Category: The Style Council

The Style Council – Our Favourite Shop

ARTIST: The Style Council  Our-Favourite-Shop-Cover
TITLE: Our Favourite Shop (Internationalists in the US)
YEAR RELEASED: 1985
CHART ACTION: #123 US, #1 UK
SINGLES: Walls Come Tumbling Down (#6 UK), Come to Milton Keynes (#23 UK), The Lodgers (#13 UK). Shout to the Top (#7 UK) was on the US version.
OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: They had a cult following in the US, so if you were part of that, you probably know the record. Else, no.
LINEUP: Paul Weller, Mick Talbot, Steve White, Dee C. Lee, Camille Hinds. Session horn and string players.
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: The Style Council makes another diverse album in the soul / jazz / pop funk motif, and it’s big in the UK even as it attacked Thatcherism.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Weller and company mine the grove of soul and funk, and the eclecticism of jazz, in their second full length album. They also tap into a growing resentment of Thatcherism by the young. Fighting back against the status quo also meant fighting against the musical trends of the time. The US wasn’t going to play a song on the radio that name-checked Milton Keynes (either the economist OR the town) , no matter who it was (well, maybe Michael Jackson, Madonna or Prince, but not these guys).

Yet, the Style Council is hemmed in by the musical trends. No matter how much they try not to fall into the realm of ‘just another pop group’ – their instrumentation and sounds are very 80’s and some songs suffer by that. In retrospect, this dates the album more than its political commentary in the lyrics.

It’s a better record all in all than their first album and first EP. Some songs, like “A Man Of Great Promise” or “The Lodgers” hang with great hooks and melodies. Still, the air of 80’s synths and drums hang in the air.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: “Shout to the Top”, a big UK single and added to the US album, was also in the movie Vision Quest.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, singles, B-sides and remixes

GRADE: B: I’ve never been totally sold on the Style Council but this is a decent album.

The Style Council – Cafe Bleu

ARTIST: The Style Council 220px-The-Style-Council-Café-Bleu
TITLE: Café Bleu (My Ever Changing Moods in the US)
YEAR RELEASED: 1984
CHART ACTION: #56 US, #2 UK
SINGLES: My Ever Changing Moods (#29 US, #5 UK), You’re the Best Thing (#76 US, #5 UK). A Solid Bond in Your Heart (#11 UK) was on the US version.
OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Probably not
LINEUP: Paul Weller, Mick Talbot, Steve White and many others
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: First proper album by the neo-retro-soul conglomeration garners a hit single in the US and acclaim in the UK.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Paul Weller moved right into retro soul with a touch of jazz and rap without breaking a sweat on this album. It’s full of jazz instrumentals, piano ballads and soul infusions.

The issue for my ears, though, is that I don’t want jazz when Weller is about. He’s definitely got an ear for melody, but also one for lyrics and it seems that instrumentals take that away. Also, some of the songs that feature the rap don’t work, either. It’s too much a clash of the styles.

Weller was guaranteed success in the UK, and the singles are great. The album is spotty and inconsistent to me, though.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: The UK version has the solo piano version of “My Ever Changing Moods”. The US version has the 12” version, adds another track, subtracts two, and changes the running order. You can’t get that anymore, though.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No, but I wish there was the US version or at least the ability to create one. The 12” version of “My Ever Changing Moods” isn’t around as far as I can see.

GRADE: C+: I’m not feeling this one from Weller & Co. Too many instrumentals for it to be a great album.

The Style Council – Introducing the Style Council

ARTIST: The Style Council Introducing-The-Style-Council-Cover
TITLE: Introducing the Style Council
YEAR RELEASED: 1983
CHART ACTION: #172 (not released in the UK!)
SINGLES: Speak Like a Child (#4 UK), Money Go Round (#11 UK), Long Hot Summer / Paris Match (#3 UK)
OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: No – this was a brief collection of their first three UK singles.
LINEUP: Paul Weller, Mick Talbot, Steve White, Tracie Young.
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Former Jam frontman picks up a former Midnight Runner, and veers from mod soul to full-on soul, funk and synth-driven R&B.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: If you were listening closely to the Gift, and the B-sides of the singles and EPs at the very end of the Jam’s career, you may not have been surprised by Paul Weller’s move to an almost pure R&B direction. What still was surprising was the fact that the Style Council was keyboard and bass driven, not driven by Weller’s guitar.

This mini-album collected seven tracks – the first three UK singles and one remix – and gave the rest of the world outside the UK a taste of what the Style Council had to offer. It does seem a bit thin, again with one track being a remix and another an instrumental. The quality of the singles is decent, but there are no classics or must-haves as there would be later.

I definitely think there’s a time and place for this, though. It does make you move at times.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: As noted, this was not released in the UK. (I guess they thought the singles were enough in 1983), but the Dutch version was brought over as an import and sold well.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No.

GRADE: B: It’s short, and there’s not a lot of meat to it, but it is a solid album and one to have if you like the English dance-funk of the 80’s.