Claire Mahoney reviews Derek D’Souza’s new The Jam and a Vision of The Albion book of photos capturing the band its height.
‘True is the dream, mixed with nostalgia,’ Weller wrote back in 1981 in the song ‘Tales From The Riverbank,’ the flip-side of the chart-topping Absolute Beginners. On the back of this particular picture cover was a now iconic picture, taken by a young Jam fan, who, after hustling his way into hundreds of gigs to photograph the band for many years – got lucky and was asked to do a ‘proper’ photo shoot at Chiswick House in West London.
That shoot was the fulfilment of a dream for the young fan and now this picture and many more from that fateful day, along with a number of never seen before shots that D’Souza took at the hundreds of gigs he attended during the nadir of The Jam’s short career, have indeed been ‘mixed with nostalgia’ – courtesy of the sublime story-telling of writer Simon Wells and the creative flair of designer, Paul Skellett.
The result is In Echoed Steps – A Vision of Albion, a heavyweight book in all respects – not least in price. £75 quid is certainly at the top end of the market for a book on a band. But is it worth it? Well that depends.
If you are someone who has a passing interest in The Jam, perhaps not. Although I would argue that on some levels this book will teach you all that you ever need to know about The Jam. But this isn’t just biography – although there are some beautiful re-tellings of Weller’s early days and influences throughout the book. But what Wells and Skellett have done with the leverage of D’Souza’s images, is give us, in tangible form, how it felt to be a Jam fan and why it is so important in retrospect.
This rich tapestry of Jam ephemera is threaded with quotes, lyrics, ticket stubs, political and poetic references, historical contexts and fascinating flashbacks.
But what brings it all together stylistically is Skellett’s ethereal artwork. His psychedelic patchworks of pictures, textures and type place Weller in amongst his influences in a way you will have never seen him before. Although it has to be said that the book is heavily weighted in Weller’s favour in that it is his and not his band mates’ musings that the book relies on.
In Echoed Steps, never the less is an exhilarating, magical mystery tour of The Jam and probably the most cutting-edge book on ‘the best f**cking band in the world’ there is.
In Echoed Steps – A Vision of Albion is published by Studio Skellett and priced at £75 and in a limited run of 1,000 copies. You can buy a copy here.
If you are in the area, there is also a launch event tonight in London (17th August 2017).
Available at the event:
A limited number of books
The opportunity to view & feel the two limited edition folio print sets numbered to only 150. Set one – The Chiswick House Session and set two – The Jam Live in the eye of Derek D’Souza
Also, book readings Q&A, signing opportunities, spot prizes and a raffle.
It takes place at Holborn Studios 49 – 50 Eagle Wharf Road N1 7ED from 7-11pm. It’s guest list only and you need a ticket. Those are £5 each and include a reception drink, an exclusive souvenir poster and the chance to win one of those spot prizes.
If you want one, email [email protected] stating your first and last name, mobile telephone number, and the number of tickets wanted ahead of the start time.