The Jam

The Jam

Infobox musical artist | Img_size =
Landscape =
Background = group_or_band
Name = The Jam

Img_capt = Bruce Foxton and Paul Weller on Top of the Pops circa 1977
Origin = Woking, Surrey, England
Instrument =
Genre = Mod revival, Punk rock, Power pop [ [ The Jam - Mod Revival - Power Pop - Alternative/Punk - Music - ] ] [ [ The Jam Album Reviews - The Gift ] ] , Pop punk [ [ allmusic ((( The Jam > Biography ))) ] ] , New Wave
Occupation =
Years_active = 1972 - 1982

Label = Polydor Records
Associated_acts = Paul Weller, The Style Council, From The Jam
Current_members =
Past_members = Paul Weller
Bruce Foxton
Rick Buckler
Notable_instruments =

The Jam were an English mod revival band active during the late 1970s and early 1980s. While they shared the "angry young men" outlook and fast tempos of their punk rock contemporaries, The Jam wore neatly tailored suits rather than ripped clothes and incorporated a number of mainstream 1960s rock influences, rather than rejecting them.

They had eighteen consecutive Top 40 singles in the United Kingdom, from their debut in 1977 to their breakup in 1982, including four number one hits. As of 2007, "That's Entertainment" and "Just Who Is the 5 O'Clock Hero?" remained the best-selling import singles of all time in the UK. They released one live album and six studio albums, the last of which, "The Gift", hit number one on the UK album charts. When the group split up, all 18 singles were re-released and all placed within the top 60.

The band drew upon a variety of stylistic influences over the course of their career, including 1960s beat music, soul, rhythm and blues and psychedelic rock, as well as 1970s punk rock, pop punk and new wave. The trio was known for its melodic pop songs, its distinctly English flavour and its mod image. The band launched the career of Paul Weller, who went on to form The Style Council and later had a successful solo career. Weller wrote and sang most of The Jam’s original compositions, and he played lead guitar, using a Rickenbacker. Bruce Foxton provided backing vocals and prominent basslines, which were the foundation of many of the band’s songs; including the hits "Down in the Tube Station at Midnight", "The Eton Rifles" and "Town Called Malice".


Formation (1972-1976)

The Jam formed in Surrey, England in 1972 in Woking. The line-ups were fluid at this stage, consisting of Weller on guitar and lead vocals together with various friends at Sheerwater Secondary School. They played their first gigs at Michael's, a local club. The line-up began to solidify in the mid 1970s with Weller, Foxton, guitarist Steve Brookes and drummer Rick Buckler. In their early years, their sets consisted of early American rock and roll covers by the likes of Chuck Berry and Little Richard. They continued in this vein until Weller discovered The Who’s "My Generation" and became fascinated with mod music and lifestyle. As he said later, "I saw that through becoming a Mod it would give me a base and an angle to write from, and this we eventually did. We went out and bought black suits and started playing Motown, Stax and Atlantic covers. I bought a Rickenbacker guitar, a Lambretta GP 150 and tried to style my hair like Steve Marriott’s circa ’66."] Eventually Brookes left the band, and was not replaced, inviting Weller to develop a combined lead/rhythm guitar style influenced by The Who’s Pete Townshend as well as Dr. Feelgood guitarist Wilko Johnson. The line-up of Weller, Foxton, and Buckler would persist until the end of The Jam’s career. They were managed by Weller’s father, John Weller, who still manages Paul’s career.

In the following two years, The Jam gained a small following around London from playing minor gigs, becoming one of the new lights on the nascent punk scene. In many ways, however, they stood out from their punk peers. Though they shared an "angry young men" outlook, short hair, crushing volume and lightning-fast tempos, The Jam wore neatly tailored suits where others wore ripped clothes, played professionally where others were defiantly amateurish, and displayed clear 1960s rock influences where others were disdainful (at least ostensibly) of such music (which had been a major influence on the "stadium rock" and "prog rock" of the 1970s). Indeed, the band were tagged by some journalists as "revivalists." They were signed to Polydor Records by Chris Parry in early 1977.

Early recordings (1977)

On 29 April 1977, Polydor released The Jam's debut single,"In the City", which charted in the Top 40 in England. In early May, the band released their debut album of the same name. The album, like those of The Clash and the Sex Pistols, featured fast, loud and pointed songs. What set it apart from the records of those two bands was its more prevalent 1960s rock influences. The Jam covered Larry Williams's "Slow Down" (also covered by The Beatles) and the "Batman Theme" to the 1960s TV series, which was somewhat of a standard for 1960s rock bands. Their originals revealed the influence of Motown Records, The Beatles and The Who.

