Paul Weller wasn’t always The Modfather, the current beatification and kneeling at the feet of acoustic albums and recent large B sides and remix offering ‘Will of the People’ wasn’t there at times in his career. The overlove makes my eyes roll a little and I’m a Paul Weller fan.
Credit; The Guardian
The pomp of Weller’s solo albums came with 2nd release ‘Wild Wood’, where he hit that Rock and Small Faces feel so well. But it’s his self-titled debut that I love.
A Self-Titled Debut?
Yep, and one which, in the Weller pantheon, is often overlooked. I remember seeing it on release in 1992, in HMV or maybe Our Price, on the first floor against the far wall.
The cover pulled me in. It was Weller in a frilly white, Carnaby Street-type shirt, but standing awkwardly, one arm clasped onto the other, looking directly at the camera but not challenging, a little discomforted. Not at all confident. It stood out in its raw emotion.
And let’s add some context, this was after the puttering-out of the Style Council, complete with unreleased last album, so Weller wasn’t riding high.
You were either a Jam fan or a Style Council fan weren’t you? That’s what we were told, anyway; quite a lot of the pressure Weller was under after the Jam broke up was about the anger, snarl, tautness of that band sold out by the languid, lissome, Soul stylings of the Style Council.
They were so different and that’s one of the reasons why I was a fan of both, it was such a fantastic offer. And it’s all good music, right?
But this self titled solo debut? It stands out even in comparison to Weller’s other solo stuff. It’s so far from the sixties strut of ‘Stanley Road’, sprawl of ’22 Dreams’ and self assured ‘Fat Pop’, this is far from the core 60’s Rock/Folk/Psyche feel so much of his other solo jaunts enjoy.
Because this album works in another musical frame.
It begins with ‘Uh Huh Oh Yeh’, a parradiddle ending with a horn and guitar note as Weller recounts looking for a flame of inspiration, pretty like ‘Has My Fire Really Gone Out?’ on ‘Wild Wood’; there is if course a Psychedelic section and later bleeps of synth which threaten to dominate. A stuttering, unsure start which is as groovy as hell.
And that push and pull is present in the martial drums and acoustic of ‘Bull-Rush’, but it isn’t all tough and spiky, ‘Remember How We Started’ is alternately woozy and urgent in the chorus, desperate to make someone recall the good times.
Similar to the funky rush of ‘I Didn’t Mean To Hurt You’, ‘And tho’ I was looking there for something, some things have no meaning’ repeated as a mantra and the plaintive plea to the one he hurt; it’s almost difficult to listen to.
There’s also a simple, sweet roll of ‘Into Tomorrow’ with it’s regular brass parps, the solid tight-arsed strut of ‘Amongst Butterflies/Arrival Time’ with New Orleans brass segueing to a Jazz Fusion moment. As you do…
More than that. This is special. Funk fried at the edges by Acid Rock, smoothed by Jazz and swaddled in Soul. It ends with the opening out fuzzing Rock of ‘Kosmos’, a countdown as the guitar ascends and the beat lags beautifully. It ends with the repeated;’
Who Am I?
What Am I?
Where Am I To Go?’
And that ending to the album throws the concern to another Cosmos, where is Paul Weller to go? What is he to do next? What will his sound be? Oldgreycat.blog sums it up nicely;
‘In some respects, it laid down the blueprint he’s followed ever since, mixing heavy soul with jazzy touches, self-reflection and self-recrimination.’
This album helped him to work it out. And it sounds brilliant.