Monday, 16 February 2015

Vintage Vinyl #6

The Jam - Funeral Pyre 7" / Beat Surrender 7"
Bought from: Strawberry Fields, Cardiff
Price paid: two of a batch of singles I paid £8 for.

I wasn't expecting the five singles I picked up in Strawberry Fields to cost as much as £8 (they weren't priced), but with hindsight I didn't do too badly. After all, I could have paid as much as that for these two records alone in some places. Jam stuff remains pretty collectable and although there is nothing special about this pair of singles, Weller fans still seek them out it seems.

Funeral Pyre is an odd one for me as it doesn't sound like a single. It's not particularly memorable or radio-friendly, yet it flew to number 4 in the UK charts when it was released in late Spring 1981. This may be more to do with the Jam being one of the biggest bands in the country, and it being their first new track since the previous summer's monster number one hit Start! It's not one of my fave tracks by the band, but lyrically it is one of Weller's best. On its flip is a cover of the Who's Disguises. It's pretty much what you'd expect from Weller & co, a relatively straight run-through, but minus the weird sound effects and noises that graced the original. Notably, Funeral Pyre did not appear on any Jam album until the singles collection 'Snap!' in 1983, and only then in remix form.

Beat Surrender was the Jam's swan song and achieved the (then) highly unusual feat of entering the UK chart at number one in its first week. In fact, 1982 was particularly special as two records accomplished this achievement that year - the other was the double A-side A Town Called Malice/Precious, also by the Jam. Beat Surrender was their fourth and final chart-topper and was a rather exuberant number to go out on, all Northern Soul-style horns and everything, heralding Weller's new dawn in the Style Council. Like Funeral Pyre, it too never appeared on an album until 'Snap!', though it was included on the recent deluxe reissue of 'The Gift'.

As for its B-side? Well to be honest, it's best forgotten. Shopping is, to be kind, not one of the Jam's finer moments. That's all I'm going to say on the matter as the Weller die-hards among you will no doubt be sharpening your swords ready to do battle...



  1. It took me 25 years to like "Beat Surrender". I couldn't help but associate this song with the split, and couldn't enjoy it. I still like "Shopping" (but could do without the flute) and "Stoned Out Of My Mind".

  2. I like Shopping, Stoned too.
    Swiss Adam

  3. And Funeral Pyre is a band at the height of their powers.
    Swiss Adam

    1. I'm with you there SA. I think Funeral Pyre is exploding with energy and kept the band in touch with their beginnings. Shopping has an awkward beauty.

  4. I like Shopping and Stoned and War but not Move On Up. A cover too far.