The Jam had political lyrics, condemning police brutality ("In the City") and expansionist development ("Bricks And Mortar"). However, one of their most openly political songs, "Time For Truth", bemoaned the decline of the British Empire and expressed disparaging sentiments about "Uncle Jimmy" (the Labour Party Prime Minister James Callaghan) in no uncertain terms ("Whatever happened to the great Empire?"). These pro-Empire sentiments and ostentatious displays of the Union Flag began to earn the group the tag of "Conservative". Weller's announcement that The Jam intended to vote for the Conservative Party in the 1979 general election served to confirm this association. It later caused them embarrassment, and dogged them throughout their career. Weller claims that The Jam's public relations representative had told them to become Conservatives to contrast politically with other punk bands.Fact|date=July 2007 Misunderstandings in the music press about The Jam's political or social stance are usually attributed to Weller's lyrical perspective. Even as he pointed out what he saw as wrong and demanded change, Weller's lyrics reflected a deep affection for an idealised vision of England, much in the style of The Kinks' Ray Davies. This contrasted with the Sex Pistols' calls for destruction, or The Clash's calls for revolutionary change.

After the non-LP single "All Around the World" nearly reached the UK Top 10, The Jam, having achieved a notable following in such a short time, was pressed to produce more material quickly. Their second album, "This Is the Modern World", was released later in 1977. Bruce Foxton, generally considered a lesser songwriter than Weller, contributed two songs to the LP, both of which attracted negative criticism. His composing output gradually decreased, leaving Weller firmly established as the band's chief songwriter. Despite displaying more stylistic variety than before, including some ventures into introspective pop, "This Is The Modern World" was not widely praised. However, when John Peel first heard the album, he played it in its entirety on one show, one song after the other.

"All Mod Cons" (1978)

In March 1978, the band released "News of the World", a non-album single that was both written and sung by Foxton. It charted at #27 in the UK, and was the band's second biggest hit to date. This was the only Foxton solo composition to be released as a Jam A-side. As they went back into the studio to record a third album of primarily Foxton contributions, the songs were dismissed by producers as poor and held off recording an album in hopes that Weller would once again find inspiration.

Returning to his hometown of Woking, Weller spent much of his time listening to albums by The Kinks and coming up with new songs. The Jam released their next single, the double A-side "David Watts" b/w "'A' Bomb In Wardour Street". "David Watts" was a cover of the bouncy Kinks classic; Weller and Foxton traded lead vocals throughout the song. "'A' Bomb In Wardour Street" was a Weller original. One of their hardest and most intense songs, Weller cursed the violent thugs that plagued the punk rock scene over a taut two-chord figure. It became their most successful 7" since "All Around the World".

It wasn't until their next single, "Down in the Tube Station at Midnight", that The Jam really regained their former critical acclaim. The song was a dramatic account of being mugged by thugs who "smelled of pubs and Wormwood Scrubs and too many right-wing meetings." Around this time, The Jam slimmed their team of two producers to one, Vic Coppersmith-Heaven, who helped develop the group's sound with harmonised guitars and acoustic textures. The Jam released their third LP, "All Mod Cons" in 1978, including three previously released tracks among the 12 in total: "David Watts", "'A' Bomb In Wardour Street", and "Down in the Tube Station at Midnight". (It also contained two songs Polydor had previously rejected for single release, the manic "Billy Hunt" and the acoustic ballad "English Rose".)

Going Underground (1979-1981)

Following two successful and critically acclaimed non-LP singles, "Strange Town" and "When You're Young", the band released "The Eton Rifles" in advance of their new album. It became their first top 10, rising to #3 on the UK charts. November of 1979 saw the release of the "Setting Sons" album, another massive UK hit, and their first chart entry in the U.S., albeit at 137 on the Billboard 200. The album began life as a concept album about three childhood friends, though in the end many of the songs did not relate to this theme. Many of the songs had political overtones; "The Eton Rifles" was inspired by skirmishes between demonstrators on a "Right To Work March" — a campaign initiated by the left wing Socialist Workers Party — and pupils from Eton College; "Little Boy Soldiers" was an anti-war multi-movement piece in the vein of Ray Davies. Another notable song from the album was Bruce Foxton's "Smithers-Jones," originally a b-side to "When You're Young". The song is almost unanimously considered to be his greatest contribution to The Jam; the song was given a complete makeover, including a strings arrangement, for the album release.

