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The Jam

The Jam were the most popular band to emerge from the initial wave of British punk rock in 1977; along with the Sex Pistols, the Clash, and the Buzzcocks, the Jam had the most impact on pop music. While they could barely get noticed in America, the trio became genuine superstars in Britain, with an impressive string of Top Ten singles in the late '70s and early '80s. The Jam could never have a hit in America because they were thoroughly and defiantly British. Under the direction of guitarist/vocalist/songwriter Paul Weller, the trio spearheaded a revival of mid-'60s mod groups, in the style of the Who and the Small Faces. Like the mod bands, the group dressed stylishly, worshipped American R&B, and played it loud and rough. By the time of the group's third album, Weller's songwriting had grown substantially, as he was beginning to write social commentaries and pop songs in the vein of the Kinks. Both his political songs and his romantic songs were steeped in British culture, filled with references and slang in the lyrics, as well as musical allusions. Furthermore, as the Jam grew more popular and musically accessible, Weller became more insistent and stubborn about his beliefs, supporting leftist causes and adhering to the pop aesthetics of '60s British rock without ever succumbing to hippie values. Paradoxically, that meant even when their music became more pop than punk, they never abandoned the punk values -- if anything, Weller stuck to the strident independent ethics of 1977 more than any other punk band just by simply refusing to change.

Weller formed the Jam with drummer Rick Buckler, bassist Bruce Foxton, and guitarist Steve Brookes while they were still in school in 1975; Brookes quickly left the band and they remained a trio for the rest of their career. For the next year, the band played gigs around London, building a local following. In February 1977, the group signed a record contract with Polydor Records; two months later, they released their debut single, "In the City," which reached the U.K. Top 40. The following month, the group released their debut album, also called In the City. Recorded in just 11 days, the album featured a combinations of R&B covers and Weller originals, all of which sounded a bit like faster, more ragged versions of the Who's early records. Their second single, "All Around the World," nearly broke into the British Top Ten and the group embarked on a successful British tour. During the summer of 1977, they recorded their second album, This Is the Modern World, which was released toward the end of the year. "The Modern World" made it into the Top 40 in November, just as the Jam were beginning their first American tour. Although it was brief, the tour was not successful, leaving bitter memories of the U.S. in the minds of the band.

This Is the Modern World peaked in the British charts at number 22, yet it received criticism for repeating the sound of the debut. The band began a headlining tour of the U.K., yet it was derailed shortly after it started when the group got into a nasty fight with a bunch of rugby players in a Leeds hotel. Weller broke several bones and was charged with assault, although the Leeds Crown Court would eventually acquit him. The Jam departed for another American tour in March of 1978 and it was yet another unsuccessful tour, as they opened for Blue Öyster Cult. It did nothing to win new American fans, yet their star continued to rise in Britain. Bands copying the group's mod look and sound popped up across Britain and the Jam itself performed at the Reading Festival in August. All Mod Cons, released late in 1978, marked a turning point in the Jam's career, illustrating that Weller's songwriting was becoming more melodic, complex, and lyrically incisive, resembling Ray Davies more than Pete Townshend. Even as their sound became more pop-oriented, the group lost none of their tightly controlled energy. All Mod Cons was a major success, peaking at number six on the U.K. charts, even if it didn't make a dent in the U.S. Every one of the band's singles were now charting in the Top 20, with the driving "Eton Rifles" becoming their first Top Ten in November 1979, charting at number three.

Setting Sons, released at the end of 1979, climbed to number four in the U.K. and marked their first charting album in the U.S., hitting number 137 in spring of 1980. At that time, the Jam had become full-fledged rock stars in Britain, with their new "Going Underground" single entering the charts at number one. During the summer, the band recorded their fifth album, with the "Taxman"-inspired "Start" released as a teaser single in August; "Start" became their second straight number one. Its accompanying album, the ambitious Sound Affects, hit number two in the U.K. at the end of the year; it was also the band's high-water mark in the U.S., peaking at number 72. "That's Entertainment," one of the standout tracks from Sound Affects, charted at number 21 in the U.K. as an import single, confirming the band's enormous popularity.

