Quite a gem, this is the CD reissue of a double LP that collected all the singles and the best album tracks that the epoch-making band led by Paul Weller produced during its time together. Eight tracks have been dropped to make it all fit into one CD – the eight album tracks. That makes the CD stand as a sort of singles collection.
Every A-side is featured, and that includes the compositions “’A’ Bomb In Wardour Street” and “Dreams Of Children”, songs that were released as part of double A-sided singles. Of course, all the non-album tracks that they were to release are featured – “Going Underground”, “Strange Town”, “When You Are Young”, and their final #1: “Beat Surrender” (a song that feels more Style Council than The Jam).
Rarities come in the shape of a harmless demo version of “That’s Entertainment”, and a remixed “Funeral Pyre” – a song nobody liked the first time around.
I noticed that the version of “Start!” is slightly abridged – the outro is different, the final “And what you give is what you GET!” is not there. Why? Also, the sound quality when pitched against the remastered CDs is noticeably different – “Eton Rifles” and “’A’ Bomb In Wardour Street” sound completely removed from what you can listen to in the rereleases. In the long run, that is certainly interesting and a nice bonus if you already have all their albums in their enhanced incarnations.
Although other Jam compilations do exist, “Compact Snap!” is the one to pick as far as I am concerned. A “Greatest Hits” compilation was issued in 1992 and it omitted “Dreams Of Children” but included “Just Who Is The 5 O’Clock Hero?” – that was the one major track excluded from “Compact Snap!”. And in 1997, a new compilation was released. It sort of updated the 1992 package. Named “The Very Best Of The Jam”, it had all the tracks featured in “Greatest Hits” plus “’A’ Bomb In Wardour Street” and “Dreams Of Children”. But it did so at the expense of having far too many single edits. My money is on the “Compact Snap!” CD. If you can find it, go for it by all means.
Would I recommend purchase of this compilation: Yes
Do I feel like digging deeper into their catalog after listening to it: Yes