Skip to main content

The Jam in Los Angeles, 1978: I have seen the future

the_jam_marquee.jpg

Four Punk bands from England got the most attention in America at first: The Sex Pistols, The Clash, The Damned and The Jam. The latter came to Los Angeles and played the original Whisky a Go Go when it still had its booth seating and early '60s flavor. The following spring, the Jam came to the Starwood on Santa Monica Boulevard. The club had been P.J.'s during the '60s; house bands included garage punk heroes the Standells and the Bobby Fuller Four.

For people too young to have been in a nightclub then, the '70s so far had been sorely disappointing. The Jam, however, came to the States prior to the Sex Pistols and the Clash, and in the group, many could see their future laid out ahead of them, clear as day, brilliant as night. Paul Weller's vision brought back kinetic energy and a sense of style that had been lost well before the end of the '60s. With socially conscious lyrics to boot, the Jam set an example that would be followed by literally thousands of bands who came after them, framing the past - as if it were stored, mint condition inside a box - into the present with no apology, no nostalgic insecurity, no revisionism and without embarrassment at the folly of misspent youth that, by the late '70s, the baby boom generation had been boring us to death with. Head banging hard rock? Disco (not Soul)? No. The Jam picked up where music left off on December 31, 1966. The audience down front was dancing like it was 1964, but jumping around too (it was called "pogoing").  Photographer Theresa Kereakes was there to capture the action.

From this moment, seeing "Mods" in Los Angeles for the first time since the mid-'60s Sunset Strip scene, it wouldn't be long before locally, Levi & the Rockats (1979) emerged to spearhead a local youth "Rockabilly" movement.  Next from England came "Ska," then from L.A., "The Paisley Underground."  The doors opened for "'60s Garage Punk," "Exotica," '40s Jump R&B mis-labeled "Swing," "Lounge," Betty Page-styled "Burlesque" and hell, even a revival of early Country Rock a la Gram Parsons. Lilith Fair can be seen as its own return to Folk music left behind somewhere during Joni Mitchell's early career. One has to lay it all on the doorstep of the Jam, however, for setting the proper context for these dead art forms to live again, in style, in the future.

 

Comments

  • Glenn Sadin 4 years ago

    I never knew you were a Jam fan, Dom! It was Paul Weller & the Jam that inspired me at age 20 to buy a fireglo Rickenbacker 330.

  • Scott Brookman 4 years ago

    Yeh. I didn't know you dug the Jam either. I still have all their UK vinyl. I was a huge, huge fan. Me and my pals wore sport jackets and badges to high school because of 'em. I never knew they came to the US before the Pistols. Their records still hold up, too.

  • Barry 4 years ago

    Yeah.. I still break out Sound Affects once and a while and give it a spin, and it sound great!

    Can't say the same for that Style Council stuff however.

  • Nancy 4 years ago

    Neet.