In May 1974, three teenage musicians took to the stage in a small, but well-known, Woking night-club. Three boyís who would pay their dues on this rough and often hostile circuit. Three boyís who, in the heart of the Glam Rock era where the Bay City Rollers and Gary Glitter were king, were inspired by the Kinks, influenced by the Beatles and galvanised in R&B. Soon they created their own distinctive sound and in fact, as the 70ís moved on, they inspired an entire movement. They would grow up to become, as somebody memorablyonce put it, the finest rock n roll band in the Modern World.
They were called The Jam.
Much has been said, and written, about easily the most influential band of their era. But the unofficial version, A Beat Concerto, cleverly crafted and hatched over Cappuccinos in a Paris wine bar, did not capture the atmosphere of the group. It was more a fashionable step written for only one of its members leading him into a mid 1980ís period he seemed entirely at odds with.
OUR STORY, a balanced and well-written account by Bruce Foxton & Rick Buckler, not only chronicleís but captures, The Jam perfectly. Here Paul Weller, Rick Buckler and Bruce Foxton can be found as they really were in those dayís, which is exactly how many of us were. Young, angry, frustrated and creative.
OUR STORY not only records the band feeling, but it provides a telling account of life in a London suburb as three young men grew up to become one of the world's biggest bands. More than that, it records it accurately. It tells of desire, passion & encouragement. It gives us conflict & dedication and it recalls personal sacrifice and belief. The Jam were not about Espresso coffee on continental boulevards and they didnít raise money for political parties ( but they did for the Woking YMCA ) They had nothing to do with hip chicks and cool cats, they didnít prance and pose, punt up the River Thames or strip to the waist and run through meadows. And nor did we.
The Jam were like us. There was no trendy mystique, they played with fire and passion. They let the kids into sound checks for free and stayed behind signing autographs. They lived in Woking and anyone from their town needing a lift home generally got one on the band coach, with a few beers thrown in.
OUR STORY goes further. It recalls many things and makes many social observations which, as we look back, are dead right. It tells us about the punk movement and how its violence was media created. London punks were original and generally cool, but those in the provinces had only read about how they were supposed to behave, and that was violent and uncool.
If OUR STORY were about any young band and their career it would make compelling reading, especially for those of us who were teenagers in the 70ís. But this isnít just any band. This is the band who gave us the defining album of its period. All Mod Cons is an album you can listen to today and not find anything short of a classic track. This is the band who followed that up with the epic Setting Sons and who gave us hit singles such as Start, Thatís Entertainment, Going Undergound, Eton Rifles and so much more
OUR STORY is The Jam as they really were and reminds us that the finest rock n roll band of the modern world were three lads from Woking, and two of them were not Paul Weller. Itís a book that anyone who was there in the 70ís will want to read, and that any young band in the 90ís should read.
Reviewed by Graham Willmott Ė June 1999