Sunday, May 16, 2010

Street Names: 'A' Bomb on Wardour Street


The Jam: 'A' Bomb on Wardour Street


Wardour Street runs through Soho, central London. When this song was released in 1978, Number 90 Wardour Street was home to The Marquee Club and hosted upcoming British groups like The Stranglers, Joy Division, The Buzzcocks, Generation X, The Cure, and our featured band, The Jam.

The Jam were heavily influenced by earlier mod power pop groups like The Who, The Small Faces, and the Kinks, and they led a mod revival in the late 70s. One of the unfortunate side effects of the musical revival was a resurrection of violence among British subcultures who bolstered their identities from the music. The 60s saw mods against rockers (remember Quadrophenia?); in the 70s, that animosity reignited, with skinheads and Teddy boys joining in for kicks.

'A' Bomb in Wardour Street is a diatribe against the skinheads and punks who brought violence into the clubs, and describes an attack by Doc Martin-shod thugs: I'm stranded on the vortex floor/My head's been kicked in and blood's started to pour/Through the haze I can see my girl/15 geezers got her pinned to the door. It's a two-chord rant that borrows more from The Clash than from The Who, harsh and vitriolic—and effective.

A P O C A L Y P S E !

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