The Jam

The Gift

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As good mods, the Jam always had a healthy respect for R&B and soul -- even the first album featured the revved-up Northern soul of "Non-Stop Dancing." With The Gift, however, Paul Weller seems to have become completely absorbed in it, and more specifically, in Stax-style soul with more than a hint of psychedelia à la "Psychedelic Shack." An uneven album marked by overindulgences like the instrumental "Circus" and unnecessarily long songs, The Gift still has no shortage of terrific songs, like the simply sublime "Ghost," "Town Called Malice" (the hit), and the funk workout of "Precious." Weller can obviously do "soulful" -- his voice has never sounded better -- but unfortunately, The Gift, with its excesses and marginal tracks, doesn't show his talents in the proper light. Points for ambition, but ultimately, this is their least consistent effort since This Is the Modern World.

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