The Jam

Essential Albums

Artist Playlists

About The Jam

The Jam burst from the crucible of British punk with a style that simultaneously defied the movement’s scorched-earth attitude toward the past and pointed a way beyond the genre’s borders. The Woking-based trio of singer/guitarist Paul Weller, bassist Bruce Foxton, and drummer Rick Buckler were schoolmates who’d already been together for years when they released their 1977 debut LP. In the City bore a speedy, sharp-edged sound bringing punk’s anger and energy to the influences of ’60s mod (The Who, Small Faces) and soul, with a natty visual style to match. Weller was still a teen, but his songs were already fusing passion, poetry, and politics in a manner beyond his years. Over their next couple of albums, their sound became more nuanced without losing its power-trio immediacy. By decade’s end, The Jam were standard-bearers for a full-fledged mod-revival movement (The Chords, Secret Affair, et al). In the early ’80s they reached a musical and commercial peak in the UK—they never troubled the top of the charts elsewhere—with the masterfully eclectic Sound Affects (sporting singles like the Beatles-esque “Start!” and the acoustic-guitar-driven social plaint “That’s Entertainment”) and the No. 1 album The Gift, which expanded their sound further to include funk grooves and brass arrangements. In 1982, a restless Weller broke the band up, quickly starting the successful soul-pop group The Style Council and later becoming a respected solo artist. Just after the breakup, The Jam ensured they’d be missed all the more by releasing the non-LP single “The Bitterest Pill (I Ever Had to Swallow),” a string-laden, soul-inflected ballad that proved a perfect elegy for them.

Woking, Surrey, England
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