By 1982, Paul Weller’s sheened however bristling craftsmanship had turned The Jam right into a hitherto unknown phenomenon: a band that topped the charts with songs of uncompromising social commentary sung in Estuary English.
But Weller wasn’t glad, and looking back The Reward was the primary main manifestation of his chafing on the Jam’s supposed restrictions, one thing that will culminate within the group’s dissolution at yr’s finish.
The album’s lead-off double-A-sided single augured effectively. City Referred to as Malice co-opted Motown grooves for the mission of documenting the aching dreariness of poverty, although impressively wasn’t with out humour. Treasured was a lashing love-struck funk exercise.
Nonetheless, they transpired to be the one nice tracks on The Reward.
Although the extra soul-inflected materials was alleged to be an advance, the album appeared a regression. John Harris’ liner notes for this deluxe two-CD version politely recommend the blame lies with drummer Rick Buckler and bassist Bruce Foxton not being sufficiently adept to sort out something however their traditional punk and pop-rock.
Actually, that very good rhythm part is much less culpable than Weller’s sub-standard songs. The wispy Ghosts exhibits Weller has turn into self-conscious about his conferred position of Voice of a Technology. The staccato Simply Who Is the 5 O’Clock Hero is an ersatz City Referred to as Malice.
The jolly calypso backing of The Planner’s Dream Goes Flawed doesn’t work together with its denunciation of tower blocks. The title observe is a life-affirming anthem so pressured that it has overdubbed whistles. Tellingly, Circus – a nice pulsating Foxton instrumental – appears to say greater than Weller’s grand statements.
Additionally wanting is the manufacturing. Pete Wilson, for whom The Jam had distributed with the iridescent hand of Vic Coppersmith-Heaven, double-tracks Weller’s voice to suffocating impact, whereas on “Trans-World Specific” he merely buries it.
The Deluxe Version usefully rounds up non-album tracks of the interval, together with the 12-inch model of Treasured and the wonderful swansong Beat Give up EP. The demo variations of the album’s songs are fascinating (and revealingly much less stultifying than the completed masters).
Neither, although, can disguise the truth that this was a tragic album finale for a outstanding band.