The Jam squeezed in six albums between 1977 and 1982, which has proved a gift to compilers: this is at least their fifth box set. The twist this time is that all eight records – six LPs, plus two discs of singles and B-sides – are on vinyl. A download voucher is also included, but the effort of turning over a vinyl record is rewarded by a richer connection to the music, which is still incandescent.
Weller's compositional abilities grew with each release (the hastily recorded
second LP, This is the Modern World, perhaps excepted); bowing out with The
Gift, he had planted the jazz-funk seeds of his next project, the Style
Council. This set is a persuasive argument for a band quitting at the top of
their game (in the accompanying hardback book, bandmates Bruce Foxton and Rick Buckler
poignantly remember their shock at Weller splitting up the group), but it's
also a reminder that political engagement was once the default position for
rock bands. It's hard to hear it and not reflect on what has been lost.