IN THE CITY by Chas de Walley ©Sounds - May 1977
The Jam are more widely accessible than just about anybody sheltering under the New Wave umbrella and for boys who insist that nothing stronger than Vic goes up their noses, Messrs Paul Weller, Rick Buckler and Bruce Foxton certainly operate close to the speed of light. Yetthis album creates grave misgivings. It´s a fine album but despite the high energy, Weller´s raucous untreated voice, IN THE CITY shows The Jam at times so lose to the beat groups they´re apeing that they end up like Flamin´ Groovies.
Paul Weller´s songs are invariably built around great hooks but are too often padded out with pretty dubious non-melodies.
As it is, The Jam certainly have it in them to do great things but somebody´s trying to get too much out of it much too soon.
IN THE CITY by Barry Cain ©Record Mirror - May 1977
Armed 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. His sounds from the street do sound so sweet, It´s been a long time since albums actually reflected pre-20 delusions
and this one does.
IN THE CITY by Phil McNeill ©New Musical Express - May 1977
The Jam´s commercial potential is enormous. Their music and image and even their infectious teen-orientated ‘rebel’ lyrical pose are sufficiently attractive for them to popularise New Wave to the extent where it becomes meaningless. Weller´s chording is inspired, he skitters in early Townshend feedback licks with ease, he layers his guitar in a way that should be an object lesson to Wilko Johnson, he´s just amazing, his songs capture that entire teen frustration vibe with the melodic grace and dynamic aplomb of early Kinks and Who. Weller´s got a pretty good voice, a little like Cockney Arthur Lee, the casual poetic edge works better than sloganeering.
The acceptable face of punk rock indeed. Face it.
IN THE CITY by Brian Harrigan ©Melody Maker - May 1977
The Jam bear no relation to the mass conception of punk,part of today´s extensive musical reaction against the dinosaur bands who have dominated rock, Obvious that they have a great deal in common with The Who, considerably more than copyists, have produced tightly composed and performed songs. The Weller composed songs are anything but an embarrassment, he has a deft touch that places his material on a much higher plateau. Aggressive choked off vocal and even a reference to James Brown which in itself underlines the commitment to the spirit of the early Sixties. Lay down your prejudices and give them a try, they´re guaranteed not to disappoint.
IN THE CITY by Robert Christgau - Dean Of American Rock Critsics
Here we find an English hard-rock trio who wear short hair and dark suits, say "fuck" a lot, and sound rather like The Who Sing My Generation, even mentioning James Brown in one song. They also claim a positive social attitude--no police state in the U.K., but no anarchy either. Is this some kind of put-up job, pseudo-punk with respect for the verities? Could be, but it doesn't matter. When they complain that Uncle Jimmy the "red balloon" (or is it "reveloo"?) never walks home at night, they've got his number, but when they accuse him of sleeping between silk sheets they're just blowing someone else's hot air. In the end, they could go either way--or both. In the meantime, though, they blow me out. These boys can put a song together; they're both powerful enough to subsume their sources and fresh enough to keep me coming back for more. A-
IN THE CITY by Kris Needs, ZigZag, June 1977
THE JAM have come a long way since I first saw them supporting the Sex Pistols at Dunstable last October. Then they had an ill-fitting pianist, the bass guitarist had long hair, and the original numbers were outweighed by oldies like 'Little Queenie' and the mid-60s soul standards that they still do.
Singer/guitarist Paul Weller definitely had stage presence, though, and the black suits and ties were there, and you could see that this group had the makings of something exciting and important...especially when they launched into a number called 'In The City'.
Now, eight months later, the oldies are outnumbered by Paul Weller's own vital compositions, the pianist and Bruce Foxton's hair have been pruned away, and the group has improved tremendously. The first album is out, and it goes a long way towards living out this promise...but not all the way. It does, however, show that The Jam have grown into something original, exciting and quite different from the rest of the New Wave groups.
The Jam readily acknowledge the influences from the past — particularly from the mid 60s mod era. The Who, Small Faces and The Creation spring to mind in the thrashing, pent up aggression of the music and the youth power stance of Paul Weller's words.
They also remind me of The Flamin' Groovies, and that's not just 'cos they wear black suits on stage. The vocal style they've borrowed from the Mersey Beat Boom has been synthesised into the 70s in much the same way as The Groovies. But The Jam have got their own sound shaping up nicely, and it's loaded with intensity, with enough 70s awareness and technique injected to save this from the nostalgia wallow that it could have been.
Paul Weller, who wrote ten of the twelve songs, has a way with a strong chorus and a killer hook, and has an urgent, chopping guitar style. If he's got something to say he'll say it, like in 'Away From The Numbers', which is about breaking away from the suburban hordes. But he's not afraid to let out a straightforward sock shaker like 'Non-stop Dancing' either.
