THIS IS THE THE MODERN WORLD by Chas de Wally ©Sounds - November 1977

And people were trying to tell me that this was a lousy album and The Jam were all washed up. It´s one of the best albums I´ve ever heard in a long time. Admittedly Paul Weller´s voice still leaves a lot to be desired. Not everything here owes a debt to The Who. The Jam capture the essence of transistor radio rock. Bright and naive. Timeless. Brilliant. Weller is a dry and impassive observer. In some cases you might even call him genuinely and humanely perceptive. The Jam are streets ahead of their rivals. The Jam are young and brave, Still as real and ingenious as it possible to be in the rock business. As a live band they are quite one of the best. It still isn´t their masterpiece.

THIS IS THE THE MODERN WORLD by Barry Cain ©Record Mirror - November 1977

Forget the sixties. Forget comparisons. Forget Jam, The Who, Beatles, The Kinks. Forget the naive neurosis of the plagiarists. The Jam are here. And now "This Is The Modern World" reflects a definite PROGRESSION (remember that?) a definite identity mould, here Weller is making an obvious attempt at creating a Jam SOUND. He succeeds. Brilliantly. It is in fact a ceremonial uncovering of the post-pubescent metropolitan veil, moth eaten but nonetheless sacrosanct. The name of the game is simplicity. It´s not that Weller is softening, it´s just that he´s learning. His cracked pavement voice has often been a cause for concern in certain circles which I could never understand.

It´s perfect for his songs, he sings like he looks.  Freddie Garrity could never say that.

THIS IS THE THE MODERN WORLD by Mick Farren ©New Musical Express - November 1977

So this is the modern world. I´m glad they told me. For an instant I´d thought I´d been transported back to 1965. He doesn´t need me to tell him (Weller) that The Jam are playing excellent, streamlined rock and roll. He also won´t want me to point out that the production by Vic Smith and Chris Parry is well on the thin side, that some of the riffs don´t stand up to the amount of repetition that they are subjected to and that after a couple of tracks the vocals do lean towards the monotonous. What The Jam have in common with the rest of the British new wave is a kind of sullen gut level nihilism. I doubt anything I could say would add to or detract from its obvious status as a hot item, buy wise. So roll the commercials.

THIS IS THE MODERN WORLD by Chris Bazier ©Melody Maker - November 1977

The Who´s influence is marked on both the construction of the songs and the instrumental style, much of the record suffers precisely because it´s typical Jam ´Standards´, ´Here Comes The Weekend´, ´In The Street Today´ and ´Modern World´ are all adequate but thoroughly ordinary and don´t represent any development Some of the songs are lyrically weak,´Standards´ seems to ridicule the kind of Tory attitude Weller once espoused , which is fine but the attack is too glib and exaggerated. Existence does have its highs and it´s when Paul Weller is glorying in it that he seems to write his best. The Jam spiriting us towards the second psychedelic age?. Paul Weller should mature into one of our best songwriters, provided he keeps his mind open. This album only hints at what The Jam are capable of.

THIS IS THE MODERN WORLD by Robert Christgau - Dean Of American Rock Critsics

The naive, out-of-the-mouths-of-careerists clumsiness is endearing partly because it gets at truths too obvious to interest the sophisticated; the assumption that the word modern has sociopolitical import, for instance, is laughably autodidactic at one level and yet not without resonance when pounded out over and over. Would that the pounding were a little more flexible--this might rock as invitingly as their first if only it were varied with some appropriate covers. How about "Kicks"? B+

THIS IS THE MODERN WORLD by Mick Farren, New Musical Express, 5 November 1977

SO THIS is the modern world. I'm glad they told me. For an instant I'd thought I'd been transported back to 1965. Flashback on flashback to The Who's My Generation album come fast and thick. So thick in fact that Ingrid looks up from what she's doing and enquires how come they don't do the job properly and sing falsetto Beach Boy harmonies.

On first listening I was going to be very objective and positive about this record. It's too easy to snipe at a piece of work like this. What the hell does it matter that it sounds like My Generation? Isn't 'The Good's Gone' still right up there in my list of Great Mod Records of the Century? The very fact that this band has latched on to one of the best debut albums of twelve years ago and co-opted its style should really be a plus in itself. And then I hear Paul Weller telling me, in the last verse of the title cut, that be doesn't "give two fucks" about my review. Well, what the hell? The line between being objective and encouraging and just plain bloody patronising is very thin.

If Paul Weller doesn't want to know, why should I bother wrestling with the problem? He doesn't need me to tell him that The Jam are playing excellent, streamlined rock and roll. He also won't want me to point out that the production by Vic Smith and Chris Parry is well on the thin side, that some of the riffs, don't stand up to the amount of repetition that they are subjected to, and that after a couple of tracks the vocals do lean towards the monotonous.

Maybe I should just put down some points that have been bothering me for some time. I guess the strongest one is where exactly the new wave get off with the claim that they have no knowledge of anything that happened more than eighteen months ago. Yon can't call someone like Pete Townshend a geriatric scumbag in one breath and then load all his early work onto a supermarket trolley and scuttle off to dissect it, rechannel it and pass it off as your own.

