Forty years ago it was make or break for The Jam as the pressure mounted from the record label, fans and critics for another trailblazing album.
As they decamped to RAK Studios near Regent’s Park in London, bassist Bruce Foxton admits recording the album that was to become All Mod Cons was make or break for The Jam’s career.
Following the euphoria and acclaim of their debut In the City in 1977 the fans’ reception and critics’ reviews were mixed for the follow up This Is the Modern World later that same year.
The pressure was on to deliver a record that made a statement – and The Jam delivered.
Now Foxton will celebrate All Mod Cons by playing the album in its entirety at The Lemon Tree on Saturday, January 12 with his band From The Jam.
He said: “It doesn’t feel like 40 years and it doesn’t sound like 40 years.
“It was a make or break album for The Jam.
“We had the In The City album which came out to good, exciting reviews, and we followed it up with This Is The Modern World, which I still really like.
“There are some great songs on there, but the press,” he said, tailing off.
“We felt they wanted ‘In The City 2’.
“Come the third album the record company were looking at us saying ‘we’ll see what the lads come up with’.
“If it was another This Is The Modern World I don’t think I’d be doing this interview now.”
All Mod Cons would go on to reach number six in the album charts and included influential singles Down In The Tube Station At Midnight, David Watts and ‘A’ Bomb In Wardour Street.
Foxton said: “We just had a really good feeling about it, we weren’t too bothered about it being a make or break album and putting too much pressure on us.
“We just went in the studio to record a great album and I think we came out with it.
“We’ll be playing the album in its entirety, but like Eric Morecambe,” he laughed, “not necessarily in the right order.
“There will be all the hits in there too, that’s what got us to where we are today.”
The Jam would go on to become one of the most influential and successful bands of the late 1970s and early 80s.
With Paul Weller at the helm they became a voice for a generation, for those youths that felt disaffected and alienated.
However, at the height of their powers Weller split the band in 1982 before going on to form The Style Council.
Singer and guitarist Russell Hastings will take on the role of Weller when the band perform in the Granite City.
“What keeps me and Russell going is we just love it,” said Foxton.
“We love playing those songs and there is an audience for it. As long as there is an audience I’d like to think we’ll keep on doing it.”
Such is the popularity of From The Jam since forming more than a decade ago they are now regulars on the festival circuit.
Playing to many thousands in a field is something Foxton is now far more comfortable with than when The Jam were at their prime and topping the charts.
He said: “We’ve done a lot more festivals now so we’re much more comfortable with playing to an audience where not everyone is there to see From The Jam.
“I remember in 1978 we played at Reading festival and we just didn’t know how to deal with it in those days.
“The audience was vast and we were used to playing intimate little club shows so it was quite a transition to make between a club and a festival and we didn’t handle it very well. But 40 years down the line I’ve kind of got it now.”
Foxton and Weller are now back on friendly terms but don’t hold out for a reunion of The Jam. The bassist played on Weller’s 2010 album Wake Up The Nation and joined him on stage at the Royal Albert Hall the same year, raising hopes of a more permanent reunion. Foxton later admitted that will not happen and is focused on From The Jam.
Following two successful Foxton and Hastings albums, Smash the Clocks entered the top 20, they have another one in the pipeline – but it may be recorded in former band-mate Weller’s studio.
He said: “We’ve got a lot of ideas for a new album, Russ and myself, on various iPhones.
“We have loads of ideas but what we don’t have is loads of free time.
“Because we’re so busy it’s hard to get some studio time, but it’s definitely something that will happen.
“And hopefully if Paul is up for it we’ll do it at his studio.”