Jet/Even More Light Than Shade

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The collected works of Jet are a time capsule from a particularly quirky era in British rock -- the mid-‘70s period when glam reigned supreme. By the standards of that time, it must have seemed like Jet had it all. The members' collective CV included work with Roxy Music, Sparks, Jook, and Marc Bolan's pre-T. Rex band John's Children. Their producer was Roy Thomas Baker of Queen fame, they were looked after by Gary Glitter's manager, and they were outfitted by Elton John's clothing designer. Still, Jet only managed to release one album, but this two-disc package reissues that record along with the collection Even More Light Than Shade, which contains live cuts, demos, and unreleased studio tracks. It's the first time these rarities have ever been paired with the band's proper album, thus making for the ultimate Jet offering. Looking back on what might have been, it's tantalizing to imagine Jet taking the world by storm and continuing their career. Their debut is a charmingly eccentric piece of work that could only have come from this place and time, but stands shoulder to shoulder with the recordings of Jet's better-known peers. As befits their Roxy/Sparks connections, Jet were definitively camped on the brainier side of glam; instead of thudding, clap-along beats and simple guitar hooks, they created sophisticated little art rock gems, with Davy O'List's guitar lines sometimes evoking Queen axeman Brian May's orchestral approach to the six-string. Singer Andy Ellison's delivery was arch and mannered, as befits the milieu -- imagine David Bowie imitating Sparks' Russell Mael, with wry lyrics to match. The second disc mostly contains different versions of the album tracks -- live, demo, etc. -- and while these aren't revelatory, they provide some well-warranted context for this ballyhooed band's slim output. The most interesting tracks on the rarities compendium are those recorded by a revamped version of Jet for an intended second album. The sophomore release was not to be, as the band soon morphed into Radio Stars, just in time for the arrival of punk, and released two late-‘70s albums skirting the line between glam and early new wave.

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