It’s a fair few years ago now, Thursday night, 19th May 1977, Top Of The Pops is on the TV and we get our first glimpse of a band that would for the next few years become a rock phenomenon.
The Jam, socially aware and not afraid to tell it how it is, were one of the better bands spawned from punk.
Whilst the movement certainly helped them with a record deal, such was the clamouring at the time for ‘new’ young bands to replace the dinosaur bands, who had little or nothing in common with the youth of the day. Their energy was a wonder to behold.
Obviously Weller took the lion’s share of the publicity and plaudits, as he still does today, being the main writer and ‘spokesman’, but it’s disrespectful to both bassist Bruce Foxton and drummer Rick Buckler to say this was a one-man-band.
Both musicians were a crucial ingredient that made the band so great and Foxton in particular with his thoughtful punchy bass playing and occasional song writing was a crucial element as he and Weller formed a very focal partnership at the front of the stage.
For the rest of the band, the split must have been devastating at a time when they were getting hit after hit with singles and albums heading both charts, but to their credit they ploughed on in various bands, though sadly with nothing like the success of the Jam.
To his credit Foxton understood the demand there was for the Jam heritage and the keenness for fans old and new to hear the pop classics and a new band was created to perform their back catalogue to sell-out crowds all around the country, initially with Buckler and Russell Hastings, a more than able replacement for Weller.
Playing the Tramshed to a packed out crowd, for a while you felt 16 again as the band transformed you back to those exciting times.
Foxton looking sharp in a suit and playing as well as ever looked the same as he did 40 years ago and, whilst there were a few less leaps and jumps that were trademark Jam moves, featured heavily in the music magazines of the day, the energy the four-piece band produced was stunning and left ears ringing for days.
Every hit was played and their hit album The Gift, was dusted down and featured in what was a quite stunning set.
Russell Hastings performance proved that this was so much more than a tribute band, taking on a difficult role, but sailing through with ease, spitting out with venom the words to Down In The Tube Station At Midnight and Eton Rifles as they kicked up a storm.
A rockier version of That’s Entertainment was preferred to their normally acoustic version, and the whole place exploded with a scintillating version A-Bomb In Wardour Street, which almost brought down the walls.
With the possibility of a reunion very unlikely, the spirit is very much alive with Foxton and Hastings and From The Jam, and long may they continue and who knows, one day their own material may prove just a valid as that of The Jam of old.
Pix by Tony Chapman