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How do you follow something as beloved as 1978's "All Mod Cons"? You do it with 1979's "Setting Sons" that along with The Clash's "London Calling" probably represent Britain's Punk and New Wave period at its snotty full-throated working-class best. And as a nice boy from a nice part of Dublin - I'm down with that Mister Smithers-Jones (The Jam were huge in Ireland)...

Unfortunately like others who bought and loved the glorious embossed original vinyl LP (Polydor POLD 5028) back in the heady end-of-a-decade days of November 1979 - this December 2014 Universal/Polydor 2CD 'Deluxe Edition' feels like a hamburger instead of a steak. I think a lot of it has to do with the presentation of these newer 'Deluxe Editions' that are minus the plastic slipcases that came with the older variants (gave them a bit of class and the easy-to-crumple digipak within some much-needed protection). But like the "Some Girls" Deluxe Edition from The Rolling Stones which completely wrecked fabulous original artwork too – this one screws up the artwork as well and the flimsy exposed card digipak doesn't do this 4th 'DE' for The Jam any favours either.

Having said all that and having whinged like a big girl's blouse - for roughly a ten spot of your hard-earned there's a lot to like about this 2-disc reissue. The new 2014 remasters are superb, Pat Gilbert's liner notes explain the LP's impact really well and the pictured fan memorabilia is impressively in-depth. And on the bonus front you forget just how good all eight of those stand-alone 45s were (both A's and B's) and as evidenced here - The Jam 'live' was an awesome thing to behold - even it this BBC stuff has been released before. Time for some details of our own methinks – let's get to the missing bulldogs and added deckchairs...

UK released December 2014 - "Setting Sons: Deluxe Edition" by THE JAM on Universal/Polydor 0602537946952 (Barcode 602537946952) is a 2CD Reissue/Remaster and plays out as follows:

Disc 1 (58:00 minutes):
1. Girl On The Phone
2. Thick As Thieves
3. Private Hell
4. Little Boy Soldiers
5. Wasteland
6. Burning Sky
7. Smithers-Jones
8. Saturday's Kids
9. The Eton Rifles
10. Heat Wave
Tracks 1 to 10 are their 4th studio album "Setting Sons" - released November 1979 in the UK on Polydor POLD 5028 and in the USA on Polydor SD 6249. Produced by Vic Coppersmith-Heaven - it peaked at No. 4 on the UK LP charts but didn't chart in the States (the US LP also reversed the Sides - Side 1 beginning with "Burning Sky" and Side 2 beginning with "Girl On The Phone").

BONUS TRACKS - The Singles & B-Sides:
11. Strange Town
12. The Butterfly Collector
Tracks 11 and 12 are the non-album A&B-sides of their 6th UK 7" single released 9 March 1979 on Polydor POSP 34 (peaked at No. 15)
13. When You're Young
14. Smithers-Jones (Single Version)
Tracks 13 and 14 are the non-album A&B-sides of their 7th UK 7" single released 7 August 1979 on Polydor POSP 69 (peaked at No. 17)
15. The Eton Rifles (Single Version)
16. See-Saw
Tracks 15 and 16 are the non-album A&B-sides of their 8th UK 7" single released 26 October 1979 on Polydor POSP 83 (peaked at No. 3)
17. Going Underground
18. Dreams Of Children
Tracks 17 and 18 are the non-album A&B-sides of their 9th UK 7" single released 14 March 1980 on Polydor POSP 113 (peaked at No. 1)

Disc 2 - Live At The Rainbow Theatre, Finsbury Park, London, December 1979 (59:08 minutes):
1. Girl On The Phone
2. To Be Someone
3. It's Too Bad
4. Burning Sky
5. Away With The Numbers
6. Smithers-Jones
7. The Modern World
8. Mr. Clean
9. The Butterfly Collector
10. Private Hell
11. Thick As Thieves
12. When You're Young
13. Strange Town
14. The Eton Rifles
15. Down At The Tube Station At Midnight
16. Saturday's Kids
17. All Mod Cons
18. David Watts

