All Mod Cons (1997 Remaster)
Anchored by a cover of the Kinks’ “David Watts,” All Mod Cons is the point where Paul Weller trades in the teenage anthems of the young Pete Townshend for the more nuanced portraitures of Ray Davies, and he doesn't miss any opportunity to observe how success has tinted the world around him. Like “David Watts,” “To Be Someone (Didn’t We Have a Nice Time)” and “Mr. Clean” are scathing satires of upper-crust success, while “All Mod Cons” lashes out at the phony friends that accompany fame and fortune. It’s hard to imagine anyone else pulling off “English Rose,” a disarmingly heartfelt ode to the United Kingdom that avoids smarmy flag waving. In “‘A’ Bomb in Wardour Street” and “Down in the Tube Station at Midnight” Weller paints pictures of sudden violence in the city. The tone of the songs goes beyond anger, and instead offers the sense of betrayal, confusion, and resignation that always accompanies such incidents. All Mod Cons marks a musical and thematic turning point for the Jam, but those last two songs in particular elevate Weller to the ranks of Davies and Townshend.