A LAZY STROLL DOWN MEMORY LANE : 45 45s AT 45 (39)

ORIGINALLY POSTED ON TUESDAY 1 APRIL 2008

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After the glory and majesty of XTC at #40, it’s another little bit of pop magic from a fantastic songwriter that comes in at #39.

I won’t insult your intelligence by going into great details of the story of Paul Weller and how he spilt up The Jam to form The Style Council in 1983.

He may have taken a lot of flak for the move, but surely no-one can now argue that it wasn’t the right thing to do.

He was no longer an angry young man who wanted to write guitar-laden anthems for a three-piece. He wanted to write dreamy love songs with lush arrangements that relied on jazz-style drumming and keyboards and the occasional burst from a horn section. He was very successful at doing so, and before long he started incorporating some politically motivated stuff into his work with his new band. Hell, he even found love with his stunning backing singer who soon became Mrs Weller…

What more could anyone really ask for???

Looking back, TSC were very much a product of the times. Record companies no longer wanted sweat and toil – image was everything. Weller played the game magnificently, going all the way to wearing pastel shades of sweaters tied around his neck.

Hell, I was even caught up in the mood for a while and stopped dressing purely in black over that long, gloriously warm summer of 1984 as I enjoyed what I knew would be the last extended holiday period in my life as I faced up to my final honours year at University. I was now living away from home for the first time, I had a couple of great flatmates and was, or so I believed, seriously in love. But that’s another more private story….

This 12″ EP had come out 12 months earlier, but, along with the LP Café Bleu, it was rotating heavily on the turntable in 1984 :-

mp3 : The Style Council – Long Hot Summer
mp3 : The Style Council – Party Chambers
mp3 : The Style Council – The Paris Match
mp3 : The Style Council – Le Depart

Happy days indeed. Was it really more than half a lifetime ago???

Incidentally, I now own this particular recording on 7″, 12″ and CD…..and you dare to call me obsessive???

4 thoughts on “A LAZY STROLL DOWN MEMORY LANE : 45 45s AT 45 (39)

  1. I know Style Council was an affront to many Jam fans, and that acceptance of the new, continental Weller was the bitterest pill, etc., but at the time I was knocked out impressed with his new direction. In particular, the song ‘Party Chambers’ was an absolute revelation. You could tell by the end of The Jam that Weller was moving to more complicated instrumentation — horns, backing singers, keys — on ‘Best Surrender’ and during the goodbye tour for The Gift (which I luckily caught at the Palladium in NYC). But lyrically, the change was astonishing. The narrator in Party Chambers, ignoring his house guests at a party to walk out to the shore, lovelorn, could easily by Jay Gatsby. This is mere months from the 5 O’clock hero, going back to his lunchbox and worker/management rows. For a 20 year old like me, trying on new identities in The Big City, the idea that you could reinvent yourself so completely was mind-boggling. I loved the Jam because their songs were great, the energy was great, the lyrics were brilliant. But it’s not like a middle class kid from suburban America had to choose to either cut down on beer or the kids’ new gear. The snapshots of English working class struggles showed an interesting life I was disconnected and distant from. Style Council were far more universal. I like the instrumental version of ‘Party Chambers’ included in this post, but the lyric version is one I’ll never forget, a song with irrevocably fond nostalgia. An example of the importance of rock music to the young, opening doors suggesting life possibilities.

    Not sure if this comment makes much sense, but any version of Party Chambers brings a smile to my face and gets my mind racing back to my silly but fondly remembered, former self.

  2. It’s funny, where adding horns and soul to The Jam caught me off guard and felt contrived – if at the age of 19 anything really felt contrived, those jazzy, soulful building blocks made total sense in The Style Council. I put a lot of this down to the mutual musical path Weller and Talbot were ready to travel down. But they also tapped into a new restlessness of spirit and experimentation that the early 80’s was allowing in pop music.

  3. A general observation here not just relating to Weller and his former band and his new one. I’ve always thought 1982 was the year that New Wave music ended, and it seemed to end with most of the bands involved going soul/Motown pastiche/ funk. Music started looking backwards en masse, the hideous Wham! were waiting in the wings with crap like wake me up before you go go, culture club were similarly Motown (un) inspired, but lots of others were at it, including latter day Jam, Japan with I second that emotion, Associates, Eurythmics etc. The Style Council were part of this movement.

    I do love Paris Match.

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