There’s no doubt that The Jam and Paul Weller were hugely influenced by the Fab Four, The Beatles. In truth, there aren’t many performers who grew up in the 1960s that wouldn’t consider John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr as musical heroes.
Across the years, Paul Weller, the definitive band leader of The Jam, has made no secret of his undying love for The Beatles and, on the mod band’s fifth studio album Sound Affects, he did his best to make his admiration well known. “I like all those ’60s groups like the Who, Small Faces, the Kinks and the Stones, but the biggest influence has to be the Beatles,” Weller once said in an interview with The Guardian.
“As a small kid, they were the first group to make me sit up and take notice of their songs,” he continued, mirroring the sentiments of an entire generation. “I guess I really started to check them out in ’63 or ’64. I was six years old. Their music had always been on around the house, but that was the first time I got to know all their names.”
Weller added: “I became a total Beatles fanatic. I loved everything about them — their clothes, their music and, when I was a little older, their attitude. I wanted to know all of John’s thoughts — on religion, politics, pop culture, young people, whatever. The first time I saw them was on TV at a Royal Command Performance at the London Palladium. I think it was 1964 and they were still moptops. Four suited and booted boys. I preferred their look from ’66 onwards though. It was brilliant I can’t explain why — it just struck a chord with me. I instinctively knew it was right.
“I still listen to The Beatles all the time. I still listen to all my influences. I guess whatever you first connect with will always mean something special.”
The Beatles influence on Weller was evident, perhaps more than ever, when The Jam completed the album Sound Affects. The record’s number one single, ‘Start!’, set about paying tribute to the Fab Four almost instantly. The track, whose foundations is built around an exact copy of the bassline and a guitar solo from the Beatles song ‘Taxman’, has gone down as one of Weller’s best.
Taking things a step further, The Jam included a cover of Beatles song ‘And Your Bird Can Sing’ as a B-side demo which later featured on a second CD release. The original song, released on 1966 album Revolver, was written predominantly by John Lennon but, much like the majority of the Beatles material, is officially credited to the Lennon–McCartney partnership. “‘And Your Bird Can Sing’ was John’s song,” McCartney revealed. “I suspect that I helped with the verses because the songs were nearly always written without second and third verses. I seem to remember working on that middle eight with him but it’s John’s song, 80-20 to John.”
Lennon was quick to dismiss the track as one of his “throwaways” but The Beatles fandom have always ensured the track was a necessary part of their rich iconography.
Stream both versions, below.