Whitsun bank holiday eh? James Bond movies on the telly, daytrips to the seaside, the football league play-offs, the Hay book festival, first test match of the cricket season and the incessant patter of rain. Here comes the Summer! In the sixties however, mods versus rockers at your nearest seaside town would have topped this list and for a couple of years it caused quite a stir as the nations youth cultures clashed against a background of old fashioned British sobriety. It certainly caught the imagination of a young schoolboy from Surrey and a decade or so later he was causing a stir himself with his three-piece band the Jam.
Punk gave Paul Weller the perfect opportunity to launch the Jam and together with the Sex Pistols, the Clash, the Stranglers and the Damned these five diverse combos went mad for it in 1977 and in the process created a whole new musical youth landscape. With their mohair suits, rickenbacker guitars and pop art symbolism the Jam were unashamedly wearing their mod influences on their Ben Sherman sleeves, but it was the sheer energy of their live performances and Weller’s song writing that made the Jam such an important part of the punk scene.
It certainly had me hooked and between 1977 and 1979 I saw them half a dozen times, the first being at the Lafayette Club in Wolverhampton just as their debut single ‘In the City’ was released. A small club with a violent reputation the ‘Laff’ was not for the feint hearted and when our possee (all three of us!) from Telford rocked up on a warm June Wednesday evening we were a little bit anxious to say the least. The place was deserted apart from about six or seven lads idly kicking a football about on the car park outside the club. It turned out to be the band and their crew waiting for someone to come and open up – after establishing we didn’t have the keys, the band engaged in a bit of small talk and gave us a bundle of badges. Soon we went happily on our way when the Jam were finally admitted and we were told the club opened to punters at 10pm.
Thankfully being a midweek the number of psychopaths at the gig was at a minimum but they still made there presence felt during the opening numbers with a barrage of beer and phlegm in Weller’s direction. It soon became apparent that the boy from Woking was made of stern stuff and he gave as good as he got and after he threatened to pull the show the silent majority found their voice and the perpetrators dispersed.
It was a decent performance, but not the best and the atmosphere was tense throughout as Wolverhampton’s punk bashers never seemed far away.
Within a month and a couple of appearances on TOTP the Jam were back in our locale this time at Tiffany’s in Shrewsbury. This was a fantastic gig and were fortunate to meet both Bruce Foxton and Weller again – he said the Lafayette gig had been ‘pretty scary’ and thanked us for being there supporting the band! Now of course the Jam were big news and the gig was packed out with Jam fans and it was all energy and lots of leaping around. By the autumn and the release of their ropey second album ‘This Is the Modern World’ the band had moved onto concert halls and to be honest were suffering over exposure. It was not until the fantastic ‘All Mod Cons’ in 1978 that saw the Jam fulfil their initial promise and by 1979 the band found themselves at the vanguard of the Mod revival. Suddenly hoard’s of spotty parka clad kids started following the Jam and the anthem ‘When You’re Young’ was adopted as they descended on Southend on wet bank holiday Mondays! My run of Jam gigs were bookended by two of their infamous Christmas shows at the Rainbow which saw the venue trashed and the band at their creative peak. “…the wine has gone flat and the curry’s gone cold… I don’t want to be down in the tube station at midnight!”
From the swag of badges acquired from that first show back in ’77 I have one going spare…..to be in with a chance of winning it answer this easy question:
What was the title of the Jam album released in 1979?
Please submit answer on the contact form….providing your name and address. The winner will be selected randomly on 12th June, 2011. UK & ROI residents only.