Monday, July 8, 2013

Jam 7: Dig The New Breed and Live Jam

Paul Weller finished The Jam with a farewell tour of sorts, accompanied by a live compilation. Dig The New Breed begins in 1977 with a tight version of “In The City”, then jumps to December 1979 for a trio of songs from their stint at London’s Rainbow. The bulk of the balance comes from shows in late ’81 and early ’82, when they had a horn section onstage with them.
Still, even with all the different venues and eras in their short five years, it holds together as an album. It is sequenced somewhat chronologically, but the emphasis is on songs as opposed to “live greatest hits”. While a few singles are played, many of the songs are deep album tracks, with the exception of the cover of Eddie Floyd’s “Big Bird”, an obscure Stax cut.
The original LP issue of Dig The New Breed had a unique design, with a hole in the cover to show off the special labels. It was a decent gesture, but hardly compensation for fans who were mourning the loss of their favorite band. At least the horn section doesn’t get too much in the way.

Ten years later, after Weller started releasing albums under his own name in a more guitar-based style, Polydor dug into the vaults for a few archival releases. One of these was Live Jam, not to be confused with the “Pearl” version then fascinating American youth. Half again as long as Dig The New Breed, it also doesn’t duplicate any of that album. The Rainbow in 1979 is again the source for several tracks, providing a relentless sampling from the Setting Sons era. Most of the second half includes that later horn section (and female backup singers), though Bruce gets to sing “David Watts” and they gamely inject some life into the usually robotic “Precious”. The set closes with their arrangement of “Heat Wave”, providing a nice compromise between their soul influences and the direction Weller was about to take without them.

Both albums are essential for the fan, and educational for those wondering what all the fuss about. Thankfully, the BBC had saved a few of the band’s performances, so the now-hard-to-find The Jam At The BBC delivers three discs worth of radio performances, including lengthy sets from 1978 and 1981, plus a full hour-long show from—where else?—the Rainbow in 1979.

The Jam Dig The New Breed (1982)—
The Jam Live Jam (1993)—
The Jam The Jam At The BBC (2002)—

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