Today's artists were an English punk rock/mod revival band active during the late 1970s and early 1980s. They 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 them 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. .....N'Joy
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The Jam formed in Woking, Surrey, England, in 1972. The line-up was fluid at this stage, consisting of Paul 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, 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 debut album 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 John 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.
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". 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 and loyal 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.
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 was not 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 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. Recorded with electric rock instrumentation for the single release, "Smithers-Jones" was given a complete makeover for the Setting Sons album, including a strings arrangement.
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 November 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". According to Weller he wrote "That's Entertainment", a bitter slice-of-life commentary on the drudgery of modern working-class life, in around 15 minutes upon returning inebriated 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.
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 catalogue 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 Top of the Pops – 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", both of these singles featuring Tracie Young who also featured on vocals on The Style Council's (Weller's band after The Jam) debut single "Speak Like a Child". The Beat Surrender EP had success in the British charts, and both its graphic design and music resembles early Style Council releases.
Weller disbanded the group in December 1982, after a farewell tour of the UK and appearances on Top of the Pops and The Tube to promote Beat Surrender. Their final concert was at the Brighton Conference Centre on 11 December 1982. The decision to split was Weller's; he told the Mirror in advance of a 2015 Sky documentary on the band, "“I wanted to end it to see what I was capable of. We stopped at the right time." Weller's decision to move on, announced by his father at an extraordinary band meeting in the summer of 1982, "came as a shock" to Buckler and Foxton, who hoped to keep the band together; Buckler told the Woking News and Mail in 2012: “It was like we were going to be driving over a cliff at the end of the year, and you keep thinking ‘Maybe he’ll change his mind’.” Both Buckler and Foxton described the experience as bitter, but in later years both expressed understanding, if not complete acceptance. Following the break-up, Foxton did not speak to Weller for over 20 years, and Buckler said in 2015 that he still hadn't spoken to Weller since, despite repeated attempts by Buckler and Foxton in 1983 and 1984 to meet and talk. The month after the breakup, Polydor re-released all sixteen of the band's singles, and nine of them entered the charts on 22 January 1983. A policy of greed Polydor continued upon today releasing no less then 36 compilations sourced from 7 albums, ah yes the music industry....
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Unhappy with the slicker approach of Setting Sons, the Jam got back to basics, using the direct, economic playing of All Mod Cons and "Going Underground," the simply brilliant single which preceded Sound Affects by a few months. Thematically, though, Paul Weller explored a more indirect path, leaving behind (for the most part) the story-song narratives in favor of more abstract dealings in spirituality and perception -- the approach stemming from his recent readings of Blake and Shelley (who was quoted on the sleeve), but more specifically Geoffrey Ash, whose Camelot and the Vision of Albion made a strong impression. Musically, Weller drew upon Revolver-era Beatles as a primary source (the bassline on "Start," which comes directly from "Taxman," being the most obvious occurrence), incorporating the occasional odd sound and echoed vocal, which implied psychedelia without succumbing to its excesses. From beginning to end, the songs are pure, clever, infectious pop -- probably their catchiest -- with "That's Entertainment" and the should-have-been-a-single "Man in the Corner Shop" standing out.
The Jam - Sound Affects (flac 234mb)
01 Pretty Green 2:36
02 Monday 3:00
03 But I'm Different Now 1:50
04 Set The House Ablaze 5:03
05 Start! 2:31
06 That's Entertainment 3:38
07 Dream Time 3:53
08 Man In The Corner Shop 3:13
09 Music For The Last Couple 3:43
10 Boy About Town 1:56
11 Scrape Away 4:01
The Jam - Sound Affects (ogg 82mb)
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As good mods, the Jam always had a healthy respect for R&B and soul -- even the first album featured the revved-up Northern soul of "Non-Stop Dancing." With The Gift, however, Paul Weller seems to have become completely absorbed in it, and more specifically, in Stax-style soul with more than a hint of psychedelia à la "Psychedelic Shack." An uneven album marked by overindulgences like the instrumental "Circus" and unnecessarily long songs, The Gift still has no shortage of terrific songs, like the simply sublime "Ghost," "Town Called Malice" (the hit), and the funk workout of "Precious." Weller can obviously do "soulful" -- his voice has never sounded better -- but unfortunately, The Gift, with its excesses and marginal tracks, doesn't show his talents in the proper light. Points for ambition, but ultimately, this is their least consistent effort since This Is the Modern World.
