This Style Council Compilation Was Released By Polydor In The Year 2000.
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”. Continue reading →
The Core Style Councilors - Mick Talbot, Dee C. Lee, Steve White And Paul Weller
Paul Weller quit The Jam at the height of its fame in 1982, and he changed direction as markedly as he could by forming The Style Council. He went from fronting a power trio to becoming a member of a jazz-pop quartet. The change was marked, but not that abrupt – the final Jam album (“The Gift”, 1982), some A-sides like “Beat Surrender” and several late-period B-sides (many of which are found on the “Extras” compilation) show us that the sound of The Style Council was a natural destination to arrive at for someone who loved jazz, soul and Motown as much as good old rock & roll.
He made a deliberate attempt to avoid being placed on the epicenter of it all by bringing a keyboard player in, and letting him have an equal creative role. The one he chose, though, made many fans roll their eyes in disbelief – Mick Talbot had been a member of The Merton Parkas, one of the worst Mod-revival bands of the late ‘70s. Talbot was treated as an equal by Weller all the way through, even when it was evident that Paul had not brought a McCartney (or even an Entwistle) along for the ride.
Paul Weller & Mick Talbot
The remaining councilors were to be singer Dee C. Lee (who was to eventually marry Weller) and drummer Steve White. He remains one of Paul’s most loyal collaborators to this day. Incidentally, he is the older brother of Alan, the drummer for Oasis during their glory days. Continue reading →
This Unofficial Biography Of Paul Weller Was Published In 1996 By Virgin Books. The Biographer Is Steve Malins.
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”. Continue reading →
"Snap!" Was The First Jam Compilation Ever Released. The Year Was 1983. The CD Edition Was To Omit 8 Tracks.
Quite a gem, this is the CD reissue of a double LP that collected all the singles and the best album tracks that the epoch-making band led by Paul Weller produced during its time together. Eight tracks have been dropped to make it all fit into one CD – the eight album tracks. That makes the CD stand as a sort of singles collection.
Every A-side is featured, and that includes the compositions “’A’ Bomb In Wardour Street” and “Dreams Of Children”, songs that were released as part of double A-sided singles. Of course, all the non-album tracks that they were to release are featured – “Going Underground”, “Strange Town”, “When You Are Young”, and their final #1: “Beat Surrender” (a song that feels more Style Council than The Jam). Continue reading →
"Extras" Assembles Rare Songs & Takes From All Over The Jam's Relatively Brief Career.
Extras was a compilation of Jam b-sides, rare tracks and demos that was issued in 1992. The main value the compilation has always had is in portraying the development of Paul Weller as a composer, since cover versions that map out the way he shaped the sound of the trio as they went along are extensively provided. We have covers of The Beatles (“And You Bird Can Sing”), The Small Faces (the charged “Get Yourself Together”) and The Who (“Disguises” and “So Sad About Us”, the b-side to “Down In The Tube Station At Midnight” that paid tribute to the passing of Keith Moon) along with many R & B and soul covers like “Move On Up”, “I Got You (I Feel Good)” and “Fever” (which is fused with Paul’s own “Pity Poor Alfie”).
Some of the best original b-sides include “The Butterfly Collector” (a timeless take on the groupies and hangers on that have always littered the music scene), and the electric version of Foxton’s Smithers-Jones (a string quartet performs it on “Setting Sons“; the original version was the flipside to “When You Are Young”). There is also Weller’s own “Shopping” (a shuffly number that manages to marry the vision which led to the Style Council with the sound of The Jam) and the salient “Tales From The Riverbank”. That one has always been deemed as one of those “should have been an a-side” track by fans, critics and Weller himself. Its placement on the album is also very good, being situated right at the beginning with “The Dreams Of Children”.
There are also two unreleased Weller originals. They are “No One In The World” and “Hey Mister”. Both are performed by him unaccompanied – the former is played on guitar, and “Hey Mister” is played on piano. The songs have a disaffected outlook on life and politics respectively, and I think they would have made for interesting group performance. Continue reading →
The Jam's Final Studio Album Was Issued In 1982. It Was Named "The Gift".
The Gift was to be the final Studio album cut by The Jam, and it simply showcases how Weller ambitions had massively outgrown the band. In places it sounds like a Style Council record that has Foxton and Buckler looking over their shoulders and glancing at the spots their musical ideas where when they began. Because they had little to contribute by this point. It is not necessarily their fault – Weller has come up with some textures and grooves that are totally un-Jam like, in the same way that Pete Townshend brought along influences for the recording of The Who’s “Who Are You” that left many band members (especially Keith Moon) stranded. When that happens, a band takes its last bows and walks offstage.
These style excursions that do not work include “The Planner’s Dreams Go Wrong” and “Circus”, while “Running On The Spot” has potential that is never realized. Still, some compositions do work out to a lesser or bigger extent – “Precious” is quite effective, and the monster hit “Town Called Malice” gave everybody high hopes for the album (it was released some time ahead of the record, coupled with “Precious”). For its part, the soulful title track falls somewhere in the middle. Continue reading →
In Theory, Each Panel Is Related To A Lyric On The Album
During their brief time together, Paul Weller & Co. were to release 6 albums of original compositions. Three are traditionally regarded as representing their pinnacle. They are “All Mod Cons“, “Setting Sons” and “Sound Affects”. Out of the three, “Sound Affects” is the one I like the least. Here, they sound more like The Beatles than The Kinks or The Who, two bands that had been the predominant influence until then. As the critics aptly insinuated, Sound Affects stands as The Jam’s “Revolver”.
The album bore The Jam’s second chart topper – the song is named “Start”, it was inspired by Orwell’s “Omage To Catalogna”, and the bass part has been taken on permanent loan from The Fab Four’s “Taxman”.
The other major hit the album features is “That’s Entertainment”. The song was issued as a single only in Germany, and it is still the best-selling import single within the United Kingdom. Continue reading →
It was only natural that a hardened Who and Kinks fans such as Paul Weller would eventually release an album with conceptual tinges. That is exactly what characterizes the fourth album released by The Jam. The year was 1979, and the name of the release was Setting Sons.
The story involved three childhood friends who became distanced as they grew up, and the responsibilities and the toll of the adult world began manifesting themselves and settling in irretrievably. One of the characters ends up as a left-wing radical, while the other leans markedly to the right. The third character is Weller, who can see both sides clearly. Continue reading →
This album marks the point when The Jam came of age. The year was 1979, and it was their third release – their first album (“In The City”) was very well-received whereas the second one (“This Is The Modern World”) was consistently panned. Both albums were released in 1977.
It includes what most people (count me in) deem as their greatest song: “Down In The Tube Station At Midnight”. Note that although “Tube Station” is the song most people associate with the band, it was not that wildly successful when the album was released. It was a top 20 hit, but it went nowhere near the top slots of the charts then. Continue reading →
The Jam Were Characterized By Wearing Black Suits When They First Started. Left To Right: Paul Weller, Rick Buckler & Bruce Foxton.
I have some fantastic memories of the times I was a Jam fan. Their music might just as well be the perfect companion when you are maturing and leaving the world of juvenile irresponsibilities away.
I was introduced to them by John Alroy. That is, many years ago I sent him an e-mail telling him how interesting I found his record’s review website, and asking him which bands could I like since I had completed my Who collection. I also told him I was fond of The Sex Pistols and Oasis. Alroy sent me a very courteous e-mail and told me I would probably like The Jam (he described them as a cross between The Who and The Sex Pistols). He also recommended XTC to me. Hehe. Bingo! Continue reading →