Graham Reid | | 1 min read
By the time of their third album All Mod Cons (their third in a little over 18 months), the Jam's Paul Weller had really hit his straps as a songwriter. Where their previous two albums had gone off like boxes of fireworks, by All Mod Cons the mood was changing and Weller's very English influences (notably Ray Davies) were being incorporated into a rather more jaded than angry view of Britain.
The sole cover here was Davies' David Watts which found its echo in Weller's Billy Hunt, but it was the rage of A Bomb in Wardour Street and bitterness of Down in the Tube Station at Midnight which really stood out.
But the fireworks were still evident too in the snarky To Be Someone and In the Crowd.
Setting Sons which followed was an even more ambitious work which had a loose theme of childhood friends who meet later in life and find they have little in common, a feeling Weller was doubtless going through as his youth receded and the realities of his world bite hard in Thatcher's Britain.
Weller extended himself into Who-like mini-operas (as he has done on his most recent Wake Up the Nation album), and in Eton Rifles the band had one of its most incendiary singles.
These two albums were pivotal in not just the musical development of the Jam but also in Weller's increasing confidence as a songwriter.