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Pop - Released May 20, 1977 | Polydor Records

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
When Paul Weller enters the studio in March 1977 with Bruce Foxton and Rick Buckler, he is only 17! A few months later, the result of these sessions explodes in England’s mouth. In The City, the Jam’s first album, is then a true hit to the face. With this first brutal, short, urgent and uncompromising first attempt, Weller puts though a punk rock mill his veneration for the Who, the Small Faces, Motown, the 60s soul (the Jam covers Larry Williams’ Slow Down) and everything that constituted the soundtrack of the Mod movement from the 60s and the 70s. The young badass is above all a gifted portraitist of his native England, of his more than disillusioned youth and of the daily gloominess. He’s an heir of Ray Davies in the making! But also the voice of his generation. Through riffs by Rickenbacker (the shadow of the idol Pete Townshend from the Who is watching), the revolt In The City is an impressive introduction, rough around the edges and masterfully efficient. As soon as this first disc, the Jam completes the Holy Trinity of punk revolt alongside the Sex Pistols and the Clash. © Marc Zisman/Qobuz
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Rock - Released January 1, 1997 | Polydor Records

The Very Best of the Jam is the third, and complete, collection of the Jam's 21 hit singles. Containing an almost identical track list as Greatest Hits and Snap!, this 1997 release chronologically charts Paul Weller, Rick Buckler, and Bruce Foxton's development from mod revivalists, to leftist new romantics, to '60s R&B fanatics, to Brit-pop pioneers. Finishing this anthology of the Jam's brief -- when compared to similarly influential British predecessors like the Rolling Stones and the Who -- British chart domination, the trio's fourth and most incendiary number one hit "Beat Surrender," punctuates their brilliant singles career with a post-punk flash -- minimizing the stylistic juxtapositions and political commentary that while important, are only secondary components of what has become a monumental legacy. Listeners not yet familiar with the Jam might prefer this singles compilation to its above-mentioned predecessors or to the many B-side and rarity offerings released after the group's breakup in 1982. The remastered tracks sound a little tighter and more even than the original masters, and the liner notes contain thorough descriptions with plenty of information to help put the songs in commercial and historical context. Hardly a necessity for collectors or passionate followers of the group's career, The Very Best of the Jam does serve its purpose as a nicely packaged, full-sounding quick study. © Vincent Jeffries /TiVo
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Pop - Released November 28, 1980 | Polydor Records

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. © Chris Woodstra /TiVo
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Pop - Released November 3, 1978 | Polydor Records

The Jam regrouped and refocused for All Mod Cons, an album that marked a great leap in songwriting maturity and sense of purpose. For the first time, Paul Weller built, rather than fell back, upon his influences, carving a distinct voice all his own; he employed a story-style narrative with invented characters and vivid British imagery à la Ray Davies to make incisive social commentary -- all in a musically irresistible package. The youthful perspective and impassioned delivery on All Mod Cons first earned Weller the "voice of a generation" tag, and it certainly captures a moment in time, but really, the feelings and sentiments expressed on the album just as easily speak to any future generation of young people. Terms like "classic" are often bandied about, but in the case of All Mod Cons, it is certainly deserved. © Chris Woodstra /TiVo
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Rock - Released January 1, 2014 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

The Jam's Setting Sons was originally planned as a concept album about three childhood friends who, upon meeting after some time apart, discover the different directions in which they've grown apart. Only about half of the songs ended up following the concept due to a rushed recording schedule, but where they do, Paul Weller vividly depicts British life, male relationships, and coming to terms with entry into adulthood. Weller's observations of society are more pointed and pessimistic than ever, but at the same time, he's employed stronger melodies with a slicker production and comparatively fuller arrangements, even using heavy orchestration for a reworked version of Bruce Foxton's "Smithers-Jones." Setting Sons often reaches brilliance and stands among the Jam's best albums, but the inclusion of a number of throwaways and knockoffs (especially the out-of-place cover of "Heat Wave" which closes the album) mars an otherwise perfect album. © Chris Woodstra /TiVo
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Rock - Released January 1, 2012 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

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. © Chris Woodstra /TiVo
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Rock - Released January 1, 2010 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

