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Paul Weller

Paul Weller

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Album Review

Arriving between the implosion of the Style Council and the commercial comeback of Wild Wood, Paul Weller’s eponymous 1992 debut is sometimes overlooked, but it’s one of his finest records, a smooth, soulful excursion pitched precisely between the sophisticated swing of the Style Council and the rustic rock of Wild Wood. In the wake of the disastrous unreleased house album from Style Council, Weller chose to dig into his roots, relying heavily on Curtis Mayfield records and a dash of Traffic’s jazz lilt, creating a cool groove of an album, one that warmed well to light elements of acid house, whether it’s the extended coda of “Kosmos” or the many remixes of the album’s singles (all collected on Universal’s 2009 double-disc deluxe edition). As pure sound, Paul Weller is seductive — it’s supple and relaxed, easing into its vamps and rhythms, maintaining its tone through shifts of tempos — but it sticks because its Weller’s best set of songs in years, anchored by the tight opening rocker “Uh-Huh Oh Yeh,” the soulful lament “I Didn’t Mean to Hurt You,” the insistent pulse of “Bull Rush,” the gorgeous shimmer of “Bitterness Rising,” and the revitalizing rush of “Into Tomorrow.” Every one of these songs bears traces of Weller’s decade-long immersion in soul, but what makes it a leap forward is that no matter how familiar some of this feels — and there really is no mistaking the lasting impression of Mayfield — it all plays not as recycled but synthesized, Weller creating something new and true from his inspiration. He would soon underscore the rock and folk elements, quite wonderfully so, on Wild Wood, but everything here laid the groundwork for the third act of Weller’s career and it remains compelling and alluring in its own right.

Generous as it may be, the deluxe edition doesn’t exactly deliver a lot of surprises for the hardcore Weller collector, but that’s only because this well has been tapped many times over, with all the stray tracks appearing as bonus discs in various territories, or as part of B-sides collections — everything except an album-specific expansion, which this 2009 double-disc set is. Weller’s 1992 eponymous debut grows by 25 tracks here, with all the B-sides — including “Fly on the Wall,” the lengthy jam “That Spiritual Feeling,” and a prescient cover of Traffic’s “Feelin’ Alright” that pointed the way toward Wild Wood — spread over the two discs, along with a hefty dose of demos, alternate and acoustic versions, and the Lynch Mob beats remix of “Kosmos” that helped bolster his ties to Britain’s underground club scene. Again, none of this material is unreleased, but this may be the best way to hear it all, as it’s presented in historical context, and it’s sequenced in a smooth, entertaining sequence that enhances this already excellent album, turning it into a richer experience.

Customer Reviews

Great & Timeless Album. Weller at his best...

This is one of those CDs that I bough right when it was released and then it collected dust for a few years as I was not ready to let go of The Jam and The Style Council. But, Weller has a way of staying a few steps ahead of me. Later in the '90's ---as I matured---(he said with a sly grin), this album moved into my rotation and has stayed there ever since. I am amazed all of these years how solid this record is from top to bottom. Just when I think that I'm through with Uh-Huh Oh Yeah, Above the Clouds takes it place. Then, I somehow get mesmerized by Clues, Amongst Butterflies, and Remember How We Started. Round & Round is great, too. Okay, here's how much I like this one: this is the one CD I handed to the Lab Tech when I was slid into the MRI machine! Anyone who has ever had their full body immersed into one of those knows what I'm talking about...The music you listen to in one of those machines is all that stands between you and insanity! 'Nuff said. Great record. Five stars. It would be Six Stars if they had that option.

Top of his game

Not knowing what to expect when this first came out. The Jam were generally loud, political and represented restless youth. The Style Council were pop and soul so I hadn't a clue what was next. To my surprize, his first solo effort was very broad in styles but many songs were laced with jazz and blues undertones. After this album, he kind of went into a 70s rock vibe, but I think this is his best solo effort up to and including his 2005 release. Paul Weller represents blue eyed soul as well as anyone. If you look at a lot of his early influences, there is a lot of jazz and blues music represented. If you listen to his new album, listen to "Roll along summer." which also has a great jazzy vibe to it. I personally think it's the best song on that album and I would love to see him do more in that vain.~peace

the turning tide

It may not be Weller's best work, but it comes close. This album brought a freshness of creativity and songwriting that is yet to be matched during the rest of his carrer. The exceptions are the following and stupendous Wild Wood and the solid Stanley Road.

Biography

Born: May 25, 1958 in Woking, Surrey, England

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

As the leader of the Jam, Paul Weller fronted the most popular British band of the punk era, influencing legions of English rockers ranging from his mod revival contemporaries to the Smiths in the '80s and Oasis in the '90s. During the final days of the Jam, he developed a fascination with Motown and soul, which led him to form the sophisti-pop group the Style Council in 1983. As the Style Council's career progressed, Weller's interest in soul developed into an infatuation with jazz-pop and house...
Full Bio