The Jam swiped its musical and sartorial cues from the mod subculture of the '60s: Italian loafers, parkas, the Who, suedhead haircuts, Vespa scooters. Paul Weller wrote simple, catchy punk anthems, but he filled them with more underground iconography than any American could decipher. Of course, he would have been easier to take if he'd been able to refrain from interrupting his own anthems with goofball cries of " youth explosion!" or "reality's so hot!" But Weller's passion was unmistakable, even for American kids who couldn't figure out what he was blathering about through the accent. The Mod fantasy was a leap of faith, a subculture you could join simply by believing it existed, and it made for great rock'n'roll even if the Jam's "youth explosion" never amounted to anything but a handy way to conflate fashion, socialist revolution, and making out. Sound Affects, however, is the Jam's crescendo, lovingly detailing the secret hopes and fears of the "Boy About Town". In "Start!", "Monday," and "That's Entertainment," the boy about town dresses up in his Mod gear to wander the streets, hoping someone will notice him and pluck him out of the crowd. Sound Affects made the Jam the most popular thing since crumpets in the U.K., but Weller seemed confused; he publicized the fact that he almost wept for shame the day "Going Underground" hit number one. It wasn't that Weller didn't like having impact-- he'd always been a ham. But his music was rooted in a fantasy of the past, and he had no clue about how to update it in public


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