The Jam in concert tonight. One of the bands that epitomized Punk and Mod revival, The Jam were huge throughout the UK and the rest of Europe. Why they didn’t achieve the same level of mania in the States that they did back home is a mystery. But the mid/late 70s in music was a far-flung and often schizo affair that had a seemingly endless barrage of genres all vying for audience attention. And it may have been that the U.S. was finally digesting The Clash, when another band came along with just as strong an appeal and it was just too much. The U.S. took to Punk a lot later than the UK, and even then it was looked at differently. In the UK it was political and social – here it was a style and the political/social implications of The Jam fell on deaf ears for the most part. I remember when Who Is The Five O’Clock Hero? came out, and friends were hard-pressed to get the message contained in the grooves. Much the same way The Specials’ Ghost Town didn’t register the same way here as it did in London.
But even if you paid no attention to the social consciousness of the lyrics, The Jam as a musical entity were a breath of fresh air, and their music was well thought-out and strongly structured enough to stand on its own. And for that reason alone, they deserved better recognition than what they got over here at the time.
All that said, the upside of having things committed to vinyl (or CD), means there is no sell-by date to the music; it’s waiting for discovery by people who never heard it before, or heard about it but missed it the first time around.
The Jam have stayed fresh and vital – the world hasn’t changed, it has in many ways gotten worse – and the message is more imperative than ever.
Crank this one up and enjoy it.