TJR presents… Top 10: The Jam

TJR presents… Top 10: The Jam

– The ever-sharp mod revivalists had a thousand things to say to you. Taking hard-hitting social commentary to the pop summit was one of the great triumphs of their generation.
  • Runtime: 31m.
  • Compiled from 245 collection entries @ 04-Dec-2020.
  • Fantasy Album Rating: 9.83 “An elite masterpiece”
  • To access shuffle-play or avoid in-play interruption due to territorially blocked videos, it might be best playing directly via YouTube external-link.png

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Down In The Tube Station At Midnight by The Jam (1978)
(Paul Weller)

10.0 “Utterly perfect” Punk
TJR saysFrom “All Mod Cons” (November, 1978). A 45 edit predated the LP by a month, but the album houses the definitive version. Not simply a song, but a radio play within a song, shining a torch into the ugliest aspects of British life, where a man sometimes can't even return to the warmth of his own home without encountering violent thugs. Brilliantly, sound effects help to set the scene in a late-night London Underground station: “I first felt a fist, and then a kick, I could now smell their breath. They smelt of pubs, and Wormwood scrubs, and too many right wing meetings”. They're most likely racist thugs at that, addressing the victim as “boy”. It's not clear whether our man lives or dies: “The last thing that I saw as I lay there on the floor, Was 'Jesus saves' painted by an atheist nutter”. It comes as no great surprise to learn that this started out as one of Weller's poems, and that he (together with a little help from producer Vic Smith) knocked it into song-size-shape. On the album, the finishing touch of fading back in an instrumenal reprise is truly inspired, leaving us with some time to reflect on the atrocity which has occurred, almost as if we're sat there in the cinema as the end credits roll. It's genuinely a masterpiece of the era, and the greatest single piece from a group with a treasure chest full of them.

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In The City [peel session] by The Jam (1977)
(Paul Weller)

10.0 “Utterly perfect” Punk
TJR saysRecorded 26th April, 1977 and first broadcast 2nd May, 1977. The single version (virtually identical) was out just 3 days before the broadcast. When the hottest group of the day (The Pistols) nick the riffs from your debut (for 'Holidays In The Sun'), you know you've arrived. “In the city there's a thousand men in uniforms, And I've heard they now have the right to kill a man, We wanna say, we gonna tell ya, About the young idea, And if it don't work, at least we said we've tried.” They set their stall out from the off; this was as vital as any youth rebellion song from any band, any era.

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That’s Entertainment by The Jam (1980)
(Paul Weller)

10.0 “Utterly perfect” New Wave
TJR saysFrom their album “Sound Effects” (November, 1980). Ah, the "joys" of council estate life. Paul Weller: “It's one of those list songs really. It was so easy to write. I came back from the pub, drunk, and just wrote it quick. I probably had more verses, which I cut. It was just everything that was around me y'know. My little flat in Pimlico did have damp on the walls and it was f—king freezing.”.

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Absolute Beginners by The Jam (1981)
(Paul Weller)

9.9 “All-time classic” New Wave
TJR saysSingle release (October, 1981). Weller's tribute to Colin MacInnes's 1958 novel was smart, sharp & chock-full of energy. On his Desert Island Discs appearance, he classed the book as “the mod bible”, connecting as it did with the first modern wave of youth culture and its appetite for hip music and fashion. This top-value 45 came with an ace b-side too (“Tales From The Riverbank”).

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’A’ Bomb In Wardour Street by The Jam (1978)
(Paul Weller)

9.8 “All-time classic” Punk
TJR saysAA side to “David Watts” (August, 1978). There was an intense excitement to the single sides at this time and you could take your pick from hit after hit. This was a scathing attack on the hatred plaguing the country: “A Philistine nation, of degradation, and hate and war there must be more, it's Doctor Marten's A-P-O-C-A-L-Y-P-S-E”. Took pride of place on “All Mod Cons” a few months later.

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Going Underground by The Jam (1980)
(Paul Weller)

9.8 “All-time classic” Punk
TJR saysReleased in March, 1980, this stand alone 7" exclusively housed two prime cuts, “Going Underground” & “Dreams Of Children”, and was pitched as a double A side. This, coupled with the underestimated strength of their followship propelled the song straight to the top of the charts in a matter of days, shocking even the group themselves, who flew back home from a tour of the States! The baby boomers had plenty to say for themselves: “You choose your leaders and place your trust, As their lies wash on down and their promises rust, You'll see kidney machines replaced by rockets and guns, And the public wants what the public gets, But I don't get what this society wants, I'm Going Underground”. Taking hard-hitting political critique to the pop summit was one of the great triumphs of their generation.

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English Rose by The Jam (1978)
(Paul Weller)

9.7 “All-time classic” Songwriter
TJR saysFrom “All Mod Cons” (November, 1978). Thoughtful is the byword which connects the whole on this album, for me, the group's greatest work. This positively anthemic punk-tamer was outstanding. The best use of foghorn since Van Morrison's “Into The Mystic”!

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Smithers-Jones by The Jam (1979)
(Bruce Foxton)

9.7 “All-time classic” Songwriter
TJR saysFrom “All Mod Cons” (November, 1978). It was a splendid in it's first incarnation as the b-side to 'When You're Young', but when echoing the musical motifs of 'Eleanor Rigby', the all-strings LP re-arrangement of Foxton's song was revelatory – kudos to Rick Buckler for the idea. Watch out middle-class Michael, they'll shaft you too.

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Funeral Pyre by The Jam (1981)
(Paul Weller, Rick Buckler, Bruce Foxton)

9.7 “All-time classic” New Wave
TJR saysSingle (May, 1981). A stupendous group effort, the muscle of Buckler n Foxton organically inventing drum n bass way before the synthesized genre existed. Sadly, “The weak get crushed as the strong grow stronger” resonates as powerfully today as it did back then.

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Liza Radley by The Jam (1980)
(Paul Weller)

9.7 “All-time classic” Songwriter
TJR saysB-side to “Start” (August, 1980). The dark and mysterious Liza is almost as legendary as Sally Cinnamon, and would probably be her equal were she not hidden away on a b-side, albeit on a chart-topper. Such poignancy for one so young. Not content with their bold raid on Taxman's bassline on side A, the cheeky blighters re-introduced it on this flipside too.




TJR presents… Top 10: The Jam (via Spotify)

  • Runtime: 31m.
  • To access shuffle-play or overcome other issues with the embed application, it might be best playing directly via Spotify external-link.png

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