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Although the disappointingly bland sleevenotes from The Jam's A&R manager Dennis Munday rather give away the lack of involvement of Messrs Weller, Foxton and Buckler, this 26-track Woking Wonders best of, The Sound of the Jam
, is tough to argue with. Indeed, unless you want to invest in the five-CD Direction Reaction Creation
boxed set, this 25th anniversary collection is the best Jam primer released thus far.
The Sound Of... heads chronologically from the debut "In The City" single to farewell one-off "Beat Surrender", by way of the most notable chart hits and a sprinkling of classic album tracks. Although a fan may quibble with the exclusion of peak period singles "All Around The World", "Strange Town" and "When You're Young", and the presence of the misanthropic "Mr Clean" and a disappointing unreleased version of "That's Entertainment", what strikes anew is the taut energy of the trio's playing, the bitter bile of Paul Weller's lyrical themes, and the sophisticated, hook-packed update of Britbeat from one so young (Weller was still only 24 when he split the biggest band in Britain in 1982). Twenty years later, The Jam still show up the lack of courage and relevance in current British pop. --Garry Mulholland