggest group in the UK.

Disc 5: London’s legendary Hammersmith Palais – December 1981. Part of The Jam’s four consecutive nights, previewing material from the forthcoming final album ‘The Gift’. The shows took in the innovative form of a ‘60s soul revue, showcasing new acts including Bananarama, Department S and TV21.

Disc 6: One of the band’s final ever gigs at Wembley Arena – December 1982. Late in 1982 The Jam announced they were splitting up – there would, though, be a final chance for fans to experience The Jam’s astonishing live shows, with a 14-date ‘farewell’ tour announced. The centrepiece was a five-night stand at Wembley Arena, the 10,000-capacity shed next to the London football stadium (the recording here is from the second date), the biggest live venue in the capital.

* Packaged in mini, lift-off lid box with 72-page, colour hard-back book.

* Individual gatefold wallets for the discs, designed as facsimiles of the original tape boxes.

* Includes new essay, period photos, rare memorabilia and set of five postcard prints.

* Remastered at Abbey Road.

* Featuring stunning live versions of all the band’s classic hits and favourites of which only 11 tracks previously released.

I’m not gonna sit here and tell you how good The Jam were, or how fantastic these recordings of their live performances are, because unless you’ve been living on Mars and have never heard of the band, you’ll already know these things. What I will say is that if you are a fan, you REALLY need to own this box set. It’s often easy to be cynical of record companies who continually reissue ‘Remastered’ and ‘Special Edition’ versions of albums from their artist’s back catalogues, but hats off on this occasion to Universal/Polydor. ‘Fire and Skill: The Jam Live’ is a tremendous historical treasure chest of The Jam’s live performances.

Buy it. Play it LOUD!

The Jam ‘Fire and Skill: The Jam Live’ is available from 30 October