Friday, February 4, 2011
It's the one many Jam fans, and Paul Weller himself, consider the best album from the band. Released in 1980, the group had by then become the top alternative band in England, with its singles going to Number #1. Weller, however, was and still is always restless and keen on changing his sound. So this disc featuring a cleaner sound than the punk-influenced direction of the past, with obvious Beatles roots and a new interest in the jagged, crisp noise coming from new bands such as Joy Division and Gang Of Four. Check out Start! for instance, with its obvious connection to the Fab's Taxman.
This was also the disc that finally introduced the group to a lot of North American ears. The new force of college radio was able to grab onto it, with the dreamy Monday a favourite, and the kick of That's Entertainment more listenable than the tougher punk they had been known for. While it never broke the band to a mainstream audience, it did respectable business, and has kept Paul Weller's name and releases coming out to this day. While he's still an acquired taste here, his superstar status and Godfather influence remains unchecked in England.
For this deluxe set, the original album takes disc one, and disc two is Jam-packed with b-sides, demos and alternate versions of the tracks. There are some quite different takes of some of the cuts, including Monday, Set The House Ablaze, and That's Entertainment. Pretty much every track on the original is presented in some sort of early arrangement. Plus, to point out the influences, there are demos of 60's covers Weller loved: The Beatles Rain and And Your Bird Can Sing, plus The Kinks Waterloo Sunset. None are really polished efforts, as Weller describes them as just "mucking about", but the Ray Davies song is a solid effort. Several of these 22 bonus cuts have been released before, notably on the boxed set Direction, Reaction, Creation, but you'd have to be quite the fan or collector to have them all, so it's pretty much a needed set for Weller enthusiasts.