Certain Songs #696: The Jam – “All Around The World”

the-jam-all-around-the-world Album: This Is The Modern World (U.S.)
Year: 1977

The Jam’s second single, “All Around The World”, was the first of their utterly undeniable anthems — it was their first U.K. top 20 single — and such an important song to their ethos that they used its lyrics as the title of their box set.

So, naturally, it was just slap-dashed by Polydor onto the U.S. version of This is The Modern World as the second song, and of course unsuspecting kids like me had no idea that it didn’t truly belong there.

Except, of course, to me it does. Right? With Rick Buckler’s staccato snare drum opening providing a quick respite between the final chords of “This Is The Modern World” and the opening chords and Paul Weller’s “Oi,” it’s exactly what you want from the second song of any album.

Maybe the Mod revival would have happened anyways, but it strikes me that “All Around The World” could have single-handedly started the revival on its own, with Paul Weller & Bruce Foxton’s call-and-response serving an explicit signal to join together with The Jam.

All over the country
(We want a new direction)
I said all over this land
(We need a reaction)
Well there should be a youth explosion
(Inflate creation)
But something we can command

And of course, the infamous jab at the Sex Pistols that followed that first verse:

What’s the point in saying “destroy?”
Want a new life for everywhere

Musically, “All Around The World” starts with the tension between Weller’s rampaging, ringing guitar and Bucker’s oddly restrained drums, which get less and less restrained as the song progresses. On the chorus, which doesn’t even come until the second verse, Buckler cuts loose crashing on his cymbals and driving right through it with his kick and snare drum.

And then, Weller slides his guitar up his neck a couple of times and screams “YOUTH EXPLOSION!!” as Buckler builds and builds and accelerates the song right through to a full on set of drum rolls at the end as Weller and Foxton harmonize over and over again.

All around the world I’ve been looking for you
All around the world I’ve been looking for new
All around the world I’ve been looking for you
All around the world I’ve been looking for new

When Bruce Foxton comes in on “world” during the chorus, it’s the perfect musical expression of the camaraderie that the lyrics are looking for.

“All Around The World”

“All Around The World” performed live in 1977

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