Sound Affects is a 1980 album by British group The Jam. This release, their fifth album, is frequently considered the closing point of The Jam's artistic peak begun on their third LP, All Mod Cons and carried through on its follow-up, Setting Sons. This is considered by many fans and critics to be The Jam's best album; only All Mod Cons receives more claims thereto. Paul Weller considers this album to be The Jam's best work.
After the ambitious, harder-rocking Setting Sons, The Jam returned to the pop-oriented outlook of All Mod Cons, albeit with a noticeably different sound. The most salient influence on this album is '60s British psychedelic pop, such as The Beatles' Revolver, The Who's The Who Sell Out, and The Kinks' The Village Green Preservation Society. The psychedelic overtones run throughout the album: in the backwards guitar on "That's Entertainment"; in the swirling, gauzy feel of "Man in the Cornershop"; in the punchy British horns of "Boy About Town" and "Dream Time". Other obvious influences are post-punk groups such as Wire, Gang Of Four, and Joy Division and, particularly evident in Rick Buckler's drumming, Michael Jackson's Off the Wall album. Indeed, singer/guitarist/songwriter Paul Weller said at the time that he considered the album a cross between Off the Wall and Revolver.
The album's cover is a pastiche of the artwork used on the various "Sound Effects" records produced by BBC Records during the 1970s. This album features the group's second UK number one single, "Start!", built around a bassline obviously inspired by The Beatles' "Taxman", the lead cut on Revolver. Ironically, Polydor pushed for "Pretty Green" to get the single release instead, thinking it a surer bet, but Weller insisted on "Start!"
"Pretty Green" is perhaps the apotheosis of the Michael Jackson and Beatles fusion, melding a throbbing funk bassline and rhythm with melodic guitar breaks and psychedelic sound effects. The group would later explore the "Britfunk" sound in earnest on their next and final album, The Gift.
Perhaps The Jam's best known and most acclaimed song is the striking acoustic ballad "That's Entertainment"; it was recently named to the List of Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Songs of All Time at #306, The Jam's lone entry. For a full discussion of this song, see the relevant article page.