“In The City” by The Jam - album review

features in: Album Chart of 1977Album Chart of the Decade: 1970s

TJR says

On this debut set in May ’77, the suited and booted trio from Woking were: Paul Weller (18, vocals, guitar), Bruce Foxton (21, bass, backing vocals) and Rick Buckler (21, drums). There’s no denying the ferocity, passion and energy of this set, even if it is a bit bash-em-out, showing only brief glimpses of songwriting sensibilities which would soon set them apart from contemporaries many and various. 10 of the 12 come from the pen of Paul Weller, with 2 covers – a rip-roaring version of Larry Williams’ “Slow Down” and a completely un-necessary re-hash of “Batman”. “Away From The Numbers” is the first sign of greatness here – huge Kinktatstic riffs, and a great set of lyrics; youth feels like an alien even amongst friends and is dying to break free and see if there’s more for him out there… “You free your mind, you free your soul… reality's so hard, reality's so hard.” To this day, I still feel that the sequencing of the aforementioned “Batman” immediately thereafter is verging on a criminal offence.

All is forgiven straight away on side 2 as “In The City” comes blasting in as glorious as any youth rebellion song of any band, any era. It was the Jam’s debut single, released just a few weeks before the LP, and, for all their harking back to 60s mod culture, really struck the right chords for Britain ’77. The Jam are not ‘avin it – they’re the young generation and they’ve got something to say… “I wanna say, I wanna tell you, about the young ideas, but you turn them into fears… In the city there's a thousand men in uniforms, and I've heard they now have the right to kill a man”. “Time For Truth” is another lashing out at the authoritarian British state; PM James Callaghan is “just another red balloon with a lot of hot gas”. Weller’s advice is clear and to the point: “Why don't you fuck off?”. Liddle Towers was murdered in police custody just 6 months earlier “And you're trying to hide it from us, but you know what I mean, bring forward those six pigs, we want to see them swing so high”. These kids are not happy with the state of the nation. It’s been a while since music changed minds – and in ’77 there’s already plenty listening to what the Jam had to say.

The Jukebox Rebel

A1 [01:58] 7.2.png The Jam - Art School (Paul Weller) Punk
A2 [03:29] 6.4.png The Jam - I’ve Changed My Address (Paul Weller) New Wave
A3 [02:34] 7.5.png The Jam - Slow Down (Larry Williams) Punk
A4 [02:04] 6.6.png The Jam - I Got By In Time (Paul Weller) New Wave
A5 [03:59] 8.7.png The Jam - Away From The Numbers (Paul Weller) Punk
A6 [01:25] 5.6.png The Jam - Batman Theme (Neal Hefti) Punk
B1 [02:14] 10.0.png The Jam - In The City (Paul Weller) Punk
B2 [03:10] 6.9.png The Jam - Sounds From The Street (Paul Weller) New Wave
B3 [02:23] 5.8.png The Jam - Non-Stop Dancing (Paul Weller) New Wave
B4 [03:07] 7.0.png The Jam - Time For Truth (Paul Weller) Punk
B5 [02:14] 5.6.png The Jam - Takin’ My Love (Paul Weller) Punk
B6 [01:50] 6.1.png The Jam - Bricks And Mortar (Paul Weller) Punk

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