"Funeral Pyre," the band's summer 1981 single, showed signs that Weller was becoming fascinated with American soul and R&B, as did the punchy, horn-driven "Absolute Beginners," which hit number four in the fall of the year. As the Jam were recording their sixth album, Weller suffered a nervous breakdown, which prompted him to stop drinking. In February 1982, the first single from the new sessions -- the double A-sided "Town Called Malice"/"Precious" -- became their third number one single and the band became the first group since the Beatles to play two songs on BBC's Top of the Pops. The Gift, released in March of 1982, showcased the band's soul infatuation and became the group's first number one album in the U.K. "Just Who Is the 5 O'Clock Hero" hit number eight in July, becoming the group's second import single to make the U.K. charts.

Although the Jam was at the height of its popularity, Weller was becoming frustrated with the trio's sound and made the decision to disband the group. On the heels of the number two hit "The Bitterest Pill," the Jam announced their breakup in October of 1982. The band played a farewell tour in the fall and their final single, "Beat Surrender," entered the charts at number one. Dig the New Breed, a compilation of live tracks, charted at number two in December of 1982. All 16 of the group's singles were re-released by Polydor in the U.K. at the beginning of 1983; all of them recharted simultaneously. Bruce Foxton released a solo album, Touch Sensitive, and Rick Buckler played with the Time UK; neither of the efforts were as noteworthy as the Jam biography the two wrote in the early '90s, which contained many vicious attacks on Weller.

Immediately after the breakup of the Jam, Weller formed the Style Council with Mick Talbot, a member of the Jam-inspired mod revival band the Merton Parkas. After a handful of initial hits, the Style Council proved to be a disappointment and Weller fell out of favor, both critically and commercially. At the end of the decade he disbanded the group and went solo in the early '90s; his solo albums were both artistic and popular successes, returning him to the spotlight in the U.K. The legacy of the Jam is apparent in nearly every British guitar pop band of the '80s and '90s, from the Smiths to Blur and Oasis. More than any other group, the Jam kept the tradition of three-minute, hook-driven British guitar pop alive through the '70s and '80s, providing a blueprint for generations of bands to come. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography


Track List: Direction Reaction Creation

Disc 1
Disc 2
Disc 3
Disc 4
Disc 5


Real blue collar/lower middle-class kids from the london burbs. Pauls old man was their road manager. Not an art project or a social experiment from a prep school kid slumming . Just great rock and roll
Christina looks fine.
This is the one song I wanted to hear :)
http://ameri c a n r o c k i s m . b l o g s p o t . c o m /
Just stumbled upon this Bio page from another pg- glad I did cause I forgot about The Jam! Used to LOVE their music. Reminds me of like 7th grade, just moved out to San Diego from east coast. 91X radio station introduced me to cool music like this. Need to start listening to this stuff again. Love "A Town Called Malice"....
Madness and The Jam were the best from Britain.
Kiss your hand 5 times post this to 2 other stations then look under your pillow there will be a pink or blue iPhone
Nope. IGGY, BOWIE, RAMONES. Jam was like pre-Clash Strummer MODS, post Who.
The jam started the whole 70s punk era
Let correct myself. Its Pretty Vacant. Even I need to look at my notes
A lot of dumb azzez dissing The Jam. Why don't you go listen to your Gayday( Green day) and Blink 182. And to say that The Sex Pistols are so much better. Really? Don't get me wrong I like the Pistols and all but The wrote very few of there own songs and God save the Queen guitar with was inspired by a AbbA song. Do your homework kids
jeffreymqs64 1
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That's Entertainmen t : One of the greatest songs ever written. Period.
When You're Young is not on my LP of Setting Sons.
dont read this because it actually works. You will get kissed on the nearest possible friday by the love of your life. tommorrow will be the best day of your life. however if you do not post this comment to at least 3 songs you will die in 2 days. now youve started reading this so dont stop. this is so scary put this on at least 5 songs in at least 143 minutes when if done press f6 and your lovers name will appear on the screen in big letters this is scary cuz it actually work
thank god for The Jam - I was and always will be a Mod because of this band
A discovery on Pandora for me. Nice band
The Jam man, best band of late 70's and early 80's, I have every 'single and album' from that era, bought as a kid. Just incredible. If you don't like them you were born after 1975. The Chords, The Jam, SEcret Affair, The Beat, Specials, awe what an era.
Wow deep voiced guy really sounds like a mongoloid. is part of the whole punk movement that you sing like d*ckhead?
notec: You, my good man are (to quote the Ramones) a PINHEAD. Be off.
BRAVO! The Jam were sooo f**king good. Too bad the US never caught on.....
How about some Joe Strummer & the Mescaleros?
notec, you're an imbecile. Why even post here, just to show the world what a moron you are?
Paul Weller is fantastic, and the only thing I have against him is that he disbanded the Jam too early. Got nothing against what he produced after the Jam, but I could've taken another two years or so of Jam. RIP, Jam...
chiefbluecor n
somebody wrote about paul weller coming home pissed from the pub and wrote thats entertainmen t in 10 minutes. Does anyone remember this?THe Jam are the Jam.
They're brits. Therefore they suck.
Awesome tune! The Jam rock...yes, even all these years later.
I wonder what sort of braindead pr zombie wrote this:
if anything, Weller stuck to the strident independent ethics of 1977 more than any other punk band just by simply refusing to change.

