Thursday, 31 May 2018

The Jam - In The City (1977)


Released May 1977

Recorded at Stratford Place Studio, London

Formed in Woking in 1975-76. The Jam were Paul Weller, with his harsh British working class vocals, and Who-like guitar, underpinned by Bruce Foxton’s rumbling bass and Rick Buckler’s metronomic drumming.

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, rather than rejecting the influences of recent rock history in common with other punk bands, they incorporated a number of mainstream 1960s rock and R&B influences, particularly from The Who, The Kinks and from Motown music. This set the Jam apart from most of their contemporaries, and placed them at the forefront of a nascent mod revival movement.


1. Art School
2. I've Changed My Address
3. Slow Down
4. I Got By In Time
5. Away From The Numbers
6. Batman Theme
7. In The City
8. Sounds From The Street
9. Non-Stop Dancing
10. Time For Truth
11. Takin' My Love
12. Bricks And Mortar

So, on to The Jam’s breakneck debut album. Was it punk or simply a throwback to thirteen years earlier and The Who? Probably a bit of both if we are brutally honest. 1-2-3-4 and we are straight into “Art School” (exactly what were art schools?, even in the 70s I had no idea!). We had heard nothing like this. To me, it felt somehow more genuine than The Sex Pistols somewhat contrived posturings. The Jam really were just three lads from Woking who wanted to form a band.

Three more high speed thrashes in "I've Changed My Address", "Slow Down" and "I Got By In Time" and we are into the mini-epic “Away From The Numbers”, which is very Who-ish as, of course, is “The Batman Theme”. Up next is the towering “In The City”, a candidate for the best punk single, ever. Guitar, then bass, then drums then Paul Weller spits out his hymn to youth. Jam Heaven. 

“Sounds From The Street” sees Weller bemoaning coming from Woking because “his heart is in the city, where it belongs..” then some more amphetamine-driven three minute rides in "Non-Stop Dancing", "Takin' My Love", the cod-politics of "Time For Truth", and finally the bitter, cynicism of "Bricks And Mortar" (which contains the line - "a man whose house has cost forty grand..") and its all over.


What next?


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