As a “Then” album to revisit alongside Paul Weller’s Sonik Kicks, I decided to showcase either a Jam album or a Style Council album. Narrowing the choice to only my favourites from those bands, I was left with – well, pretty much everything they put out. I’ve given up and just chosen my favourite of the lot, 1980’s Sound Affects.
Listen to any Jam album, then any Style Council album, then any Weller solo album, and there are a couple of constants: great songwriting and Weller’s powerful, inimitable vocals. Those constants aside, the music can sound very different. Many fans of The Jam were shocked, for example, when Weller emerged, a while after The Jam’s breakup, with his Marxist lounge act The Style Council – but, damn, there was no diminution in quality. For all that, Sound Affects is my sentimental favourite in Weller’s extensive discography; and I promise that if you’ve never heard it, it will absolutely knock your socks off.
Starts Strong, Ends Strong
Sound Affects is one of those rare albums that don’t sort of peter out in the middle of the second side, and that’s saying a lot of an album whose first side features such killer songs as “Pretty Green,” “Set the House Ablaze,” and the astonishing “That’s Entertainment.” Every track on this album is excellent, and there’s no letup – emotionally, the album ebbs and flows, but your attention’s not allowed to slide for a moment. Weller, consummate bassist Bruce Foxton, and drummer Rick Buckler are at the top of their form, and the songs come blasting out of the gate with commitment and drive.
He Really Meant It, And He Still Means It
If you check out my review of Weller’s 2012 album Sonik Kicks, you’ll see that – at least to my ears – Weller is still writing and performing exciting, vital rock-and-roll music. He’s neither burnt out nor faded away, and I can’t see him doing either. But there’s still that undeniable attachment we all have to the first album we heard by a favourite artist, so I confess that I will never tire of Sound Affects. From the capitalist critique of album opener “Pretty Green” to the ominous polemic of album closer “Scrape Away,” this is simply one of the best pure rock albums ever made.
Check out our review of Sonic Kicks.
Please rate this album and visit Paul Weller’s official site: www.paulweller.com