Saturday, 25 March 2017

The Jam - New Book "In Echoed Steps: The Jam and a Vision of The Albion" by Derek D'Souza, Paul Skellett & Simon Wells

The Jam photographed at Chiswick House by Derek D'Souza
"In Echoed Steps, The Jam and a Vision Of The Albion" revisits Britain in the early 1980s through the words and pictures of The Jam. Using Derek D’Souza’s estate of rare and largely unpublished photographs, designed by Paul Skellett and written by Simon Wells this 12" square book will sit nicely inside a hard slip case and can be stored alongside your vinyl (or book) collection. Deluxe editions of the book come with exclusive prints, each photograph measuring 11×11 inches is printed using the revolutionary high definition LumeJet print system. The five curated images in each folio feature an embossed watermark of authentication, and they are presented in a uniquely designed commemorative LP album slipcase. Each folio comes with a certificate of authenticity, signed by Derek, Paul and Simon and the sets are numbered 1-150. Photographer Derek D'Souza spoke to us about the book and his work with The Jam in our latest episode of Retrosonic Podcast which you can listen to or download below from our Soundcloud site or subscribe at iTunes or Mixcloud.

By 1981, The Jam was undoubtedly Britain’s most popular band. With a string of top ten singles and albums and a fan base that was measured in the hundreds of thousands, the loyalty shown to them by their fans was akin to what the previous generation had bestowed on The Beatles. Nonetheless, the group’s lead singer and writer Paul Weller, was not in a hurry to sit back on his laurels. A sharp observer of the inequalities of life, through his songs he’d noted the appalling and dire state of Britain in the early 1980s. Weller’s observations, told of a nation depressed and despondent – the opportunities for the young seemingly ring-fenced to a select few. Hailing from a working-class background, he’d escaped the predictability of a mundane existence and had followed his dream – and yet he never left the world he came from behind. Despite the dismal and unforgiving landscape, the poet within Weller was receptive to the beauty within the country he evidently loved.

In the early 1980s, he’d read and adored Geoffrey Ashe’s extraordinary book, “Camelot and a Vision of The Albion”. Ashe’s book looked at how King Arthur’s wondrous and magical template for Britain – loaded with truth, honesty and integrity – was being eroded. The ever inventive and receptive Weller saw a parallel with Arthur’s quest of embodying chivalry and integrity, qualities patently missing from the Britain of the early 1980s. Weller’s lyrics on The Jam’s Sound Affects album echoed heavily with his observations. With tracks such as “Set The House Ablaze” and “Man In The Corner Shop” Weller’s writing was elevated to a new level. Soon after would come “Absolute Beginners”, “Tales From The Riverbank” and “Funeral Pyre” – remarkable and precise dispatches from a broken Britain at street level. In 1981, few were expressing the decaying state of Britain – not least the pitiful organs of the mainstream press.

The Jam photographed at Chiswick House by Derek D'Souza
As a result, it was left to the likes of the NME & Morning Star to voice the disquiet. But it was the fanzine writers and artists who depicted better than anyone what was really going on in the country. Naturally, Weller was in tune with this mood of dissent, and he had established Riot Stories a small publishing outfit that would give voice to the many who shared his viewpoint. While The Jam weren’t the only band really communicating the disquiet, they were clearly the most outspoken group to occupy the top end of the charts, and their clarity of truth swept up legions of fans across the nation. On the group’s frequent concert tours of the UK, Weller took a sharp view of the landscape of Britain – especially beyond Watford where the so called beautiful South dissolved into the monochrome of the neglected and largely abandoned North of England.

What he, and many others witnessed, was a truly broken and divided country. While the ruling classes put on a grubby show of decadence and unbridled wealth, the reality of over 3 million unemployed back-dropped by a diminishing industrial landscape, was a more than apparent nightmare for many. “In Echoed Steps, The Jam and a Vision Of The Albion” revisits Britain in the early 1980s through the words and pictures of The Jam. Using Derek D’Souza’s estate of rare and largely unpublished photographs, it’s a remarkable journey back to a remarkable time.

Paul Weller photographed at Chiswick House by Derek D'Souza
Please check out the various options available at the Pledgemusic site here and for regular updates and news on the book then please check out the Facebook page here. Words from "In Echoed Steps" publicity. All photos copyright Derek D'Souza, you can check out more of Derek's excellent portfolio of photography at his Blinkandyoumissit web-site here and don't forget our Podcast with Derek!

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