Certain Songs #695: The Jam – “The Modern World”

the-jam-this-is-the-modern-world Album: This is The Modern World (U.S.)
Year: 1977

So why do I have so much love for The Jam album that is usually derided as their worst?

It’s pretty simple, actually. First, there was Marquee Moon & Rocket To Russia. Then, there was Give ‘Em Enough Rope & Road to Ruin.

And at least how I remember it now, next was This is The Modern World. So it was my first exposure to The Jam, and with the arrow pointing to Paul Weller’s The Who button the cover serving as a signpost, the big declaration and power chords that kicked off the title track went straight to my 16-year-old heart, already reeling from the early Who songs that served as the foundation from which The Jam were developing their sound.

This is the modern world
This is the modern world

What kind of a fool do you think I am?
You think I know nothing of the modern world
All my life has been the same
I’ve learned to live by hate and pain
It’s my inspiration drive

Even now, it thrills me to hear Bruce Foxton harmonize on the second line of the chorus, and marvel at Rick Buckler’s builds that resolve into rolls and even Weller’s clunky rhyme of “top” and “map.” And of course how they Anglicized “world” to “wold.”

And, of course, the guitar break — can’t really call it a “solo” — where Weller channels all his post-adolescent rage into a hardly-contained electrified barbed wire of beautiful noise.

I also love how “The Modern World” gallops into a double time coda with Weller and Foxton singing the title over and over again and the resolves into repeating the opening chords and declaration one last time.

“The Modern World”

“The Modern World” performed live in 1977

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