That’s Entertainment – A UK Punk Mod Revival – The Ups and Downs of The Jam


Formed in Woking, Surrey, in 1972, The Jam, just school kids at the time, went on to become the reinvention of the mod with enough of a punk sound to make an impact in the tumultuous seventies of the UK. By the time they surrendered in 1982 they had eighteen back-to-back top forty singles, four number ones and a massive collection of classic songs ranging from Eton Rifles (1979) & That’s  Entertainment  (1980) to Beat Surrender (1982).

After a revolving door, friends based line-up during the first few years of the bands formation, which saw them mostly covering US rock and roll music, the band took shape half way through the seventies with Paul Weller on lead vocals & guitar, Bruce Foxton on Bass and Rick Buckler on drums. After building up a strong fan base in the city, they were signed by Polydor in 1977.

In April 1977 they releases their first single, In the City, which hit the charts at #40 and by May their debut album of the same name introduced the band to the rest of the UK. With politicised lyrics about police brutality, they appeared to have labour leanings, but their lyrics criticising the decline of the British empire seemed to imply otherwise. Weller openly voting conservative in the 1979 election confirmed them as a right wing band, a stigma that still haunts their legacy to this day.

The non-album single, All Around the World (1977) charted at #13 and amongst the excitement the band quickly put together their second album, This is the Modern World, and released it later that year. However, it didn’t live up to the expectations of their debut album in terms of both sales and critical acclaim.

Another stand-alone single, News of the World (written & sung by Foxton), fired The Jam back into the charts again at #27. This was followed by a #25 for David Watts and #15 for Down in the Tube Station at Midnight, both of which would eventually be included on their third album, All Mod Cons (1978), by which time they had regained critical acclaim for their music.

Two more stand-alone singles, Strange Town #15 & When You’re Young #17 (both in 1979), were released before their fourth album hit the shelves. Setting Sons (1979) featured classics Smithers-Jones, written by Foxton, and Eton Rifles, which became their most successful single to date, charting in at #3 in the UK charts before the release of the album.

A mix up with the labeling of their 1980 double A side Dreams of Children / Going Underground, meant that the latter took prominence and got the majority of radio airtime. It became their first #1 single.

Perhaps the band’s most appreciated song, That’s  Entertainment , was a part of their fifth album, Sound Affects (1980). Despite the fact that it was never released as a single in the UK, it managed to chart at #21 based on import sales alone. The album also contained their second #1 single Start!, and it went in at #2 in the album charts.

Their final studio album, The Gift, was released on March 12th 1982 and hit #1 in the UK album charts. The huge success of the album was driven by the singles: Town Called Malice, which charted as a #1 single, The Bitterest Pill (I Ever had to Swallow), #2 in the UK singles charts, and Beat Surrender, their final #1 single.

After a goodbye tour of the UK, and aged just 24, Paul Weller disbanded The Jam and went on to form the Style Council. The Wembley Arena gigs of the farewell tour were repeat sell-outs, but it was in the Brighton Centre where they ended their live performance on 11th December 1982.

Over the course of five years, from their initial studio album recording to The Gift in 1982, The Jam released six albums and maintained a reputation for fast paced, driven live performances. They left a music legacy that will never grow old and produced some of the greatest singles of the twentieth century. The Jam were  entertainment  personified.

Source by Gerard Harris

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