The Jam Were True Mod Leaders

The Jam Were True Mod Leaders

the jam

Although their recorded career only lasted from April 1977 to the tail end of 1982, The Jam have left a legacy that bands with much lengthier careers would be jealous of. The genesis of the group can be traced back to 1972 and of course, Paul Weller is still one of the biggest touring acts in the United Kingdom, but for many people, it was this brief spell that meant the most. It would be fair to say that the group were not always a mod act; in fact, you could say that like all good mods, they encapsulated a lot of different sounds and styles.

Much in the way that The Who can be classified as many different styles; there is something about The Jam that makes them the quintessential mod band. In its truest sense, being a mod was not about a hairstyle or the right clothes, it was about being modern, fresh and of the moment. There is no denying that at every point of The Jam’s career, the band were at the forefront of what was happening in the UK popular music scene.

Crashing into prominence as punk culture was starting to come to the fore, The Jam were the right band at the right time. They were boys playing loud and angry music who had something to say. This was a perfect embodiment of the punk movement even if the Conservative views held by Weller at the time would have been in opposition to the anti-establishment stance held by many of the punk bands.

The music and look spurred the mod revival

The debut album from the group ‘In The City’ sat perfectly beside the breaking punk bands, but it also tipped a nod to The Who’s early singles and the ferocious live shows of many of the original mod acts. With the release of the Quadrophenia movie, there was a powerful mod revival in the late 1970s with many people citing the success of The Jam as a major point of this. The band had the sound, but they also had the look that would influence youngsters around the country to bring the mod look back to the fore. While punk was popular, it was a step too far for many people. Whether people didn’t have the courage to go full on with their outfits or they decided that it never spoke to them properly, the return of the mod style presented a much more palatable fashion and music experience for many youngsters.

When evaluating The Jam and their development, it would be wrong to place all of the focus on Weller. As the principal songwriter, singer and public face of the group, it is inevitable that most people would view him as the focal point of the group. However, the development of skill and style of Rick Buckler on drums and Bruce Foxton on bass underpinned much of the band’s progress. If only the song writing skills of Weller improved while the playing style of the band didn’t move forward, the band would have run the risk of being cast aside like so many also ran’s of the punk era. The fact that The Jam, similar to The Clash, were able to evolve and move away from the genre that collapsed in on itself indicated the talent and vision of the group. The Clash maintained their anti-establishment theme but brought in dub and reggae elements while also becoming “stadium rock” huge in America thanks to their catchy rock tunes that dominated the airwaves.

The Jam went off in a slightly different direction. Weller still had plenty to say about the state of modern Britain, but he did it in a softer and more subtle way. Like so many of the mod genres and movements before him, he looked to America and the soul influence would be a significant factor in the latter years of the band.

No matter when you look at The Jam, there is a strong mod influence at every point. The sound of the group may have changed considerably between 1977 and 1982, but the country around them had changed significantly too. There may have been some fans who wavered along the way but looking at the full catalogue with the benefit of hindsight, the development and progression of The Jam remains one of the most exciting stories in mod culture.

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