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4.4 out of 5 stars
The Gift (Remastered Version)
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on 17 November 2012
If The Gift had "Beat Surrender" and a decent arrangement of "A Solid Bond" (which doesnt seem to exist) on it in place of "circus" and "The planner's dream went wrong," then most of the Jam fans criticising this would then regard this as a classic. Maybe also dropping the red-wedge style preaching of "Transglobal express" to a b side status and swapping it for "The Great Depression" would have sealed the job. But unfortunately those two better tracks were written just after this album, as a farewell, with Beat Surrender getting the nod over Solid Bond as the final single. Still, the Jam were never ones to load up albums with singles and this is why it must have been a lot of pressure on Weller to write a whole album off the cuff,when he was also keeping most of the best tracks to release as singles,leaving them off the albums altogether. There seemed to be a one single per album rule with the Jam so as not to rip off the fans who already had the tracks.Most bands do the opposite.
The single that was released off the Gift is also the best track, and that is "Town called Malice." I can still remember the exact place i was standing when i heard this for the first time.It was the first song that had ever had such an effect on me, maybe because i was living in a town exactly like "Malice." The song is absolutely majestic,combining an absolute positive with an absolute negative but bringing them together somehow in perfect harmony. If that's the best track then it is followed by Happy Together, Running on the spot and Carnation. Those are the 4 exceptional tracks and worth the price of the album. "Ghosts" is slow,reflective and effortlessly melodic in a way that Weller rarely manages these days; "Just who is the 5 o clock hero" is something Weller could write in his sleep in 1981,and lacks that cutting edge lyrically, maybe because he was writing about a 9-5 worker,something which he never was.But again it is very melodic; "Precious" seems like an impersonation of another band albeit a great one, "Transglobal express" is a naive political rant,but then Weller was only 22 or 23 when he wrote it.He tried again with the style council on tracks like Internationists and Money go round, but these tracks never really work well, because it seemed like He was kind of saying "we need to do this and do that," but at the same time he was also saying "dont listen to anybody telling you what to do."
The Foxton instrumental Circus and the steel-drummed "Planner's dream" seem like fillers and at best should have been B sides.They are the 2 tracks that even hardcore Jam fans skip the most.
The title track was always an oddity for me,but maybe lyrically it offers the first clues as to what was about to happen to the band,and that's maybe why it was also the final track on the album. I don't know why Weller is so critical of the single that followed this album,"The bitterest pill," because that was much better to my ears than those 2 duff tracks he put on the Gift. I guess he can't write 10 classic tracks to order, only 6 or 7, which in itself was an amazing achievement for a young bloke who learnt about music by listening to records and by writing from the heart.It's 30 years since they split but no one has ever replaced the Jam in the hearts of most of their fans,including me.

ADDITONAL NOTE CONCERNING DELUXE EDITION TRACKLISTING: NO BEAT SURRENDER DEMO. Amazon has got the tracklisting of the 2nd disc wrong.Here is the tracklisting of the 2nd disc:
1.Beat surrrender single.Already released version.
2.shopping b side of Beat surrender.
3.move on up-part of original beat surrender release.
4.stoned out of my mind.Also nothing new,just a rehash of old material already released.
5.war-version from the just who is the five o clock hero b side,already released.
6.pity poor alfie (swing version)This has ALSO been available elsewhere.This is becoming a con.
7.skirt-Finally a demo unreleased.But the title may mislead you.It is an earlier version of "Absolute Beginners."
8.ghosts-a demo but why on earth bother with an instrumental version??????
9.5 o clock hero-demo.
10.planner's dream-demo.
11.carnation-another pointless instrumental version!!!!!
12.alfie-another demo of Alfie,like we really needed another version of this when so many tracks have been demoed and been ignored once again.
13.we only started-old version.This track has been shoved out before on compilations and this version adds nothing.
14.shopping-demo,and unfortunately almost identical to the released version.
15.solid bond-demo.Close to the version the style council played on "switch tv show" but needs to be remixed with the guitar higher in the mix.
Since most jam fans will be buying this for the 2nd disc,it would have been nice if amazon had got their facts right.I personally only bought it for the Beat Surender demo,which is NOT HERE. Where are the quality demos from the making of the Gift? where is the Malice demo? where is the Happy Together demo? The Running on the spot demo?
They must exist somewhere. I would be very curious as to who decided on the tracks to go on this cd.It certainly was NOT a jam fan,but quite possibly a record company executive who saw a "need" to hold back most of the interesting demos for a future release.When i think of the material that must be available,to offer up this with all the padding is a cynical insult to every Jam fan.Same goes to the "super-padded" super deluxe version trotting out the massively edited Bingley Hall dvd as an attachment to bang up the price in the hope you will pay £80 for a remastered wembley bootleg.Weller hopefully had nothing to do with any of this.

