15. THE JAM - 'Funeral Pyre' / 'Disguises' (Polydor POSP 257) May 1981

From 1979 to the end of 1981 The Jam were my favourite band. Back then I pretty much worshipped everything they had done to this point. Paul Weller was the voice of the youth (ie) teenagers like myself out for doing teenagery things like smoking dope, playing football, getting off with girls if we were lucky, or just getting drunk under a tree on a few cans of cheap Kestral.

Their songs seemed to mean a lot to working class kids especially lads, hell they even covered songs by The Kinks and The Who and ripped off The Beatles on their previous single 'Start!'..
After 'Funeral Pyre' I more or less gave up on them cos they turned too souly and by now I'd discovered The Byrds so it was 'case closed'.

However, 'Funeral Pyre' was The Jam's last GREAT 45. It was like nothing they had ever recorded before nor would they indulge in this kind of tortured mysterious rock again. The pounding bass riffs from Bruce Foxton allied with the frenetic and prominent drum work from Rick Buckler and the obscure lyrics from Weller really made this song stand out for me. I'd never heard anything like it before.

It reached Number 4 in the UK Charts but that position was more or less taken for granted on pre-sales alone. So the rest of the public just didn't get it and it quickly fell down the chart placings, only hanging around for 6 weeks. This was probably viewed as a disaster for the band themselves but musically it was a triumph.

The promo video for 'Funeral Pyre' was also creepy and almost entirely shot in the darkness of night in some woods with kids wandering around with burning torches looking for things to set ablaze. A touch of The Wicker Man here.

The flip 'Disguises' is a totally cool cover of The Who obscurity. The Jam make it sound even more psychedelic than the original with the echoey production and more especially with the backwards guitars.
The Jam pictured backstage after a gig in London December 1981
My Jam ticket retained after their April 1982 gig at The City Hall, Newcastle.


  1. Like you The Jam were a major deal for me in the 80's and probably the last "contemporary" band I hung in there with. In hindsight it's pretty amazing how "psychedelic" the were willing to be. Truth be told I heard the Jam's version of "Disguises" before The Who's!


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