The Jam - Sound Affects: 30th anniversary edition

Sound Affects was The Jam's (and thus Paul Weller's) fifth album in four years and yet many consider it to be their strongest set, with little dimunition in Weller's capacity for turning out punchy mod pop, shot through this time round with the barest hint of mid-60s Brit psych, most obviously in the cheeky The Beatles tribute of 'Start!' and the simple harpsichord refrains of 'Monday'. Weller acknowledges Revolver as the key influence on his writing at the time, evidenced further by studio versions of two Lennon/McCartney tracks among the extras on this fine two disc, remastered edition.

Remarkably, 'That's Entertainment' one of their career-defining moments was not considered for release as a single - although it did enter the UK charts on import sales alone. Alongside the likes of various Madness singles and 'Ghost Town' it remains as an essentially timeless example of period English pop music, riven by doubt and disappointment. Some of the lines are simplistic ("Getting a cab and travelling on buses") yet echo an inarticulacy that struck an emotional chord with a generation, as did 'Boy About Town', all mod-cocky with Sta-prests as sharp as the stabs of soul brass ("See me walking the streets / I'm on top of the world that you heard of!")

A second disc of b-sides and rarities collects together other relevant material, some of which were previously included on 1997's Direction, Reaction, Creation boxset. However, eight tracks are completely new, including demos of 'Pretty Green' and 'Start!' and a loose run-through 'Waterloo Sunset' that sees daylight for the first time since 1980.

Now that just about every album ever released seems to attract a special edition it's easy to be blase, but Sound Affects is a rare example of a title that justifies the treatment. An integral part of any collection for anyone with even a passing interest in the history of British rock and pop.

Overall

9

out of 10

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