I Know As Much As The Day I Was Born

In the 1980s Paul Weller’s decision to keep moving and jump several steps ahead of where his audience were (and his band) led to The Style Council. Out went parkas, targets and guitar- drums- bass post- punk/mod rock, in came jazz and soul and funk, Dee C Lee and Mick Talbot. Looking back at Weller’s writing in The Style Council a lot of the lyrics that shows the same concerns- The Style Council’s love songs are more lovey (Headstart For Happiness and Long Hot Summer for instance) and debut single Speak Like A Child was brilliant soul pop in a way that The Jam could never have been. Weller never avoided politics in his Style Council songs, if anything he was more overtly political than he had been in The Jam. Second single Money Go Round is as powerful as The Eton Rifles but its sung over 70s wah wah funk instead of driving post punk. And as relevant today as it was in 1983.

‘Too much money in too few places
Only puts a smile on particular faces
Said too much power in not enough hands
Makes me think “get rich quick; take all I can”
They’re too busy spending on the means of destruction
To ever spend a penny on some real construction’

Or how about this one, The Internationalists, from 1985’s Our Favourite Shop?

‘If you believe you have an equal share
In the whole wide world and all it bears
And that your share is no less or more than
Your fellow sisters and brother man
Then take this knowledge and with it insist
Declare yourself, an internationalist
If your eyes see deeper than the colour of skin
Then you must also see we are the same within
And the rights you expect are the rights of all
Now it’s up to you to lead the call
That liberty must come at the top of the list
Stand proud as an internationalist’
Walls Come Tumbling Down- governments crack and systems fall/Cause unity is powerful- goes without saying. If anything, these songs go further than Weller ever did with The Jam, overtly socialist and calling for change.
On Saturday night a friend had a spare for a gig by The Style Councillors at Gorilla, a nine piece band playing the songs of Weller’s second band. I never saw The Style Council back in the day so was hearing many of these songs live for the first time, loud and up close in front of an enthusiastic audience. The political songs mentioned above were all played, the words cutting through from the mid- 80s to 2019 and a world where Johnson, Rees Mogg, Farage et al are all at a top people’s health farm and pulling the wool over people’s eyes. This one, a 1986 single, Weller’s own brand of self- realisation and positive thinking…
Have You Ever Had It Blue? was a single in 1986 but first appeared on the soundtrack to the film Absolute Beginners, Julian Temple’s much maligned attempt at Colin MacInnes’ 1950 novel. The soundtrack version of the song has an extended jazz intro before Weller comes in.

Kosmos

Back in November as part of the Monday Long Song thing he kicked off earlier this year Drew posted the nine minute version of Morning Wonder by The Earlies, a wonderful piece of music, sort of psychedelic folk with krauty rhythms. You can find it here with the download link still intact. In places it reminds me of this still amazing sounding Brendan Lynch remix of Paul Weller from 1993, Weller sent twisting around the kosmos by producer Brendan Lynch, on a dub- jazz- electronic mayhem trip.

Kosmos (Lynch Mob Bonus Beats)

Only a few years earlier The Style Council had their last hit single and Top Of The Pops appearance with their cover of Joe Smooth’s house classic Promised Land. Everything about this clip is great- Weller and Mick Talbot on twin pianos, Dee’s performance at the front, Mick’s beard, the fun they all seem to be having.

Unity Is Powerful

Who could be fail to be moved by a call to arms set against some very funky mid-80s pop, railing against reactionary regimes and economic policies that keep people poor (with a slightly po-faced pop at Frankie Goes To Hollywood)? Who? Boris Johnson maybe. David Davis? Theresa May. The complete disintegration of the Conservative Party over Europe is a lovely idea. Long may it continue.

The Style Council’s 1985 single Walls Come Tumbling Down is ace and their appearance on Top Of The Pops to promote it is proper time capsule stuff, Weller centre stage looking sharp with wedge haircut, blue shirt, white jeans and Rickenbacker bass. But, let’s be honest, Dee C Lee upstages him, in black top and jeans with yellow cardigan combo, dancing non-stop, hotter than hot.

Headstart For Happiness is another Style Council gem, but personal rather than political and proof Weller could do wide eyed optimism when he wanted to. This is the version that closed Cafe Bleu, a delicious guitar riff and vocals shared between Mick, Dee and Paul, a song about being in love with being in love.

Headstart For Happiness

For DVD (Tony)

Heck, I don’t know if a fucking blogpost is the appropriate thing to do really, but this one is for DVD (Tony).  With much love and sympathy.

A Solid Bond In Your Heart

When You Call Me

This post should provide some balance to this post. Paul Weller gets it wrong from time to time, heads off down the wrong roads- that’s the common consensus. Popular theory also has it that he never got it wronger than during the 80s when he formed The Style Council with former Merton Parka Mick Talbot. I love several Style Council records, including this fine 1985 stab at synth-soul.

(When You) Call Me

Song Of The Summer. Maybe.



I’ve missed this song during the last two weeks. It came up on Soundcloud just before going to France, and I don’t have a download of it to listen to in the car (cos, like, that’s illegal), and I tried to completely ignore the internet while away (fairly easy actually, personally and connection-wise) but I’d been listening to it a lot before going away. Our aging mod hero, grumpy fella, clothes horse and newly found musical chameleon Paul Weller revisits the least popular sound of his career (late period Style Council), marries it with some blissed out Balearic vibes, and comes up with a standalone single, Starlite, released on 12″ vinyl later on this month (I think it’s already out on iTunes). It’s more summery than owt and totally wonderful. Give it a listen-

And if you’re up for that then get over here too-
…where you can download a cracking remix of Starlite by Drop Out Orchestra. Weller at the disco. I’ll type that again. Weller at the disco. There’s also a remix you can download by Deadboy on Soundcloud. I’m sure you can find that yourselves. Style Council, Balearica, remixes, disco- I remember when it were all dadrock round here…

The Style Council ‘Headstart For Happiness’

I find it really hard to pass a charity shop without going and having a rummage through their used vinyl. Sometimes there’s nothing, sometimes you find some real surprises and sometimes they turn up trumps. With the success of ebay, everyone who had the time and the patience realised they could sell their old vinyl, even if it was just for pennies. The charity shops, especially Oxfam, wised up and set up specialist branches selling books and records, at second hand record shop prices, with hand-written labels saying why it was good/rare. The stock and supply of vinyl in the ordinary, suburban charity shops seems to be dwindling as a result. I suppose also there’s a limited ammount of old records to go around. That Barry Gibb and Barbara Streisand album’s always there, you can rely on finding Terence Trent Darby’s first album gathering dust and sleeve damage, and Phil Collins is an ever-present.

Recently I realised that I’ve been buying vinyl in the charity shops that either I don’t really want or have already got. I bought a stack of Wah! 7″ singles a couple of months ago, who I was never really into, although they’ve grown on me. The buying duplicates thing has led me to having, off the top of my head, three copies of Rip It Up by Orange Juice (all in picture bags), two extra copies of Blue Monday (sadly not with the die-cut sleeve), 7″ and 12″versions of Love Missile F1-11 by Sigue Sigue Sputnik, two 12″ Beatmasters singles (the one with Betty Boo), S’Express’s Theme several times, and two copies of Cafe Blue by The Style Council (who are charity shop repeat offenders). I’m sure there are others but I can’t be bothered going to check. I hate the thought of these little nuggets of pop culture going unsold, unloved, scratched, sleeves knackered and ending up in landfill. I suppose I’m denying someone else the chance of owning Rip It Up but I can’t take the chance, so home it comes, causing storage and space problems, but safe and loved.

Anyway, back to The Style Council, who’s records frequently crop up in the charity shops. They must have been produced in their millions, and dumped in similar quantities, and I’ve said it before but early Style Council is as good as anything else Mr Weller has done (some examples-Speak Like A Child, Solid Bond In Your Heart, Shout To The Top, Walls Come Tumbling Down), including this one. This is off Cafe Blue, and is a cracking little upbeat pop song, wearing it’s Motown and Northern Soul influences proudly, and featuring great twin vocals from Paul Weller and Dee C. Lee. Get down your local high street and see if you can find a copy.

Headstart For Happiness.mp3