Where To Start With…. Paul Weller
Monday (May 18th) marks the release of Paul Weller’s 12th album as a solo artist. A true maverick, Weller might have kept almost the same haircut for the last 20 years, but he’s morphed countless times musically.
His new album Saturns Pattern follows in the same fashion as his 2012 record Sonik Kicks, with languid guitars and a decidedly psychedelic vibe. Opener ‘White Sky’ is built round a colossal riff and drapped in fuzz, while the title track is pure vintage Pink Floyd, complete with a Wurlitzer. It flicks through kraut rock, psychedelic, 60s pop and post punk, all thrown into the mixer and delivered with The Mod Father’s unique style.
Jan ‘Stan’ Kybert, who has long been on mixing duties for Weller, this time steps up to co-produce the thing and to play on the album, Weller has called on his faithful backing band, which includes Ocean Colour Scene axeman Steve Craddock and former Stands drummer Steve Pilgrim. He’s also tapped up some special guests, which include The Strypes’ Josh McClorey, Steve Brookes, Weller’s former bandmate in an early version of The Jam as well as members of psychedelic rockers Syd Arthur.
If you’re new to Weller’s work, you’ve got a lot of catching up to do, so we thought we’d help you out and present five highlights from the man’s career. To make this that little bit harder, we’re only picking from Weller’s solo outings, so nothing from The Jam or The Style Council. Here goes…
(To download any of the tracks, click on the title and you'll be taken to our digital store).
Weller launched his solo career in 1992 after the break-up of The Style Council releasing a self-titled debut, but it was on 1993’s Wild Wood that he really began to find his feet. The album is a thoughtful collection of melancholy ditties, underpinned by Weller’s sense of style and vigour. The title track is the album at its loveliest.
Weller’s third solo Stanley Road is a near flawless record, with even the man himself admitting that it’s probably his finest work. Named after the street in Woking where Weller grew up, the album is grittier than Wild Wood, but there’s a wonderful whistfulness to the lyrics. ‘The Changingman’ is a prime example and it sounds brilliant to this very day.
2008’s 22 Dreams is Weller’s bombastic indie pop record and ‘Have You Made Up Your Mind?’ is the best thing on it. A driving piece of power-pop, it’s always brilliant live.
Weller’s 2010 LP Wake Up The Nation is an album of short, sharp shocks. Most of the songs clock in at well under three minutes, some under two. It’s punchy, it’s got some of Weller’s most overtly angry and political lyrics and the title track typifies that perfectly.
Most artists of Weller’s age and stature tend to stick to what they know, they don’t, as a rule, write their own warped doo wop single complete with a thumping breakbeat and a shimmering guitar riff. Fortunately he did on 2012’s Sonik Kicks and it sounds ace.
Paul Weller’s new album Saturns Pattern is out now in hmv stores across the UK now.