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WARNING ABOUT DELUXE EDITION TRACKLISTING at end.,
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This review is from: The Gift (Audio CD)
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.
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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Showing 1-4 of 4 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 19 Nov 2012 15:07:15 GMT
J. Milner says:
Great review. Totally agree with all you say. The last sentence sums it up. Cheers!
Posted on 20 Nov 2012 08:02:26 GMT
Last edited by the author on 21 Nov 2012 11:32:45 GMT
"The Gift" was never a classic album, I'm afraid. Which begs the question as to why "Setting Sons" hasn't been given the "deluxe" treatment that "All Mod Cons" and "Sound Affects" got?
While I'm thinking about it, why is it I scurry to buy all these re-releases of albums I already have? I have All Mod Cons in three incarnations. I have Ziggy Stardust four times over. Maybe it perpetuates the idea that The Jam still exist and are releasing albums, hence my excitement waiting for the latest issue of The Gift to arrive? It takes me back to 77-82.
In reply to an earlier post on 25 Nov 2012 09:24:51 GMT
Last edited by the author on 25 Nov 2012 09:36:53 GMT
totally agree about "setting sons."They must be sitting on a lot of demos.If not,what happened to them all? Im really pissed off with the new deluxe version of the Gift. The second cd is full of re-releases and instrumentals and has no Beat Surrender demo, which amazon advertised as being on this. Instead they put the original single on it,which has already been on 50,000 compilations.Why the obsession with "we've only started?" It's just a naff version of Riverbank.where are the Malice demos?The Happy together demos? The quality song demos? I agree The Gift wasnt a classic album,but at the time i originally bought it, it affected me tremendously.So it will always be one of my favourite albums. I wonder how many people have bought the £80 super-deluxe version just for the wembley final tour bootleg and a whole lot of padding?
In reply to an earlier post on 25 Nov 2012 12:28:57 GMT
Last edited by the author on 25 Nov 2012 12:42:19 GMT
I hope nobody has shelled out £80 for any of those "super deluxe" releases from any artist. If they have they are fools. It is bad enough being like me and spending £13 on this!
With regards to demos of tracks that were eventually recorded, such as "Malice" and "Happy Together", I'm not that bothered about hearing them, as the final versions are surely definitive. I do, however, like to hear demos of tracks that never made it. I don't actually think there are that many to be honest, not hundreds rotting away in vaults somewhere, as there are with Bruce Springsteen or Elvis Costello, for example. I think pretty much most of The Jam's acceptable material made it onto the six albums (this must be the case because Bruce Foxton's songs made it through quality control!). Weller wrote a bit of rejected stuff between "Modern World" and "mod Cons" but he binned it, probably for ever. Some of the later Jam-rejected material reappeared during the early Style Council period.
I was attracted by the track "Skirt" thinking it was an unheard track, not an early version of "Absolute Beginners"!
The "Direction, Reaction, Creation" box set is essential for milking as much out of those five years as it is possible. Great sound on it too.
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