One of the biggest music mysteries I still struggle with today is how in THE hell did The Jam not have the kick-ass following here in the U.S. that it had in their U.K. homeland?! Punk, Mod Revival, New Wave – whatever genre you fit the trio of Paul Weller (lead vocals, lead and bass guitar), Rick Buckler (drums, percussion) and Bruce Foxton (vocals and backing vocals, bass and rhythm guitar) into, there’s no denying they were brilliant and had this energetic stranglehold on the U.K. and the singles chart there.
Between their first single, “In The City,” (April 1977) and their last, “Beat Surrender” (November 1982), they released 18 singles, and they hit the Top 40 of the U.K. singles chart 18 consecutive times, which means every one of their singles / EPs reached the Top 40 there. Pretty impressive. Four of those went to No. 1: “Going Underground” / “Dreams Of Children” (March 1980, 3 weeks), “Start!” (September 1980, 1 week), “Town Called Malice” / “Precious” (February 1982, 3 weeks) and their last single, “Beat Surrender” (December 1982, 2 weeks).
The single for “Beat Surrender” contained the B-Side “Shopping,” while the BEAT SURRENDER EP also consisted of covers of The Chi-Lites song, “Stoned Out Of My Mind,” Edwin Starr’s “War” and Curtis Mayfield’s “Move On Up.” Though EPs are considered singles in the U.K., here in the U.S., they are not nor have been, and instead appear on BILLBOARD’s Album chart (the BEAT SURRENDER EP reached No. 171 on that chart).
“Move On Up” was from Chicago-born Curtis Mayfield’s 1970 debut album, CURTIS, and though it did not chart here in the U.S., it has remained a soul classic and actually did reach No. 12 on the U.K. singles chart. The version of “Move On Up” by The Jam (along with the other songs on the EP) had more of a soulful style to it that would be instrumental to Paul Weller’s next band, The Style Council (you can hear that soulful style on their lone U.S. Top 40 hit, the forever-wonderful “My Ever Changing Moods”).
“Beat Surrender” and the BEAT SURRENDER EP were released the last week of November 1982, and, around the time “Beat Surrender” was the “Top Of The Pops,” in December 1982, the band broke up after 10 years. They went 20 years without speaking to each other. Paul Weller and Bruce Foxton did become friends again in 2009 but, alas, a Jam reunion was not to be.
Still, nearly 24 years after their breakup, the gifted “angry young men” from Woking, Surry, England (23 miles SW of London) continue to leave an impression on the music world. I know they have with me. Though I was quite late getting to know the amazing music of The Jam, for me, they continue to move on up…