The Jam

The Jam was an English trio that was active as a recording unit during the late 1970s and early 1980s. Led by the outspoken, musically eclectic, and lyrically exploratory vocalist/guitarist/songwriter Paul Weller, the band scored eleven UK Top 20 singles between 1978 and 1982, including four chart-toppers. Over the course of six albums, the band evolved from a traditional power-trio sound to embrace album-length conceptual themes, state-of-the-art production techniques, and a plethora of cross-cultural idiomatic elements.

Members: Paul Weller (guitar, vocals, bass), Rick Buckler (drums), Steve Brookes (guitar, 1972-76), Dave Waller (guitar, 1972-73), Bruce Foxton (bass, vocals, guitar, 1973-82)


The Jam’s origins date back to 1972, when Woking youths Paul Weller and Steve Brookes held jam sessions after school — a practice from which the budding unit would soon derive its name. By late 1973, Foxton and Buckler — both three years older than the founding pair — had entered the fold and the band started gigging local venues.

In 1974, 16-year-old Weller became fascinated with the period in UK pop that immediately predated his own awakening. After close study of the mid-1960s mod aesthetic and beat-combo sound, he adopted these traits into his music and presentation. This somewhat iconoclastic approach would help set The Jam apart as the band made inroads on the London club scene during the mid-1970s. Amidst these developments, Brookes departed and the band opted to carry on as a trio.


1977


In the City

The Jam released their debut album, In the City, on May 20, 1977, on Polydor.

On April 15, five weeks before the album hit shelves, “In The City” appeared as an advance single, backed with “Takin’ My Love.”


“All Around the World”

On July 15, 1977, The Jam released “All Around the World,” a clarion call backed with the Foxton exclusive “Carnaby Street.”


This Is the Modern World

The Jam released their second album, This Is the Modern World, on November 18, 1977, on Polydor.

The album’s semi-title track, “The Modern World,” appeared in late October as an advance single, backed with the sixties R&B covers “Sweet Soul Music,” “Back In My Arms Again,” and a partial rendition of “Bricks and Mortar.”


1978


“News of the World”

On February 24, 1978, The Jam released “News of the World,” Foxton’s broadside against the slanted, sensationalized corporate news media. It’s backed with Weller’s “Aunties and Uncles (Impulsive Youths)” and another Foxton exclusive, “Innocent Man.”


All Mod Cons

The Jam released their third album, All Mod Cons, on November 3, 1978, on Polydor.

“David Watts” and “‘A’ Bomb In Wardour Street” appeared ten weeks before the album (August 18) as an advance double-a-side.

On October 13, “Down In the Tube Station at Midnight” appeared as the second advance single, backed with two non-album cuts: the Who cover “So Sad About Us” and Foxton’s “The Night.”


1979


“Strange Town”

On March 9, 1979, The Jam released “Strange Town,” a modulating rocker about foreign shock. The b-side, “The Butterfly Collector,” is a slow, danceable mood rocker with a staccato guitar pattern over a stark sonic backdrop.


“When You’re Young”

On August 17, 1979, The Jam released “When You’re Young,” an uptempo harmony rocker with crackling basslines; backed with Foxton’s “Smithers-Jones.”


Setting Songs

The Jam released their fourth album, Setting Sons, on November 16, 1979, on Polydor.

“The Eton Rifles” appeared in late October as an advance single, backed with the non-album “See Saw.”


1980


“Going Underground”

On March 14, 1980, The Jam released “Going Underground,” an anthemic number about disillusionment with the political process.


Sound Effects

The Jam released their fifth album, Sound Affects, on November 28, 1980, on Polydor.

“Start” appeared in mid-August as an advance single, backed with the non-album “Liza Radley.” The 7″ version of “Start” is trumpet-free and shorter (2:16).

In January 1981, Dutch Polydor lifted “That’s Entertainment” as a second Sounds Effects a-side, backed with a live version of “Down in the Tube Station at Midnight.”


1981


“Funeral Pyre”

On May 29, 1981, The Jam released “Funeral Pyre,” a dark martial rocker with a semi-tone riff. The b-side is a cover of the Townshend composition “Disguises” from the 1966 Who EP Ready Steady Who.


“Absolute Beginners”

In October 1981, The Jam released “Absolute Beginners,” a brassy R&B number backed with the psychedelic “Tales From the Riverbank.”


1982


The Gift

The Jam released their sixth album, The Gift, on March 12, 1982, on Polydor.

“Town Called Malice” and “Precious” appeared in late January as the album’s advance double-a-side.

In late June, Dutch Polydor lifted “Just Who Is The 5 O’Clock Hero,” backed with two exclusive cuts: Weller’s “The Great Depression” and the Motown classic “War,” a 1970 hit for Edwin Starr.


“The Bitterest Pill (I Ever Had to Swallow)”

On September 10, 1982, The Jam released “The Bitterest Pill (I Ever Had to Swallow),” a string-laden ballad backed with “Pity Poor Alfie” and a cover of the jazz standard “Fever.”


“Beat Surrender”

On November 26, 1982, The Jam released “Beat Surrender,” an uptempo Motown pastiche backed with “Shopping.”