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. © Chris Woodstra /TiVo
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Rock - Released January 1, 2012 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

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. © Chris Woodstra /TiVo
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Rock - Released January 1, 1997 | Polydor Records

Direction Reaction Creation is the ultimate Jam package, offering 117 tracks over five discs -- essentially the band's complete studio recordings. With a strict adherence to chronological order, the box presents each single followed by its B-side(s) (six of which appear on CD for the first time, including the brilliant "See Saw"), followed by the proper album tracks -- oddly, though, the album versions of the singles are chosen in most places. Unfortunately, this approach sometimes disrupts the flow of the albums, especially in the case of All Mod Cons, which loses three tracks to the treatment, and Setting Sons, which loses "Eton Rifles" to a separate disc. This is a small point for purists to debate -- the difference is really unnoticeable in light of the truly great music found on the discs. In addition to the regular studio tracks, disc five offers over an hour of studio demos -- 22 previously unreleased tracks of considerably different takes of better-known material, a few never-before-heard Weller and Foxton originals, and some interesting covers like "Rain," "Dead End Street," and "Every Little Bit Hurts." A lavish 88-page booklet accompanies the set with great liner notes, an extensive band chronology and discography, and the band's complete gig list, along with plenty of rare photos and memorabilia. The Jam, simply put, were one the finest bands in rock & roll history, and Direction Reaction Creation offers the proof, showing both their remarkably rapid growth and their incredible consistency. © Chris Woodstra /TiVo
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Rock - Released June 22, 2015 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

A companion compilation to the museum exhibit About the Young Idea that ran at the Somerset House in the summer of 2015, this double-disc set covers familiar territory: all the hits and all the album tracks that regularly show up on Jam collections through the years. This has a couple of rarities –- a radio ad for "In the City," the flexi-disc release "Pop Art Poem," demos of "The Burning Sky" and "Takin' My Love" (the latter previously unreleased) -- but they're buried underneath the march from "In the City" to "Beat Surrender," a journey that's enjoyable whenever it's taken, but most Jam fans will have a similar voyage somewhere in their collection. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Rock - Released January 1, 2014 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

The Jam's Setting Sons was originally planned as a concept album about three childhood friends who, upon meeting after some time apart, discover the different directions in which they've grown apart. Only about half of the songs ended up following the concept due to a rushed recording schedule, but where they do, Paul Weller vividly depicts British life, male relationships, and coming to terms with entry into adulthood. Weller's observations of society are more pointed and pessimistic than ever, but at the same time, he's employed stronger melodies with a slicker production and comparatively fuller arrangements, even using heavy orchestration for a reworked version of Bruce Foxton's "Smithers-Jones." Setting Sons often reaches brilliance and stands among the Jam's best albums, but the inclusion of a number of throwaways and knockoffs (especially the out-of-place cover of "Heat Wave" which closes the album) mars an otherwise perfect album. © Chris Woodstra /TiVo
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Pop - Released November 18, 1977 | Polydor Records

As is so often the case for overnight successes, the Jam rush-recorded their sophomore effort during a hurried schedule to capitalize on the debut. This, combined with Paul Weller's various personal distractions and temporary lack of interest, led to less than satisfying results, especially in comparison to In the City. This Is the Modern World can be faulted for borrowed Who licks, pale rewrites of the debut, somewhat clichéd sloganeering, and unfinished ideas, but there were still some moments of inspiration, especially in more introspective Weller songs like "Life From a Window" and "I Need You (For Someone)" -- both songs feature personal sentiments that the debut was clearly missing. This Is the Modern World is a flawed album by Jam standards, but it would certainly have received praise had it been released by another band. [The U.S. edition added the single "All Around the World" and features a different track order.] © Chris Woodstra /TiVo
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Rock - Released January 1, 2012 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

Spectrum's 2012 budget-line collection That's Entertainment offers 20 tracks from the Jam, including some of their biggest hits --"Going Underground," "Eton Rifles," "Town Called Malice," "Strange Town," "Down in the Tube Station at Midnight," "The Modern World" -- several of its celebrated B-sides ("The Butterfly Collector"), and a bunch of album tracks, many of which are good, a few of which are mildly puzzling. Taken as a whole, this is hardly a representative overview of the Jam's prime, but as an affordable sampler that whets the appetite for bigger, better collections, it's not bad. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Pop - Released November 16, 1979 | Polydor Records

