from Tony Parsons....................................The Jam
The Jam was one of the first "new wave" ( yessir, that's what this stuff was called back then ) bands of which I ever bought an album. After that, I had to have them all, and I still have them. They were my favorite rock group, one that practically nobody had ever heard of - if not Led Zeppelin and the Rolling Stones (both great bands by the way) it was Journey and Asia that everybody wanted at the time. I still haven't heard a band whose sound I prefer. Some are good, like REM and Smithereens, but none is as magical as The Jam.
I first heard them play "Start!" on a late-night TV show called Fridays in the spring of 1980. Paul was playing a Gibson SG guitar, not a Rickenbacker, and stood perfectly still while wearing those granny glasses. I can still see and hear him playing that G7 high up on the fret board during the chorus. When I went on a trip to Europe and the UK that summer, the song was all over the radio in London. I really loved the rest of the material as well, with few exceptions.
In the days when LPs had two sides and which youth cult you were a member of was a million more times more important than your football team, a lot of good groups released a lot of good records. The period 77 - 82 features heavily in my music collection - thousands of great songs. But one group mattered more than any other and still does and will forever more. All of the Jam's LPs are great but two have the edge.
For me they are Sound Affects and All Mod Cons. Take a look at the cover of Affects - has life in Britain really changed so much in twenty years? I remember playing it for the first time as a thirteen year old mod living in sin with my Crooks LP and Frank Wright loafers in Maidstone, Kent. I never rated Pretty Green at first and used to skip onto Monday. The intro to But I'm Different Now still makes me want to pick up a guitar and play. The drumming on Ablaze makes me hold my head up high and feel proud, aloof almost, that the Jam was my band ( well mine and my mate Karl's anyway) Start's a classic - makes Taxman sound like a poor imitation! That's Entertainment - well, need I say more.
All Mod Cons has got it all - the power, the lyricism, the realism, the characters, the classics. The Jam's musical and lyrical range on All Mod Cons set a standard that few ( if any ) have reached since - I really mean that. From the first chord of the title track to the last fade in at the end of Tubestation it is just fabulous! To complete the package, that sleeve, and inner sleeve, started the Mod revival. What did X Moore say at the end of his review of All Mod Cons? Paul Weller is 20, Buckler & Foxton both 21. Can that ever be done again
Cheers to everybody who still remembers this brash and wonderful, if not derivative and post-modern music and Paul, Rick, and Bruce would admit that as well.
The 'real' Tony Parsons