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Weller Whether he was kick-starting a one-band Mod revival with The Jam in 1977, mixing up soul and socialism in a rain-coat and a wedge hairdo in The Style Council in the ‘80s, or surging back into contention as a solo artist in the ‘90s, few songwriters have sustained as well as Paul Weller, as current admirers including Arctic Monkeys, Amy Winehouse, The Enemy and Midlake would readily agree. But, with 20 studio albums, umpteen live releases, boxed sets and greatest hits sets to his name, what’s the best way to appreciate his back catalogue? This is where you come in. Is The Jam’s This Is The Modern World any cop? Is The Style Council’s Modernism: A New Decade an overlooked masterpiece? Where does the output of The Paul Weller Movement fit in? Give us your recommendations and the best comments will be printed in the magazine.

Posted by Ross_Bennett at 04:11PM | Categories: How To Buy


Great choice for a 'How To Buy...' guys, I've been looking for some guidance with this!
I don't own much Weller, but I love what I have. I'll rank what I've got thusly:
1- The Jam- "Snap!". Actually I don't own this, but I used two Jam hits & rarities collections to recreate the playlist for my iPod. Did any artist of the post-punk era have such an amazing and distinctive run of singles, with B-sides just as good as the lead tracks, that were also massive commercial sucesses? I can't imagine a track like 'Going Underground' going #1 today. But what really impresses is the stylistic growth from punk blasts like 'In The City' to warped fuk like 'Precious'. That amount of artistic growth in such short time is the real legacy Arctic Monkeys have to live up to.
2- Paul Weller solo- "Stanley Road". I listen to this more than any Jam album. I love his mature soulful growl, and you can actually here the lyrics when he's not just barking them out. So relaxed and natural, a sound to wrap yourself in. The could've been made in 1969, or anytime.
3- The Jam- "All Mod Cons". Song-by-song, the best Jam album (that I own). Blistering socially conscious rock, with 'English Rose' as blessed relief.
4- The Jam- "Sound Affects". In the slipstream of punk, this pointed the way forward: stylistic restlessness matched by classic rock songwriting. 'That's Entertainment'. Nuff said.
5- The Jam- "Setting Sons". If Weller had followed through fully with his supposed concept album, it could've been his greatest. As such, 'The Eton Rifles' towers over everything here, though the lovely 'Wasteland' will always be a personal favourite. The yearning quality in most of these songs is what distinguishes this album.

Posted by: conor | 2 Aug 2007 23:30:08

'This Is The Modern World' is probably the least inspiring of The Jam's recorded output. That aside, there's precious little that's not worth a listen.
Personal favourite? 'Dig The New Breed'. There's something about this live album that's just magical. Recorded at gigs separated by quite a few years, it's a fantastic testament, not only to the power of The Jam live, but also to the band's songwriting talents. 'Private Hell' and 'Set The House Ablaze' sound awesome.

Posted by: Bruno | 3 Aug 2007 16:36:27

My first weller album was All Mod Cons--great record and recommended.
Next- Sound Affects--really beautiful album-good songs and that JAM sound.
Solo Weller- Wild Wood was good - the begining of greatness.
Stanley Road is good but i Don't play it that much.

Days of Speed is a Live Solo Acoustic tour which features jam/style council and solo stuff and is a Really nice way to get to know his songs.
His guitar playing is great and his voice has matured into a gruff soulful kinda thing.

Heavy soul can be a little aggressive and raw-but good.
I hardly ever play any style couuncil- it's ok but some of it a little dated.

Posted by: alanbuchan | 3 Aug 2007 17:00:06

All Mod Cons was Weller at last finding his Soul. Best Jam album for it's consistency throughout, To Be Someone could have been a single. Genius

Posted by: Robthemod | 3 Aug 2007 17:09:46

The Style Council--Cafe Bleu

Along with the first 4 singles, this record, of all the Style Council records, really encapsulates Paul's vision of what the Style Council was about. A group with no boundaries---an ambitious, unlimited, artistic stew presented in 45 mintutes. Unprecedented. Mod groovers, Northern Soul swings, jazz, torch ballads---you name it, except loud guitars and crashing drums. Our Favourite Shop may be the most consistent listen, but for sheer stylistic diversity, Cafe Bleu really presented the original concept of the Style Council.

