Imagine being the photographer that shot one of the rock/pop world's greatest album covers. You were there at the very beginning of their career. You shot a best-selling album cover, you were partly responsible for launching them onto being one of the coolest, most treasured, most famous set of musicians on the planet whose careers now span over 50 years.
That photographer is one of our collective. His name is Martyn Goddard. He's shot some of the most iconic images out there, including The Cure's first album 'Three Imaginary Boys'. For now, here's an extract from his book about The Jam's 'In The City' album cover shoot. We hope you enjoy it, whether you're a Jam fan, or not.
See all of our THe Jam images here. Available on t-shirts, vest-tops or tote bags?
'In The City' studio shoot 2/3/1977.
I had a phone call from Bill Smith, one of the art directors at Polydor Records, in late February 1977. He had to produce an LP cover for a new band, which he was excited about but as usual it was an urgent assignment as the record company wanted to release the album in May. The New Wave band was named The Jam, a three-piece outfit comprising of Bruce Foxton, Rick Buckler and Paul Weller who to quote Bill “is a bloke with definite ideas about the group’s image”. At this point I hadn’t met any member of the band or seen a photograph. Bill’s concept for the cover was to photograph the group in an urban location featuring a wall of white tiles with graffiti sprayed logo, as the Album title was ‘In The City’. I thought of all the problems a location shoot would incur because of the need to spray paint on a wall and the permissions and permits that would be required. The shoot would also take time, as we needed to produce front, back and inner sleeve images. It was decided to shoot in my studio in Kensington Church Street using a couple of 8’ x 4’ flats tiled in 4 inch white Crystal tiles. I can’t remember whether it was budget or time constraints but Bill and I tiled the flats the morning of the session, 2nd March 1977 and it was Bill who took the black spray paint and in one attempt produced the iconic logo on the white ceramic tiles as the glue was setting.
The band arrived at my cramped studio wearing mod suits and carrying Rickenbacker guitars. Bruce’s bass was a copy at this time and Rick brought a snare drum. I have since learned that the band had to scramble the cloths together in the mad rush to release the record and the old trainers worn that day were replaced in later shoots by two toned leather loafers. We didn’t hang around after the hairdresser had trimmed their hair; we were all ready to shoot. Looking at my original photo journal I used two large studio flashlights with metal reflectors either side and close to the lens of my Hasselblad 500CM camera to produce a fashion style shadowless effect. I shot Polaroid test prints, which only needed minor adjustments before clipping a black and white film back on the camera and shooting two rolls of film that was to become the front cover. There is always a tension on a shoot with a new band and so once Bill and myself felt we had the shot, shooting extra film stock would have compromised the rest of the shoot. For the back cover we shot individual images in colour and black and white of each band member with their own instrument. Both guitarists had no problem moving while playing an acoustic set while I snapped away. When it came to Rick and his drums or the one drum he had brought along, it was more difficult so we settled for the drummer leaning on the wall shading his eyes from the bright lights. The individual shots completed it was lunch, always a highlight of any shoot with sandwiches from the local dairy and then it was bye to the band.
Bill and I then set about photographing the wall in various stages of distress, Bill smashing tiles and spraying new words. I photographed the vandalism of the wall of tiles, which were used as the back cover, record label and inner sleeve note sheet on the finished LP. The Jam’s first album ‘In the City’ released on May 20th 1977 reached 20 in the UK album chart and has been produced in 51 versions over the years. Following that first photo session I worked on seven projects with the band producing press, promotion and record covers.:
Segment of copy from my book ‘Rock’n’Roll and Fast Cars’ Volume1.