The Jam – Sound Affects (1980)

AllMusic Review: Unhappy with the slicker approach of Setting Sons, the Jam got back to basics, using the direct, economic playing of All Mod Cons and “Going Underground,” the simply brilliant single which preceded Sound Affects by a few months. Thematically, though, Paul Weller explored a more indirect path, leaving behind (for the most part) the story-song narratives in favor of more abstract dealings in spirituality and perception — the approach stemming from his recent readings of Blake and Shelley (who was quoted on the sleeve), but more specifically Geoffrey Ash, whose Camelot and the Vision of Albion made a strong impression. Musically, Weller drew upon Revolver-era Beatles as a primary source (the bassline on “Start,” which comes directly from “Taxman,” being the most obvious occurrence), incorporating the occasional odd sound and echoed vocal, which implied psychedelia without succumbing to its excesses. From beginning to end, the songs are pure, clever, infectious pop — probably their catchiest — with “That’s Entertainment” and the should-have-been-a-single “Man in the Corner Shop” standing out. — Chris Woodstra

Track Listing:

ide one
No. Title Length
1. “Pretty Green” 2:37
2. “Monday” 3:02
3. “But I’m Different Now” 1:52
4. “Set the House Ablaze” 5:03
5. “Start!” 2:33
6. “That’s Entertainment” 3:38
Side two
No. Title Length
1. “Dream Time” 3:54
2. “Man in the Corner Shop” 3:12
3. “Music for the Last Couple” (Rick Buckler, Bruce Foxton, Paul Weller) 3:45
4. “Boy About Town” 2:00
5. “Scrape Away” 3:59

 

Schill Score: 7/10

 

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The Jam – All Mod Cons (1978)

AllMusic Review: The Jam regrouped and refocused for All Mod Cons, an album that marked a great leap in songwriting maturity and sense of purpose. For the first time, Paul Weller built, rather than fell back, upon his influences, carving a distinct voice all his own; he employed a story-style narrative with invented characters and vivid British imagery à la Ray Davies to make incisive social commentary — all in a musically irresistible package. The youthful perspective and impassioned delivery on All Mod Cons first earned Weller the “voice of a generation” tag, and it certainly captures a moment in time, but really, the feelings and sentiments expressed on the album just as easily speak to any future generation of young people. Terms like “classic” are often bandied about, but in the case of All Mod Cons, it is certainly deserved. — Chris Woodstra

Track Listing:

All songs written by Paul Weller except as noted.

Side one

  1. “All Mod Cons” – 1:20
  2. “To Be Someone (Didn’t We Have a Nice Time)” – 2:32
  3. “Mr. Clean”* – 3:29
  4. “David Watts” (Ray Davies) – 2:56
  5. “English Rose”** – 2:51
  6. “In the Crowd” – 5:40

Side two

  1. “Billy Hunt” – 3:01 (UK and 1st US pressings)/”The Butterfly Collector” – 3:11 (US reissues)
  2. “It’s Too Bad” – 2:39
  3. “Fly” – 3:22
  4. “The Place I Love” – 2:54
  5. “‘A’ Bomb in Wardour Street” – 2:37
  6. “Down in the Tube Station at Midnight” – 4:43

 

Schill Score: 8/10

 

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