ON THIS DATE (35 YEARS AGO)
May 19, 1977 – The Jam: In The City is released.
# ALL THINGS MUSIC PLUS+ 4.5/5
# Allmusic 4.5/5 stars
In the City is the debut studio album from The Jam, released on this date in May, 1977 by Polydor Records and featured the hit single and title track “In the City”.
In the Year of Punk, the Jam’s exploded onto the music scene with this seminal debut album. The raw, unfettered aggression of the band’s approach was well in keeping with the spirit of the times, but the heart of their songs and sound lay in the mod movement of the mid-’60s (early Who, Creation, etc.). Singer/guitarist Paul Weller comes off like a cross between Joe Strummer and the young Pete Townshend, bashing unreservedly through “Slow Down,” one of the R&B tunes that inspired the original mods.
Weller extols the virtues of frenzied dancing and nonconformist youth culture (“Non-Stop Dancing,” “Away From the Numbers”) over the raging three-chord attack of bassist Bruce Foxton and drummer Rick Buckler. The pure punk insouciance of his words and delivery is a perfect match for the raging but hooky “arrangements,” which basically consisted of the band walking into the studio and blazing through their live set. Rickenbacker guitars never sounded so thick, and skinny ties never seemed less geeky.
Upon the album’s release, In The City received all-round positive reviews. Phil McNeil from the NME said Weller’s songwriting “captures that entire teen frustration vibe with the melodic grace and dynamic aplomb of early Kinks and Who”. Brian Harrigan of Melody Maker was equally impressed, proclaiming that “[t]he Weller composed songs are anything but an embarrassement, he has a deft touch that places his material on a much higher plateau”. In the Record Mirror, Barry Cain wrote, “[a]rmed and extremely dangerous The Jam stalk the decrepit grooves. If you don’t like them, hard luck they’re gonna be around for a long time. It’s been a long time since albums actually reflected pre-20 delusions and this one does”.
by Chris Woodstra, allmusic
On their debut, the Jam offered a good balance between the forward-looking, “destroy everything” aggression of punk with a certain reverence for ’60s beat and R&B. In an era that preached attitude over musicianship, the Jam bettered the competition with good pop sense, strong melodies, and plenty of hooks that compromised none of punk’s ideals or energy, plus youth culture themes and an abrasive, ferocious attack. Even though the band would improve exponentially over the next couple of years, In the City is a remarkable debut and stands as one of the landmark punk albums.
All songs by Paul Weller unless otherwise noted.
“Art School” (2:02)
“I’ve Changed My Address” (3:31)
“Slow Down” (2:39) (Larry Williams)
“I Got By in Time” (2:07)
“Away from the Numbers” (4:03)
“Batman Theme” (1:31) (Neal Hefti)
“In the City” (2:19)
“Sounds from the Street” (3:14)
“Non-Stop Dancing” (2:28)
“Time for Truth” (3:10)
“Takin’ My Love” (2:15)
“Bricks and Mortar” (2:37)