The Jam’s Strange Town/Collecting Butterflies super rare 7″ Pye Studios acetate from 1979

THE JAM Strange Town / Collecting Butterflies

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A reasonably difficult to find whimsy from the past here, one of the few Jam acetates to reach the outside world. Seven inches of beauty, this double sided high quality metal based methyl cellulose lacquer acetate features the band at their peak. A wise man would click the ‘More Info‘ field at this point, as there is some …

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By this point, the Jam had become one of the biggest bands in the UK.
Strange Town was to be the first in a run of classic single releases – When You’re Young, The Eton Rifles, Going Underground – that few bands have topped.

They knew they had a good thing here and a select few Acetates were prepared at Pye Studios for the band to listen to and approve of the cut. Because of the timing, it is known that one was sent to the New Musical Express in order for it to be in time for their weekly single review. This could have been a copy sent to somewhere like Sounds or Melody Maker, equally important music press at the time, or an in house listening copy.

That doesn’t really matter though, does it ? This is THE JAM !

With hand annotated Pye Studios labels, it is interesting to note that even at this late stage the second side was called ‘Collecting Butterflies’ and not ‘The Butterfly Collector’ as we all know and love it.

The music itself is certainly the same takes as the released versions but Strange Town kicks like a mule and Butterfly Collector seems to have slightly less reverb than issued. Whether this is the result of slightly different earlier mixes or the effect of subsequent mastering for vinyl is open to debate.

Notoriously fragile, I have to say that this acetate is a peach. There are a few light surface hairlines on Strange Town but these fail to be audible, even at the excessive volumes we were sadly forced to endure to audition it.
The Collecting Butterflies playing surface looks similar, but because of the low volume of most of the track you can hear some background noise in the quiet passages. This is the norm for acetates and this copy is in much better condition than they are usually found, let alone from a band with as much energy as The Jam and the huge fan base they were building at this point.

It doesn’t get much better than this. One of the first copies of Strange Town ever pressed and it may even be an earlier mix too.

A Holy Grail item for Jam fans everywhere !

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