The Jam - The Gift (flac 222mb)
01 Happy Together 2:51
02 Ghosts 2:12
03 Precious 4:14
04 Just Who Is The 5 O'Clock Hero? 2:15
05 Trans-Global Express 4:00
06 Running On The Spot 3:06
07 Circus 2:12
08 The Planner's Dream Goes Wrong 2:19
09 Carnation 3:29
10 Town Called Malice 2:55
11 The Gift 3:08
The Jam - The Gift (ogg 78mb)
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A last farewell gift from the band in the year Weller spectacularly announced his departure from it, Dig the New Breed is a sometimes rough around the edges live overview of the band's work, from small club dates in 1979 to much larger venues in 1982. Recording quality throughout is quite excellent -- it's not specified whether the band always recorded its shows with such care and just had a mountain of tapes to work through, but the end results are quite enjoyable. It's not a perfect album, admittedly, though that's due in large part to the sheer number of memorable songs that don't show up (something that Live Jam rectified 11 years later). That said, plenty of hands-down winners take a bow. Besides obvious highlights like "Start," "Going Underground," and a superb "That's Entertainment," noteworthy album cuts get well-deserved showcases. "To Be Someone" and its barbed portrait of fame and its pitfalls, the appropriately fiery "Set the House Ablaze," and the tender yet tense "Ghosts," in particular, sparkle. If there's one thing clear about Dig the New Breed, though, it's that the worshipful reputation the group still has as a live act almost without parallel was well founded. Weller's sharp, barked passion shot through with yearning emotion is as strong here as on the Jam's best studio work, and as a unit the three players just shone, tightly wound, explosive, giving the melodies the full-bodied roar they deserved. The inclusion of horn sections and other musicians later sometimes cause the core band to get a bit lost -- when it's just the three, they're at their clear best. Weller's liner notes are amusing enough as well (and certainly read a heck of a lot better than the Cappucino Kid nonsense that plagued the Style Council's efforts).
The Jam - Dig the New Breed (flac 297mb)
01 In The City 2:15
02 All Mod Cons 1:15
03 To Be Someone 2:14
04 It's Too Bad 3:12
05 Start! 2:28
06 Big Bird 2:51
07 Set The House Ablaze 4:43
08 Ghosts 2:19
09 Standards 2:30
10 In The Crowd 3:06
11 Going Underground 3:11
12 Dreams Of Children 3:28
13 That's Entertainment 3:27
14 Private Hell 4:23
The Jam - Dig the New Breed (ogg 93mb)
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Released in 1983, just after Paul Weller disbanded the band at the peak of their popularity, Snap! was the first greatest-hits album from the Jam. At the original 29-track length and sequencing, Snap! is nothing short of a masterpiece, a record that briskly and bracingly tells the story of one of the great rock bands. This isn't just an introduction, it's a narrative, tracing the rapid rise of the Jam from nervy, confrontational teenage punks to sharp modern pop purveyors to stylish soul-inflected rockers. Since this is a compilation, their growth is more dramatic and evident than on their individual albums, and since a lot of this growth happened on singles that didn't reach the LPs -- particularly the brilliant middle years, when Weller was spitting out classic singles like "Strange Town," "When You're Young," "Going Underground" and "Dreams of Children," while leaving such remarkable numbers as "The Butterfly Collector" and "Tales from the Riverbank" as B-sides -- this is necessary to get a complete picture of the band; after all, even the farewell singles "The Bitterest Pill (I Ever Had to Swallow)" and "Beat Surrender" were not on the swan song The Gift, although their presence would have improved it considerably. So, as a way to get these, some of the band's very best songs, Snap! is essential. Arguably, it's even more essential for how it captures the essence of the Jam so completely. There are major songs missing -- "To Be Someone," "All Mod Cons," "In the Crowd," "English Rose," "Girl on a Phone," "But I'm Different Now" -- but they're present on already-essential albums like All Mod Cons and Setting Sons, and what is here tells the full story of the band at a breathless pace. For neophytes, it's a flawless introduction, but it's something more than a mere primer: it is a thrilling, addictive listen, so good that it stands as the definitive Jam album and one of the greatest greatest-hits albums of all time. [Many other comps would follow over the years but none would better this, especially in its original incarnation as a 29-track double-LP, and it was the only way it was available digitally until 2006, when it was released intact in a 29-track, remastered double-CD set.
The Jam - Snap ! (flac 620mb)
01 In The City 2:18
02 Away From The Numbers 4:04
03 All Around The World 2:26
04 The Modern World 2:32
05 News Of The World 3:28
06 Billy Hunt 3:03
07 English Rose 2:50
08 Mr. Clean 3:31
09 David Watts 2:55
10 'A' Bomb In Wardour Street 2:35
11 Down In The Tube Station At Midnight 4:03
12 Strange Town 3:50
13 The Butterfly Collector 3:11
14 When You're Young 3:13
15 Smithers-Jones 3:00
16 Thick As Thieves 3:40
17 The Eton Rifles 3:29
18 Going Underground 2:56
19 Dreams Of Children 3:00
20 That's Entertainment (demo) 3:16
21 Start! 2:17
22 Man In The Corner Shop 3:16
23 Funeral Pyre 3:31
24 Absolute Beginners 2:51
25 Tales From The Riverbank 3:36
26 Town Called Malice 2:54
27 Precious 3:34
28 The Bitterest Pill (I Ever Had To Swallow) 3:36
29 Beat Surrender 3:30
The Jam - Snap ! (ogg 218mb)
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