The Jam is an essential band in the history of punk, the social and political lyrics let loose by front man Paul Weller were clever and sarcastic while also packing an important message. Despite being criminally underrated here in the states The Jam were superstars in England boasting an impressive 18 consecutive top 40 singles. In the spring of 1982 at the peak of the bands success Weller decided to split the band up and on March 12th, 1982 they released their seventh and final album “The Gift”.
“The Gift” strays from the simple 3 chord songs that made up their previous albums and trades it in for Weller’s interest in funk and R&B music. The songs have more thumping bass lines and lively lyrics that add a different excitement then other Jam albums, more free and content and less snide in nature. Songs like “Precious”, “Trans-Global express” and “Circus” are all catchy and as George Clinton would say will Funk you up. Thankfully The Jam doesn’t stray too far from their roots; there are several songs that sound like perfectly crafted Britpop including “Happy Together”, “Carnation” and the albums biggest hit “Town Called Malice”. Overall “The Gift” is a fitting fair well for the band, the music pulls from multiple influences and gives the listener a glimpse of what Weller would be doing in The Style Conference, the band he formed after disbanding The Jam. The key tracks are “Town Called Malice”, the punk driven “Happy Together”, and “Just Who is the 5’Oclock hero?” A great ode to the 9 to 5 grind and became a hit in the UK. In my opinion the most beautiful song on the album is “Ghosts”, a slow song with a smooth horn section and elegant lyrics that seem to breathe out Weller in the classiest and most inspiring of ways.
The Jam is one of those bands who will always be influential. Besides being the first punk band to really bring punk to the masses, they laid the groundwork for post punk and new wave. It also launched Paul Weller’s career and established him as one of Brittan’s finest arrangers. Not to mention Weller’s socially aware storytelling that have influenced everyone from Joe strummer, to the Damned, to The Pretenders. You can hear the Jam in just about any band from that era as well as most bands today. Overall an appropriate bon voyage to one of the most innovative bands of the late 70’s, certainly worth a listen.