THE JAM was:
PAUL WELLER - Lead Vocals, Guitar and Principal Songwriter
BRUCE FOXTON - Bass (wrote "Smithers-Jones", all others by Weller)

MICK TALBOT - Future Style Council partner for Paul Weller is credited as "Merton Mick" and plays Piano on “Heat Wave”
RUDI - Saxophone on “Heat Wave”

The 24-page booklet tries hard to impress - a centre 2-page spread of concert tickets from the Oakland Auditorium in San Francisco in late April 1979 to the unbridled luxury of the Bridlington Spa in November of that Jam-momentous year. There are trade adverts, NME repros, WORDS magazine covers and other depicted memorabilia alongside some live photos. But every one of the flaps is covered in blurred concert photos that have been colour-tinted and look awful and the Red and Blue CDs themselves with a 'Bulldog' face don't impress much nor resemble the LP - and the Bulldog/Deckchair is missing from the back sleeve. The Inner sleeve that came with original British LPs is bizarrely AWOL and it doesn't seem to occur to anyone to provide basic catalogue numbers for anything like I've done above (and don't get me started on the cost of the desirable but extortionate Uber Deluxe Edition). Still - Pat Gilbert's new liner notes give insights into the sheer pressure Weller was under to top "All Mod Cons" and cement their huge and growing popularity and he gets behind the sheer Britishness of the band and the LP's music - how these angry young working-class men were angry at everything - especially the heartless Establishment of the day - and thereby put a single as physically violent as "The Eton Rifles" up to No. 3. And it does sound better...

I've had the "Direction" box set from 1997 and to my ears there's an improvement with these new KEIRON McGARRY Remasters - and those Bonus Single Sides tagged onto Disc 1 pretty much make it essential in any man's books. I don't have the BBC Sessions stuff so the Live Concert on Disc 2 is new to me. I like it - especially lesser-heard tracks like "The Butterfly Collector" and a storming rant through "Mr. Clean" (from "All Mod Cons"). But you'd have to say immediately - what is there here that would tempt a true fan who has purchased all of this before (docked a star for that)?

There's amazing punch in both "Girl On The Phone" and the stunning "Thick As Thieves" - both walloping your speakers as Paul Weller spits out "...says she knows everything about me..." and "...times are so tough...but not as tough as they are now..." (lets not mention the size of Paul's appendage as he does on the "Girl On The Phone" track). The sheer sonic wallop of "Private Hell" is thrilling - as thrashing as I remember it - and the words just as harrowing and locked into the reality of city living in an unemployed England town - singing about an unrecognisable junkie girl lost in their "Private Hell". When the in-yo-face "Eton Rifles" climbed to No 3 on the back of a Top Of The Pops appearance - the album arrived a fortnight later and didn't disappoint with tracks like the unemployed boys and girls holding hands in "Wasteland" and the equally disarming "Little Boy Soldiers" where Weller rages about picking up a gun to shoot a stranger for Queen and Country because you're a "...blessed son of the British Empire..."

Side 2 opens with a "...taxman shouting because he wants his dough..." in the attacking "Burning Sky" that's followed by Foxton's lone contribution and genuine moment of glory - "Smithers-Jones". The single version we're so used to hearing dropped the strings of the album mix - upped the Bass and plucked guitar notes - but I'm a fan of both versions. "Saturday's Kids" drinks lots of beer and work (if they can) down at Woolworths and Tesco's - dreaming of the Mod weekend and the dancehall (and probably seeing The Jam). I've always thought that their storming cover of the Martha and The Vandellas Motown hit "Heat Wave" is the most fantastic version and somehow bookends an angry LP with a moment of upbeat hope (Rudi on Saxophone).

The Bonus Singles throw Disc 1 into superstar territory. I'm fond of "Strange Town" but I'm always drawn to its brilliant flipside "The Butterfly Collector". I can vividly remember playing this side of the Polydor 45 much more than the A. Both the Single Version of "Smithers-Jones" and the Single Edit of "The Eton Rifles" are friggin' genius - but again your heart goes out to the fab B-side "See Saw" which Weller gave to the Glasgow Mod Band THE JOLT who put it onto Side 2 of their 4-Track "Maybe Tonight" EP on Polydor 2229 215 in June 1979 (a huge collectable piece ever since). As if that's not enough - Disc 1 ends on the undeniable brilliance of "Going Underground" backed with the equally cool "The Dreams Of Children". Both rightly took the No. 1 spot in March 1980 - the first of four number ones for this most British of bands.

True fans will probably feel peeved as their computer's access the Gracenote Name database only to be told that Disc 2 of this supposedly new 2014 Deluxe Edition is called 'At The BBC - At The Rainbow' - Disc 3 of the June 2002 3CD set "The Jam At The BBC" - in other words material that's already been released. Well at least its newly remastered making killer tracks like "To Be Someone" feel 'huge' and less muddied than before. People who invested money in 'that film' get a ribbing in the acidic "Mr. Clean" - the crowd secretly loving it when Weller says I'll 'nice' up your life. The gig is not audiophile for sure but it captures the raw power of the band in front of a devoted crowd and has you nodding at the quality of song after song.

I suppose there are two ways of looking at this 2014 DE - for fans it's a pain and apart from the improved Audio - something of a pointless exercise. But I'd say get past the naff packaging and concentrate on the music - The Jam in all their working-man's glory. Weller would go onto The Style Council and Solo glory and has pretty much remained at the top of his musical game every since - each release still awaited with an excitement this band engendered almost 40 years ago.

"...Saturday kids play one-armed bandits...they never win...but that's not the point is it..." - Weller sang on "Saturday's Kids" way back in 1979. It seems that in 2016 - not a lot has changed when it comes to reissues for fans. We're still at the grubby hands of fruit machine vendors...
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on 16 March 2017
Still haven't listened to all this but it's probably my favourite Jam album. 2 classic Weller compositions that were always played together especially for the Leicester gigs were 'Thick As Thieves' and 'Private Hell' . Both epic songs that still send shivers down my back. This deluxe set looked too good to miss as a life-long Jam fan. Burning Sky is very Beatles 'Revolver' in concept. The manic cover of Matha & Vandellas 'Heatwave' makes you out of breath just listening to it. A hark back to 'In The City' or nights at the Electric Theatre in 77. 'Girl On The Phone' starts off sublime building to the end crescendo. You can't go wrong with this album and the bonus tracks add to polished side the Jam showed after 'All Mod Cons'
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on 6 June 2017
These boys are at the peak . Superb album.
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on 4 March 2017
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on 9 March 2017
First class
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on 22 December 2015
Great quality
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on 21 November 2014
Personally I do think there is an appreciable sound quality improvement with this remaster. Disc 2 of the physical set is an improved version of the disc that was released with the Limited Edition of the BBC recordings. And if you think that you maybe should save up for the box set to get the Brighton live disc you could be in luck here as the AutoRIP files that are available with this are actually the Super Deluxe Edition files so you get all the demo recordings as well. Now that is a bonus.
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on 10 September 2009
Paul Weller was 21 when this album was released, but the songwriting shows an amazing level of maturity. No British songwriter has managed to articulate feelings of growing up and non dewy-eyed nostalga as well as Weller. On the brilliant Private Hell, he even manages to get inside the head of a middle aged, vallium addled housewife!
As Im old school, and up until recently listened to my old vinyl copy, I still divide this album into 2 sides. Side 1 Girl on the phone - Wasteland is perfect. Taking in the previously mentioned themes of growing up and middle age; along with war and urban alienation. Side 2 begins with Burning Sky (about growing apart from your childhood friends - although Im still not sure what bowing down to the Burning Sky specifically refers to). Following this is Bruce Foxtons finest moment, Smithers-Jones, a critque of the acceptance of the 9-5 grind (I believe the final chorus lyrics are by Weller). To follow we have 2 excellent tracks, Saturdays Kids - adolecents without much of a future; Eton Rifles - comment on the class system - the single sales of this track signalled that The Jam were hitting the big time. The album finishes with a cover of Heatwave - it doesnt really fit with the rest of the album, but is entertaining never the less.
The music needs no explaination - you either know The Jam 'sound' or you don't. All in all IMHO, this is a faultless album.
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on 16 January 2017
The world of "Setting Sons".....good and bad:

So, it's November 1979. There's no internet. No YouTube. No Facebook or Twitter. No Amazon. No computer gaming. Kids played with physically existent toys and games. No domestic computers what so ever. No DVDs. Not even any domestic video player / recorders yet. No mobile phones. No iPods, iPads or MP3 players. Not even any Walkman yet! Many households had no land line telephones. Not many had central heating or double glazing. Only big, cathode ray, t.v sets. Radiograms and transistor radios. Even though most households had indoor toilets most houses still had toilets in the backyard as well. Parents still felt confident enough to allow their kids to go and and play unsupervised. You were paid in cash not via your bank account. The post came twice a day. The milkman delivered the milk......in glass bottles.....with foil tops.

No political spin. To be a "celebrity" you had to be famous for actually "doing something" of note. No C.G.I. No P.P.I. No CCTV. No cold calling, nuisance phone calls. Car engines could generally be maintained and fixed by their owners. Very little political correctness. Society was still largely none litigious: people were understood to "make mistakes". "Human error" still existed. Three channels on the television and so notable programming was usually watched by the majority. You could still see white dog dirt in the street ( what was this? Where did it come from and where did it go?!?). Many houses still used coal fires and so there would be an ever present scent of burning wood and fossil fuels in the air. Cars were not owned by everyone but, for those that did, they consisted primarily of Austins, Fords, Vauxhalls and Triumphs. These cars smelt of warm (often cracked and split) leatherette, petrol and oil and not air fresheners. You could still find parking. Most people travelled by buses. (Some had regular seats!). Gun crime happened maybe once every 3 or 4 years, and would only be in London. There was comparatively little knife crime. There were no "no go" estates. There were dozens and dozens of pubs and cinemas in every town. ABC minors, dancing classes and Boy Scouts.

No designer clothes: pop stars (excluding "Megastars" and London trendies) and fans alike bought and wore clothes purely for their "look" rather than their brands and so it didn't matter whether they had come from the King's Road, Marks And Spencer or the local market. The barber cut your hair and you had only three or four styles you could chose from. There were corner shops, butchers, bakers, green grocers etc, along with - and sometimes instead of, - the first supermarkets. High streets were healthy. There was little "Health and Safety" so, even though people tended to have more pride in maintaining shop fronts and premises, they could quite often be grubby as well - even food retail outlets! Men didn't wear deodorant. There were no more than three or four commonly worn aftershaves and these were only used on a night out at the local working men's club or local pub. There were still rooms in pubs and clubs that were "men only". Digital watches and calculators were the new and trendy "in" items. You had community bobbies on push bikes who everyone knew and who knew you. If you were a kid everyone could (and, often did) hit you: from parents, to teachers, to neighbours, to the police and the vicar! Casual (not extremist) racism and sexism was "the norm". You knew most, if not all, of your neighbours and were in and out of each other's houses. Neighbours would look after each other's kids. Extended family's were not unusual. The TV started daily around 10:00am.....if you were lucky. The T.V shut down daily around midnight.......if you were lucky. Pubs opened at 11:00am daily and legally had to shut again between 3:00pm and 7:00pm. You could only buy take out alcohol from a registered Off Licence.

Working class communities still existed and were tightly bound. The working class generally lived in terraced streets or council houses not sink estates. There were street parties and street charabanc trips to seaside towns. Whole families congregated in the back streets in the summer to sunbathe and natter. There were few if any domestic washing machines or tumble driers: washing was hung on communal washing lines across the backstreets to dry. There were manners because you'd run the risk of being smacked if you were rude or ignorant: (child or adult) and no one would object to this. You could still purchase half penny and penny sweets from corner shops. Paper shops (newsagents to you) made and sold their own tuppeny ice blocks without environmental health getting involved. Chip shops sold their goods wrapped in yesterday's newspaper without environmental health getting involved. There were two and a half penny coins. There were very, very few hard drug users or addicts and those there were usually came from the extremes of society: (outsiders, bohemians or rock stars) and not from the unemployed rank and file of the working class. Alcohol was the drug of abuse and dependence for those members of the working class whose proclivities lead this way.

Working class youth culture was divided into either the varying cults surrounding the music scene or into sports fans. That was it. You rarely "crossed the streams" of musical genre: if you were a Punk and found yourself liking a single by say, Rainbow, you kept it to yourself! Accordingly, nothing was homogenised into a wholesale, one stop shop, "entertainment industry" - it went deeper than this! Bands had to sell in the hundreds of thousands to even get in the charts. Bands existed that people based their lives on! You bought your music as either vinyl, cassette (or maybe 8 track) from either the local independent record shop (run by enthusiasts) or from the likes of Woolworths. Even shops that had nothing to do with music as a prime concern: furniture stores, iron mongers etc, would have record sections. If your favourite band was going to be on t.v (a rare event!): - which primarily meant Top of the Pops or The Old Grey Whistle Test, - it was essential viewing; you looked forward to it all week, insured you stayed in to watch and committed every nuance to sacred memory. The music papers were eagerly awaited each week and sold in massive amounts. There were no "retrospective" style mags like "Mojo" as everything was still happening. Everyone listened to John Peel. If you lived in a town that didn't have a decent independent record shop or good book shop, you had to either use the mail order companies (such as "Adrian's" or "Small Wonder") that advertised in the weekly music mag back pages or save up and make regular pilgrimages into the nearest city for bulk purchases....again, there was NO AMAZON. Pepe black jeans. Monkey boots. Harrington jackets. 8 hole Doc Martens and Rucannor baseball boots. Hanging around on street corners and running from the local boot boys. Farah. Sta Press. Dog Tooth check. Fred Perry.

BBC tv stage sets were clunky and wobbled. You could now generate better fx on your mobile phone than was seen on the likes of Dr. Who. London Weekend Television. Anglia. Starsky and Hutch, The Six Million Dollar Man and Play For Today. Rock culture was an actual culture: the artists needed to have something to say, believe in what they were saying and be held accountable should they be, "God forbid", found wanting. Bands consisted of (largely working class) kids who scrimped equipment together, rehearsed in sheds and cut their teeth on pub gigs. Accordingly bands didn't consist of kids who had gone to Stage Schools and, directed by vocal coaches and invested parents, "planned for careers". There was still a generation gap. Parents were generally alienated by, hostile to and disparaging of their kids' obsession with pop and rock. Every week there were more and more new singles, eps and albums to buy. Every second week there was a great new band. New independent labels sprang up once monthly who's every release was a must have.

There was probably only two biographies of The Beatles, one on Dylan and Punk Rock had no "Standard Text"!

