The Jam – 30 Years of Fire and Skill
The Jam exploded onto the punk scene in 1977.
Led by guitarist/singer Paul Weller, a young, sharp suited mod, who was inspired by Otis Redding, Dr Feelgood, The Who and the Sex Pistols in equal measure, with Bruce Foxton, the Motown influenced bassist and Rick Buckler, the metronome time keeper, they delivered their ferocious mission statement – In The City, a musical tribute to London over three minutes of aggressive urgency.
The song hit the Top 40 and fanfared the arrival of a three piece that would over the next five years produce six studio albums (and a live one) four of which would place in the Top 10, their final outing 1982’s The Gift topping the charts, and 18 singles including four Number 1s.
While their punk contemporaries faded away - the Pistols dissolved in beer splattered chaos in San Francisco, The Clash after sacking Topper Headon and Mick Jones petered out with the disappointing Cut The Crap - The Jam went out with a bang, at the very, very top – on December 11th playing their final sold out show at Brighton’s Conference centre. Such was the enormity of their split that it even made the TV news. Fans were in tears.
The Jam was formed in 1972, by Paul Weller and his school friend Steve Brookes. They honed their craft in the working men’s clubs of home town Woking and the surrounding Surrey areas with a set based around R&B covers and Weller’s own songs that melded his love of soul music with pub rock. In 1976, fired up by punk they played a guerrilla style gig in Soho market, (The Clash watched from a nearby caff while eating their breakfast) with power supplied by the Rock On record store and were soon belting out their own unique take on punk rock at the 100 club. For them there was no year zero though; instead an exciting amalgam of the classic - The Beatles, The Kinks and The Who - with the vociferous new.
Soon Paul Weller was being tagged a spokesperson for a generation, identifying with and rallying the disaffected suburban youth, with a songbook that mixed youthful enthusiasm and the heartfelt (English Rose, Monday) with vicious social commentary (Down In The Tube Station At Midnight) and the political (Going Underground).
Such was their popularity that by the time of The Jam’s thrilling 10th single Going Underground, the single was already a guaranteed Number 1 before it was even released. The band’s universal appeal meant it had notched up 200,000 sales in advance orders, securing the band their first top spot in 1980 and making them the first group since Slade (with 1973’s Merry Xmas Everybody) to go straight into the charts at that position. And who else would dare to lyrically combine nihilism, with a hatred for complacency, a call for peace and political cynicism and still top the charts?
When the band’s label capitalised on the success, reissuing their singles back catalogue, six of them re-charted and The Jam entered the Guinness Book Of Records alongside Paul’s heroes, The Beatles having equalled the highest number of Top 50 single chart hits at one time ever by a recording artist.
And their influence is still as strong today, 30 years after that thrilling debut. After spawning the mod revival with bands like The Chords and The Purple Hearts, they laid the foundations for Britpop (bands like Blur and Oasis crowned Weller the Modfather) and their music can now be heard in the sounds of Arctic Monkeys, Graham Coxon, Dirty Pretty Things, Babyshambles, The Ordinary Boys and Hard Fi. Even hip hop producer Mark Ronson has just covered Pretty Green (from Sound Affects).
In The City
Their 1977 debut set their musical and lyrical manifesto. Just 19 years of age on release, Weller revealed song-writing skills way beyond his years.
Producers Vic Smith and Chris Parry captured the raw energy of their exciting live sound while influences (The Who, Dr Feelgood, punk) were worn affectionately on sleeves. An enticing mix of originals – brilliant debut single In The City, the pop art experiment, Away From The Numbers, the feisty attack of Art School – plus covers of Larry Williams’ Slow Down and the Batman theme, pointed to an exciting future.
This Is The Modern World
Their speedily conceived less spiky, more melodic sophomore appeared just six months later and although feeling a little rushed in places, it revealed a lyrical progression and maturity with songs such as the impressive Life From A Window and the blazing single, The Modern World, Weller’s powerful statement of intent.
Weller’s girlfriend Gill Price inspired his first endeavours at writing about love, bassist Bruce Foxton made his song-writing debut and there’s a frenzied cover of Wilson Pickett’s In The Midnight Hour.
All Mod Cons
Their first set of demos was rejected by producer Chris Parry but with it all to prove they pulled off their greatest coup with their next set.
