Follow TV Tropes


Music / The Jam

Go To
Some people might say my life is in a rut,
But I'm quite happy with what I've got.
People might say that I should strive for more,
But I'm so happy I can't see the point.
"Going Underground"

The Jam were a British Punk Rock band from The '70s and early Eighties who spearheaded the "mod revival" movement.

Throughout its career (except for a short period in the beginning), its lineup was as follows:

  • Paul Weller - vocals, guitar
  • Bruce Foxton - bass, backing vocals
  • Rick Buckler - drums

While sharing the sociopolitical outrage and fast tempos of their contemporaries such as the Sex Pistols and The Clash, The Jam distinguished themselves by their love for The '60s mod scene - whereas other punksters wore ripped clothes and played amateurishly, The Jam wore neatly tailored suits in imitation of The Who and drew on a wide variety of influences such as Soul and R&B, The Who, Power Pop, Psychedelic Rock, Pop Punk, Post-Punk and New Wave. Their songs were distinguished by their accessible, poppy hooks and Weller's highly-acclaimed lyrics, whose sociopolitical criticism and distinct "Englishness" drew comparisons to Ray Davies. They became one of the most popular bands of the late-70's and early 80's in Britain.

After the band broke up, Paul Weller formed The Style Council, pursuing his interests in stuff like Soul and Jazz music, among other genres, before embarking on a long and fruitful solo career.

In 2007, Foxton and Buckler re-united as "From The Jam", with Russell Hastings and David Moore, playing Jam songs. Foxton also played with Weller on the latter's 2010 album "Wake Up The Nation". However, Paul Weller has ruled out a full re-union in the strongest possible terms.

Not to be confused with either the Justified Ancients of MuMu or JAM Project.


  • In the City (1977)
  • This Is the Modern World (1977)
  • All Mod Cons (1978)
  • Setting Sons (1979)
  • Sound Affects (1980)
  • The Gift (1982)

Notable songs:

  • In the City
  • All Around the World
  • A Bomb in Wardour Street
  • Down in the Tube Station at Midnight
  • The Eton Rifles
  • Going Underground
  • Start!
  • That's Entertainment
  • Town Called Malice
  • Just Who Is the 5 O'Clock Hero?
  • The Bitterest Pill (I Ever Had to Swallow)


  • Bowdlerise: The album version of "The Modern World" has the lyrics "I don't give two fucks about your review". For the radio single, Paul Weller didn't "give a damn" instead.
  • Break Up Breakout: Paul Weller, who subsequently started the Style Council with Mick Talbot before becoming a successful and highly influential solo performer concurrently with the Britpop era.
  • Cool Shades
  • Cover Version: "Slow Down" by Larry Williams, the Batman theme, "In the Midnight Hour" by Wilson Pickett, "David Watts" by The Kinks, "Heat Wave" by Martha and the Vandellas, "So Sad About Us" and "Disguises" by The Who. There is also a demo of "I Feel Good" (James Brown) which was issued in a compilation.
  • English Rose: "English Rose", which is about the protagonist's desire to see and to be with the titular woman.
  • Genre Shift: While they didn't completely abandon their Power Pop and Punk Rock styles, later albums reflect Weller's increasing interest in American soul music (the main thing he would pursue in the Style Council).
  • Greatest Hits Album: A few. Their first, Snap!, is probably the best, as it collects all their non-album singles, plus some b-sides, rarities, and album tracks. In fact, Allmusic calls Snap! "one of the greatest greatest-hits albums of all time".
  • Heartbeat Soundtrack: "Down in the Tube Station at Midnight" actually has a heartbeat at certain points.
  • The London Underground: The setting of "Down in the Tube Station at Midnight".
  • Protest Song: Most notably "Eton Rifles", "Going Underground" and "Town Called Malice".
    • While not a protest song, the closing track to All Mod Cons, "Down in the Tube Station at Midnight", has anti-racist elements. The narrator, possibly an Indian (or Pakistani) man, is stopped at a ticket machine by a group of violent skinheads (they're described as smelling of pubs and Wormwood Scrubs (a notorious prison) and too many right wing meetings) who then beat him up, take his money and house keys, and make their way to his home to ransack it and assault his wife.
    • Ironically, because of the song's dark subject matter, the anti-racist lyrics were lost on the BBC since they banned it from radio airplay. Tony Blackburn, a former BBC Radio 1 host at the time, infamously said: "It's disgusting the way punks sing about violence. Why can't they sing about trees and flowers?"
  • Packaged as Other Medium: Running with the album title, Sound Affects is supposed to look like a sound effects record instead of an album of music - specifically, the artwork parodies an actual series of sound effect records produced by the BBC, hence "JAM" being rendered similarly to the BBC logo.
  • Punny Name: Sound Affects and Setting Sons.
  • Rock Trio: In an archetypal form.
  • Sharp-Dressed Man: The mod style.
  • Shout-Out: "Standards" has a whole verse that references Nineteen Eighty-Four, backhandedly comparing The Party to the real-world establishment.
    "Look, you know what happened to Winston!"
  • Stalker without a Crush: "The Girl On The Phone" certainly fits this.
  • Slobs Versus Snobs: Paul Weller was inspired to write "The Eton Rifles" by an incident in Slough, where Eton College cadets heckled a Right To Work protest march. The protesters, thinking they could put 'posh schoolboys' in their place, were provoked into physical violence against the cadets, only to be outclassed by the cadets' military training.
  • Three Chords and the Truth
  • Mood Whiplash: "Down in the Tube Station at Midnight" has an upbeat sound, but the dark lyrics about a violent mugging make the whole thing unnerving.
  • We Used to Be Friends Paul Weller breaking up the trio in 1982 created a bad case of this, as both Bruce Foxton and Rick Buckler were badly wrong-footed by the decision. At first, Foxton reacted really badly to this, and refused to speak to Weller for quite a few years. Buckler's reaction was more measured, and although he refused to work with Weller, the two were otherwise quite friendly. But, oddly, over the years, the position has changed, with Foxton occasionally playing bass on Weller's recordings, and Buckler now not wanting anything to do with Weller. In fact, Buckler's shift of opinion against Weller, especially measured against Foxton's willingness to return to the fold, has led to a minor meme amongst musicians, it being dubbed "Buckler's disease". note 


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): The Style Council, Paul Weller


Do They Know Its Christmastime

A group of 80s British rockers (originally called Band Aid, but for legal reasons changed to Live Aid) sing a song about Christmas in Africa to raise money for Ethiopians suffering through famine. The Pop-Up Video provides details about their efforts.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (2 votes)

Example of:

Main / CharityMotivationSong

Media sources: