“Setting Sons” by The Jam - album review

features in: Album Chart of 1979Album Chart of the Decade: 1970s

TJR says

The Jam’s brilliant form continues on the 4th long player, ending the decade on a major high. The set was released in November, just as “The Eton Rifles” was beginning its ascent on the UK Top 40, the 45 eventually giving the group their first bona-fide smash, peaking at no. 3. The song covertly celebrates a fist-fight small-victory for the working-class-yobs of Slough against the neighbouring boorish-posh-yobs of Eton: “Hello, Hooray, an extremist scrape with the Eton Rifles” but is resigned to defeat in the capitalist game of life “What chance have you got against a tie and a crest?”. Before we get to that (the second-last track), we’ve had plenty of highlights to devour. The excellent “Thick As Thieves” is one such highlight, just listen to these three play – absolutely magnificent. “Setting Sons” had originally been conceived as a concept album, detailing the lives of three boyhood friends who later reunite as adults after an unspecified war only to discover they have grown up and apart. Quite clearly, this would have been a key track in this endeavour, and Kinks-esque levels of “Arthur” class shine brightly here. The classic “Little Boy Soldiers” would also have served the concept well, with Who-esque levels of rock-opera ambition on display. While I’m comparing them with British 60s greats I might as well align the mighty “Smithers-Jones” with Beatles-esque levels of “Eleanor Rigby” brilliance. Pleasingly, this one comes from the pen of bassist Bruce Foxton. The all-strings re-arrangement from the previously released guitars and drums single b-side version is revelatory – kudos to drummer Rick Buckler for the idea. Right here, the trio are strong, not yet as grown apart as Weller’s original concept may have alluded to…

The Jukebox Rebel

A1 [02:57] 6.8.png The Jam - Girl On The Phone (Paul Weller) New Wave
A2 [03:40] 8.9.png The Jam - Thick As Thieves (Paul Weller) New Wave
A3 [03:51] 6.7.png The Jam - Private Hell (Paul Weller) New Wave
A4 [03:33] 9.1.png The Jam - Little Boy Soldiers (Paul Weller) New Wave
A5 [02:52] 6.5.png The Jam - Wasteland (Paul Weller) New Wave
B1 [03:32] 6.7.png The Jam - Burning Sky (Paul Weller) New Wave
B2 [03:00] 9.7.png The Jam - Smithers-Jones (Bruce Foxton) Songwriter
B3 [02:53] 7.1.png The Jam - Saturday’s Kids (Paul Weller) New Wave
B4 [03:59] 9.5.png The Jam - The Eton Rifles (Paul Weller) Punk
B5 [02:24] 6.3.png The Jam - Heat Wave (Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier, Eddie Holland) New Wave

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