Sound Affects by the JamThe 1980 song by the Jam from their album Sound Affects has always struck me as one of the most English songs ever written. I play a smattering of guitar, and I really love the chord progression in this one, and I love the words. But I feel funny trying to sing it in my own accent – and funnier still in even thinking about trying to put on an unconvincing Woking accent. But one thing about this tune that I can identify with outside of how English it is, is that suburbs are the same in England as they are anywhere else, including here in Canadialand. And ‘That’s Entertainment’ is ultimately about how it feels to be there, and perhaps to be stuck there.

I love how cinematic it is, almost like one of those late 60s gritty British dramas by Ken Loach, like Poor Cow, or Kes. The lyrics evoke bleak landscapes of underdeveloped council estates, the mundanities of street sounds and background noise, and of feelings of ‘wishing you were far away’. As you listen, you mind sort of fills in the gaps, and populates the landscape with characters moving through it, the ones who live with the boredom, the violence, and the underlying need to experience something new. I suppose this is a very rock n roll song, in that pretty much every major rock n roll musican came out of places like this, and looked to the music as a means of getting out of that world and into a wider, less predictable one.

Here’s a clip of the Jam performing their (arguably) best single, ‘That’s Entertainment’.

To view the clip, hover over the image and click the ‘play’ icon. To enlarge the viewing screen, click the magnifying glass icon. Alternatively, click on the image and view the clip in a new browser window. Enjoy!

The Jam

And just as a footnote, people, Rick Buckler and Bruce Foxton of the aforementioned Jam are touring. Check out this release for details. Hugh Cornwall, formerly of The Stranglers is opening!

3 thoughts on “The Song In My Head Today: ‘That’s Entertainment’ by the Jam

  1. Yeah, I agree with you this is also one of my favorite Jam songs right up there with Going Underground. I remember buying this record back in 1980 when I was in college. It definitely got a lot of spin action on my turntable.

    Dig your blog a lot.

  2. I came to the Jam fairly late, although I’d been aware of them for years. I knew Weller’s work mostly from the Style Council at one point! ‘Going Underground’ is a bit more anthemic, and a lot of people think of it as their signiture tune (although with Billy Elliot coming out, maybe ‘A Town Called Malice’ is gaining ground..). But TE is still my favourite.

    Thanks for your comments!

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