The Very Best of the Jam is the third, and complete, collection of the Jam's 21 hit singles. Containing an almost identical track list as Greatest Hits and Snap!, this 1997 release chronologically charts Paul Weller, Rick Buckler, and Bruce Foxton's development from mod revivalists, to leftist new romantics, to '60s R&B fanatics, to Brit-pop pioneers. Finishing this anthology of the Jam's brief -- when compared to similarly influential British predecessors like the Rolling Stones and the Who -- British chart domination, the trio's fourth and most incendiary number one hit "Beat Surrender," punctuates their brilliant singles career with a post-punk flash -- minimizing the stylistic juxtapositions and political commentary that while important, are only secondary components of what has become a monumental legacy. Listeners not yet familiar with the Jam might prefer this singles compilation to its above-mentioned predecessors or to the many B-side and rarity offerings released after the group's breakup in 1982. The remastered tracks sound a little tighter and more even than the original masters, and the liner notes contain thorough descriptions with plenty of information to help put the songs in commercial and historical context. Hardly a necessity for collectors or passionate followers of the group's career, The Very Best of the Jam does serve its purpose as a nicely packaged, full-sounding quick study.
AllMusic Review by Vincent Jeffries