Post-Jam

In December 1982, Polydor issued Dig the New Breed, a collection of fourteen Jam live numbers recorded between September 1977 and the April 1982 Scottish tour.


Discography:


Sources:

1 thought on “The Jam

  1. Original draft (2017-18)
    The Jam was an English trio that was active as a recording unit during the late 1970s and early 1980s. Led by the outspoken, musically eclectic, and lyrically exploratory vocalist/guitarist/songwriter Paul Weller, the band scored eleven UK Top 20 singles between 1978 and 1982, including four chart-toppers. Over the course of six albums, the band evolved from a traditional power-trio sound to embrace album-length conceptual themes, state-of-the-art production techniques, and a plethora of cross-cultural idiomatic elements.

    The Jam’s origins date back to 1972, when Woking youths Paul Weller and Steve Brookes held jam sessions after school — a practice from which the budding unit would soon derive its name. By late 1973, Foxton and Buckler — both three years older than the founding pair — had entered the fold and the band started gigging local venues.

    In 1974, 16-year-old Weller became fascinated with the period in UK pop that immediately predated his own awakening. After close study of the mid-1960s mod aesthetic and beat-combo sound, he adopted these traits into his music and presentation. This somewhat iconoclastic approach would help set The Jam apart as the band made inroads on the London club scene during the mid-1970s. Amidst these developments, Brookes departed and the band opted to carry on as a trio.
    Early Recordings

    Securing a deal with Polydor in the spring of 1977, the band linked with veteran producer Vic-Coppersmith Heaven, who would help the trio shape its sonic identity. The first fruits of this union was In the City, released that May. The title-track, with its brisk C-B-A-G descent — lifted from the “where they teach you how to be thick” sequence of “White Riot” by The Clash — launched the trio onto the margins of local pop fame.

    Despite its rough edges, The Jam’s debut displays Weller’s budding promise as a songwriter, most notably on the angular-chorded, harmonized effervescence of “Sounds From the Street” and on the lyrically poignant “I Got by in Time,” where the young singer reflects on lost love and friendship — the second verse presumably about Brookes. In terms of mood, the album evokes carefree and foreboding sentiments, as respectively indicated by the slow-paced leisure of “Away From the Numbers” and the urban headiness of the tumultuous, feedback-laden “Bricks and Mortar.”

    With the band firmly established in the London area, Weller — perhaps haunted by the confines of his Woking-based youth — was energized by his newfound metropolitanism. As one observer of The Jam’s 1978 Reading Rock appearance would note, the word “city” appeared in nearly every song in the band’s set during this period. But it wasn’t just cities that Weller hoped to conquer with his band, but the world at large, hence a trio of singles that bore the word “world” in the title — “All Around the World,” “The Modern World,” and the Foxton-penned “News of the World.” Alas, Weller would first need to master the album as an art form.

    Released in November of 1977, The Jam’s sophomoric This Is the Modern World LP found them testing multiple possibilities. Foxton’s sectional “Don’t Tell Them You’re Sane” demonstrates a formative grasp of epic form with its abundance of ringing riffs and fold-out movements. Meanwhile, the lilting chorus of “London Girl” demonstrates a growing melodramatic side on the part of Weller. Further surprises from the bandleader include the sus7 sweetness of “Life From a Window” and bold romantic overtures of “Tonight at Noon.”
    Artistic Maturity: All Mod Cons (1978)

    The early part of 1978 caught Weller in a writer’s block. Determined to prove themselves as an album-oriented band, The Jam spent most of that summer polishing tracks with Heaven. The first fruit of this activity was a perky, piano-swirling cover of The Kinks chestnut “David Watts.” This was followed by the band’s triumphant third album All Mod Cons, which covers various styles with multi-tracked tonal clarity from each player.

    The plaintive verses, roll-out bridges, impatient middle, and spinning outro of “In the Crowd” reflect Weller’s mix of contentment, ambition, and cynicism amidst the activity, noise, imposing billboards, and traffic clusters of the modern mecca. By contrast, the moody lurch that opens “Mr. Clean” frames the protagonist’s spiteful envy of his subject, who slips away to hedonistic dreams, seemingly unaware of the corporeal dangers in the midst — a contrast marked by the song’s abrupt shift from soft acoustics to slashing feedback during the middle.
    Rock Anthems and Concept Albums: 1979–1980

    Rising to the big leagues, The Jam kept fans occupied during the first half of 1979 with the bass-cracking “When You’re Young” and the swelling, dramatic “Strange Town.” The latter — with its middle-eight chordal reach and modulated final section — demonstrates a pattern that would characterize much of Weller’s compositions from here on out, where a humble verse/chorus structure pivots into a grandiose middle that nearly becomes its own song, only to infuse the final portion of the song-proper with a newfound epic quality.

    Epicism would characterize The Jam’s next single, “The Eton Rifles.” Opening with a crisp, spiralling bassline amidst a feedback-brimming distortion bed in Amin that rolls along through verses to an organ-rippling breakout, the song rocketed to no. 3 on the UK charts.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *