Paul Weller was 21 when this album was released, but the songwriting shows an amazing level of maturity. No British songwriter has managed to articulate feelings of growing up and non dewy-eyed nostalga as well as Weller. On the brilliant Private Hell, he even manages to get inside the head of a middle aged, vallium addled housewife!
As Im old school, and up until recently listened to my old vinyl copy, I still divide this album into 2 sides. Side 1 Girl on the phone - Wasteland is perfect. Taking in the previously mentioned themes of growing up and middle age; along with war and urban alienation. Side 2 begins with Burning Sky (about growing apart from your childhood friends - although Im still not sure what bowing down to the Burning Sky specifically refers to). Following this is Bruce Foxtons finest moment, Smithers-Jones, a critque of the acceptance of the 9-5 grind (I believe the final chorus lyrics are by Weller). To follow we have 2 excellent tracks, Saturdays Kids - adolecents without much of a future; Eton Rifles - comment on the class system - the single sales of this track signalled that The Jam were hitting the big time. The album finishes with a cover of Heatwave - it doesnt really fit with the rest of the album, but is entertaining never the less.
The music needs no explaination - you either know The Jam 'sound' or you don't. All in all IMHO, this is a faultless album.