1982 began and ended with #1 singles for Paul Weller, which made it all the more surprising when he called time on his band The Jam. A personal statement from Weller was issued at the end of October that year: “This is a personal address to all our fans. At the end of this year The Jam will be officially splitting up, as I feel that we have achieved all we can together as a group. I mean this both musically and commercially. I want all we have achieved to count for something and most of all I’d hate us to end up old and embarrassing like so many other groups do. I want us to finish with dignity. I feel now is that time. The longer a group continues, the more frightening the thought of it ever ending becomes, that is why so many of them carry on until they become meaningless. I’ve never wanted The Jam to get to this stage. What we (and you) have built up has meant something, for me it stands for honesty, passion and energy and youth. I want it to stay that way and maybe exist as a guideline for new young groups coming up to improve and expand on. This would make it even more worthwhile. I have written this as a direct contact with you and so you hear it from us first. But also to say thank you for all the faith you have shown in us and the building of such a strong force and feeling that all three of us have felt and been touched by. Here’s to the future. Paul Weller.” If there was any doubt that this was genuine, the band confirmed their split live on the new television station, Channel 4, on ‘The Tube’, a few days later. It really was all over.
The Gift (Polydor POLD5055, 12 March 1982), then, was the final The Jam album, including the first of those #1 singles (see 29 January). No other singles were taken from it in the UK, although an import of Just Who Is The Five O’Clock Hero? gave the group a Top 10 hit in the summer. The Jam’s last two standalone singles were The Bitterest Pill (I Ever Had To Swallow, which reached #2 in September, and Beat Surrender, straight in at #1 in November 1982. Polydor issued an LP collecting live tracks from various shows earlier in The Jam’s career and re-promoted their past catalogue at the beginning of 1983, while fans and the music press waited to hear what he was going to do instead.
They didn’t have long to wait. The name of his new project was soon confirmed as The Style Council and press releases announcing the first single were issued in mid-February. “Like Robin Hood I will be collecting members for The Style Council as I go on my merry way,” Weller told the press. “For the time bring it’s just me and keyboard player Mick Talbot. I wanted him in my new group because I believe him to be the finest young jazz/soul organist in the country.” That appointment gave an indication of Weller’s future musical direction, which was a move away from the mod rock of The Jam. First single Speak Like A Child (with the other musicians on it, including Zeke from Orange Juice, appearing as guest artists) was reviewed in Record Mirror: “The world waits with bated breath. The pubs are emptied and the streets are deserted as people scurry home to see if Paul Weller’s quarter of a million deal with Polydor has paid off. And yes, the voice of a nation is set to cut it again. What I like is the fact that the bitterness has gone – there was nothing worse than Weller launching his tirades against art and society. Weller relaxes and coughs up a rich little number with his big toe in the past and his eye well and truly on the future. Weller’s new baby is bawling lustily. May it grow to be strong.”
The next member ‘collected’ for the group was singer Dee C. Lee, although she too was not a full member (largely due to a contract she was negotiating with CBS as a solo artist). She appeared on second single Money-Go-Round, which was reviewed by Spandau Ballet’s Gary Kemp in Smash Hits: “Is Paul scared to have too many hit records or is it time to make social comment, not war? The record has a strong funk instrumental arrangement that will get this the club play Weller’s never received before. Dee from Wham! is singing back-up and I-Level’s bass player is slapping brilliantly but the record does not have the commerciality of Speak Like A Child. It reminds me of a cockney Gil Scott-Heron. The Style Council are far more contemporary in their music and attitudes than the rock and roll of The Jam and I admire Paul for making the brave (but right) move of junking The Jam.”
Generally, then, a good start. But with the band not fully recruited, live dates looked unlikely in the near future. There was also no sign of an album; as well as collecting group members, Weller was collecting songs. “I haven’t got any plans for an album – I’ll just collect tracks as I go along. I’m more interested in releasing singles, really.” And for the first year of The Style Council, that’s exactly what he did.
NEW SINGLES on sale from May. 20
BIG COUNTRY In A Big Country (Mercury COUNT3)
The POLICE Every Breath You Take (A&M AM117)
The STYLE COUNCIL Money-Go-Round (Polydor TSC2)
ULTRAVOX We Came To Dance (Chrysalis VOX1)
David BOWIE Loving The Alien (EMI America EA195)