Each new LP release by The Jam took them closer and closer to the holy grail of a No. 1 album in their home country. From the fairly modest beginnings of In The City and This Is The Modern World, released within a few months of each other in 1977, they hit the album top ten for the first time with 1978’s All Mod Cons, at No. 6, and No. 4 with the following year’s Setting Sons.
On 6 December 1980, the trio made their chart debut with their fifth album Sound Affects, and very nearly made the top. It entered the chart at No. 2, second only to ABBA’s Super Trouper. They finally hit the summit with their farewell album, The Gift, in 1982.
Sound Affects, produced by Chris Parry and Vic Coppersmith-Heaven, was especially anticipated because it was previewed by The Jam’s second UK No. 1 single, ‘Start!’ The media response was certainly favourable. “The album finds The Jam stretching out, once again successfully staying off the (seemingly) inherent limitations of a three-piece lineup,” wrote Don Snowden in New York Rocker.
“Their fifth record is every bit as far removed from the densely textured Setting Sons as that last one was from the clean precision of All Mod Cons,” he continued. “And Cons signalled the maturation of the Jam from the adrenalin rush of their first two albums.”
In 1981, Paul Weller told Creem magazine about the band’s domestic audience. “That English following’s taken four years to get that large,” he said. “We’ve been building it since 1977. Recently it has suddenly got a lot bigger and more fanatical – probably because of the No. 1s – but really it’s the result of a slow build-up over the years. Mind you, we’ve always had a really strong following: even when it was only 400 people those 400 were a really powerful force.”
The Jam’s 5CD 1977 box set can be bought here.
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