Apr 032012

Sandwich Effect

Listening to The Jam‘s great Setting Sons, which may be my fave by them. But it never really got the spotlight it deserved, did it — due to being sandwiched between their two legendary LPs, Sound Affects and All Mod Cons.

Sure, there were some hits on this, like “Eton Rifles,” and I could do without their version of “Heat Wave,” but whenever The Jam comes up no one ever seems to talk about this album. Why oh why?

Are there any other bands who have a “lost” album — one that seems softer and more vanilla in between the crunchier bookends? Maybe I should listen to Give ’em Enough Rope again???


  28 Responses to “The Sandwich Effect”

  1. tonyola

    Pink Floyd’s Obscured by Clouds, released in 1972. It was released between 1971’s Meddle and 1973’s Dark Side of the Moon and tends to be ignored because it was widely dismissed for being a soundtrack to a long-forgotten movie. Obscured is a bit mellower overall than the albums bracketing it, but I think it’s still a pretty decent effort.

  2. diskojoe

    My first thought was Something Else by the Kinks, which is in between Face to Face & VGPS, but it does have “Waterloo Sunset” & “Death of A Clown” on it.

    The other album I had in mind would be the Who’s second album, A Quick One/Happy Jack, which is probably is not as well regarded as Sing My Generation/Sell Out, but I also like it. It even has a version of “Heat Wave”, just like Setting Sons (my 1st Jam album)

  3. alexmagic

    Blur’s The Great Escape came between their most beloved album (Parklife) and their lone American breakout (Blur), making it overlooked and picking up a “sounds too much like Parklife” reputation to go with it. Personally, I think it’s their best. And, horn section aside, I actually think Parklife and the self-titled album have more in common than do Parklife and Great Escape.

  4. In addition to being final and least-loved of the “Berlin” trilogy, Bowie’s Lodger comes between two albums that are more well-regarded — “Heroes” and Scary Monsters (long considered Bowie’s last great album). But Lodger has a great, unique vibe all its own, as well as Bowie’s few forays into social commentary (“Fantastic Voyage,” “Repetition”).

  5. Good call on Lodger — one of my favorite Bowie records — really some weirdly good songs too — Like “Red Sails” and “African Night Flight”

  6. hrrundivbakshi

    I think Prince’s “Controversy” gets unduly harsh criticism because it was sandwiched between “Dirty Mind” and “1999.”

  7. hrrundivbakshi

    Since we’re talking about bands that are supposedly in my “holy trinity of rock” — ZZ Top’s excellent “Tejas” gets the bum’s rush because it was stuck, hit-less, between “Fandango” and “Deguello.” This, despite the fact (or perhaps because of the fact) that it was supported by the mammoth and mysteriously invisible Worldwide Texas Tour.

  8. hrrundivbakshi

    If this isn’t the ultimate, half-baked, wishy-washy “critical” put-down of a sandwich album, I don’t know what is. From AllMusic:

    “Tejas, despite sounding pretty good, is just forgettable. It has the patented, propulsive ZZ boogie, but none of the songs are particularly memorable, even if the whole thing sounds pretty good as it’s playing. ”

    So it’s forgettable, but it sounds “pretty good”? J’accuse a la sandwich!

  9. I think Controversy is his best album, especially when I don’t try listening to it and just recall the time a kid who was the nephew of Terry Melcher played it for me in his dorm room freshman year and I remember thinking, “That’s pretty cool.”

  10. As I search my favorite artists’ discographies for possible sandwich effect albums I do want to send out a virtual high five to machinery re: Setting Sons, which I have always liked better than any other Jam album.

  11. This band has always been pretty low-key, exposure-wise, but I love Quasi’s When the Going Gets Dark, and it was pretty universally slept on, since the band did not tour much behind it. The two albums bookending it, Hot Shit and American Gong, seemed to get more press, adulation, etc., because they did solid touring behind it. That’s my theory, anyway.

  12. Happiness Stan

    I’ll second that, I thought it was their greatest album when it came out, and still think they went all downhill afterwards.

  13. ladymisskirroyale

    I love that album. The title track was how I started the first mix tape (!) I made for the future Mr. Royale.

  14. misterioso

    Setting Sons is absolutely part of a great trio of records, and which I think is best tends to ebb and flow. (And I like the version of “Heatwave,” actually.)

    I will make a slightly less than wholehearted pitch, but a pitch nonetheless, for the Stones’ Emotional Rescue album. Sandwiched between their by general consensus last great record (Some Girls) and their by general consensus last gasp/last almost great record (Tattoo You), I think it gets a bad rap. Anyway, I’ve always quite liked it.

  15. hrrundivbakshi

    We need to discuss mix tapes we’ve made for people we’ve been sweet on. I fell more deeply in love with my crazy ex-wife when she responded favorably to a very out-of-fashion compilation of old Beach Boys tracks I made for her many years ago. I so wanted her to understand why they were great, and she did!