That's probably my worst quarrel with the whole movement. There's a streak of elitist, exclusive, enclosed ignorance that's just plain unhealthy. "Every other generation screwed up so nobody can tell us nothing, okay?" has become too much of a favoured cry. Okay, fine, work it out for yourselves if that's the way you want to play it, only don't make it so bleeding obvious that you're ducking back into the closet for an earful of The Who (or The Yardbirds, The Doors, The MC5 or whoever).

A culture that denies its roots must finally sicken. The roots are, after all, the main providers of nourishment. Pretending they don't exist only stunts growth. It stop any further investigation of what went down before. If you claim you don't listen to The Who, all you're doing is cutting yourself off from the riches that still can be found in the music of Howlin' Wolf, the Dovells and Robert Johnson. Refusing to tap this vast organic data bank can only produce a creative short circuit. Without inputs the same idea circles continuously, mutating, distorting, but never really getting anywhere. It's like a kind of artistic amphetamine psychosis.

Maybe it's not quite fair to launch into this diatribe in what after all started out as a review of the Jam's second album. The band isn't any way as guilty of this attitude as a whole lot of their contemporaries. Including Wilson Pickett's classic 'Midnight Hour' is a pretty significant acknowledgement of the debt they owe the original mods. What the Jam do have in common with the rest of the British new wave is a kind of sullen gut level nihilism. The line from 'In The Street Today' "It's all so sickening, and we're so satisfied", may be intended as heavy irony, but it also tends to sum up the chic, now attitude. With the exception of The Clash, positivism is so dreadfully uncool.

So if you're satisfied, quit bitching about things. If it's sickening then why not get angry enough to overcome the fashionable inertia? Powerlessness is as much an illusion as anything else. (He'll be yelling seize the time in a minute – watch it.) It also blunts the edge of what should be energetic young music and causes a pall of dreariness partically to obscure a lot of crisp, fresh, stylish rock and roll.

What's that? You want more details about the album? Well, time seems to have run out on us, folks. Still, I doubt anything I could say would add to or detract from its obvious status as a hot item, buywise. So roll the commercials.

THIS IS THE MODERN WORLD by Robot A. Hull, Creem, April 1978
 

QUICKIE QUIZ – The Jam is a throwback band that most closely resembles one of the following: (a) 3 Dog Night (b) The Who (c) Freddie & The Dreamers (d) nobody, ya dope!

The answer, of course, is (d). It's too easy to dismiss The Jam as mere Who mimics. To pronounce Modern World as the equivalent of The Who Sell Out (just as numerous critical boobs announced that In The City was only The Who Sings My Generation re-hashed) would be doing this band a grave injustice.

Certainly The Jam does emulate The Who. Paul Weller, leader & spokesman, even wears a Who button on the cover shot of Modern World (not as swell as Charlie Watts' Between The Buttons button, tho) to convey his loyalty (and roots) out front. An arrow points to the button as if to underline the mid-60's reference point. In homage, The Jam has adopted an overall sound that's heavily influenced by Townshend & Co., but the similarities are obscured by the band's striking differences. Townshend wrote comic stories & mini-operas; Weller attacks social ailments through concrete images of city life. Roger Daltrey can sing; Weller & Foxton can't. The Who did powerful cover versions (‘Out In The Street’ ‘Under My Thumb’); The Jam are lousy at it (‘Midnight Hour’ ‘Slow Down’) (however, without any shame, both bands on ‘Batman’ match each other in numskullery). So forget The Who; now on to The Jam.

"This is the modern world!" The Jam exclaims, not in celebration (as Jonathan Richman's ‘Modern World’ celebrates the coming of a New Age), but as an observation of harsh realities & 70's stagnation. "And I'd look down upon the map/The teachers who said I'd be nothing" – ‘All Around The World’ extends this sociological perspective to a global viewpoint, and ‘Life From A Window’ romanticizes this desire for observation until it becomes introspection ("Life from a window, I'm just taking the view/Life from a window, observing everything around you/Staring at a grey sky, try to paint it blue – teenage blue"). Not that Weller is a great lyricist, but even the protest songs like ‘London Traffic’ & ‘Standards’ appeal to the heart with a desperate sincerity. A simple line like "It's all so sickening and we're so satisfied" without any hint of artificiality attacks the laid-back disease infecting the brains of today's deadbeat teens.

And the music strengthens the urgency of the message. Quite an improvement over In The City, too. Even got melodies this time, folks, with handclaps & harmony & production & sheesh, the whole works! ‘Here Comes The Weekend’ is especially arousing. When The Jam triumphantly shouts "Long live the weekend, the weekend is dead," heck, I thrust my fist through the ceiling. Most of the other songs inspire similar reactions (smashing chairs, beating heads against walls, etc.). Actually, ignoring ‘In The Midnight Hour,’ there's not a blotch in the whole batch. The Who probably could do better, but who gives a goddamn whooot about The Who anyway?!

My only reservation in wholeheartedly supporting The Jam is that they're too quick for comfort. Despite The Jam's acute perceptions, the mass is gonna pass due to a belly full of Whoppers. As the immortal prophet Bo Diddley once said on ‘Road Runner’: "You say you fast, but it don't look like you gonna last." Beep, beep...zooooom...oh well