The Jam's Setting Sons was originally planned as a concept album about three childhood friends who, upon meeting after some time apart, discover the different directions in which they've grown apart. Only about half of the songs ended up following the concept due to a rushed recording schedule, but where they do, Paul Weller vividly depicts British life, male relationships, and coming to terms with entry into adulthood. Weller's observations of society are more pointed and pessimistic than ever, but at the same time, he's employed stronger melodies with a slicker production and comparatively fuller arrangements, even using heavy orchestration for a reworked version of Bruce Foxton's "Smithers-Jones." Setting Sons often reaches brilliance and stands among the Jam's best albums, but the inclusion of a number of throwaways and knockoffs (especially the out-of-place cover of "Heat Wave" which closes the album) mars an otherwise perfect album. © Chris Woodstra /TiVo
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Rock - Released October 20, 2017 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

1977 is a five-CD box set that revisits the first two albums by English group the Jam. To celebrate the 40th anniversary of In the City and This Is the Modern World, the box brings together the original albums along with demos and previously unreleased tracks. The release also includes the band's show at London’s Nashville Club in September 1977, and the sessions recorded for BBC Radio One's John Peel Show in 1977. The set also features a DVD of TV appearances on shows like Top of the Pops and So It Goes. © Bekki Bemrose /TiVo
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Rock - Released January 1, 1993 | Polydor Records

The Jam's enduring, eternal popularity in the U.K. meant an ever-increasing number of archival releases that cropped up over the years, with Live Jam, a fine counterpart to the other official concert album, Dig the New Breed, turning up in 1993. Like that earlier effort, it draws together a slew of tracks from shows ranging from 1979 to 1982, including some cuts from the band's almost-farewell headlining bows at Wembley Arena. Quite happily, there's no track overlap at all with Dig the New Breed, making the two perfectly complementary recordings in ways. The real treat, thanks to the expanded space on CDs, is the inclusion of nine songs from two December 1979 shows in London, the best portrait of what an actual specific show must have been like. A masterful rampage through "Down at the Tube Station at Midnight" is well worth the entire disc, but takes on "Billy Hunt," "Mr. Clean," and "Away From the Numbers" are also high up there, the threesome making enough righteous but tuneful noise for a band three times its size. Two stand-alone cuts from separate shows had to be included just because they were so clearly awesome -- a strong "The Eton Rifles" and an absolutely spectacular "Strange Town" that completely blows the socks off the studio take and then some. If there's one song to take away from the whole disc, that's it, but performances of "'A' Bomb in Wardour Street," "David Watts," and "A Town Called Malice" from later shows get close to the sheer energy of that number. At the end a couple of songs show all too well the huffy bluster masquerading as real soul which would dog Weller's career in later years, but, on the whole, Live Jam is manna for believers and entertaining for newcomers -- the right kind of balance. © Ned Raggett /TiVo
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Pop - Released December 10, 1982 | Polydor Records

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). © Ned Raggett /TiVo
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Rock - Released July 11, 2008 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

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Rock - Released January 1, 2012 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

Released in 2012, Classic Album Selection is a handsome, affordable box set containing paper-sleeve mini-LPs of the Jam's six studio albums: In the City, This Is the Modern World, All Mod Cons, Setting Sons, Sound Affects, and The Gift. None of the bonus tracks from subsequent expanded editions have been added -- including non-LP singles with some of the Jam's most iconic songs -- this is just the straight-up albums, and it's a good, attractive way to get these great records at a reasonable price. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Pop - Released March 12, 1982 | Polydor Records

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. © Chris Woodstra /TiVo

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The Jam in the magazine
  • Remember, remember : March 77...
    Remember, remember : March 77... When Paul Weller enters the studio in March 1977 with Bruce Foxton and Rick Buckler, he is only 17! A few months later, the result of these sessions explodes in England’s mouth.