Sunday, March 13, 2016

On the turntable this Sunday...The Gift

The Gift is the sixth and final studio album by English mod revival band The Jam. It was originally released on 12 March 1982 by Polydor as the follow-up to The Jam's critically and commercially successful 1980 album Sound Affects. The songs were largely recorded during 1981 to 1982, assisted by Peter Wilson, and is generally regarded as the culmination of the smoother, more adult-oriented sound of the band's later work. It was one of the band's most successful studio albums, reaching No. 1 in the UK.

After the album's release, Paul Weller went on to form The Style Council. The song "Carnation" was later covered by Liam Gallagher of Oasis and Steve Cradock of Ocean Colour Scene.
A 2-disc deluxe edition was released in 2012 for the album's 30th anniversary.

The album moved away from the simple three-chord music of In the City and This Is the Modern World, and the more melodic All Mod Cons, Setting Sons and Sound Affects, to demonstrate Weller's love of northern soul. Funk bass lines and wah-wah guitar effects were often used throughout the album, along with jazz influences such as brass sections and saxophone solos (most notably on the track "Precious") and "Trans-Global Express" which was based on the Northern Soul funk hit "So Is The Sun" by World Column, lifting the chorus and rhythm line in their entirety from that song. Only two songs on the album exceed three and a half minutes.

The biggest hit of the album was "Town Called Malice". The song's title riffs on the novel "A Town Like Alice" whilst its lyrics lament disappearing aspects of stereotypical working class life in Margaret Thatcher's Britain. The message is not altogether negative though and the song stands as a potent rallying call to roll with the changes. One of the quintessential "state of the nation" songs in the band's catalogue it is still frequently performed by Weller in concert as a rousing finale to the set. "Just Who Is the 5 O'Clock Hero?", which was released as a 7" vinyl single in the Netherlands only, represents the efforts put in by 9-to-5 working men and women of Britain, who keep society running (and as such, are unsung heroes). Unlike the earlier song "Mr. Clean" from All Mod Cons, Weller does not mock the character, but rather praises him/her. However, the character from "Mr. Clean" represents a completely different strata of society, the executive/upper management types who would typically hound and otherwise make the character from "Just Who Is The 5 O'Clock Hero?"'s life difficult.

Weller's experimentation of several different musical styles previously unexplored by The Jam on this album led to increasing disagreement with the other band members, Bruce Foxton and Rick Buckler, who were disillusioned with the move away from a traditional pub rock or punk rock style. The band broke up after touring the album (even after its massive success, rising to No. 1 on the British charts) on the 'Trans-Global Express Tour'.

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