Jimmy Saville and Stuart Hall seemingly had a blind eye turned to them! The SUS laws and institutional police corruption. Labour was Labour, the Tories were Tories and the Liberal Party was still irrelevant. The National Front had gained ground. Thatcher was starting her assault on the post war consensus and undermining the social contract. Adidas trainers. Gola bags. Beetle Crushers were your dream shoes! Who the hell had ever heard of childhood obesity? London Calling, The Raven, Machinegun Etiquette. Blue Peter. Crackerjack, Grange Hill and Jackanory. The first from The Bunnymen. The first from The Teardrops. METAL BOX. We didn't have "alcoholics" we had "drunks". We didn't have Paedophiles we had "kiddy Fiddlers". The Guardian hadn't picked up on Rock culture yet and turned it into a "heritage" product: mainstream culture still regarded the form as something by and for kids and, thus, unimportant. The culture was therefore ALIVE! Football hooliganism at more or less every fixture. The nearest we had to junk food was Fish and Chips or a pie. It was generally much more casually violent than now. The "comb over" was still regularly seen. Action Man and Corgi. Unions still had clout. Old English Cider. Breaker. Harp lager. Watkins Party 7. C.B Radio. Community Centre discos. Badges and patches. Stitched on beer mats. Tom Jones and Johnny Cash weren't respected artists. MARVEL COMICS.

The working class went to Butlins or to a caravan park on holiday not to the Algarve. Individuality was encouraged. Americanisation was frowned upon. There were no artificial sweeteners or skimmed milk. No good fats and bad fats. Water came out of the tap not in a bottle. Everybody smoked and smoked everywhere. Embassy No 6 blue. Singles cost 50p. Albums cost £4. Live or double albums were considered a bit old fashioned and "la di da". Standardised homophobia. Kids were allowed to be kids and not expected to be planning for the future from the age of thirteen. "U" and "X" rated films. Pensioners weren't attacked. Nurses weren't regarded as suspect. The NHS had enough beds. You could get an appt with your GP the same day. Your mother would take your trousers in. How big can you get the knot in your school tie? Studs and sleepers (lads: in one ear only). Going Underground. Thick as Thieves. Burning Skies.

This is The Jam's best album for my taste and this world I have outlined above is the world the album both inhabits and discusses. If you weren't alive at the time therefore, you won't thoroughly "get it" in anything other than an intellectual manner or understand what a fantastic piece of social reflection is to be found within these songs. You will still, however, be able to be thoroughly grabbed by the strength of the songs, the performance, lyrics and production here. This music is an exciting and mature collection.

Weller was 21 years old when he wrote these songs.

This review could actually also apply to "All Mod Cons", "Sound Affects" or "The Gift" ( indeed, it could also be posted as a review of contemporaneous records by The Clash). However, it was with "Setting Sons" (and the singles post "All Mod Cons") that Weller's writing first became truly "National" in its suburban concerns and thus, representative of working class youth across the entire country rather than just regionalised to the south of England. This band truly did mean so much to people of my generation because they perfectly captured this world I've written about above. Importantly, Weller WAS us, albeit a "cool" us, in great clothes and shoes and with an enviable talent.

Originally conceived as a concept album regarding two friends as they grew, this scheme for "Setting Sons" was abandoned part way through as Weller ran out of writing time. That he did run out of time doesn't detract from the final product however. I understand Weller is happier with "Sound Affects" and that is indeed also a fantastic album, but, as I've said, this is the one for me. Ive got to say, I don't own this version of the album but own everything on it across other, previous digital releases as well as my original vinyl of course. If, like me, you do already own all the material herein, then there possibly isn't much point in purchasing this version from what I can see - unless you want the packaging or are a completist. If you're new to The Jam though, Start! here and "Dig The (once) New Breed".
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on 23 March 2017
An excellent album. I had it when originally released. Paul Weller was always at his best when he was ranting against the political right around this time and also with the Style Council. Until Socialism went down the toilet in the late 80s and he became notably more subdued in his political statements. He seemed to want to distance himself from his past as though embarrassed by the utterances of his youth. These days his songs seem insipid and bland in comparison, as if to avoid any association with the embarrassing and monstrous left-wing Liberal mutation of the Socialism he advocated in the 80s. Nobody can blame him for that.
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