The Jam

Live Jam

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The Jam's enduring, eternal popularity in the U.K. meant an ever-increasing number of archival releases that cropped up over the years, with Live Jam, a fine counterpart to the other official concert album, Dig the New Breed, turning up in 1993. Like that earlier effort, it draws together a slew of tracks from shows ranging from 1979 to 1982, including some cuts from the band's almost-farewell headlining bows at Wembley Arena. Quite happily, there's no track overlap at all with Dig the New Breed, making the two perfectly complementary recordings in ways. The real treat, thanks to the expanded space on CDs, is the inclusion of nine songs from two December 1979 shows in London, the best portrait of what an actual specific show must have been like. A masterful rampage through "Down at the Tube Station at Midnight" is well worth the entire disc, but takes on "Billy Hunt," "Mr. Clean," and "Away From the Numbers" are also high up there, the threesome making enough righteous but tuneful noise for a band three times its size. Two stand-alone cuts from separate shows had to be included just because they were so clearly awesome -- a strong "The Eton Rifles" and an absolutely spectacular "Strange Town" that completely blows the socks off the studio take and then some. If there's one song to take away from the whole disc, that's it, but performances of "'A' Bomb in Wardour Street," "David Watts," and "A Town Called Malice" from later shows get close to the sheer energy of that number. At the end a couple of songs show all too well the huffy bluster masquerading as real soul which would dog Weller's career in later years, but, on the whole, Live Jam is manna for believers and entertaining for newcomers -- the right kind of balance.

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