Paul Weller

Catch-Flame! (Yep Roc)

As the nine-minute-plus version of the Jam's "In the Crowd" that opens disc two of this set winds down, a brief coda of the guitar chords that end the Who's "Won't Get Fooled Again" emerge. Makes sense; back in the late '70s, when Weller led the Jam, he was the boy who wanted to be Pete (Townshend). Decades later, Catch-Flame!'s live concert recording finds Weller wearing the mantle of elder rock statesman with a rare grace, dignity, and class that stands in stark contrast to Townshend's occasional aged battiness. As such, the album is an instruction manual on how a rocker can mature gracefully, but it also makes the case for Weller's ascension from acquired popular British taste to something approaching greatness. The guitar that led the Jam's three-man charge still stands front and center within a style that seamlessly ranges from soul to pop to hard-edged post-punk and many places and mixes in between. Mixing a few Jam favorites with some Style Council hits and material from his many solo albums, Weller all but invites a visit to the record store to dig into what one might have missed. By the end of this album's 23 tracks of smart, tight, sharp, and energetic rock, the sum total of their effect is something Weller asserted in song decades ago: "That's Entertainment."

 
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