Billboard is reporting that The Jam (well, all of them except Paul Weller) is planning to reunite and perform again. It seems a little strange for a trio to be doing so without the band’s front man/songwriter, but what do I know?
I know this: “In The City”, from the Jam’s debut album of the same name, is a throbbing call to arms filled with youthful enthusiasm and naiveté. The band pounds out its simple chords with a cocksureness that comes from strutting down the street, bumping everyone else out of the way. Weller sings as though your life depends on him, and he’s scrambling because he’s only got 2:20 left ‘til the bomb goes off.
If the song had more than just a live-performance video, I'd like to think it would be similar to that Verve video for “Bittersweet Symphony”. The one where Richard Ashcroft has got a Moses-like single-mindedness, parting his way through a busy city street. He bumps into people, yet remains carelessly focused (oblivious?) despite people reacting to him angrily. That’s almost how I picture Paul Weller singing this. But he’d be a foot shorter, so he has to fight that much harder just to make it half the distance. And unlike Ashcroft, he has a purpose: he’s pissed at The Man. The street’s more crowded, and he’s running, and pushing and jumping and yelling. He’s actively trying to instigate the crowd instead of ignoring it. He’s invented a new form of recruitment by grabbing people by the shoulders, violently spinning them around, then shoving them out of the way when he’s done with them. He’s becoming Rocky, as everyone under 25 gradually starts in with him, faces shining bright, racing down the street, finally with someone to believe in.
Here’s the Verve video in case you have no idea what I’m talking about:
And here is The Jam, playing live in their heyday: