• Chords
  • So Far Away (UK Polydor) 1980 
  • No One's Listening Anymore (UK Unicorn) 1988 

The Jam parented a 1979-’81 UK mod revival, as Secret Affair, the Purple Hearts, Merton Parkas, Gas, Lambrettas, Mods and Jolt all scrambled to join the hit parade. Though each left behind credible singles, only the Chords (no relation to the ’50s doo-wop band) had the punk balls that made the Jam more than ’67 wannabes. The Chords have been better remembered than most of their contemporaries, cited by no less than the Stone Roses as an early influence.

So Far Away‘s crashing power-pop singles (“Maybe Tomorrow” and “Something’s Missing”) approach the same tuneful heights as such contemporaneous Jam tunes as “Going Underground” and “Funeral Pyre.” The album otherwise joins inspired originals (“It’s No Use,” “I’m Not Sure,” “Happy Families”) with two properly reverent oldies (“She Said She Said” and “Hold on, I’m Coming”) updated in a twin guitar attack led by Chris Pope.

Recorded live at London’s Rainbow in June 1980, No One’s Listening Anymore captures the Chords at the height of their popularity. The concert versions don’t improve on the walloping originals, but the album does showcase a punchy stage quartet, and the packaging includes concert posters and a band chronology.

After unwisely sacking popular vocalist/guitarist Billy Hassett (cousin of bassist Martin Mason) and replacing him with an ex-Vibrator, the Chords released a pair of excellent 45s and then folded in November 1981, leaving an album’s worth of second-LP demos that occasionally turns up in bootleg racks.

[Jack Rabid]