The band's first single of 1980 was intended to be "Dreams of Children," which combined bleak lyrics lamenting the loss of childhood optimism with hard-edged, psychedelic insturmental backing and production. Due to a labelling error, however, the a- and b-sides of the single were reversed, resulting in the more conventional "Going Underground", the single's planned flipside, getting much more airplay and attention than "Dreams of Children". As a result, only "Going Underground" was initially listed on the charts, although the single was eventually officially recognised (and listed) as a double A-side by the time the release reached #1 in the UK. When promoting the album in the United States, the group appeared on American Bandstand, performing (Love Is Like a) Heat Wave, a cover of the hit song by the Motown girl group Martha and the Vandellas.

"Sound Affects" was released in 1980. It was influenced by current post-punk bands such as Joy Division and Wire. Paul Weller said that he was influenced by The Beatles' "Revolver" and Michael Jackson's "Off the Wall" also. Indeed, several of the songs recall "Revolver"-era swirling psychedelia, such as "Monday", "Man In The Corner Shop", and the acoustic "That's Entertainment". Weller allegedly wrote "That's Entertainment", a bitter slice-of-life commentary on the drudgery of modern working-class life, in around 15 minutes upon returning (under the influence) from the pub. Despite being only available as an import single, it peaked at #21 on the UK charts, an unprecedented feat. It is now arguably The Jam's most celebrated song. Despite the group's lack of commercial success in America, it even made American magazine Rolling Stone's list of the 500 greatest songs of all time.

"Start!", released before the album, became another #1 single. It had a very similar bass line, rhythm and guitar solo to The Beatles' "Revolver" cut "Taxman", but arranged as an otherwise completely different song. Some contemporary American R&B influence, including Michael Jackson, show up in Buckler's driving beats that power the album (such as on "But I'm Different Now"), and most obviously in Foxton's funk-influenced bassline in "Pretty Green". The album also reveals influences of post-punk groups such as Wire, XTC, Joy Division, and Gang Of Four. The album was a #2 hit in the UK and peaked at #72 on the US Billboard charts, their most successful American album.

"The Gift" and dissolution (1981-1982)

Two non-LP singles, "Funeral Pyre" and "Absolute Beginners", abandoned the psychedelic pop of "Sound Affects"; "Absolute Beginners" (named after a cult novel of the same title) had a more R&B-flavoured sound, and "Funeral Pyre" was influenced by New Wave music. "Funeral Pyre" is built around Buckler's drumming, and is the only song in the group's catalogue that carries a joint Buckler/Foxton/Weller writing credit, aside from the instrumental "Sound Affects" track "Music For The Last Couple" ("Funeral Pyre" and "Music For The Last Couple" are the only songs for which Buckler receives any writing credit).

The 1982 release "The Gift" — the band's final LP — was a massive commercial success, peaking at #1 on the UK charts. It featured several soul, funk, and R&B-stylized songs; most notably the #1 hit "Town Called Malice," which boasts a Motown-style bassline somewhat reminiscent of The Supremes' "You Can't Hurry Love". The song included organ work by Steve Nichol, who later became well known as a member the R&B group Loose Ends. "Town Called Malice", another reality-based tale of dealing with the hardships of life in a small, downtrodden English town, is one of the few Jam songs Weller still performs at concerts (along with "That's Entertainment", "Man In The Corner Shop", and "In The Crowd"). When "Town Called Malice" reached number one the group had the honour of performing both it and its double A-side, "Precious" on TOTP - the only other band to be accorded this honour being the Beatles. After the string-laden soul ballad "The Bitterest Pill (I Ever Had to Swallow)" peaked at #2, the band followed with their finale and another #1, "Beat Surrender". The "Beat Surrender" EP had success in the British charts, and both its graphic design and music resembles early Style Council releases. After a farewell tour of the UK and appearances on Top of the Pops and The Tube to promote "Beat Surrender", Weller disbanded the group.

After The Jam

Weller, who felt he had done all he could with The Jam, then formed The Style Council with Mick Talbot of The Merton Parkas. After they split up in 1989, Weller went on to pursue a solo career, also playing lead guitar on Oasis's song "Champagne Supernova". In 1983, Bruce Foxton was for a short time involved in a band with Jake Burns and Dolphin Taylor, which released several demos. Arista Records offered Foxton a solo deal and he signed up for a solo album, "Touch Sensitive", which was released in 1984. When Ali McMordie left Stiff Little Fingers shortly before they were due to go on tour, Foxton joined the band until January 2006, when he quit to pursue other projects.