Mod is not punk -- they just happened to happen around the same time and place... The Jam were great (I saw them once, in Pasadena CA on what I think was their one and only US tour), but punk they were NOT.

Late 70's and the USA weekend national evening news shows London basements clubs with punks pogoing and gobbing and I really couldn't relate. I hear of The Jam before actually hearing them. One listen to In The City and suddenly punk made sense and I realize I was a mod all along. 34 years later and I still am. PW is a music god..
I wish I could have been 20 in the U.K. in 1978!
How can I be revisionist when I'm only 18...P weller
My favorites!
Another great band to emerge from the UK in the late 70's.
Didn't the Jam have more hit singles in the UK (on the charts) than the Beatles. I heard that once.....
super punks!
ablackwelder 1
One of my all-time favorite late70s/earl y 80s bands!
One of the greatest bands ever!
Sorry James!
They were Punk because it was more attitude than sound.
I suggest you get your prejudices out of your head and open your mind.
Paul Weller isn't called the Modfather for nothin!
If anyone out there remembers the old MTV, that is when music videos were just that, then you may remember a song of The Jam's called "A Town Called Malice" which mirrored the Motown sound of the 1960's. Now that's how you play music!
Really not that great. I mean, they aren't punks at all. They're more of a pub-rock version of the Kinks, and not a very good version at that.
lumping them into the punk category is ridiculous
the surfers were punk-psychad e l i c douche. punk didn't stop being made in '77 either. read the book 'our band could be your life'. they were more punk than you
The Jam showed that punk was many things. It was a pub rock, mod rock, ska revivalists and more. The Jam were awesome once you really listen. They truly took the mod baton from the kinks, even covering David Watts. So many great albums. in the States bands like The Jam and Madness kept a somewhat underground credibility. Both were massive pop acts in Britain, tarnishing the hipness of two great acts.
The Butthole Surfers are not "Punk". One, they aren't even from the same era as the Jam, The Clash, Sex Pistols, etc. Two, they are a psychadelia band from TX. Get your facts straight James.
I can definitely see how punk purists would not like the Jam, in some ways its odd that they are even considered "punk". The Jam steals its lineage directly from the 60's, particularly Townshend, McCartney and Davies. Hence, the pop sensibilites . Yet, no trace of Billie Joel at all. The Jam shared with the punk movement, its sense of urgency and energy, and its reverence for 60's mod rock and aesthetic. (The Sex Pistols loved the Who and hated hippies, as did the Jam). The Jam are a powerf
Ready for this one? The Jam are the fuckin jam
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