Delving back into the last century takes us to The Jam this time around and their sterling 1980 album Sound Affects.
Whilst earlier efforts took on more punky sounds like their debut In The City from 1977, some three years prior, Sound Affects saw the band to shift something a little more refined in places. That being said, The Jam's signature punk and aggression did still remain in droves.
Opening track Pretty Green sees Paul Weller talk about the value of money and how it makes the world go round. It's typical Jam really, with a thumping bassline from Bruce Foxton and Weller's seething vocal creating something brilliant. Pretty Green would also act as an inspiration to one Liam Gallagher when setting up his fashion label and back in 2011, Paul Weller would go on to design a collection for the label, drawing on his own fashion choices from the sixties and seventies:
Monday, one of the slower tracks from Sound Affects seems heavily inspired by The Kinks and their 1965 hit Tired Of Waiting For You on the refrain, mixed in with something a little more soulful. This soulful sound would go on to see Weller form The Style Council following The Jam's break-up in 1982. It's one of the record's best offerings, talking of Weller's longing to see his girlfriend, and whilst somewhat simplistic in songwriting, it's an absolutely fantastic song.
Start!, from a personal perspective, is up there as some of Sound Affects' best work. It takes heavy inspiration from The Beatles' Taxman from their seminal 1966 record Revolver. We've got another Album Of The Week up on the site about that groundbreaking 1966 album, which you can find here: https://www.untitledblog.co.uk/post/album-of-the-week-the-beatles-revolver. Drum patterns, bassline and the main guitar riff are practically identical to fourteen years prior, but the subject matter is entirely different. It's not the last time that parts of Taxman would be used in The Jam's discography, featuring also on the B-Side to Going Underground, Dreams Of Children, that used the iconic bassline of the 1966 George Harrison-sung tune.
It's fair to say that Sound Affects spawned one of The Jam's most well-known and iconic songs, That's Entertainment. Initially, it was never released domestically, but remains one of Britain's best-selling import singles. It features minimalist lyrics, discussing working class life in England. It's by no means the flashiest track in the world, but That's Entertainment doesn't set out to be flashy - it's honest and humble and one of Weller's best songwriting efforts.
Man In The Corner Shop is also up there in terms of The Jam's best work. It's really an extension of the working class, slice-of-life lyrics seen on That's Entertainment, discussing a man who runs his own corner shop and the thoughts from passers-by as they ponder his life. Whilst it'a a little more downbeat than some of Sound Affects' other offerings, it shows that The Jam were moving in a new direction, creating tracks with more substance and backbone, compared to some of their earlier work.
Sound Affects is one of the best albums of all time, there's no doubt about that. It's an eclectic mix of old Jam and new Jam, acting as a musical bridge, designed to show the evolution of one of Britain's best bands. If you want something a little different from a name you recognise, look no further than Sound Affects. It's incredible.
If you want to pick up a copy, I’ll leave an Amazon link here: https://amzn.to/2ErZbxY
Or, if you’d prefer, here’s a Spotify link:
More musical magnificence to come next week!
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