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Since 1977 with The Jam and from 1983-1989 with The Style Council, Paul Weller was the golden boy of Polydor Records. After Polydor rejected The Style Councils latest album "Modernism: A New Decade", Weller decided to disband the group, and now found himself without a record company. For the first time since he was 18, he had to start all over again.
Paul formed The Paul Weller Movement in 1990 and began touring small clubs to build up a following, just like he did with The Jam back in the early to mid 70's. In 1991 he released "Into Tomorrow" on his own record label and it reached number 36 in the UK Singles Chart. Backed with this success it wasn't long before Go! Discs; Label home of The Housemartins, The Beautiful South and Billy Bragg came calling and offered Weller a record deal.
I remember driving past HMV one rainy day, when I saw the display advertising this album, I turned to my brother and said "Did you see that? Wellers got a solo album out!!!". I couldn't wait to get it, I had been listening to The Jam quite heavily over the last couple of years and had also listened to The Style Councils best of album, I was finally ready for some solo Weller!
Paul drafted in a relatively new producer, Brendan Lynch and the album was released in September 1992, it reached number 8 in the UK Album Chart.
The album opens with a blinding track and the first single released on the Go! Discs label; "Uh Huh Oh Yeh", it reached number 18 in the UK Singles Chart, should have gone top ten in my opinion. We hear Paul revisiting his roots back in Woking(The promo video for the song sees Paul walking around his old childhood haunts), "Took a trip down Boundary Lane" actually refers to a street called Boundary Road, a couple of streets away from where Weller grew up in Stanley Road. In the next line he says "Tryin' to find myself again", presumably he was looking for inspiration by going back to his roots and since the word road didn't rhyme with again he changed the name of the street to "Boundary Lane". The song also contains a sample from the Marc Bolan written, Marsha Hunt track "Hot Rod Poppa" 44 seconds into the song. If this was a taster of what was to come then I couldn't possibly be disappointed...what a way to declare "I'm back!", what a way to open an album!
The next track is a slow number about regretting how he treated a woman. "I Didn't Mean To Hurt You" has a nice wah wah guitar effect throughout the track and nice funky horn arrangement. I am a massive fan of upbeat numbers and it took a good few listens before I got into this track.
"Bull-Rush" surprised me when I first listened to it, I just couldn't see where Paul was going with it, he's singing about bull-rushes outside his window for god sake! Has Weller lost the plot here? The songs highlight has to be the fade out jam session at the end when the song segues into a version of The Who's "Magic Bus", that brought a wry smile to my face.
"Round and Round" is another mellow track that has a nice jazzy funky feel to it, definitely one for a nice evening in with a loved one.
Another song up next about looking back; "Remember How We Started" is a nice track about remembering the first time you were with a girl or boy in order to put the spark back into the relationship again, Weller sings "Oh I've been searching, searching, trying to get back to the love we made..yesterday". The song ends with a little musical interlude before the next track.
"Above The Clouds", definitely a stand out track on the album, this song has a lovely feel to it and you can feel yourself really drifting into the imagery this song is filled with, "Through the windows of the train,
I caught reflections of a paper cup". The song gives us an insight into some of Wellers own self doubt, pondering the question "I have to wonder...will I last"
The next track; "Clues" seems to be about a man liking a girl and talking over in his head what it's going to be like when they meet(we've all been there). A flute carries the song along and the track builds up to a nice crescendo in between verses, before mellowing right down for the next verse.
"Into Tomorrow", one of the best tracks on the album, and the single that of course got Weller noticed by Go! Discs. The song has a nice Beatlely feel about it with a backwards guitar solo, perhaps a nod to The Beatles 1966 album "Revolver". This really sounded like Paul Weller at his best and having seen him play this track live on a number of occasions it really hasn't aged one bit.
"Amongst Butterflies" has a nice guitar intro to the verses, with a wah-wah effect. Another song harking back to yesteryears when life was beautiful. The lyric "And in the woods was a soldier's tomb" refers to a muslim cemetery in the woods, for Indian soldiers who had served in the two World Wars near to where Paul grew up.
"The Strange Museum", sounds very much like the Paul Weller of The Style Council, although without the political direction, another really mellow track that shows off Pauls vocal range.
"Bitterness Rising", a song with a moral is up next, about shaking the bitterness in your head or you'll never be able to move on with your life. The song starts off slow but moves into a nice rocky little number, filled with funky guitars and great drum fills by Steve White.
The final song on the album "Kosmos" sounds a bit early Pink Floyd influenced before heading into a sound similar to "Into Tomorrow", a nice way to end the album.
All songs written by Paul Weller.
1) Uh Huh Oh Yeh
2) I Didn't Mean to Hurt You
4) Round and Round
5) Remember How We Started
6) Above the Clouds
8) Into Tomorrow
9) Amongst Butterflies
10) The Strange Museum
11) Bitterness Rising
Being honest, when this album came out, aside from "Uh Huh Oh Yeh" and "Into Tomorrow", I hated it. Gone was the angry young man that I had been listening to for the last couple of years, instead, in his place was a rather too mellow for my liking older Paul Weller. I went to see him live that year, hoping to catch a glimpse of the angry young man again and also hoping for a few of the old tracks. My brother and I came away from that gig bitterly disappointed, he seemed to alienate the audience a bit(he and his band had a few impromptu jam sessions on stage to the bemusement of the audience), who had come out dressed in their Sta-Press and bowling shoes harking back to a bygone time in Wellers career. He played one song by The Jam; "Man in the Cornershop" and two numbers by The Style Council "Headstart For Happiness" and "Long Hot Summer"(ironic considering it was a cold November night in Glasgow). I guess those days were gone, and after all, we were at a Paul Weller concert, not a concert by The Style Council or The Jam (Didn't stop me going to see him after the release of Wild Wood though). I was in my late teens when this album came out and it took me until I was in my 30's before actually appreciating it, I guess everybody mellows with age. As a slightly older man listening to this album, I can hear it for what it really is; A great collection of songs for a mellow mood. This album is one you can stick on in the background when entertaining guests, or if you are having a nice romantic night in with your loved one, infact it's probably the only Paul Weller album you can do that with.
You can purchase this album for £5.00 from amazon.co.uk and at that price it's a bargain!
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 Uh Huh Oh Yeh! (Always There To Fool You!)
2 I Didn't Mean To Hurt You
4 Round & Round
5 Remember How We Started
6 Above The Clouds
8 Into Tomorrow
9 Amongst Butterflies / Arrival Time
10 The Strange Museum
11 Bitterness Rising