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.


8 Responses to “Woking’s finest’s finest”

  1. leo Says:

    weller is a GOD … always has been, always will be. his music is a cut above.wellers come full circle,from the 1992 album to as is now! once a Mod always a Mod.. in the mans own worlds.(bury me a Mod!)

  2. Martha Says:

    Weirdly, this album is the one that got me into The Jam and The Style Council, something I probably shouldn’t admit. Whenever I see him in concert, I tolerate the newer stuff and feel about 16 whenever he plays anything from PAUL WELLER. Bull-Rush and Above the Clouds are particularly impressive, but the whole thing is just damn good.

    Also, I love you for writing about Menswear.

  3. David Crouse Says:

    The first solo album IS an underrated gem and I partially agree with this articles take on Stanley Road (too typical a rock album for someone like Weller, although it does have some good moments like the single “Out of the Sinking”).

    But “Wild Wood” is a great record as well and I would recommend it to anybody who likes the first one.

  4. Essexgirl Says:

    I rediscovered this album recently and it really is his best solo effort, although there are some gems on Stanley Road and Wildwood, altogether this is a better album.

  5. Derek Mattinson Says:

    I bought wild wood then stanley road, then I bought Paul Weller on e-bay for £2.00 a couple of years ago. A real Gem. Bullrush, Clouds and Strange museum absolute class. Regret not getting it when it came out but was still angry with the man for splitting the Jam

  6. Andrew McCartney Says:

    Agree completely with comments on 1st solo album.

    Stands up for me over all the subsequent.

  7. David Walker Says:

    Good call on Weller’s first – with no commercial expectation or indeed pubic interest at the time, the lad from Woking had the freedom to let loose and play from the heart.

    Worth also re-visiting the early Style Council albums. Always judged (unfairly) against The Jam, some of the tracks from Our Favourite Shop and Cafe Bleu are up there with his best-ever.

  8. Kieran Byrne Says:

    Disagree. I think Stanley Road’s is Weller’s best. Apart from Stanley, only one other Weller album casts a shadow over it – Heliocentric. Heavy Soul was too heavy, and the production was shit. It reminded me of an early Jam album, Setting Sons, which was fantastic but lost out to a murky production. As Is Now, Weller’s latest offering, is better (thank fuck: Studio 51 ought to be dumped into Room 101!) but suffers occasionally from filler chords.

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