1978’s All Mod Cons, produced by Vic Coppersmith- Heaven, was a genuine masterpiece with tracks ranging from piquant Ray Davies styled character studies (the gruff Billy Hunt, the searing Mr Clean) to the sentimental acoustic ballad English Rose and the delicate Fly and The Place I Love, brave steps when all around were still pushing punk brutality and nihilism in their songs. Also included are the classic singles David Watts/’A’ Bomb In Wardour Street and Down In the Tube Station At Midnight.
The ‘Deluxe’ edition is now expanded with extra tracks and an insightful documentary, directed by legendary filmmaker Don Letts about the making of the album and featuring thrilling archive footage and revealing new interviews with Paul Weller, Bruce Foxton and Rick Buckler.
Originally intended as a concept album, only a few of the finished tracks on their brilliant 1979 LP related to the proposed theme of three close friends growing apart. The ferocious, blunt Thick As Thieves perhaps best captures that painful drift apart.
Elsewhere Weller emerges the vitriolic political commentator on the anti war polemic, Little Boy Soldiers and the class war cry of hit single The Eton Rifles. Future Style Councillor Mick Talbot provides piano on their cover of Martha And The Vandellas’ Heatwave.
Other highpoints include Private Hell, Girl On The Phone and Saturday’s Kids.
Building on the Number 1 success of single, Going Underground was this, their most musically experimental, diverse and daring album to date.
Start! a psychedelic pop classic, playfully nodded to The Beatles’ Taxman and landed the band their second Number 1. Monday revealed a more tender, sensitive side, Boy About Town provided a strutting mod anthem, Man In The Corner Shop was cutting social commentary while Scrape Away and Set The House Ablaze were influenced by the angular post punk sounds of Gang Of Four and Joy Division.
It also contains one of Weller’s best loved songs That’s Entertainment.
The Jam’s compelling swansong reached the Number 1 spot in 1982 and was saturated in blaring soul and funk influences.
Effectively utilising a horn section, it paved the way for Weller’s next project, The Style Council, with the mid-’60s Motown sound of Town Called Malice, the northern soul tinged Trans-Global Express (with its thrilling steal from Wigan Casino seven-inch spin World Column’s So Is The Sun) and the funky Pigbag inspired Precious.
It also contains some of Weller’s finest lyrical compositions in the anthemic Running On The Spot and diaphanous Ghosts, the former still included in his solo live set today.
7” vinyl box sets…
The Singles: 1977 – 1979The Singles: 1980 – 1982
Their entire 18 seven inch single output, housed in beautiful replica sleeves and protected in attractive cardboard boxes.
The first box spans 1977 to 1979 and is book-ended with debut In The City and their first Top 5 hit, The Eton Rifles.
The second documents 1980 to 1982 from their first number 1 Going Underground to their final chart topper Beat Surrender.
The ultimate singles collection and one of the finest greatest hits collections ever!
Direction, Reaction, Creation (box set)
The definitive Jam collection, this is a stunning set, featuring 117 tracks across five discs and presents the band's complete studio recordings in chronological order and includes all the singles and b-sides with many rarities and demo recordings.
A lavish book accompanies the set with extensive liner notes, complete gig list, band chronology and discography. Also features many rare photos and memorabilia.
This extraordinary collection was the Jam fan’s first glimpse into a treasure-trove of 26 b-sides, rarities, demos, covers and unreleased tracks.
An awesome collection of some of the finest live performances – features scorching versions of hit singles and fans’ favourites. This compilation roves that a three-piece could make a breath-taking noise!
The Very Best Of
A complete collection of the Jam's 21 hit singles, demonstrating the group’s domination of the British charts.
The Sound Of The Jam
26-track overview of the band’s career, featuring hit singles as well as non-single favourites.
The Story Of The Jam
This superb double album collection illustrates the Jam’s heritage with a comprehensive anthology of their career.
Featuring a mix of hits, key album tracks, b-sides and fans’ favourites this is an ideal introduction for new consumers and a treat for collectors.
Packaged in a deluxe, hardback ‘book-style’ sleeve with 24-page booklet including extensive new sleevenotes, rare photos and memorabilia - an indispensable addition to anyone’s music collection.
The Jam at the BBC
Stunning set, featuring tracks from 1977 – 1981, including exclusive sessions and Radio One ‘In Concert’ recordings, all previously unreleased.
Also includes snippets of interviews and introductions to the gigs by Gary Crowley and John Weller, deluxe 24-page booklet with comprehensive liner notes, rare photos and archive memorabilia.