NOT JUST A SNAPSHOT!!!
The first record I bought with my own money was Eton Rifles by “The Jam”. I was 10 years old. “The Jam” became MY band; Paul Weller became my musical hero and a major influence in my formative years.
I was devastated when “The Jam” announced they were splitting up on The TUBE on 30th October 1982. The only thing that kept me going was the knowledge that Paul Weller had formed another band with Mick Talbot (Merton Parkas), Tracie Young (and then Dee C Lee) and the awesome Steve White on Drums. ‘The Style Council’, cool name! Their first single was going to be “Speak Like A Child” and Radio 1 was going to be playing it for the first time on March 11, 1983. The wait was endless. I questioned; Was I going to like it? Would it be much different to the Jam? What if I didn’t like it? What then?
I remember gathering around the radio to hear the first airplay, and as I heard the first bars of Micks Hammond organ kick in and the opening lines of Weller’s vocals, the relief was tangible; it sounded amazing! It still retained enough of The Jam to help with the transition, but it also showed a more soul-influenced style, and my love of “The Style Council” began.
Now 38 years later they have released “Long Hot Summer”, the ultimate career-spanning anthology. Three LPs and they are packed to the rafters with six years of “The Style Council”. I pre-ordered the coloured album vinyl set and it hasn’t been off the record player since.
All the songs you would expect are here, including the band’s debut top five single ‘Speak Like A Child’, alongside a series of other hits, ‘You’re the Best Thing’, ‘Ever Changing Moods’ and ‘Shout to The Top’.
The things that strikes me the most when listening to this anthology is that I think Paul Weller achieved what he set out to do. He created a band /collective that wasn’t to be pigeon-holed. He wanted to have the freedom to create music that was the sum of all his influences not just musical, but taking inspiration from both photography and literature as well, especially the book “Absolute Beginners “by Colin Macinnes and with the help of Mick Talbot, Dee C Lee and Steve White, that is exactly what he did. From the smooth soul of songs like “You’re the Best Thing”, the Euro-pop of “Long Hot Summer” to the foot stomping Northern Soul of “A Solid Bond In Your Heart” and the Acid Jazz of “Café Bleu”, it’s all here on this release.
The songs still carried the social commentary that was so prevalent in the lyrical genius of “The Jam” check out such songs as “Wall Comes Tumbling Down”, “Lodgers” “Internationalists” and “Life At A Top Peoples Health farm”, but Weller also allowed himself to be more willfully eclectic, insightful and arty. With a string of chart hits, “The Style Council” were one of the defining pop bands of the 80s.
This release is not just a snapshot of a great band, but a reflection of six years of great song-writing and a reminder of what a brilliant band “The Style Council” were. I always felt Paul Weller looked happier when he was in “The Style Council” and the surly serious Paul Weller of The Jam was replaced with a far more relaxed, ultra-cool, ‘I don’t take myself too seriously’ Paul Weller of “The Style Council”.
With that said, this is definitely one for the fans, who also get the chance to experience two unreleased tracks for the first time – a demo of the top five single “My Ever-Changing Moods” with added strings, and the five-minute version of “Dropping Bombs on The Whitehouse”.
The design and whole artwork of “Long Hot Summer” is stylish and cool, in the tradition of “The Style Council”. It comes in a luxurious gatefold cover and beautifully designed inner sleeves, using a lot of Peter Anderson’s classic photos. It has an introduction by the man himself, Paul Weller, a new essay by Lois Wilson, and sleeve-notes from ‘super-fan’, actor Martin Freeman. The album was remastered at Abbey Road Studios.
The release also coincides with a new Sky Arts documentary about the band, which was also released on October 30, featuring interviews with the band, their fans and collaborators.
Headstart for Happiness
Long Hot Summer
My Ever-Changing Moods
Walls Come Tumbling Down!
Wanted (or Waiter, There’s…)
Shout to the Top!
It Just Came to Pieces in My Hands
Come to Milton Keynes
Why I Went Missing
Ghosts Of Dachau
Down in the Seine
The Paris Match
Boy Who Cried Wolf
Life at a Top People’s Health Farm
Dropping Bombs On The Whitehouse (Extended version)
Speak Like a Child
The Lodgers (Or She Was Only…)
Money Go Round
You’re the Best Thing
How She Threw It All Away
A Man of Great Promise
The Piccadilly Trail
A Solid Bond in Your Heart
All Gone Away
Sweet Loving Ways
Have You Ever Had It Blue
It Didn’t Matter
Here’s One That Got Away
A Woman’s Song
Changing of the Guard
My Ever-Changing Moods (Demo)
Shout To The Top (Instrumental)
Released 30th October via Polydor/UMC