The Jam: About The Young Idea – The Very Best Of The Jam

The genius of The Woking Wonder.

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When I was at school, back in ‘83 specifically, The Jam’s greatest hits package Snap! was cherished as much as a peephole into the girls’ changing rooms. It was a badge of honour, something tucked under your arm that said fuck new shit like Culture Club… I have taste.

You could say this latest 47-track package is Snap! with some extra, ahem, crackle and pop in the shape of album tracks, demos and a couple of nice but hardly essential previously unreleased bonus cuts: a radio ad for debut single In The City and the Dr Feelgood-infused demo of Takin’ My Love.

Released to coincide with an exhibition of Jam photos and memorabilia in London, this collection runs from the early stuff, like The Modern World when Weller was the archetypal angry young man, a hard-faced Rodney Trotter, to later works of true genius like Eton Rifles, Going Underground and Carnation.

Weller is often portrayed as a Rickenbacker-striking throwback in servitude to heroes such as Pete Townshend and Ray Davies. But lyrically he frequently bested both of them. Take a closer look at the graphic poetry of A Town Called Malice; and no writer ever summed up Britishness as succinctly as Weller did on That’s Entertainment, where it’s ‘pissing down with rain on a boring Wednesday’.

This is a near-perfect package, but you will want to fill in the gaps, for example the Northern Soul pre-Style Council cut of A Solid Bond In Your Heart.

To sum up: kids will discover these songs and form bands. It will dawn on you that all that other shit you listen to means very little in comparison. And Weller still couldn’t give two fucks about our review./o:p

Ed Mitchell

Ed Mitchell was the Editor of The Blues Magazine from 2012-16, and a contributor to Classic Rock and Louder. He died in October 2022, aged 52. A one-time Reviews Editor on Total Guitar magazine from 2003, his guitar-modding column, Ed’s Shed, appeared in print on both sides of the Atlantic (in both Total Guitar and Guitar World magazines), and he wrote stories for Classic Rock and Guitarist. Between them, the websites Louder, MusicRadar and Guitar World host over 400 of his articles – among them interviews with Billy Gibbons, Paul Weller, Brian Setzer, profiles on Roy Buchanan, Duane Allman and Peter Green, a joint interview with Jimmy Page and Jack White, and dozens of guitar reviews – and that’s just the ones that made it online.