I WANT TO ADD NOW THAT YOU CAN BUY AS MP3 DOWNLOADS INDIVIDUAL TRACKS FROM THE SUPER DELUXE VERSION ON AMAZON,SO IF YOU BOUGHT THE DELUXE VERSION AND ARE RIGHTLY ANNOYED ABOUT THE MISSING DEMOS OF BEAT SURRENDER,RUNNING ON THE SPOT,PRECIOUS,AND A VERY GOOD DIFFERENT DEMO VERSION OF THE BITTEREST PILL, PLUS THE WEMBLEY GIG TRACKS, THESE CAN BE DOWNLOADED FOR 89P EACH,WHICH IS MUCH BETTER THAN PAYING £70 FOR THE CD PACKAGED VERSION WITH ALL THE STUFF THROWN IN THAT YOU HAVE BOUGHT ALREADY 10 TIMES BEFORE.YOU CAN DOWNLOAD THE LOT FOR £25, SO THAT MAY BE THE WAY TO GO FOR SOME PEOPLE. I MYSELF BOUGHT THE DELUXE VERSION AND THEN JUST DOWNLOADED THE MISSING DEMO TRACKS PLUS SOME OF THE GIG.I still have to say as a fan i don't appreciate the sly way they held back the best demo tracks for the outrageously expensive super-deluxe version and padded out a so-called deluxe version with a bunch of inconsequential instrumentals,and already-released stuff which just leaves fans feeling cheated.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
A good album gets the deluxe edition treatment. I remember buying this album in Clapham, as a young kid I strutted through the high street with the album clad in its lilac and white candy striped bag, singing 'A Town Called Malice' - those were the days. Never a classic album in my mind though, but one that helped shape my youth. My point in writing this review is this, in comparision to the remastered single version from 1997 this sounds a little less punchy and less vibrant. I'm slightly disappointed with the sound quality. However, the various demo's on the second disc make this a good purchase though - an early version of 'Absolute Beginners' ('Skirt')is very good as is the demo for 'A Solid Bond In Your Heart'.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 15 December 2001
A lot of Jam fans haven't really listened to this album. Shame really - people always pick out the singles as the highlights (Malice, Carnation, etc) but this album has a track that is, for me, the quintessential Jam track - it distils the best of their power-pop arrangements with the best of Weller's lyrics: It's called 'Happy Together'. Sing it in the bath a few times, and you'll see. Especially the lines ..."I never let my feelings fool you...." and later the "...thought I was an angel with no wings". Sing it and hear the 'lift' that the best songs on Sound Effects or All Mod Cons gave you.
Nothing captures the essence of seeing the Jam quite as much as Happy Together. Worth the purchase on its own.
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I am a huge Jam fan. Following on from the majestic Sound Affects I never really got The Gift. It seemed fractured and virtually unlistenable at the time. Plus it was very bleak lyrically, perhaps rather pompous.
I love the Deluxe version. All the very good Paul Weller solo albums show The Gift in a very different light. It's eclecticism is now its strength. Plus some knowledge of Northern Soul music helps a lot.
The punchy re-master sounds gorgeous and the album is a great play from start to finish. Plus the Bitterest Pill and Beat Surrender tracks and associated B-sides make a lot more sense than they did at the time.
Highest compliment is that it sounds contemporary whereas, say, Setting Sons does sound a bit dated.
Give it a listen and you won't be disappointed.
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on 12 April 2013
I did hear this album back in the eighties when it was originally released and thought it was quite good at the time, however having recently purchased it for the first time I was very disappointed with it. I found it to be an unfocused piece of work, containing elements of funk, calypso and soul. A few tracks benefit from that, such as Precious, which is one of the strongest tracks on the album. The planner's dream goes wrong is the calypson influenced track is really quite bad. Town called malice is also a very good track, but the rest of it is poor and on the strength of this work it is just as well that The Jam split up. The evidnence provided on this album suggests that Paul Weller was running out of ideas.
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on 9 December 2012
A superb album which still sounds good today. But, be carefull there are several formats to choose from. The deluxe edition may seem to most to be a more realistic purchase than the Super deluxe version. However, I dont understand why Amazon have got the track listing COMPLETELY wrong. There are far fewer tracks on both the actual discs than was advertised. From the advertised listings, It seems that Discs 1 and 2 of the deluxe version are the same as the first two discs of the Super deluxe version when in reality there are far less tracks Incidentally, no one seems to have picked up that the versions of "Stoned out of my mind" and "War" are not those from the Beat Surrender doublepack single.
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on 13 January 2007
The last album before a bands breakup has a tendency to show the cracks.