Posted by: William | 3 Aug 2007 18:24:01

1. Snap - Bar the completist (or at least completish) Jam box set this is the definitive singles collection of the definitive singles band. Shame it didn't include "Liza Radley", the B-side of Start otherwise it would be perfect.

2. Setting Sons - Weller's best original Jam album IMHO (Sounds Affects being a close second). Eton Rifles, Wasteland, Thick as Thieves, Burning Sky. A songwriter at the top of his game. The band alive with energy.

3. Wild Wood - Best solo album that elevated his status significantly after the decline in fortunes in the latter days of the 80s. Psychedelia tempered with the acoustic. A nice mix.

4. You can probably fit in Sound Affects here.
The songwriting is as good as Setting Sons but it gets a bit samey on Side 2 (if you have the vinyl).

5. Cafe Bleu - the Style Council record that's stood up the best. He was more focussed on the follow up "Our Favourite Shop" and arguably the music is better but the anti-Thatcher lyrics have dated that latter album.

Whilst none of his albums are absolute clunkers, largely as they all have one or two decent singles on them, The Modern World isn't very good, and the Style Council albums after Our Favourite Shop and the solo albums Heavy Soul and Heliocentric all get a bit samey and I've found little motivation to play them more than a couple of times.

Posted by: Simon | 4 Aug 2007 08:37:21

the thing i love about weller is that there are always one or two hidden classics or gems which are never released as singles no matter which album you buy, ie changing the guard, paris match, frightened, his love songs really are something special.

Posted by: iain nimmo | 4 Aug 2007 17:04:54

The Jam - Sound Affects. In 1980 Weller was searching for a new sound after the slow demise of the punk movement. Taking inspiration from post punk bands such as Wire, Gang Of Four and Joy Division (with added inspiration from Revolver era Beatles).

The Style Council - Confession Of A Pop Group. The last TSC album released in their lifetime and still to me a forgotten classic. This is the most experimental album Weller has ever released. Taking in such diverse musical styles of jazz, classical, funk, pop, soul and house music it features probably his best duet with then wife Dee C Lee (Changing Of The Guard) and a credible 10 minute funk epic (Confessions Of A Pop Group). They bizarrely promoted the album with a cheese and wine party for journalists at a London gallery displaying paintings inspired by each track on the album.

Paul Weller - Paul Weller. After the demise of TSC Weller spent a couple of years in the wilderness licking his wounds after being dropped by Polydor. Lacking confidence in his abilities he eventually wrote his debut solo single "Into Tomorrow" and was then on a roll. Balancing a line between TSC/Acid Jazz inspired soul tunes and the Mod Rock style which would gain more prominence on his later solo releases, this is the album which reignited Weller's fire and set him back on course to legendary status.

Posted by: A Pacey | 4 Aug 2007 17:41:24

Sound Affects - strange to think that Weller is considered by many a retro traditionalist when he produced an LP as forward looking as this. The incendiary 'Set The House Ablaze' is just one example of a Jam tune that still sounds utterly contemporary.

All Mod Cons - Direct, economical and powerful - a truly modern mod record. Weller never sounded more effortless.

Posted by: vito | 6 Aug 2007 10:23:44

Original Albums:
1. The Jam - Sound Affects
Weller at the height of his songwriting-skills. Every song a classic, be it ballads like "Monday", observational pieces like "Man in the Cornershop" oder straightforward punk-pop-gems like "But I'm Different now". And it features one of Weller's best ever songs, "That's Entertainment".

2. The Style Council - Our Favourite Shop
The much-maligned Style Council did only one nearly-flawless album - this is it. Weller was in his political phase: with their allusions to the Reagan/Thatcher-era songs like "Walls Come Tumbling Down", "All Gone Away" or "Internationalists" may appear dated - as does the 80s-production on parts of this album. But the songs themselves remain brilliant.

3. Paul Weller - Wild Wood
The first solo-album promised a lot, the second one delivered. Weller had seemingly found his feet after going off the rails during the later Style-Council-Phase and the wilderness years after TSC disbanded. Pastoral and folky songs stood well along groovy rockers. The formula has remained more or less the same since, he did some brilliant albums afterwards and some rather dull ones - but this remains his best solo-work.

