THE GIFT by Mick Sinclair ©Sounds - March 1982
Paul Weller writes and composes because he is a natural social commentator, a talented musician and emotionally articulate. This is a classic album opening slab of intense power and verve. Real power pop, The only real disappointment is with ´Just Who Is The 5 o´Clock Hero´. A bit like a bottom heavy Stax-soul mix is ´Trans-Global Express´, a swashbuckling rhythmic jamboree. At strategic points the whole thing melts into a rising tide of multiple repeat echo. THE GIFT is another brilliant Jam album. It will be proclaimed a masterpiece. It will be something for people in the Biz to clink cocktail glasses over. It will be bought in droves and treasured by fans.
Thousands will hear it but how many will actually listen.
THE GIFT by Mark Cooper ©Record Mirror - March 1982
After a year and a half in the desert, the three wise men return. Fresh-faced ´innocents´ may come and go but Paul Weller at 23 is the elder spokesman of British youth. The best Jam songs mix an angry kitchen-sink realism with a surging desire for a change. On THE GIFT he finally steps off the fence and goes for love in the face of despair, and intelligence in the place of exhaustion. The musical range of THE GIFT is wider than ever and The Jam´s skills more developed. The Jam have retained their identity while enlarging it to include ringing brass work and best of all a bubbly happiness. Weller´s understanding of dole-queue despair is equalled by his insistence on the value of the secret of the beat. Weller has no need to be intimidated by the triteness of recent fashions. Yet. I suspect he fears the problems raised by The Jam´s superiority. The major dinosaur tendency on THE GIFT is Weller´s leanings to rather awkward and abstract lyrics ´Trans-Global Express´ has Weller on the outside looking in, substituting sweeping statements for The Jam´s usual faith.
Weller and co keep their integrity by finding glamour no substitute for truth.
Weller´s earnest concern and occasional lyricism finds its perfect counterpart in the springing joy of sixties soul. Thanks for THE GIFT.
THE GIFT by Graham Lock ©New Musical Express - March 1982
THE GIFT is The Jam´s ball of confusion. Though its purpose is laudable it´s undermined by a failure to balance questions of style,What this record misses most is the cohesion and coherence of its predecessors,The tensions on which their records fed so brilliantly have, on THE GIFT, been pushed into irreconcilable extremes. It´s an LP riven by frustration,The undercurrents that before were held together are now falling apart. Weller wants to be optimistic, but not escapist; he distrusts politics, but is drawn to political affairs (and can find little reason there to be optimistic); he seems tired of the old-style Jam music. rooted in ´60s pop and soul, but knows of no better alternative, so ends up dabbling,Stranger still comes on ´Trans-Global Express´. Lyrically this is the most radical statement The Jam have made, and its importance is emphasised on the inner sleeve. I suspect it´s less a conversion to Marx than and update of the Shelley poem which appeared on the SOUND AFFECTS sleeve, but it´s all right-on stuff. How weird then that the lyrics are mixed so low they are practically inaudible, that what sounds like a potentially great Jam song is drowned in an excess of production tricks, electronic noises and jerky vocal bits. Coyness? Failure of nerve? I can´t even guess,It´s curious how Weller´s political ideas, just like his music, can be traced back to the ´60s , Sadly the complexities and rich social detail that went into ALL MOD CONS and SETTING SONS have largely been ditched in favour of such abstract simplifications,The one exception on this, and to all my criticism,is ´Town Called Malice´ a magnificent howl of outrage at Thatcherite Britain, I like ´Precious´ for Weller´s great singing, though it drags when it tries to become a funk workout. (Stay with soul, Paul). The LP has a looser feel than previous Jam albums. The Jam have tried too hard to do too much without really having any stronger foundations than their own desperate desire to ´keep movin´´. It´s not enough, but I guess it shows they still care and for that, at least, I´m grateful.
THE GIFT by Adam Sweeting©Melody Maker - March 1982
I´d guess that it´s not much fun being Paul Weller, for all his success, Weller more than anyone is aware of the absurd tensions which his pop star role automatically afflict him with,By a hideous irony, the supremely efficient Jam organisation would probably serve Thatcher as an excellent model foentrepreneurial organisation,Weller is virtually alone in this wonderful world of pop inconspicuously giving a damn. The effort nearly cripples him at times, too, but when it works, it´s blinding. ´A Town Called Malice´ for example, There´s a strong streak of the romantic in Paul Weller. It inevitably tends to colour his perceptions and make his vision of class struggle and the indignity of Labour seem over-simplified and at times almost Dickensian, Despite the potency of some of the images it´s only when Weller uses his imagination and not just his eyes that the strong achieves anything more than impotent rage. Musically The Jam are probably stronger than ever throughout THE GIFT. There´s more air and more room to breathe, And there has to be a special mention for ´Ghosts´, probably the most haunting and haunted song Weller has ever written. In a couple, of weeks I should know for sure whether THE GIFT is a classic or merely a very good record. At the moment I can´t get it off the turntable, ´Thought that I was a devil?´ asks Weller in the opening track, a dogged statement of the will to win called ´Happy Together´. ´But I´m an angel waiting for my wings´.
Fine. Just stay away from those halos.
THE GIFT by Robert Christgau - Dean Of American Rock Critsics
It's easy to understand why this is Britannia's favorite band--their dedication is very winning. Nobody plays ex-punk quasifunk with less ostentation or more skill, and Paul Weller goes Springsteen one better--not only is he working-class, he's young. As usual, his good-heartedness is palpable here. He takes on suburban racism, nine-to-five fatigue, even general strike without talking down or claiming exemption from sin. And if he's written half a dozen good melodies since he stopped settling for Who hand-me-downs, three of them have passed me by. B