I was the right age to be a punk. However, although I liked some of the music, the aimless anarchism of the punk movement never appealed to me. But punk did achieve something significant– it renewed and refreshed popular music, taking it right back to the basics. Later, this allowed new bands to emerge, rediscovering older styles, but with a more contemporary twist. One band that did this was the Jam. Their music and style inspired by the Who, other 60’s Mod bands and the soul of Tamla Motown and Stax. And they adopted a retro, 60’s Mod style too. Now that was something that did appeal to me.
So when I was down in London and had a few hours to spare the morning of the second day, rather than hide away in my hotel room with my laptop working, I decided to take some “me time” and visit the exhibition about the Jam which was taking place at Somerset House.
About the Young Idea (the title taken from their single In the City) was
the first comprehensive exhibition about the extraordinary band whose music immortalised life for Britain’s disenchanted youth during the late 70s and early 80s. Through unseen material and fan memorabilia, the exhibition charts the trio’s journey from Sheerwater Secondary Modern in Woking to superstardom, (Somerset House website)
The exhibition explored the origins and history of the band, the influence of Paul Weller’s father, John (it included a video tribute to him), their music and lyrics, their style, memorabilia and their relationship with their fans.
The first room looked at the origins of the band and included some interesting photographs of a young Paul Weller
and some drawings that he’d done
There were examples of their instruments (I can’t resist a good guitar!)
Clothing epitomising the Mod style
Records and record sleeves
and badges that would be worn by their fans (very popular at the time)
The band’s music was radical, many of their songs addressing social issues and progressive ideas. Many of them are still relevant today – The Eton Rifles, being particularly adapt when Old Etonians and other ex public schoolboys are ruling the roost.
Not surprisingly, examples of their music featured heavily being played on videos at the beginning
and towards the end of the exhibition
There’s only so far you can go with a style of music and they split in December 1982 when Paul Weller decided it was time to move on, exploring different styles with the Style Council and as a solo artist. He’s still going strong.