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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)
RICK BUCKLER - Drums

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 4 March 2017
👍🏻
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on 9 March 2017
First class
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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 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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on 13 March 2010
The Fab 3 at their best. I first heard Setting Sons as a 15 year old Mod in 1979. 30 years later it still makes the hair on my neck stand on end; even if, these days, I have more hair on my neck than on my head...
For David Cameron to try and lay claim to the Eton Rifles is just disgusting.
Buy it and love it.
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on 29 August 2003
This album was the very first quality L.P. that I ever bought, and "Girl on the phone" simply lit up my record player every time it was played. "Little Boy Soldiers" gave me my first ever experience of feeling like a thug which at the age of 7 was something to behold!! And as for "Eton Rifles", say no more. I will always regard Paul Weller as a genius to the British music industry, but Bruce and Rick also played their part in making one of the greatest UK bands ever. Any chance of a reunion lads??
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on 21 August 2000
Setting Sons is the album which best defines The Jams most prophetic period. Weller and Foxtons finely balanced composisions make this album a true classic. The album seems to have lost the rough edges which adorned the previous albums, but it still has managed to retain the cynical cheek which all fans have come to know and love. "Thick as Thevies" is a song which I think that everyone can relate to, with its pumping base and machine gun drums, this song for me, is the best on the album. Paul Weller may have been responsible for 8 of the 9 composed tracks on the album ( exculding Heatwave) but we must not forget the genius that was Bruce Foxtons "Smithers Jones". This song brings some light relief to an album that can, after a while, become a bit wearing. ....Five stars for this little gem, a must have in any music lovers colection.
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