I have to admit to not being a Jamaficionado, or of Paul Weller for that matter. Like everyone I’m familiar with The Jam hits, and have dabbled in some of Weller’s solo releases, and while there’s always some great material I’ve always found both frustratingly inconsistent or at least to my tastes.
So I did wonder whether I was the right person to review this second ‘solo’ release from, Bruce Foxton which, in all but name is ‘From The Jam’ Foxton’s latest vehicle. So it would be unfair not, in the same breath, to refer to his cohort in crime, singer and guitarist Russel Hastings who is as central to the release as Foxton. His name, alongside Foxton’s, does appear as that of the clock manufacturer’s on the album artwork. You wonder why, therefore, it’s marketed under Foxton’s sole name.
The lid’s being tightly kept on the album prior to release so songwriting credits and personnel detail are scant. All we know is that the material was co-written by Hastings, the album was recorded at Weller’s Black Barn Studios, and the man himself, as well as luminaries Wilko Johnson and Paul Jones, make guest appearances.
Foxton says that the meaning of the title track ‘Smash The Clock’ is simply that ‘good music is ageless and timeless’ and that’s exactly what he and Hastings have come up with here; thirteen tracks that transcend the decades.
Inevitably there’s various flavours of Jam spread throughout the set not least in Hastings’ vocal style – without ever sounding overly derivative. It’s just damn fine pop/rock songs, laden with hooks, that hark back to the great songsmiths of the ’60s like The Small Faces, The Who, and The Stones, journeying through The Jam years, and even those of The Style Council years on the brass infused numbers like ‘Now The Time Has Come’.
Foxton and Hastings may not thank me for saying it, but this is probably the best album Paul Weller never made. It may even make a few re-evaluate the perceived division of talent in The Jam. Faultless. *****