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2023 Albums Thing 194 - The Jam “Extras”

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If The Jam cared it’s also fair to say that, as a rule, record companies don’t give a flying fuck. If they can chuck out some tacky, overpriced “Greatest Hits” package and make yet more money from their back catalogue they are right there. So imagine our surprise when, in 1992, Polydor announced they would be issuing a Jam B-sides and rarities compilation, it’s uncommon for a major record company to release a record that might have a niche market, especially by a band who don’t exist any more. Now I wasn’t so concerned about the B-sides as I already had them all, but rarities…send them hither with all due speed Mr record company man sir.

“Extras” is made up of 26 tracks, 11 B-sides and a treasure trove of 15 demo’s and previously unreleased recordings, a whole albums worth. New songs we’d never heard by The Jam…I was close to a state of apoplexy I can tell ya ! I won’t trouble you with details of the B-sides, between “Snap!” And the excellent “Direction, Reaction, Creation” CD box set you can find them all yourself. Although I will say opening side 1 with what are 2 of the 3 greatest Jam B-sides, “The Dreams Of Children” and “Tales From The River Bank” (the third one, “The Butterfly Collector”, appears later) was a stroke of genius. All three were live favourites and most bands would have killed for singles that good, never mind B-sides !

The Demo’s were fantastic to hear, early embryonic versions of “Liza Radley”, “Boy About Town” (both of which I prefer to the released versions), “Burning Sky”, “Thick As Thieves” and “Saturday’s Kids” (in versions just featuring Weller and guitar), ”But I’m Different Now”, and finally just Paul and his guitars getting “The Eton Rifles” down on tape. Also listed as a Demo was “Pop Art Poem”. This had been released as a flexi disc on the long gone fanzine/magazine “Flexipop”. A very limited edition were made available as white label vinyl 7”s which I am now also the very proud owner of.

Then there were the unreleased tracks, gold dust to me back in ’92. There were cover versions of The Beatles “And Your Bird Can Sing”, the Small Faces “Get Yourself Together” and James Brown’s "I Got You (I Feel Good)”. The first golden bullet they hit us with was The Jam’s demo of the Style Council’s 1983 single “A Solid Bond in Your Heart”. I’ve never got on with the Style Council, in fact I’ve had an ongoing love/hate relationship with Paul Weller ever since he split The Jam up (an act I don’t think I’ve ever forgiven him for !). “A Solid Bond…” is one of the very few Style Council songs I do get on with and to now know that this is where The Jam might have been going makes perfect sense. 

And then there were the new songs, things we’d never heard before. “No One in the World" sounds like it should have morphed into another song but as familiar as it sounds it seemingly didn’t (unless I’m missing something and one of you can put me right ? It does have a hint of The Beatles “Michelle” about it). The lyric seems to reference childhood memories (“Come down, your tea is on the table”) and how uncomplicated and unthreatening life was as a child. 

"Hey Mister" is a bit of a formless plod, a rant at a banker or somesuch type, with Weller hammering away at a piano. Lastly “We've Only Started" certainly did become something else later on with it being an early version of the fantastic “Tales From The Riverbank” with different words.

A superb collection but, admittedly, squarely aimed at The Jam nerd, and these days the collector as it’ll take 3 figures to get you one…that’ll be me then…

A Solid Bond in Your Heart - https://youtu.be/nFZAIraNodA?si=pjYVqpaABljB7rKX

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