All Mod Cons: When The Jam Ruled the World


Words by: JPS for duncan quinn

How did three rather raffish young men from Woking, Surrey come to be among the most stylish and influential men of their generation—

and later fade into near obscurity? The story of The Jam is integral to the Mod revival movement, which has been carbon dated, so to speak, to 1978. That’s six long years after The Jam first played together with charismatic frontman Paul Weller running the show as he would for the next decade. When punk rock reared its spiky head c.1974 it had a uniform of its own consisting of anything ripped, ragged and half destroyed. The Jam were against this sartorial nonsense from the start, preferring smartly tailored suits and union jack blazers with massive ticket pockets.

On a musical level, they similarly disdained wholesale rejection of mainstream 1960s rock and R&B, instead incorporating them into songs that were sharp, fresh and provocative but still catchy and melodic. From the very start they enjoyed huge success in the UK, but unlike The Who and The Clash they never really blew up in the States – being, perhaps, a bit too British. Still with 18 consecutive Top 40 singles in 10 years including “That’s Entertainment” and “The Eton Rifles” they were hardly second rate. It all ended in anger in 1982 with the band no longer speaking to each other – which remained true for the next 25 years. Hence no reunion tours or anything of that ilk to boost the band’s popularity. Which is perhaps all to the good the way such things tend to get diluted.

Words by JPS for duncan quinn