In the last years of the 1980s, Paul Weller remained prolific, with numerous releases from The Style Council. Among them was the live album Home And Abroad in 1986; studio album The Cost Of Loving, issued as two 12” EPs in an orange gatefold sleeve, on which the influences of soul, R&B and smooth jazz continued and were enhanced by a number of American artists on the production team; a short film called ‘JerUSAlem’ featuring the band performing recent singles; and a series of EPs just before Christmas 1987. Experimentation and risk-taking continued on 1988’s Confessions Of A Pop Group, which included tracks like the almost a cappella The Story Of Someone’s Shoe which featured The Swingle Singers.
Critical opinion was mixed. Weller’s poor relationship with the music press and the media in general, his political side-projects, even perhaps his domestic arrangements (he was now married to Dee C Lee and children were on the way) meant that music wasn’t always his top priority and some reviews argued that it showed. But it was falling out with his long-time record company Polydor that finally did for Weller and The Style Council.
On 30 January 1989, Polydor spiked the release of a new single from Weller called Like A Gun on the Acid Jazz label. A 12” only release (JAZID9T), it made it to the shops only to be withdrawn on the day of release when Polydor enforced a clause in Weller’s contract that meant he couldn’t record for another label. (He knew it, having released the single under the group name King Truman.) But Polydor chose not to release the material Weller supplied them with: The Style Council’s next album, Modernism: A New Decade, was rejected. Influenced by the acid house scene of the late 1980s, it wasn’t considered commercial enough, particularly given the group’s recent chart performance, where singles might make the Top 20 or miss the Top 40 altogether. Instead, “the greatest hits long-player, from Britain’s most successful girl group” was released, along with a re-mix of an earlier hit. The Singular Adventures of The Style Council was promoted by the single Long Hot Summer ‘89, the group’s final hit in May 1989. It peaked at its entry position of #48 on the singles chart.
It seems that even as late as the summer of 1989, The Style Council was still a going concern. Acetates of a new single, Sure Is Sure, were seen, although this was never pressed. In the end, the only track from the Modernism album to be released was Everybody’s On The Run, which had featured on the B-side of the Long Hot Summer ‘89 single. The subtitle of compilation album, “greatest hits vol 1,” turned out not to be prophetic, as there was no volume 2. They permanently split later in the year, and Weller ended the decade without a band and without a recording contract.
☛ What happened next
In 1990, Weller gathered musicians for his next group, The Paul Weller Movement; one single under that name was released the following year on Weller’s own Freedom high label. The “Movement” featured various members in different line-ups during its short existence; really, Weller’s solo career had already begun. He joined Go! Discs in 1991 and although his first album for them was rather overlooked, he went on to record a trio of excellent albums for them, Wild Wood (1993, nominated for the Mercury Music Prize), Stanley Road (1995, which included the Top 10 singles The Changingman and You Do Something To Me) and Heavy Soul (1997, including the #5 hit Peacock Suit). The timing of these albums was significant: Weller was one of the few artists from the ‘old guard’ to be welcomed into the Britpop genre, with the Go! Discs albums bringing him back into critical favour. Compilations of past material from The Jam and The Style Council also sold well during this period, with material from the latter band receiving overdue critical reappraisal. The Modernism album was finally released in its entirety in 1998 as part of the The Complete Adventures Of The Style Council box set.
Since then, he has won numerous awards, including such honours as an award at the 2006 BRITS for lifetime achievement (he rejected a CBE in the same year) and NME’s Godlike Genius Award in 2010. Bob Stanley, writing in his book Yeah Yeah Yeah in 2013, commented that “Weller’s career has been up and down … but he’s rarely been dull, and he would be the last person to relive his glory days by re-forming The Jam. Having turned 50, his 2010 album Wake Up The Nation was his most adventurous since Sound Affects.” He continues to innovate and challenge today, with this year’s Saturns Pattern receiving generally favourable coverage and reaching #2.
NEW SINGLES on sale from Oct. 19
The ALARM The Chant Has Just Begun (IRS IRS114)
ORANGE JUICE (Edwyn Collins) Lean Period (Polydor OJ7)
SIOUXSIE AND THE BANSHEES (Siouxsie Sioux) Overground (Wonderland SHE8)
STRAWBERRY SWITCHBLADE Since Yesterday (Korova KOW38)
Rick ASTLEY Whenever You Need Somebody (RCA PB41567)
DANNY WILSON (Gary Clark) The Girl I Used To Know (Virgin VS1011)
PRETENDERS Kid (Re-mix) (Real YZ156)
The STYLE COUNCIL Wanted (Polydor TSC14)
Pete WYLIE FourElevenFortyFour (Siren SRN59)