Years: 1972 - 1982
Styles: Mod Rock, New Wave, Pop Rock, Power Pop, Punk Rock
Paul Weller - Acoustic guitar , Bass Guitar, Guitar, Harmonica, Piano, Vocals (in band: 1972 - 1982)
Dave Waller - Rhythm guitar (in band: 1972 - 1973)
Steve Brookes - Guitar (in band: 1972 - 1976)
Bruce Foxton - Bass Guitar, Guitar, Vocals (in band: 1972 - 1982)
Rick Buckler - Drums (in band: 1972 - 1982)
The Jam formed in Woking, Surrey, England in late ’73 by Paul Weller, Bruce Foxton, Rick Buckler and the 4th member Steve Brooks – guitar. This quartet first gigged mid-74, progressin to the likes of London’s Marquee, 101 Club & Red Cow in late’76, by which time Brooks had departed.
Peddling amphetamine charged retro R&B, the band rode in on the first wawe of punk’s brave new musical world. Incendiary live performances had generated a loyal following and considerable record company interest, the band signing with ‘Polydor’ early the following year via A&R man Chris Parry.
In Spring ’77, their debut „In The City”, cracked the UK Top 40, an album of the same name following a month later. Image wise, the band were kitted out in unashamed allegiance to the mod masterplan of yore; sharp suits, parkas, scooters, etc., another factor that set the band apart from the ant-fashion of punk. Something Weller did share with his glue-sniffing peers was anger; yep, befer Weller the ‘red-wedge’ soul smoothie and Weller the patron of ‘Dad Rock’ came Weller the angry young man, so angry in fact, that he professed to voting conservative. Politics aside, „In The City” was a cut above the average three chord punk thrash, bristling with adolescent fury yet psoessed of an irresistible melodic verve.
„This Is The Modern World” (1977) was a hastly recorded recorded follow-up, and it showed. Only the pounding title track (the single backed with a cover of Arthur Conley’s ~ „Sweet Soul Music” really hit the target, the rest of the of the album pointlessly tecycling Who riffs ad nauseum. With „All Mod Cons” (1978), however, The Jam were onto something big, Weller’s cutting social reportage and songwriting genius translating in such gems as „Down In The Tube-Station At Midnight”, a cover of The Kinks’ „Dawid Watts” indicating the heights he was aiming for. Come „Setting Sons” (1979), and the bile-spewing „Eton Rifles”, in particular, Weller came pretty damn close to updating Ray Davies claas-conscious agenda for a harsh new age. The single gave the band their first Top 5 success and the album achieved a similar feat upon its release a month later.
In February of the following year, the band went straight in at No. 1 with „Going Underground”, a snarling critique of the establishment. The band followed this up with „Start!”, a virtual remake (well, intro definitely) of George Harrison/Beatles’ „Taxman”, quite why there’s never been a court case over this matter remains a mystery. Still, the single marked a move into more ambitious musical territory, Weller penning his most accomplished tune to date in the lilting, understated ennui of „That’s Entertainment”. The almum, „Sound Affects” (1980), confirmed the shift away from powerchord agression with the use of horns and more obviously black music-derived rhytms.
By this point, The Jam were on of, if not the, biggest band in Britain although, despite repeated attempts, the American market was apparently impossible for the band to crack. Then again, it’s not hard to see that their defiantly British sound just didn’t translate in the States, in much the same way as, more recently, Blur’s idiosyncratic Englishness has precluded US recognition. Back home though, the band were No.1 again in early 1982 with the heavily Motown-influenced „Town Called Malice”, „The Gift” album being released the following month. It was to be the band’s swansong as Weller, at the peak of the band’s fame later that summer, announced he was to break the group up te explore his soul fixation with The Style Council. After a final kiss-off with „The Bitterest Pill” and the brilliant „Beat Surrender”, the band were no more.
While Weller went on to a undergo many musical rebirths, there was no such joy for Foxton, who later joined aging punks Stiff Little Fingers. Buckler, meanwhile, forsook the evils of the musicalbusiness for furniture restoration. Thankfully, with no reunion so far, and the possibility of one rather slim, the legend of The Jam remains intact.
The Great Rock Discography - Martin C.Strong, 1st Edition, Publisher: Crown Publishers, ISBN-10: 0812931114, p.
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