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The Return of SWINE's Classic Albums - The Jam : All Mod Cons
By Boy D' (who we can't name for legal reasons)
How many albums can you name without any duff tracks or fillers? Comparatively few, I would wager. This little cracker though, from '78, has 12 spot-on prime cuts, and takes it's rightful place as Paul Weller's masterwork (with 'Setting Sons' a very close second). Is it really 30 years since this was released? Opening with the rapid-fire of the title track, the self-styled mod-father is straight into blistering attack number one; "seen you before, I know your sort, you think the world awaits your every breath".
Is right - whoever you were referring to - followed up by the seminal (and the Martin Peters of the post-punk world) 'To Be Someone', telling the tale of a washed up former pop idol ("No more cocaine now it's only ground chalk, no more taxis now we'll have to walk"). Staying with the angry-young-man vibe, 'Mr Clean' kicks fuck out of the mild-mannered Civil Service fartie ("you miss page 3, but The Times is right for you") who eventually gets his comeuppance on 'Smithers Jones' on the aforementioned 'Setting Sons', before Weller indulges in some homo-eroticism on 'David Watts', the eponymous school hunk who Paul desparately wishes he "could be like". And then, an amazing volte-face with the stunningly-beautiful 'English Rose' ("no matter where I roam, I will come back to my English Rose"). Lest the boot-boys should drag the disc from it's turntable, though, a trio of rock numbers then form the middle of the record in 'In the Crowd', 'Billy Hunt' and 'It's Too Bad', all tight, edgy, three-minute slabs of power-pop.
Weller then gets clever by slyly throwing in another couple of slowies with the haunting 'Fly' ("the way the sunlight skips across your skirt, makes me feel I'm from another world") and 'The Place I 'Love', before the whole album explodes in a violent frenzy. 'A-Bomb in Wardour Street' sums up perfectly the omnipresent threat of a kick-off in Thatchers late 70's grey and depressing English wasteland, before the absolute seminal moment on this, and any other record that you could name. Incredibly, 'Down in the Tube Station at Midnight' became the anthem for disaffected Merseyside youth in 79/80, and there are a load of 40 or 50-something match-goers who can still drunkenly belt it out, 30 years down the line. Again, Weller is unwittingly precognitive, as lines like "hey boy, they shout, have you got any money?" and "I first felt a fist, and then a kick, I could now smell their breath", are as redolent of Brown's Britain as they were back when Nottingham Forest were winning the league.
Think what you will of Paul Weller; his 'gay' phase with Mick Talbot, some of the shite that the Style Council produced after their early classic singles, Big Sound Authority and his patronage of Ocean Colour Scene, etc, this album stands the test of time on any level. A distant echo, of faraway voices boarding faraway trains . . . . .'Boy D' (who we can't name for legal reasons)
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