4. The Jam - All Mod Cons
The first real classic, iconic cover, the first really convincing collection of songs. And the best non-Weller-song on any Weller-Album, Bruce Foxton's "Smithers Jones"

5. Paul Weller - As is now
Back on form - and how! A collection without stinkers. Weller did not sound as ernergetic as in "Come on, let's go" and "From the Floorboards up" since the heyday of The Jam.

Posted by: Christian Spoo | 6 Aug 2007 10:40:50

Sound affects -- almost every song's a classic. The songwriting (especially the lyrics) are much more mature, there are no "tube stations at midnight". Man in the Cornershop, Pretty Green and But I'm Different Now are my favourites.

Posted by: esqueta | 6 Aug 2007 15:19:10

Setting Sons.
A work of flawed, over-ambitious genius and all the better for it. Naive lyrics (Saturday's Kids) mixed with a bitter vision of a cynical world (Private Hell), a twisted affection for an unloveable country (Wasteland) and a pessimistic view of hope and pride (Little Boy Soldiers, Eton Rifles, Thick As Thieves). Perfectly sneering and joyful. Plus a rubbish cover of Heatwave.

Posted by: I J Thomas | 7 Aug 2007 01:38:55

Wild Wood
This is Paul Weller's peak as a truly mature songwriter. Top Songs and incredible production. First class allround!

Posted by: gautxos | 7 Aug 2007 16:10:30

If you're past the stage of greatest hits albums and want to hear a bit more of Weller then I recommend:

All Mod Cons - The Jam

Weller's finest Jam album where every track seems to be as good as the last. Songs like 'Fly' and 'English Rose' show a side of Weller that hadn't been seen before that record.

Our Favourite Shop - The Style Council

The Style Council at their best. Even the instrumentals stand out works of art. Songs such as 'Luck' and 'With Everything to Lose' represent how fun the group could be.

Stanley Road - Paul Weller

From that opening sequence to 'The Changingman' you know you're going to hear a good record. The last track 'Wings of Speed' still has the ability to give me goosebumps when listening!

Posted by: Chris Watson | 7 Aug 2007 19:12:24

Got to put a word in for 'In The City' - mixing fave theme tunes, mod heroes and Motown, this was the savvy sound of the commuter belt kids gone Art School wild in a shoutalong boogaloo punk style. Never bettered!

Posted by: jo | 8 Aug 2007 01:31:53

The self titled solo effort is absolute genius as well, and taps in to his more soulful influences with a certain minimalist flair, above the clouds is a perfect example of this. Weller is an artist capable of far more than jangly dad rock for ageing hoolies!

Posted by: mark surfacewivspraycan | 10 Aug 2007 20:34:55

Not his most popular album but;

Home & Abroad - The Style Council

The one that really got me into good music, truth be told. Weller's vocals are excellent throughout, and Steve White shines through on drums, whilst the band showcase the best of the "Internationalists" era touring set. Lovely.

Posted by: James Sharp | 11 Aug 2007 13:45:33

Simple task. In a nutshell...

All Mod Cons - The fire & skill of the initial Jam youth explosion, echoes of The Kinks and The Who wedded to Weller's maturing songwriting. A fantastic album that still holds firm nearly 30 years on. From the 1,2,3,4 of the title track to the tube train fade out, as good as it gets!

Cafe Blue - Forget the pretentious tosh of The Cappuccino Kid. This is the sound of a talented musician stretching his own (and the listeners boundaries). Jazz, Soul, R&B & Pop all sitting comfortably side by side in a neat, crisp modernist package.

The Gift - Any album featuring A Town Called Malice, Precious, Ghosts & the much underrated title track deserves a place in anybodies record collection. Only the naff sleeve & murky production on a couple of tracks, notably Trans-Global Express stops this from being a perfect send off album.

Paul Weller - Weller found his new voice and thankfully his guitar after a spell the wilderness with this well-rounded collection of fresh sounding mod soul classics. Standout tracks, Bitterness Rising and Above the Clouds

Catch Flame - Recorded live at Ally Pally. It captures perfectly the whole range of Weller's career including the stand-out tracks from his return to form album As is now! Blistering performances of Jam, Style Council and solo career highlights.

Albums to avoid.
The Cost of Loving & Heliocentric.

Posted by: Andy Franks | 17 Aug 2007 03:21:51

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On Monday Chinese president Wen Jiabao ordered troops to reach every set aside village and village in the earthquake district within 24 hours.

Posted by: HerReEste | 21 May 2008 03:01:51