VOGUE TRADER

PAUL WELLER’S REINVIGORATING POST-JAM OUT­FIT RE­VIS­ITED ON VINYL.

Q (UK) - - Q Review Reissues - DAVID QUANTICK

UMC, OUT NOW/ AUG/ SEPT

Af­ter he ended The Jam at the peak of their suc­cess – a de­ci­sion fuelled by both bore­dom and ide­al­ism – Paul Weller turned away from the three-chord, three-piece band lim­its of a group formed for punk into a much more ’ 80s no­tion: The Style Coun­cil were eclec­tic and po­lit­i­cal, full of jazz, soul, rap and clothes and, to an ex­tent, a col­lec­tive. In­tro­duc­ing…, their first mini-LP, con­tains Long Hot Sum­mer, as good a pop-soul bal­lad as any­one has ever made, as well as de­but sin­gle Speak Like A Child. Even more strik­ing is Café Bleu, an al­bum burst­ing with di­ver­sity, en­thu­si­asm and, most of all, free­dom. Jazz in­stru­men­tals, raps, Ev­ery­thing But The Girl and the gor­geous, op­ti­mistic Head­start For Hap­pi­ness all sit next to one another in a set that’s some­times chaotic but al­ways lib­er­ated. Things calmed down a bit on Our Favourite Shop, where funk, soul and Lenny Henry co­a­lesced into a more com­mer­cial and pro­fes­sional groove. Weller’s voice was de­vel­op­ing into a gor­geous, hon­eyed thing, while co-singer Dee C Lee added pop-soul tex­ture to the sin­gle The Lodgers. By the mid-’ 80s, mu­sic was di­vid­ing it­self into MTV-friendly pop and mumbly in­die. The Style Coun­cil – poppy and po­lit­i­cal – didn’t fit any more, and Weller’s work was no longer un­crit­i­cally ad­mired. The Cost Of Lov­ing ( 1987) was both more con­densed and less ad­ven­tur­ous. Much more in­ter­est­ing was Con­fes­sions Of A Pop Group, which saw both a sense of ex­per­i­ment and Weller’s melodic gifts re­turn. How She Threw It All Away and Why I Went Miss­ing are bril­liant songs, while the sheer piano strange­ness of tracks such as The Lit­tle Boy In A Cas­tle/A Dove Flew Down From The Ele­phant sug­gested that there was al­ways more to Weller than crowd-pleas­ing an­thems. But the band’s star was wan­ing and, as suc­cess ebbed away, The Style Coun­cil’s next re­lease was a cover ver­sion of a house track by Joe Smooth called Promised Land – a very good record but con­fus­ing for a record com­pany who wanted rock, not dance. The al­bum that would have fol­lowed, Modernism: A New Decade, was shelved as Poly­dor ex­pressed un­hap­pi­ness at its con­tents. Now it sounds pretty good, a soul­ful blend of orig­i­nal­ity and house in­flu­ences which re­sem­bled the work of sev­eral con­tem­po­rary acts (most no­tably Pet Shop Boys, whose It’s Al­right mined the same cover field); but it ter­ri­fied record com­pany ex­ec­u­tives. With the 1990s loom­ing and a can­celled al­bum re­lease in their wake, The Style Coun­cil dis­banded. Paul Weller promptly en­tered into the most con­ser­va­tive decade of his ca­reer, shad­ow­ing Brit­pop with cau­tious gui­tar mu­sic. These days, he’s in­ven­tive and ex­cit­ing again, and it’s nice to have these (cute coloured vinyl) re­minders of how he was first drawn to in­ven­tion and ex­cite­ment. Lis­ten To: Long Hot Sum­mer | Promised Land | Why I Went Miss­ing | The Lodgers

THE STYLE COUN­CIL WERE ECLEC­TIC AND PO­LIT­I­CAL, FULL OF JAZZ, SOUL, RAP AND CLOTHES.

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