The Jam: About the Young Idea



Directed by Bob Smeaton

At times it’s more like an infomercial than an actual documentary.  A big part of the focus of this film is the lasting influence the Jam had on their fans, but that comes at the expense of seeing more things you might expect (and want) to see in a documentary about a band, such as stories about the recording sessions, gigs, tours etc.. However, there are some great audio and photographs of the Jam before they were THE JAM. It was made with cooperation from everyone in the band featuring interviews shot specifically for the film and yet you don’t get to see the three of them together in the same room. Apparently, Weller isn’t up for a reunion at any level.  Surprisingly, Weller does a good job of not appearing like a pompous ass, and also does well explaining his case for ending the Jam when he did. As a fan it’s something you need to see and hear coming out of his mouth to be able to accept it finally. Closure helps, even all these years later.

Big surprise… It turns out  there’s a companion CD under the same title. So this is looking more and more like  a Time-Life infomercial.  On the bright side, the upcoming Blue Ray disc is supposed to include a 22 track live video set from  a  Rockpalast show in Dortmund, Germany,  recorded in 1980. This was previously only available as bootleg, so there’s that at least.

About the Young Idea will definitely get you pumped to spin  your Jam records again if they aren’t still in heavy rotation, but for the most part this film comes off more like a  VH1 retrospective with a nicer budget instead of a full-fledged documentary. It’s a shame really, because it’s not likely that a better one will ever be made. Although entertaining to watch, this documentary doesn’t live up to the passion the band inspired in the fans, and is ultimately disappointing.

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  1. Good review. Huge fan since the first day I heard them at age 12. I was lucky to be the perfect age for The Jam. What struck me watching this was how singles like When You’re Young, Boy About Town, etc were for the regular kids back then. Contrast that with how in more recent times a great English band like the Libertines, direct Jam descendants, would have fans that were total indy rock hipsters and performed at “in the know” gueriila gigs, etc. Maybe The Libs did speak to all of the British kids, I wasn’t there. Am I wrong?

  2. john the Mod on December 19, 2015 - Reply

    Sadly… it lacked the “punch” and urgency that the band had for us. Too young to “dig” the original movement/sounds, the Jam led the charge for the revival, fueled by the anger/fury of punk, but clearly aware and in homage to a time before. Overlooked and under heard in Amerika, the Jam spoke to the doom of adulthood, the frustration and the eventual surrender to expectation. A fan since childhood; this doc is a must see, but you will get more from their amazing run of albums, A sides, and the AMAZING live recording “Dig the new Breed”… Hearing them changed my life; the way I felt, dressed, thought, and the adult I (eventually) became are all connected to the Jam

  3. houseofneil on December 23, 2015 - Reply

    I was lucky enough to see them live a bunch of times and they are still the best band I ever saw live. The 1979 Setting Sons tour with the Vapors was the absolute best. We lived and died with whatever Weller said and did through our formative years. I haven’t seen the movie yet but will over this holiday weekend. Will check back then.

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