1. Pretty Green
3. But I'm Different Now
4. Set The House Ablaze
6. That's Entertainment
7. Dream Time
8. Man In The Corner Shop
9. Music For The Last Couple
10. Boy About Town
11. Scrape Away
On Sound Affects’ opener, Pretty Green, Paul Weller barks about one use for his money in a teeth-gnashing staccato: "I’m gonna put it in the juke box". But would Woking’s mod icon ever have guessed songs of his own would cause frantic searching for change three decades later?
Weller reckons The Jam’s fifth album, now celebrating its 30th anniversary, was their best work. It’s easy to hear why. Pretty Green is so good listeners don’t even notice it hasn’t got a chorus, just tense verses and a power-chord pre-chorus that disperses like spilt beer across a bar floor.
Set the House Ablaze is even better than that, a terrifying but terrific look at fascism on the rise in Europe at the dawn of the 80s. Sounds worthy in print, but marry talk of fighting fascists with a dangerous, paranoid guitar scrape and a whistled melody full of menace and the result is utterly thrilling. Bloc Party certainly thought so when they nicked the riff for Helicopter.
Start!, the album’s first single, is an almighty clang of metallic soul – half Wire, half Motown. Weller insisted the label release it as lead single despite the label’s protestations. It went to number one.
There is pathos amid the modish flavours and brilliant Bruce Foxton basslines. Scrape Away is a classic for those desperate to leave it all behind, and Monday – thankfully far less depressing than its namesake – combines the melancholy of Embarrassment-era Madness with Byrds jangle.
There isn’t a bum song on Sound Affects, but a special mention must go to its best. Of the countless songs about working class British life released in the last three decades, it’s strange one so ostensibly slight is so breathtaking. It may just be a list of simple things we’ve all done, seen or heard, with an ironic chorus, acoustic guitars and no drums, but so what? If That’s Entertainment doesn’t move you on some level you deserve to have your speakers burnt in front of you.
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