Basstone via Absolute [Release date 01.12.17]
Bruce Foxton and Russell Hastings’s ‘From The Jam Live!’ ticks all the right boxes. It does what it says on the tin with an updated appraisal of music that stoked a generation some 40 years ago,
The passing years always gives rock a new context, if not a new set of fans. After all, we’re now moving into an era where a good approximate of a classic back catalogue will satisfy a legion of fans whose original heroes have either passed away or retired.
If you can overlook the irony of the Foxton/Hastings combo being a revival band of what was originally a genre revival band, then you will find plenty to satisfy here.
And while Paul Weller understandably didn’t want to be part of this project – he long ago explored new music directions, though he did contribute studio parts to previous From The Jam albums – it’s his potent song writing with elements of The Kinks, The Who, Motown and R&B that still cast a spell all these years later.
‘From The Jam Live!’ does all that is expected of it, as the band taps into the energy of the era to open with the 40 year old ‘In The City’ and works it’s way through the Weller song book.
They generate plenty of bluster on the back of Bruce Foxton’s familiar rippling bass lines and front man Russell Hastings venomous vocal attack.
Given the fact they have toured globally over the last decade, the only real question is what to exclude from the set. Foxton’s presence in the band makes it slightly surprising they didn’t choose his band co-write ‘Funeral Pyre’. They also overlook the sheer power of ‘All Round The World’, the bass heavy ‘Strange Town’ and The Jam’s last single ‘Beat Surrender’, but the dozen tracks do the job, from the high energy ‘In The City’ to the extended finale of ‘The Eton Rifles’.
The opening energetic impact is almost dissipated as the first three songs, including ‘Down In The Tube Station At Midnight’ have similar tempos. However, the lyrical bite of ‘The Butterfly Collector’ and the jangling guitars of ‘Smithers Jones’ brings welcome contrast, and they generate a fresh shot of energy as they segue into the outstanding ‘That’s Entertainment’.
‘Start’ with its snaffled Beatles ‘Tax Man’ riff is a perfect mid-set lifter and the band really hit it’s stride on Ray Davies’s ‘David Watts’.
The set seamlessly rolls into ‘Going Underground’ which serves to illustrate both the stature of Weller’s song writing and the band’s ability to nail his back catalogue.
They roar into the final brace of ‘Town Called Malice’ and ‘The Eton Rifles’ , to transport a responsive crowd back to the days of their youth.
Apart from some mixed back vocals and an occasional mushy sound, ‘From The Jam Live!’ surpasses expectations and is a worthy purchase for those Jam fans who just can’t get enough of a bygone era. ***
Review by Pete Feenstra
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