ALL Mod Cons is now regarded as the album that turned Woking legends The Jam into the biggest band in Britain – but back in 1978 when the album was released the trio were on the verge of oblivion.
Bass player Bruce Foxton recalls: “It was really pivotal, we were under a lot of pressure at the time. It really was that important – it was make or break for the band.”
Bruce’s current band, From The Jam, are currently touring playing All Mod Cons from start to finish to mark the album’s 35th anniversary and with songs like Down In the Tube Station At Midnight and A Bomb In Wardour Street included, it seems difficult to believe there was ever any doubt.
But he explains: “Our previous album, This Is The Modern World, wasn’t received that well by the press, maybe because they wanted In The City II and didn’t like us slowing things down or using the occasional acoustic guitar.
“When we first sat down to write the third album the label didn’t really dig what we were doing. We started recording and Dennis Munday the A&R guy who’d signed us to Polydor said it was crap, which was a shock but I’d rather he was honest about it.
“I suppose that made us more determined to prove everybody wrong. The third album in those days was particularly crucial – if this wasn’t a success, we wouldn’t have a label. So we had quite a bit of pressure on us to make sure it was a good album.”
As it turned out All Mod Cons was a massive success, and Bruce says: “I think we knew it would save the day. The band were really on fire at that point, we really had the bit between our teeth. We knew every track was good and we thought ‘Well if they don’t like this, they don’t like us’.”
Bruce has enjoyed revisiting All Mod Cons, particularly the cover of The Kinks’ song David Watts because he sang lead vocal on the single instead of the usual frontman Paul Weller – and it brought back some amusing memories.
“My most abiding memory of the David Watts single was that I went to Top of the Pops on the bus!” he laughs.
“I was on holiday in Cornwall with some mates and the record company rang and said the single’s gone up and they want you to do Top of the Pops.
“So I went home to Woking to see my mum and dad and then got the train to Waterloo and got on a bus. The conductor came up – this was a long time ago – and said ‘Where to?’ and I said ‘Top of the Pops please’. In those days it was filmed at the BBC TV Centre in White City so I rolled up on the bus and all these other people were turning up in limos!
“Also, at that time on Top of the Pops we had to mime and it was very strange. The cameramen have to hear their instructions so the sound is very quiet – I’ve had it louder in my living room.
“We were still hopping around on the stage but if you look at some of the old clips Paul didn’t really make an effort, he thought the whole thing was farcical.
“But I didn’t, I wish they had a show like Top of the Pops now because you’re not always on tour and it’s the only way for lots of people to see you doing your stuff.”
As well as The Jam’s back catalogue, From The Jam will play a few songs from Bruce’s solo album Back In The Room.
From The Jam’s All Mod Cons Tour comes to G Live in Guildford on Sunday (November 24).