This “Greatest Hits” package was released by Polydor in the year 2000, and the title is a bit of a misnomer – it is a singles collection, and some of these singles (like “Life At A Top People’s Health Farm” from the “Confessions Of A Pop Group” album) were not just flops – they will always stand as the absolute nadir of Paul’s career.
In any case, the early years of the band (IE, the time when they were in top form) are satisfactorily documented here, as the many non-album sides like “Speak Like A Child”, “Money Go Round” and “A Solid Bond In Your Heart” are featured. “A Solid Bond In Your Heart”, incidentally, was also recorded by The Jam during one of their final sessions together. That version remained unreleased until it was included on the “Extras” disc in 1992.
The compilation also has the superb “My Ever Changing Moods”, a top 30 hit in America. It was Weller’s one and only composition to reach those heights. Not even the Jam could crack that market in their heyday. The song is certainly praiseworthy, with a lyric in which individuality becomes a limitless expression of collectiveness and the character’s ever changing moods represent nothing but the consolidation of immutable acceptance through history. I think the song will always be the best exponent of Weller’s socialist beliefs, and the finest exposition of his conviction that those principles could lead to an eventual change of mentalities.
Of course, songs like “Walls Come Tumblin’ Down” and “The Big Boss Groove” put across the same message in a more direct language. So does the sardonic “Come To Milton Keynes”.
Moving on, the disc includes one of the Council’s best ballads (“You’re The Best Thing”) and a very remarkable bossa nova exploration in the song “Have You Ever Had It Blue”. That song also has one of my favorite set of lyrics from this frequently creative but eventually unfocused stage in Paul’s career.
The CD likewise has the one composition Paul penned with Mick that is likeable, “Wanted” (also known as “Waiter There’s Soup In My Flies”). The song is fluff, but it is smile-inducing fluff for once in their career together – a career that saw disgraces like “The Stand Up Comic’s Instructions”. Plus, Weller gives one of his most soulful vocals ever.
Closing the album is the sole composition from the rejected “Modernism: A New Decade” that saw release back then. Named “Promised Land”, it was a passable dance tune that gave everybody the idea that the album Polydor had turned down couldn’t be that bad. But the truth was a harsh one when the rejected disc was issued at last in the year 2001.
By way of conclusion, this is nothing but a singles package. It doesn’t not summarize the band’s best work, as songs like “Ghosts Of Dachau”, “With Everything To Lose”, “Headstart For Happiness” and a very long etcetera are omitted. It does, however, incarnate the progression and eventual dilution of the band’s sound. It has some historic value and transcendence, but anybody that is familiarized with this stage of Paul’s career can’t help but feel that something more enjoyable could easily have been assembled.