"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" - Paul Weller
My first memories of The Jam are of buying the singles In The City and All Around The World in the summer of 1977 and then going to see them live on Saturday 26th November 1977 at Friars, Aylesbury. They were fantastic (they had, incidentally, performed a matinee gig earlier that afternoon due to ticket demand). I had not experienced an atmosphere like it, it was electric. They wore those black mod-style suits and Bruce Foxton was doing his "jump" while playing his bass (as featured on the rear cover of This Is The Modern World). The three of them - Foxton, Paul Weller and drummer Rick Buckler played with such an intensity and commitment for ones still relatively young (only just into their twenties). As just a bit younger than Paul Weller, I loved this. They were punk, but not punk as well. They had that mod thing going on, a clear sixties influence and they played some breakneck Motown covers.
That began a love affair with The Jam for me. I was lucky enough to catch them live on ten occasions between the above-mentioned gig and their final tour in December 1982, before Weller, controversially, but possibly wisely, broke up the group. The Jam inspired football-style lads' loyalty from their parka-clad fans (no, I never wore a parka - although I did back in 1972) and the band always reciprocated with energetic, honest, committed live performances. Weller, as he probably still is, was always, shall we say, a "complicated" personality and, while I respect him immensely, I never particularly warmed to him as a person. That is from someone who has bought every recording he has ever released. Obviously, I don't know him, so take my comments with a huge pinch of salt. Incidentally, I was walking along Oxford Street once, around 2006, and looked at a man walking straight towards me on the pavement. Bugger me, it was Weller. I had a few seconds to react, so I just almost imperceptibly nodded, just enough to let him know I knew who he was but without bothering him. A tiny smile and tiny half-nod came back and he went into Selfridges. I quite like the way that all worked out.
Anyway, on stage, The Jam came on and did the business with the minimum of fuss and there was something to be said for that. They were never as ground-breaking, musically, as The Clash were, largely due to their obvious Who, Small Faces, Beatles and overall mod influences, but they definitely created their own style and the sound they produced for a simple three piece of guitar, bass and drums was immense. Weller suffered every now and again from lyrical naivety, not surprising as he started writing stuff in his teens, but he also proved to be an excellent songwriter - observational, cynical, tongue-in-cheek at times and also surprisingly sensitive and tender. He has taken that on into his remarkable, impressive solo career.
For more information about The Jam's appearances at Friars, Aylesbury, check out the excellent https://www.aylesburyfriars.co.uk.