Some of the songs sound a bit unfinished, though. Like the group has been rushed into the studio a bit before time to satisfy the record company's desperate demand for some product to launch onto the red hot New Wave market. On the other hand, there's an attractive roughness about it. It's better than spending years in the studio and ending up sounding like Queen.
No, this is a good record. Maybe it doesn't grab in the same places or with the same grip that some of the other New Wave offerings have, but I play it a lot.
The album roars off with 'Art School', a racy opener which is fast and powerful and features a great morse code guitar, ending. It sets the exhausting pace for 'Change My Address', which boasts an astounding middle break of crashing chords and sonic feedback scrapings like at the end of 'My Generation', and the stage fave 'Slow Down', which is a bit Hot Roddy, but shows off Weller's deadly rhythm slash technique well.
After 'I Got By In Time' there's 'Away From The Numbers', which is vibrant, committed, anthem-like and the best track, apart from 'In The City'. Side One skids out on the Batman theme, the only number from The Who's old repertoire on the album, ('Sad About Us', the Who number they do live, ain't here for some reason).
'In The City' kicks off side two. This'll always be The Jam's classic, the one they'll have to do onstage forever. It's got the lot this track — melody, drive, a bloody great riff , all delivered with maximum exuberance.
The side careers on through 'Sounds From The Street', 'Non Stop Dancing', 'Time For Truth' (isn't it?) and 'Takin' My Love', before coming to a crashing close with 'Bricks and Mortar', which boasts a great bit where Paul yells "Knock 'em down!", and proceeds to do just that with a shattering wall of feedback demolition.
Oh yeah, I must mention The Jam's engine room of Bruce Foxton (bass) and Rick Buckler (drums), who is particularly outstanding.
This ain't a perfect album... well, perhaps it is and it's just me (I haven't been feeling too good lately), (No wonder...your body's probably complaining about all these dreadful gigs you make it go to — Ed.). But it's a strong, promising debut, and I bet the second one will be a killer. The Jam have got more to offer than most...spread 'em and see!
IN THE CITY by Richard Riegel, Creem, November 1977
ANARCHY IN the U.K.? You ain't heard nothing yet — just wait till the Sex Pistols wake up to the realization that they pissed away their big chance by urinating on their potential record labels while the rival Stranglers and Jam were going ahead with recording debut albums for the crucial U.S. market.
The Stranglers are timely balm for us oldsters, living proof that our generation (the original "my generation") can still get it up for the ol' Zeitgeist. But the Jam are in the authentic prime of their rock 'n' roll lives (all three members were born after Elvis' first recording date), and the fortunate conjunction of epochal need and the group's musical abilities should take them farther than most of their New Wave competitors.
The Jam have been unfairly categorized as a mid-60s nostalgia band thus far, thanks to their heavy identification with the styles and attitudes of that period, especially as absorbed through what must have been a worshipful study of the earliest Who albums. The Jam's resident incipient genius, 19-year-old singer-guitarist Paul Weller, has been prone to parody his own reverence for the Who, what with his 1965 Peter Townshend haircut and his windmill-arm guitar leaps, but there are suggestions in the body of the Jam's debut LP, In the City, that Weller may just share Townshend's manic intelligence, a decade removed from the mod/rocker apocalypse that informed Pete's visions.
Confrontation of sorts is in the air again, and the Jam speak to that ideal in Paul Weller's compositions. The opening cut, 'Art School', not only conceptualizes and satirizes the womb of all of the English rockstars of the 60s, but flings a new challenge at the rapidly-aging generation that grew up with those stars: "The MEDIA as watchdog is absolute SHIT!" Now we're talking anarchy, Johnny R., and we were already agreed that the Queen was a tinhorn irrelevancy, long before you were pierced with your first safety pin back in your bassinet.
'Time for Truth', In the City's other "blue" cut (got a "fuck" in there somewhere), reiterates the nouveau-reactionary stance of 'Art School', nagging those decaying radicals who've been coasting along on their Consciousness III credentials for too many years. And 'Away From the Numbers', a 'Happy Jack'-era Who cop on several levels, may just as well refer to those numbers of $$$$$ being raked in by the current crop of smugrockers (a.k.a. superstars).
Lest I portray the Jam as unbearably polemic rabble-rockers, I should mention the potent energy of their music, which smashes through on the sensual raveups like 'Non-Stop Dancing' (a paean to pogoing) and 'I've Changed My Address' (Townshend/Davies domestic farce) as well as on the more intellectual pieces. Bruce Foxton is a cool, relentless bassist, and Rick Buckler's drumming is channeled fury; both styles suggest the assault of you know Who. And Paul Weller's guitar lines are just as slashing as his lyrics.
But don't take a rock critic's word for it (that's what got Slade in trouble); give this LP a listen however you can, and decide for yourself that the British Invasion is alive again, here in 1977.