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The Jam were an English punk rock/New Wave/mod revival band active during the late 1970s and early 1980s. They were formed in Woking, Surrey. While they shared the "angry young men" outlook and fast tempos of their punk rock contemporaries, The Jam wore smartly tailored suits rather than ripped clothes, and they incorporated a number of mainstream 1960s rock and R&B influences rather than rejecting them, placing The Jam at the forefront of the mod revival movement.
They had 18 consecutive Top 40 singles in the United Kingdom, from their debut in 1977 to their break-up in December 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, their first 15 singles were re-released and all placed within the top 100.
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 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", "Going Underground" and "Town Called Malice".
1.1 Formation (1972–1976)
1.2 Early recordings (1977)
1.3 All Mod Cons (1978)
1.4 Going Underground (1979–1981)
1.5 The Gift and dissolution (1981–1982)
1.6 After The Jam
1.7 From The Jam
5 External links
The Jam formed in Woking, Surrey, England, in 1972. The line-up was 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 covers of early American rock and roll songs 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 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. Up to this point Weller had been playing bass and Foxton had been the band\'s second guitar player; he persuaded Foxton to take over bass duties and developed 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.
Throughout, the band were managed by Weller’s father, John Weller, who then managed Paul’s career until he died in 2009. 
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 theme song of the 1960s TV series Batman, 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 Prime Minister, James Callaghan) in no uncertain terms ("Whatever happened to the great Empire?" / "I think it\'s time for truth, and the truth is you lost, Uncle Jimmy"). 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. 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, were 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 ("Don\'t Tell Them You\'re Sane" and "London Traffic"), both of which attracted 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 Jam released "News of the World", a non-album single that was both written and sung by Foxton. It charted at No. 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. When the band went back into the studio to record a third album of primarily Foxton contributions, their songs were dismissed by producers as poor, and they held off recording an album in hopes that Weller would once again find inspiration. "News of the World" is now used in the opening theme of the BBC television show "Mock the Week".
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"/"\'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. In 1978, the Jam released their third LP, All Mod Cons, which included 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 No. 3 on the UK charts. November 1979 saw the release of the Setting Sons album, another massive UK hit, and their first chart entry in the US, 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 instrumental 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 No. 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. They also appeared on the short-lived American sketch comedy series Fridays, playing the song "Private Hell".
Sound Affects was released in 1980. 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 No. 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 No. 1 single. It had a very similar bass line, rhythm guitar 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 No. 2 hit in the UK and peaked at No. 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 aside from the Sound Affects track "Music for the Last Couple", is the only song in the group\'s catalog that carries a joint Buckler/Foxton/Weller writing credit. ("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 No. 1 on the UK charts. It featured several soul, funk, and R&B-stylised songs; most notably the No. 1 hit "Town Called Malice", which boasts a Motown-style bassline somewhat reminiscent of The Supremes\' "You Can\'t Hurry Love". The song included work by Keith Thomas and Steve Nichol, who later became well known as members of the R&B groups Legacy and Loose Ends respectively. "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", "Strange Town", "Art School", "Start!" 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 No. 2, the band followed with their finale and another No. 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 in December 1982.
After The Jam
Weller 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.
Following a short stint in a band with Jake Burns and Dolphin Taylor, Bruce Foxton released a solo album, Touch Sensitive, for Arista Records in 1984. Foxton replaced Ali McMordie in Stiff Little Fingers in 1990, remaining with the band until January 2006, when he quit to pursue other projects. At the same year of 2006, Bruce Foxton joinned Simon Townshend (Pete Townshend\'s brother), Mark Brzezicki (Big Country) and Bruce Watson to form a band called Casbah Club. This band released a debut album called Venustraphobia.
After the Jam split, Rick Buckler formed Time UK with Tom Robinson Band guitarist Danny Kustow. They released three singles. In 1986, Buckler and Foxton released a single under the name Sharp.
Six different greatest hits albums by The Jam have also been released.
A five-CD box set Direction Reaction Creation, featuring all of The Jam\'s studio material (plus a disc of rarities) peaked at No. 8 on the UK album charts upon its release in 1997; an unprecedented achievement for a box set. In 2002, Virgin Radio counted d