By 20 years old, Paul Weller & The Jam had all but sewn-up pop punk.
None of the slickness of Blondie, none of the confrontation of The Clash, but 3 yoofs who had heard what the 70s had to offer and thought ‘naaah mate, not for me’.
All mod cons was the 3rd studio album from the Jam and was a make or break effort following a disastrous tour of the US with Blue Oyster Cult, in what was perhaps the worst match-up since the ill-fated pairing of chilli and sex lubricant (yes, it’s a thing apparently).
Adventurous night-time escapades aside, The Jam were now under the cosh to release something punchy and that would sell.
All Mod Cons delivers with singles a-go-go and outstanding complimentary tracks highlighting the quality of the singer-songwriter Paul Weller had matured into.
So many of the themes are class-oriented and reflect the problems of the 1970s – Hooliganism, City boys, public school and the growing up in a small town and the excitement and disparity with the big city. Paul Weller would get the train from Woking to London on a Saturday as a boy to wonder around, seeing the hustle and richness of downtown West London. This becomes apparent with ‘Mr. Clean’ examining the city trader wide boy on his way to create and destroy so much wealth.
David Watts covers boyhood heroes The Kinks – Another superb track of growing up, anxiety and idol-worship, covered with power and tempo as the band made their trademark.
Complimenting this is the tender and gorgeous-sounding English Rose. A stunning 3-minute love letter to his girlfriend, English Rose sings of a poet, punk and young man travelling the world with home in his heart. Soft acoustic strings draped over it in contrast the short, sharp punch of his trusty Rickenbacker.
There are numerous 3-minute power-pop-punk tracks like Billy Hunt and the Place I love. One thing that distinguished The Jam away from their contemporaries was that tune and melody, almost like a revved-up British Invasion rather than a punk-done-lite. The new mods are here and gave a new dimension to the anarchy and nihilism of the punk movement.
The Jam were champions of the 3 piece – A stripped down unit built for punk, Bruce Foxton And Rick Buckler making full 5 pieces seeming like musical amateurs.
‘A’ Bomb in Wardour Street delivers a hot streak of punk energy and finishes with the violent ‘Down in a tube station at midnight’ an epic anthem for London life. Paul Weller had a gift for putting story and the little details to music – the graphic setting of a dinner table by a loving wife crushed by hooligans.
The Jam went onto become one of the most influential bands in Indie and like a pure music idea, allowed themselves to expire before they were wheeled out to go through the motions. The Jam had lit the fuse for so much British Indie to come. From schoolboy band to Top of the Pops to UK music royalty, The Jam delivered.
Song of the album: Down in a tube station at midnight