(The exception that proves the rule is The Police - Synchronicity)

Here there are classic Jam tracks -Town Called Malice, Precious, Ghosts Carnation etc.

These give away the change in influence, but this was the Jam - There is year and a half between In The City and All Mod Cons - but they are worlds apart sound wise.

In all this is a very good album - eliminate the planners dream went wrong and it actually works as an LP. But there it just doesn't sound quite polished enough.

Great for the Weller enthusiast - if you are looking for a taster of the Jam sound try All Mod Cons first.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 17 February 2001
Here in the US the Jam's albums are out of print. There are some compilations discs, but the individual albums are gone. I was delighted to find that they're still available in the UK and that I could get them here. This may not be the Jam's best, but it's still a great record and I'm glad I picked it up. I also got "All Mod Cons," which is certainly better, but the gift if still pretty strong. I'm going to get the rest of them....
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
There was no new studio album from The Jam in 1981, so by the time The Gift was released in the spring of 1982 a hell of a lot of water had gone under the pop music bridge since `Sound Affects' had been released some 18 months before. It is amusing when one considers The Jam's work rate in terms of touring, releasing albums and high quality non-album singles over their six years as a recording band that a gap of 18 months between album releases seemed so huge, when the Britpop giants of the mid to late 1990s would quite cheerfully leave two or even three years between releases.

From a personal point of view, listening to The Gift 28 years later, it brings to mind hot afternoons in the sixth form common room at school where it was played to death on one half of a C90, with The Stranglers' `La Folie' on the other side. Strangely it also reminds me of having a monumental crush on a girl in the fourth year whose benchmark for potential boyfriends was how much they reminded her of John (Duran Duran) Taylor - I failed miserably of course.

So where was I? Ah yes, The Gift. We didn't know when it was released that it was to be their last album, so nobody at the time was saying `well of course this is a blueprint for the Style Council' but with the benefit of hindsight and knowing know what was to happen later that year it quite obviously is.

It's an enjoyable, positive album, but in terms of relevance and impact, barely a pale shadow of `All Mod Cons' or `Setting Sons'. Patchy, shouty, Northern Soul experiments and dodgy instrumentals aside there are some incredible songs on the album; both sides of the bands last truly great single (Town Called Malice and Precious) as well as two of Weller's finest songs of his career, `Ghosts' and `Carnation'

As for the blueprint for Weller's future project The Style Council, note the similarities in the excellent `Just Who Is The Five O'Clock Hero?' to Style Council's debut single `Speak Like A Child'

Despite its flaws, The Gift is as vital a component in The Jam's story as any of their albums, even if only as a sign of where Weller's musical direction was destined to go throughout the 1980s. It's not as bad as many say it is, but it is a long way from perfect too.
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on 28 October 2014
This is a more soulful album from The Jam. About as far from In the City as is possible to get. It showcases Paul Weller's interest in Motown more than any other Jam album, and is in some ways not surprising that the band split soon after recording it. But is is still distinctively a Jam album, and none the worse for that.
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