Let's be upfront: During its career, the Jam never made a bad record, which makes a definitive ranking difficult to determine.

Boasting "fire and skill," the group — guitarist/vocalist Paul Weller, bassist/vocalist Bruce Foxton and drummer Rick Buckler — coalesced in Woking, Surrey, England in the mid-'70s, and put a modern spin on American soul/R&B, the Who's windmilling mod-pop and the Kinks' slice-of-life Britrock. The Beatles' early work was another huge influence—the Jam's 1980 single "Start!" is a dead ringer for the George Harrison gem "Taxman."

However, the group did show marked creative growth over its six studio albums, progressing from a ragged, punk-associated band into a chart-topping soul-rock group.

Yet no matter what the sound, main songwriter Weller was an astute observer of class and generational differences, and didn't shy away from overt political commentary. His early work especially espoused the youthful rabble-rousing rocking the U.K.'s societal fabric.

The Jam split in 1982, after its final single, "Beat Surrender," hit No. 1 in the U.K. Weller went on to form the Style Council, which gave him his biggest U.S. success in "My Ever Changing Moods." His decision to go solo in the '90s corresponded with the birth of the Britpop movement, where Weller's catalog -- particularly the records he made with the Jam -- influenced a new generation of bands, especially Oasis, and he found himself as popular as he was in the Jam's heyday.

Foxton, meanwhile, plays with the homage group From the Jam. (Buckler used to play with his old bandmate in this tribute group, but no longer does.) A full reunion of the Jam seems unlikely, to the chagrin of many fans.

However, the band's all-too brief legacy lives on, and has aged remarkably well. Here are the Jam albums, ranked in order of awesomeness.

More From Diffuser.fm