By John Curley
Simply put, Rick Buckler’s memoir is a must-read for fans of The Jam. Honestly, it’s a must-read for anyone who loves the punk, New Wave and Mod music that came out of the UK in the late 1970s and early 1980s. The Jam were one of Britain’s most beloved bands during their time together and served as an inspiration for many bands that came later, including Oasis. Buckler’s firsthand account of The Jam’s history, from their early days that included changes in the band’s lineup to Paul Weller’s decision to call it quits — a moment that initially came as a great shock to Buckler (The Jam’s drummer), bassist Bruce Foxton and John Weller, Weller’s father, and the band’s manager — is riveting. Buckler really gets to the heart of why The Jam were, and are, so revered by their fans.
Buckler’s words convey the great excitement that the band generated as they rose from a local Woking, England, band playing mostly cover material in local working man’s clubs to an international phenomenon. Along the way, Buckler describes The Jam’s first appearance at CBGB in New York City with affection, and mentions that Patti Smith stopped by their dressing room to say hello. He has less kind words about the disastrous American tour in which The Jam served as the opening band for Blue Oyster Cult. And Buckler’s description of The Jam’s final tour is wistful. He still seems shocked and hurt about how abrupt the end of the band was at their final concert in Brighton, England, in December 1982. Buckler’s disappointment at how The Jam came to an end is evident in his writing. And it’s somewhat shocking when Buckler reveals that he has not seen or spoken to Paul Weller in more than 30 years.
While Buckler’s writings about his life after The Jam, which included stints in the bands the Time UK, The Gift and From The Jam, might be of less interest to readers, and his technical talk about drumming and studio recording could be too inside baseball for some, his tale of his time with The Jam, the heart of the book, make it a fascinating read. John Weller used to introduce The Jam to the stage by calling them “the greatest band in the f—ing world.” Buckler’s book gives a very convincing argument as to why The Jam deserved that title.