“The Gift” by The Jam - album review

features in: Album Chart of 1982 →Album Chart of the Decade: 1980s →

TJR says

Being a little bit Punk, a little bit Motown has always been the Jam's style, and the sixth album in six years, released in March '82, finds them leaning more and more towards the latter. With it's sharp-funk-stabs and generous dose of brass, “The Gift” is their most soulful trip into Mod subculture yet. “Ghosts” is an early highlight, with percussion largely limited to hi-hat and handclaps, highlighting those oh-so-personal lyrics: “Why are you frightened, can’t you see that it’s you, That ain’t no ghost, it’s a reflection of you, Why do you turn away and keep it out of sight?” Like a well compiled eclectic mixtape, the phat funk of “Precious” immediately sounds great by way of contrast; everybody's going crazy for that Pigbag sound in '82. Contrasting wonderfully again, “Just Who Is The 5 O’Clock Hero?” is another classic of the working class struggle variety, poetically empathetic, but with no sugar coating: “Hello darlin', I'm home again, Covered in shit and aches and pains, Too knackered to think so give me time to come round, Just gimme the living room beat to the TV sound”. Surprisingly, they decided not to release this one as a single in the UK, although home demand was such that a Dutch import 45 made the Top 10!

The album's only official UK 45 was another AA-side, with the aforementioned “Precious” playing second fiddle to “Town Called Malice”, where “rosy days are few” and the inhabitants face “struggle after struggle, year after year”. The ecstatic dance beat belies the lyrical intensity, and perhaps that's the very point; in these towns we'll make do best we can… and dance. It's very noticeable that the one-two parting finale wears that Motown badge with pride; “You Can't Hurry Love” & “Heatwave” motifs lines permeate “Town Called Malice” & “The Gift”. With an acute sense of statement, the album-closing title-track would also have the honour of being the Jam's last-ever song in concert on December 11th, 1982, at Brighton’s Conference Centre, whilst “Beat Surrender” was #1 in the singles chart. Weller's decision to disband the group, announced in the middle of the year, was either brave or insane, depending on who you talked to. Fair play to him, he's been resolute about the decision ever since: “I wanted to end it to see what else I was capable of, and I'm still sure we stopped at the right time. I'm proud of what we did but I didn't want to dilute it, or for us to get embarrassing by trying to go on forever. We finished at our peak. I think we had achieved all we wanted or needed to, both commercially and artistically.” Respect is due.

The Jukebox Rebel

A1 [02:51] 6.7.png The Jam - Happy Together (Paul Weller) New Wave
A2 [02:11] 7.3.png The Jam - Ghosts (Paul Weller) Cerebral Pop
A3 [04:13] 7.4.png The Jam - Precious (Paul Weller) New Wave
A4 [02:15] 9.3.png The Jam - Just Who Is The 5 O’Clock Hero? (Paul Weller) New Wave
A5 [03:59] 6.2.png The Jam - Trans-Global Express (Paul Weller) New Wave
B1 [03:06] 6.1.png The Jam - Running On The Spot (Paul Weller) New Wave
B2 [02:11] 5.8.png The Jam - Circus (Bruce Foxton) New Wave
B3 [02:19] 5.7.png The Jam - The Planner's Dream Goes Wrong (Paul Weller) Cerebral Pop
B4 [03:28] 6.4.png The Jam - Carnation (Paul Weller) New Wave
B5 [02:55] 9.0.png The Jam - Town Called Malice (Paul Weller) New Wave
B6 [03:08] 6.5.png The Jam - The Gift (Paul Weller) New Wave

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