Written by Steve Malins (best known for being the biographer of Depeche Mode) and published by Virgin Books in 1996, this book chronicles Paul’s entire career until the release of the “Stanley Road” album in 1995. You also have a good overview of his early years, and the ever-present figure of his father (who was to remain Paul’s manager right until he passed away in April, 2009). That was something I really liked about the book – the way the (quite unique) partnerships in music of a father and a son that lasted for more than 30 years can be seen as it was forming, consolidating itself and then when it was tested by commercial apathy only to stand stronger than ever.
The book has 9 chapters which map out Paul’s life and career clearly enough, with the Jam having the most extensive ones as it is only suitable (pardon the pun). The Style Council’s years receive the right amount of pages, too, and the flow is very convincing – how the band lost its edge gradually, and how Paul became isolated in his own (and misguided) artistic sense. The final segment touches upon his tentative steps as a solo artist (“The Paul Weller Movement”) and the subsequent successes of “Wild Wood” and “Stanley Road”.
I did spot a couple of inaccuracies, yet these are not the kind that could lower the appeal of the book that much. For example, Pete Meaden is said to define Mod as “Clean living under difficult circumstances” in the sleeve of Quadrophenia. He did not. That quote came from an interview. As I said, that is nothing grave but it can irk you if it catches you with your guard down.
Still, the book does make clear why Weller was and will always be a salient figure in the history of British music. I don’t necessarily think the book will make people who are adverse to his music rush out and buy his albums (his music and his life were always the same, in the end) but the ones that have always connected with him will find the link revitalized for sure.