A five-CD box set "Direction Reaction Creation", featuring all of The Jam's studio material (plus a disc of rarities) peaked at #8 on the UK album charts upon its release in 1997; an unprecedented achievement for a box set. In 2002, Virgin Radio counted down the top 100 British music artists of all-time as polled by listeners and The Jam were #5 on the list. Weller made two other appearances in the poll; as part of The Style Council at #93 and as a solo artist at #21. []

In June 2006, it was reported that Weller and Foxton met backstage at The Who's Hyde Park concert, and a ten-minute conversation ended with an embrace. Rick Buckler had not been playing for several years after The Jam quit, and he formed a band playing Jam material, The Gift. In 2006, Foxton performed on stage with Buckler at The Gift concerts in Chichester, Brighton and Birmingham, which rekindled rumours of a full or partial reunion of The Jam in 2007, for the 30th anniversary of the band’s signing.

From The Jam

In an official press release in 2007, Foxton and Buckler announced that they were working on a new album and UK tour under the moniker "From The Jam - Bruce Foxton and Rick Buckler." [ [ Untitled Document ] ] Foxton and Buckler enlisted David Moore and Russell Hastings for the tour, which sold out in ten days. Weller did not take part, and has publicly expressed his lack of interest in any type of reformation. [ BBC NEWS | Entertainment | Weller rules out The Jam reunion ] ] In a 2006 interview with BBC Radio 6 Music, Weller stated that a Jam reunion would "never, ever happen", and that reformations are "sad". He said "Me and my children would have to be destitute and starving in the gutter before I'd even consider that, and I don't think that'll happen anyway ... [the Jam's music] still means something to people and a lot of that's because we stopped at the right time, it didn't go on and become embarrassing."

From The Jam toured the UK in autumn 2007, finishing with a concert at Brighton Centre on 21 December 2007 to mark the 25th anniversary of The Jam's final show. In February 2008, they toured the United States and Canada, selling out in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Vancouver, Toronto, Chicago and New York. In March 2008, they toured Australia [cite web|publisher = ABC "Dig Radio"|title=The Jam To Play Australia - Without Frontman|date=11 December 2007|accessdate=2008-03-12|url=] and New Zealand - a first for Foxton and Buckler. A complete concert (recorded in London, December 2007) is planned for release on DVD in 2008 through London-based indie label Invisible Hands Music. [cite web | url = | title = From The Jam 2007 tour | publisher = Noble PR | date = 2007 | accessdate = 2007-07-30]


tudio albums

*"In the City" (1977) #20 UK
*"This Is the Modern World" (1977) #22 UK
*"All Mod Cons" (1978) #6 UK
*"Setting Sons" (1979) #4 UK, #137 US
*"Sound Affects" (1980) #2 UK, #72 US
*"The Gift" (1982) #1 UK, #82 US

Live albums

*"Dig the New Breed" (1982) #2 UK, #131 US
*"Live Jam" (1993) #25 UK
*"The Jam at the BBC" (2002) #33 UK


*"Snap!" (1983) #2 UK
*"Compact Snap!" (1985)
*"All The Choice Cuts" (1990)
*"Greatest Hits" (1991) #2 UK
*"Extras" (1992) #15 UK
*"Wasteland" (1992)
*"Beat Surrender" (1993)
*"The Jam Collection" (1996)
*"The Master Series" (1997)
*"The Very Best of The Jam" (1997) #9 UK
*"The Sound of the Jam" (2002) #3 UK
*"The Best Of The Jam - The Millennium Collection" (20th Century Masters) (2003)
*"Gold" (2005)
*"The Jam Story" (2006)

Box sets

*"Direction Reaction Creation" (1997) #8 UK
*"" (2001)
*"" (2001)

Tribute albums

*"" (1999)


U.S. EPs

* "The Jam EP" - 1981, #176 US
* "The Bitterest Pill (I Ever Had to Swallow) EP" - 1982, #135 US
* "Beat Surrender EP" - 1983, #171 US

(Note: EPs are ranked on the Billboard album chart, not the singles chart.)


External links

* [ The Jam at the BBC]
* [,,1700386,00.html Guardian article about The Jam]
* [ article about 'From the Jam']
* [,,2126824,00.html Vanessa Thorpe, 25 years on, life in the Jam is revealed, Guardian/Observer, 15 July 2007]
* [ Jam Live on Glasgow Mods]

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