The Jam, heading in to New Years Weekend. One of the cornerstone bands of the late 70s post-punk/Mod-revival movement which swept the UK during this time. They were a huge success in England as well as throughout Europe. But their somewhat tepid response here in the U.S. is still a source of bafflement – and it wasn’t for trying.
From 1977 until the dissolving in 1982, The Jam got a lot of airplay on the FM underground stations here in the U.S., and they did have an underground following. But as far as breaking into the mainstream was concerned, it just didn’t happen.
I suspect some of it had to do with the political climate in the UK at the time and how little it was understood over here. Our social/economic problems didn’t hold a candle to what was going on in England at the time – and so songs The Jam put forth, about working people, broken and disillusioned lives, had more impact overseas – the UK was going through the Thatcher period, which was, from what I’m able to gather, a time of serious distress among the mass public; where the jobless rate was astronomical and the discontent was palpable in the streets.
So The Jam became something of a bellwether for the social ills at the time, and continued that way until the end.
This set, from the 1980 Pinkpop Festival in The Netherlands is from May 26, 1980 and it finds The Jam in between memorabe albums; Setting Sons and Sound Affects and between the singles “Going Underground” and “Start”. This was a very productive and probably their most successful period, with both of the above singles hitting Number one.
The Jam are far from forgotten, and the successful career of former Jam founder Paul Weller continues to this day. But if you have a hard time remembering the band before Paul Weller went solo, here is sample of The Jam as they sounded on May 26, 1980 as recorded by VPRO in The Netherlands.