    My wonderful, eminently sane and generally awesome current wife was the recipient of a Pernice Brothers comp I made for her. I felt the need to share it because I always found myself listening to the PB as I drove back from her place late at night after marathon smooch-fests. Somehow, their dreamy music fit the early-morning-hour, headswimming mood I would be in. Mix tapes (or CDs) are very important things!

  16. Funny, I was considering offering that album too, or at least the hit singles being sandwiched between the other albums’ better-regarded hit singles.

  17. BigSteve

    Fantastic Voyage is social commentary?

  18. Fear of nuclear annihilation, I believe.

  19. Happiness Stan

    I’m surprised that no-one has offered up Bob Dylan’s Self Portrait, offering four whole sides of treasures, between Nashville Skyline and New Morning!

    Seriously, I know that it gets the thumbs down from many, but I’ve always been extremely fond of Street Legal, coming between the absolutely huge Desire and the huge (over here at any rate) Slow Train Coming.

  20. misterioso

    HS, I was this close to going with Street Legal. I agree, it is a terrific record. I am not sure that Slow Train Coming is widely seen as a great record, thought it was a very popular one. (As a Dylan guy I think Slow Train is about 2/3 tremendous.)

  21. Happiness Stan

    M, I don’t think I’ve ever actually listened to Slow Train Coming, and thought quite hard about whether SL counted, eventually deciding that it could be argued to on the grounds of STC’s huge sales.

    Next time I hit one of my Dylan patches I’ll give it a go, along with all of his later albums – I think that Shot of Love is probably the most recent I’ve listened to – I’ve just been too nervous after the Dylan and the Dead Live album to have my heart broken by him again. I think I’m a lot more broad minded these days and can probably take it.

  22. BigSteve

    Really? You may be right, but it sounds like the usual Bowie cut-ups to me.

  23. pudman13

    Couple of things:
    –No, do not re-evaluate ROPE. It’s half of a good (but not great) album and half of a really lame one, a pretty sad effort from a band who were supposedly the world’s greatest.
    –I always thought SETTING SONS was the best Jam album, but that’s from the perspective of someone who isn’t a Jam fan. I never understood why people thought SOUND AFFECTS was so great…it’s like ROPE, except that the high points are better. There are way too many weak songs on that to think of it as a great album. ALL MOD CONS I can understand, but again it’s not really something that every particularly inspired me. I really like the bands who inspired the Jam, and I really like most of their key peers, but something about them never swayed me. I can’t explain it.

  24. cliff sovinsanity

    Those who are “in the know” rate R.E.M’s Fables Of The Reconstruction rather highly, but it is not as widely known as Reckoning and Life’s Rich Pageant. I wouldn’t call the album “vanilla” but rather it’s dense and multi-textured. It doesn’t have the sharp ringing guitar of Reckoning or the joyful racket of Pageant, rather it’s reflective and hazy on melody. It wouldn’t be until a few years later that they would turn this sound into a big seller.

  25. Happiness Stan

    Hear, hear Mr Pud. I think that describing Rope as ‘half’ a good album is being somewhat over-generous, although London Calling is closer to being two-thirds of a great single album. I saw them three times, in 77, 78 and 79, and as the albums became more lumpen they became increasingly stunning live, the London Calling gig on Hastings Pier was (apart from Johnny Cash at Glastonbury) possibly the greatest gig I’ve ever seen.

    Also with you on Sound Affects, which was the point where I departed company with the Jam – although that had more to do with being unable to square the punk idealism I held to at the time with Weller embracing his inner pub-band-soul-man than the quality of the music. Setting Sons was the last gasp of a man being very convincingly angry before trading it all in for wimpy knitwear.

    Like The Clash, I can forgive The Jam a great deal just for the memory of the night I saw them on the Setting Sons tour.

  26. Happiness Stan

    I thought about nominating REM, but have just checked the chart stats on wikipedia and see that their album sales trajectory took a rather different course over here than in the US, so I wouldn’t have thought of Fables as being the sandwich album, which was their biggest selling album over here until Green. It’s probably my favourite REM album, along with Reckoning and Life’s Rich Pageant.

    From a Brit perspective, Document is probably the closest to being the sandwich album, although for me it’s the point where they stopped being particularly interesting as well, marking the turning point from Mumbly Michael to Pop Star Michael.

  27. cliff sovinsanity

    Huh, because Document was the commercial breakout album in North America. I knew that Fables was recorded in England, but I don’t know if that had anything to do with it’s success.
    In terms of trajectory, REM built upon their success with each subsequent album in the 80’s. The point I was trying to make was that Fables is not a “go to” album if your building an REM discography. Reckoning and Pageant sound more accessible (to my ears at least).
    I just listened to Green the other day and I would have to classify that one as a stumble.

  28. misterioso

    Dude, how about “stumble, fall, smash head, break leg, have to be put down”?

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