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Generally accurate, though I take exception to the label “new wave” to describe The Jam. Let me give you one other important bit of context from Uncut: “Following the Conservative victory at May’s general election, a raft of new policies led to a swift rise in unemployment and a growing suspicion that was the nation was being divided along class lines.” I love your writing even when I don’t agree with you but, like the Jam, you hit this one out the park. Great analysis of one of my favorite albums ever. Being a similar age to Paul Weller, this album connected with me strongly when it first came out and I love it even more all these years later. Like some of Dylan’s early work (“Bob Dylan’s Dream” reminds me of some of Weller’s lyrics on this album), Paul Weller seems to display a wisdom beyond his years on this album. You are absolutely right that “Wasteland” is a brilliant song – as are most others on this album. To me this album is the apex of Weller’s work and I don’t think he ever came close to matching it. “Sound Affects” has some decent songs but I think his goes down hill from there. Like you, I would have loved to have heard the full concept album, which would have bested any of Ray Davies concept works (as good as they are) but this is still a masterpiece even with it’s minor flaws. Wilkinson, Matt (26 May 2010). "Paul Weller reunites with The Jam's Bruce Foxton at London gig – video". NME . Retrieved 6 October 2023.
Several things going on here—Weller plays the role of working-class bloke, building on the stereotype of men always looking for a fight even if they haven’t the slightest idea what they’re fighting about. Even American readers know that fags = cigarettes, but the word is also used to describe what Americans would recognize as the hazing rituals practiced by fraternities in some U. S. colleges (fagging) and was part of daily life at Eton. “Get out your mat” alludes to a significant Muslim population in Slough, and the suggestion to “pray to the west” reveals the narrator’s ignorance of geography and non-Christian religious rituals. Slough (town folk) and Eton (gown folk) have a long history of class-related conflict, so the narrator’s response to the possibility of a punch-up is a product of cultural inheritance. From The Jam 2007 tour". Noble PR. 2007. Archived from the original on 3 November 2007 . Retrieved 30 July 2007. This has always affected the reputation of The Jam’s fourth album, with its healthy sales and inclusion of breakthrough Top 3 single “The Eton Rifles” undercut by a half-finished concept and a dodgy cover version closer that inevitably leads to Setting Sons feeling rushed and inconclusive.
This was quite a timely composition, hitting the airwaves six months after Maggie Thatcher took over and solidified the whole capitalism-as-religion bullshit that Ronnie Reagan would shortly bring to the States. I have to say that when I played the four concept album songs as a self-made suite, I felt a deep sense of loss . . . the music, the arrangements and the emotion-evoking lyrics convinced me that the concept album would have been an absolute masterpiece. The other great album by The Jam... Unbelievably I totally ignored this album at the time of release, possibly due to a little teenage prejudice against the 'mod revival' styling of the era. I do however remember owning 'Eton Rifles' on single, and this must be one of THE songs of all time. Thank you! The album has unusual depth that people may not grasp at first, which in my book qualifies it as a timeless work.
As opposed to the confusion communicated by the first, incompatible key change, shifting to the darker minor key complement tells us that he’s reached a state of clarity about the situation—this bitch is bad news. The good news comes from the band—“Girl on the Phone” is not an easy piece to master with its multiple changes contained within a near-punk tempo of 163 bpm, but The Jam plays the piece to perfection.
He dismisses their vibrant period of youth as ” . . . a laugh but that’s all it was and will ever be” then reveals his allegiance to Mammon with all the fervor of a religious convert: Little Boy Soldiers,” another fragment from the lost concept album, is actually more of a suite than a straight-up song with three distinct segments plus a reprise of the first segment at the end. The narrator of the piece is a soldier-in-training—or, more accurately, a guy who enlisted because the economy was in a shithole and now finds himself having to go through the motions. At this juncture in the larger story, the country has decided that the soldiers must march off to war (where or why are both unknowns). Our anti-hero greets the news with something less than a passionate display of martial spirit: Clayton-Lea, Tony (18 December 2014). "The Jam: Setting Sons (Super Deluxe Edition)". The Irish Times . Retrieved 29 August 2016.