Top critical review
18 people found this helpful
Review of the 2CD Deluxe Edition released 17.11.14
on 21 November 2014
"Setting Sons", though arguably not the album it should have been (due to the fact that its concept was left unfinished) nevertheless represents The Jam at their peak. The fact that the bonus tracks on the first disc (A- and B-sides) are as good as the source LP itself speak volumes for the creative genius who is Paul Weller. And not forgetting Bruce Foxton whose best ever track "Smithers-Jones" - in orchestrated and unorchestrated versions - also appears here.
It's not surprising that "All Mod Cons" was the first Jam deluxe re-issue (because it is their best album). What IS surprising is that "Setting Sons" - an LP which typifies the Jam's sound more than any other - has been left to fourth (and, possibly last - assuming they don't bother with "In The City" and "The Modern World") in the series, because it's arguably their second best.
You wouldn't have thought it would be difficult for the record company to release a respectful re-issue of a record as good as this - irrespective of whether or not it contains previously unreleased music - due to the richness of the source material. Wrong. Whilst the first disc succeeds up to a point - you certainly can't argue with the music on there; the second disc is, peculiarly, a previously released live disc. Basically, the compilers have given zero thought to this.
Although, for me a re-issue is not necessarily about the contents of the record: a nice, faithfully reproduced artwork helps - which, sadly, we don't get. Remember the iconic dog and Union Jack deck chair on the back sleeve? It's not there anymore. Nor is the army memorabilia, or the lyrics that appeared on the vinyl inner. And then there was the cool label copy with the painted soldiers? Nope that's not there either - replaced by some unimaginative mod bulldog. Personally, I'm always suspicious of revised artwork - is the record company trying to save a few bob by avoiding royalty payments to the artist maybe?
Anyway, fans of the original album will be sorely disappointed - this one isn't worth the re-purchase. On the other hand, if you don't know "Setting Sons" and/or The Jam - then dive in - you wont find better music. 5/5 or the tunes. 1/5 for the compilation/reproduction/repackaging.
AN INTERESTING FOOTNOTE: As my fellow reviewer Philip D has pointed out - and I don't know whether this is generosity or a mistake on Amazon's part - at time of writing if you buy the Deluxe Edition CD from Amazon you get the AutoRIP of the Super Deluxe Edition with bonus track galore - get 'em while you can!