Woking’s finest’s finest

Back in 1992, Paul Weller was as popular as a Vespa at a Hell’s Angels convention.
With the country in the grip of grunge, Woking’s favourite son was deemed completely irrelevant – a grumpy old Mod with a dodgy Barnet.  Yet he still managed to deliver his most, passionate, powerful and essential record since his Jam days.

OK, so he’s still a grumpy old Mod with a dodgy Barnet, but now Weller is revered as the Godfather of Britpop.
In the mid ’90s, thanks to the patronage of Noel Gallagher and his drinking buddies, Weller became cool again – a Dadrock hero for the GQ generation.

Ironically, it was during this time that he was making some of his dullest music.
Stanley Road, his so-called ‘return to form’, is actually one of his poorest records – a snooze fest of self-indulgent noodling and bland ballads. In all honesty, he should have called it Middle of the Road!
If you want to hear Weller’s best solo album, then look no further than his self-titled 1992 solo debut – a passionate collection of British R & B, funky soul, groovy acid jazz and ‘60s style space-rock.

Despite a lukewarm response from critics, the record still managed to hit number 10 in the charts – thanks to Weller’s loyal fanbase – but has now fallen off the critical radar. Pop Junkie feels the time is right for a serious reappraisal.
After the pretentious cappuccino café sounds of the Style Council, Paul Weller by Paul Weller is the sound of a man regaining his mojo – and renewing his subscription to Record Collector.

Having overdosed on frothy pop, Weller returned to his roots and started listening to the music he grew up with, namely Stax, The Small Faces, The Beatles and The Who.
It’s these classic influences that can be heard on Paul Weller [the album], from the backwards guitar solo on Into Tomorrow to the soulful horn break on Uh Huh, Oh Yeh – actually a sample from Marsha Hunt’s Hot Rod Poppa.
For Bull-Rush, Weller mixes Steve Marriott soul with Pete Townshend rock – the psychedelic finale is pure Magic Bus – and on the spooky jazz ballad, The Strange Museum, old pal, Mick Talbot, pops into the studio to deliver a mean keyboard solo.

After this album, Weller changed tack and went for a pastoral folk-rock vibe (Wild Wood), before delivering his ‘comeback’ record – Stanley Road. Unfortunately, neither of them were a patch on his ’92 debut.
Is this his finest solo moment?
Uh-huh, Oh Yeh.


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