Sound Affects (The Jam) – Album Review

by Emilio Pérez Miguel on October 16, 2009

In Theory, Each Panel Is Related To A Lyric On The Album

In Theory, Each Panel Is Related To A Lyric On The Album

During their brief time together, Paul Weller & Co. were to release 6 albums of original compositions. Three are traditionally regarded as representing their pinnacle. They are “All Mod Cons“, “Setting Sons” and “Sound Affects”. Out of the three, “Sound Affects” is the one I like the least. Here, they sound more like The Beatles than The Kinks or The Who, two bands that had been the predominant influence until then. As the critics aptly insinuated, Sound Affects stands as The Jam’s “Revolver”.

The album bore The Jam’s second chart topper – the song is named “Start”, it was inspired by Orwell’s “Omage To Catalogna”, and the bass part has been taken on permanent loan from The Fab Four’s “Taxman”.

The other major hit the album features is “That’s Entertainment”. The song was issued as a single only in Germany, and it is still the best-selling import single within the United Kingdom.

I have never been that keen on “Start”, but I do enjoy “That’s Entertainment”. In actuality, I consider it as one of the most accurate and evocative descriptions of ennui to have ever been set to music.

The rest of the album is a pop pastiche that includes the considerably good “Pretty Green”, the punkish “But I’m Different Now” and the horn-driven “Boy About Town”. “Man In The Corner Shop” is not a bad song, but the way class distinctions are studied is just too formulaic. And I don’t really get around either “Scrape Away” or “Dream Time”. There is also an instrumental track which is best left alone.

On the other hand, “Set The House Ablaze” is a vibrant take on youth mentality with a whistled refrain that is instantly memorable.

A song that does not elicit either love or hatred as far as I am concerned is “Monday”. It is like the love songs from “All Mod Cons”, only that the writing evinces a shred of maturity.

I know this review did not come across as very positive. I think the album is a good one in general terms – the experience of listening to it is balanced, it holds its own well. It is just that I don’t consider it on par with the two previous albums. I’d love to know what the take of other fans on it is. Please, do let everybody know in the comments!

Rating: 7.5/10

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