Top positive review
Dig The New Breed
on 4 May 2018
Dig The New Breed was The Jam's parting gift to their fans, originally released the day before the band played their final gig.
Consisting of live performances recorded at various UK venues between 1977 and 1982, the tracklist is very much in the spirit of a "best of". But this being The Jam, don't expect that live setting to provide Hendrixan musical expansions upon a theme. The material almost entirely stays faithful to the original studio blueprints, although Dreams Of Children does stand out by virtue of having its energy level cranked seriously and impressively upwards.
Musically the one downside is probably Big Bird, which seems to be something of a self-indulgent anomaly. This track never appeared on any Jam studio recording, so back in 1982 it would probably only have been known to fans who'd seen the band perform it live. That's if they even knew what they were seeing performed. Remember, this was pre-Internet. Back then if you didn't know what a song was at a gig, no Google, so tough luck! That alone makes it a very odd choice to place on a final release. Even to this day I still don't think it sits well on the album, being far too clunky for the flow.
As for the mastering of the CD (Polydor 810 041-2, which I believe was first released in 1987, then reissued in 1995 under the same number), it's actually quite analogue. I found myself with the urge to increase the volume as the CD progressed, something of a rarity in our current era of masterings commonly being deliberately loud and compressed.
One minor complaint, there are fade-outs between tracks from different gigs. It would have been nice had the album been mixed as if one continuous show,
I notice some reviewers calling the quality of the sound bad, which I do not understand. Maybe they're expecting a pristine modern digital mastering? The performances on this disc were professionally recorded and as such they sound perfectly fine. Everything is nicely balanced, mixed in a natural style, reflecting what happened on stage. Soul and realism are put before polish and sheen. Which is exactly how it should be.
So to sum up, I give Dig The New Breed a 4 star rating. It's got a decent tracklist featuring an even spread of essential fan favourites and lesser known album tracks, so it works for the casual listener and the uber-fan. It's just shame the artwork is so bland. In that respect this compilation really deserved something a bit more lively to properly reflect the content.
Tracklist; In The City, All Mod Cons, To Be Someone, It's Too Bad, Start!, Big Bird, Set The House Ablaze, Ghosts, Standards, In The Crowd, Going Underground, Dreams Of Children, That's Entertainment, Private Hell.