The second album from The Style Council had been released to a fair amount of critical acclaim in May 1985. Our Favourite Shop also proved popular with the record buying public and in fact reached the #1 spot, albeit for one week only. It was an incredibly diverse LP in terms of sound with elements of pop, soul, funk, rap, jazz and the spoken word all to the fore at various times. The credits for the record show that in addition the regular four Councillors, there were three other guest vocalists (including the comedian Lenny Henry) with eighteen other musicians receiving one or more performance credits.
It was an ambitious and sprawling work with not all that many really obvious candidates for radio-friendly singles, and therefore it was always going to be interesting to see what was going to be the follow-up to the catchy and splendid Walls Come Tumbling Down.
Very few of us would have put money on it being Come To Milton Keynes.
For starters, it’s a strange old tune with a number of changes in pace and tempo. There’s no killer chorus and there’s all sorts of different instrumentation on the record including what appears to be a harp over an incomprehensible spoken word section towards the end. The lyric is a bit garbled and there’s a few bad puns included, none of which would have made much sense to folks outwith the UK. Oh and there’s also the fact that a number of radio stations shied away from it as there was a bit of a media controversy over the title and the subject matter of the lyric.
mp3 : The Style Council – Come To Milton Keynes
Milton Keynes is synonymous with the sort of developments that Paul Weller had attacked during his days with The Jam via The Planner’s Dream Goes Wrong which appeared on The Gift. It was one of the few places that was economically booming in the early-mid 80s thanks to it being able to offer all sorts of economic incentives to businesses and industries, and almost as if it to rub other’s noses in it, the town fathers embarked on a marketing campaign that extolled many virtues under the slogan of ‘Come To Milton Keynes’.
The songwriter thought it was all based on a false premise and penned a lyric which basically said the town, far from being an idyllic spot, had more than its fair share of social problems which couldn’t be masked by lovely new houses and amenities. Indeed, the perceived intention of the strange tune was ‘to create a musical pastiche which matched the supposed artificiality of Milton Keynes itself.’
As is always the case when any sort of artist has an attack on a particular community, the local politicians and residents are whipped up into a frenzy by the media and the band was warned to stay away. In an effort to defuse things, Paul Weller used a BBC interview, when offered the opportunity to explain the song’s meaning, to say it was about much more than this particular corner of England:-
“It was more about the new towns, the fact we used Milton Keynes is neither here not there. They’re up in arms about it apparently, but big deal, you know. It’s more about the way Britain’s values are changing and us as a race are changing as well, I think, and the kind of materialistic values we seem to have adopted, quite American I think.”
All of which saw the song stall at #23, the first by the band (if you exclude The Council Collective effort) to not reach at least #11 in the singles charts.
It was released on 7” and 12”. The common b-side was a rather exquisite love song with a catchy and lovely tune that was tailor-made for daytime radio and would have made a fine single. And yet, it hadn’t even made the cut for the album
mp3 : The Style Council – (When You) Call Me
It’s the 7” version of the single I have in the cupboard and so that’s all I can offer today.