50. The Jam – In the City (1977)

If memory serves, at some point early on in this project I made a claim about the Kinks being one of the three greatest bands to ever come out of London. For those of you who have been waiting on tenterhooks ever since, you can breathe easy at last: the other two bands I had in mind are up next. As with the Kinks, it’s going to be a real challenge for me to restrict myself to just a few tracks from each of them. (And since I know it’s finals week, I’ll also try to restrain myself on the nerdy fanboy commentary and the lengthy political rants…)
First out of the gate, then, is The Jam, a band that for my money comes about as close to perfection as a rock band can get. Remarkable songwriting from Paul Weller, consistently killer performances from everyone (both live and in the studio), fantastic style and attitude (blending mod suits with punk snarl), totally of their time and also barely dated thirty years later, sharp and sweet and angry and joyful at once. (Their politics were a maybe little bit confused early on, admittedly, but this got cleared up before too long.)
The Jam also were deliberately and overtly English in their focus, and perhaps this is why they never fully translated for American audiences. But in England, these guys were huge, with eighteen consecutive hit singles between 1977 and 1982. Here’s the first one, surely one of the strongest debut singles ever.
All with style to spare…

Bruce Foxton (aloft)

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