Über The Jam
Formed by Paul Weller at the tender age of fourteen, the Jam started out as a mod-influenced punk band and quickly evolved into the biggest rock band in late 1970s and early '80s Britain. Their bracing, often lyrically bleak, explorations of modern English life ensured that they wouldn't find the same success in America as they did in the rest of the world but the Jam enjoyed a huge cult following on both sides of the Atlantic. A tight, blistering trio that was initially influenced by the early Who, the Jam also openly embraced and celebrated the work of the Kinks, Beatles, Small Faces, and classic soul at a time when most punk bands were pretending to be disdainful of everything that came before them. The band was renown for its high-energy live sets, the sound of which was captured on their first two albums -- In the City and This is The Modern World. Even on these early albums the band was displaying a stronger melodic quality than most acts linked to the punk scene but Paul Weller's songwriting took a giant leap forward with 1978's classic All Mod Cons. The album earned a rabid critical reception and went Top Ten throughout Europe, a fate shared by the vastly more sophisticated Setting Sons (1979) and Sound Effects (1980), a vivid merging of '60s psychedelia and punk. The Jam kept up a hectic touring and recording schedule as they kicked off an extended string of No. 1 U.K. pop singles with "Going Underground." The band's final full-length effort, The Gift (1982), combined spiky rock with elements of classic soul and contained the Motown-etched, kitchen sink drama of "A Town Called Malice," which became an alternative radio staple in the U.S. The trio was at their peak of popularity when Weller broke up the band in 1982 (reportedly because he didn't want the band to end up like the Who and the Stones). Weller went on to have great success with the Style Council and a solo career but the Jam continue to be so popular in Britain that a costly retrospective box set of their work reached the U.K. Top Ten in 1997, fifteen years after the band called it a day.