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It was 1980 and The Jam had at long last got their first number 1 UK hit "Going Underground/Dreams of Children. They had four albums under their belt and their sound was improving and changing through each album, how could they top this? Could Paul Weller come up with more great songs with a new change in direction?...of course he could and he did with this album "Sound Affects".
This album, in my opinion, was the pinnacle of their career, and has also been quoted as being Wellers favourite album by The Jam. At the time of recording the album Weller was listening to Joy Division, The Beatles "Revolver" , Michael Jacksons "Off The Wall" and early Pink Floyd; These artists definitely influenced his thought process when writing this album. This is also the first album by The Jam not to include a cover version, we had "Batman" and "Slow Down" on "In the City", "In The Midnight Hour" on "This is a Modern World", "David Watts" on "All Mod Cons" and "Heat Wave" on "Setting Sons".
<-----Song By Song------>
The album opens with "Pretty Green" introduced by Bruce Foxtons thumping funky bassline, that seems to carry the song right through to the end. The song is about capitalism and the evils of money, "Power is measured by the pound or the fist, it's as clear as this" sings Weller, putting the message across with such venom. This song was also covered on Mark Ronsons album "Version".
From the funk based political "Pretty Green", we have the melodic and charming "Monday", a nice little love song with nice harmonies. I'm sure we've all been in the same position as the singer in this song when he is looking forward to seeing his girl on a certain day.
Next you hear a nice guitar riff as the band breaks into "But I'm Different Now", a rocky fast number, what seems to be about a guy who's treated a girl badly but seen the era of his ways, changed his views and he is glad his girl has stood by him.
"Set the House Ablaze" has a sombre tone about it and so it should, it is about someone he knew joined the National Front and now has right wing views, "You were so open minded, but by someone blinded, now your sign says closed". This song is still relevant today with the BNP being in the news more often. The song builds up to a musical crescendo at the end.
After the dark message of "Set the House Ablaze" we have a song that was the only single officially released from this album..."Start". This song is built around a riff familiar to fans of The Beatles, ("Taxman") and whether Weller did this consciously or sub-consciously, he got away with it. It entered the UK singles charts at number 3 and two weeks later it became The Jams second number 1 for one week. The record company originally wanted to release "Pretty Green" as the bands next single but after pressure from Paul they decided to release "Start" instead.
This leads us onto what is probably Paul Wellers greatest song to date..."That's Entertainment". Supposedly written in ten minutes after a heavy drinking session down the pub, this song is a great snapshot of Britain at the time, singing about "Thinking 'bout your holiday", "Freezing cold flat with damp on the walls", graffiti and slashed seats on buses (although merged into a nice lyric) "Reading the graffiti about slashed seats affairs". This song wasn't released as a single in the UK "officially", but made the UK charts hitting number 21 as an import single, becoming the biggest selling import single in UK chart history.
Next we have a slice of psychedelia, and a song about paranoia regarding capitalist consumerism, "Dream Time". A backwards guitar opens the track, before the song really kicks into gear. To me this track conjures up lots of images, when I'm listening to the song I can imagine myself walking through the supermarket mentioned in the song and what seems like emptiness. "I'm so scared dear my love comes in frozen packs, bought in a supermarket", what a fantastic lyric!
I saw Paul Weller sing this next song live on one of his earlier solo tours, "Man in the Cornershop", was definitely one of the highlights to that concert, the whole crowd let out a huge cheer as he played the opening bars. The song tells the story of a man who works in a factory and wishes he could be his own boss, he's jealous of the man who runs the cornershop, the man who runs the cornershop wishes he could work in the factory and he is jealous of the man from the factory. The other message in the song is that we are all equal.
"Music For the Last Couple" is an experimental track with lots of sound effects. The first time I heard this song with headphones on, I actually thought there was a fly buzzing around me. This is the first of two songs with a songwriting credit for all members of The Jam, the other song being their number 4 UK hit "Funeral Pyre" in 1981.
"Boy About Town" could be classed as a semi mod anthem, "See me walking around I'm the boy about town that you heard of", "See me walking the streets, I'm on top of the world that you heard of". For me this song is about a "face", or top mod, should have been a single.
The album finishes with a scathing rant at someone(supposedly John Lydon). "Scrape Away" starts off with a bass and drum intro, before the clanging of Pauls Rickenbacker kicks in, the song is packed with sound effects. The lyrics are some of the vicious ever written by Paul, "Your twisted cynicism - makes me feel sick, your open disgust for 'idealistic naive', you've given up hope, you're jaded and ill, the trouble is your thoughts a catching disease" is the opening of the song and it gives the listener a taster of what is to come, what a way to finish a great album!
The album artwork is based on the old BBC sound effects records(an image can be seen here http://tralfaz-archives.com/coverart/B/BBC.html), with photographs taken by Andrew Rosen and Martyn Goddard(During the course of writing this review I found out that the telephone box on the cover is in Gravesend..little bit of trivia for diehard fans out there). There is also an excerpt of Shelley's poem "The Mask of Anarchy" on the back cover.
Track Listing: All Songs Written By Weller Unless Otherwise Stated
1) Pretty Green
3) But I'm Different Now
4) Set the House Ablaze
6) That's Entertainment
7) Dream Time
8) Man in the Cornershop
9) Music for the Last Couple(Buckler, Foxton, Weller)
10) Boy About Town
11) Scrape Away
At £2.99 from Amazon it's a steal! You can't go wrong with this album, packed full of good tunes and probably Wellers finest tune ever "That's Entertainment".
The Jam sound affects
I've been listening to the jam for twenty six years now. The group started off in the mid 70's with punk and new wave and went on to a more Brit pop and rock style of music. The sound affects album was probably the second album that I ever bought from the Jam.
The group consists of the lead singer and guitarist Paul Weller, Rick Butler on drums and Bruce Foxton on Base Guitar.
This album is there fifth album which comes away a bit more from the new wave and punk songs written by Paul Weller and the songs are a bit more of the Brit pop and rock era.
The cover of the album has a pop art on it such as £ sign, a baby, and ! Signs. The album cover is all in black, pink and white colours.
This was one of my favourite of all the Jam albums .It was released in 1980 at the height of Paul Weller's song writing.
There are so many great tracks on this album written by Paul Weller.
Most people would recognise that's entertainment which reached no 1 in the UK charts. The songs have plenty of a rock style of music and I think they are influenced by groups like the who and the beetles revolver album. With plenty of base lead guitar and drums in each song.
Also the song Start was a very popular song which backing sounds come from or influenced by the Beatles, tax man.
Songs from the album
1. Pretty Green
3. But imp different now
4. Set the house ablaze
6. That entertainment
7. Dream time
8. Man in the corner shop
9. Music for the last couple
10. Boy about town
11. Scrape away.
I think this is a fantastic album which I would highly recommend to all Jam fans and people into new wave 80s style of music.
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 Pretty Green
3 But I'm Different Now
4 Set The House Ablaze
6 That's Entertainment
7 Dream Time
8 Man In The Corner Shop
9 Music For The Last Couple
10 Boy About Town
11 Scrape Away