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For those of you watching in black and white...........,
This review is from: The Gift (Audio CD)
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.