3D Great Rock Bible
The Style Council iTunes Tracks The Style Council Official Website

The Style Council

Although cool, suave and sophisticated, PAUL WELLER’s sickly-sweet post-JAM collective The STYLE COUNCIL were not to everyone’s liking – even his most loyal JAM fans. A cocktail of American R&B, soul, jazz and his hatred for the yuppie politics of Margaret Thatcher’s Tory government, Weller and his trusty mod sidekick Mick Talbot did have their “Shout To The Top” in the awful 80s, albeit with whimpering pop tunes – not the Modfather’s greatest decade.
Formed early ’83 in London almost immediately after the break-up of mod-punks The JAM, gifted songsmith PAUL WELLER and former MERTON PARKAS keyboard player Mick Talbot (the talented young sticksman Steve White was also on board), The STYLE COUNCIL followed a radical new direction, taking the agit-soul of CURTIS MAYFIELD as their inspiration and fashioning a very 80s hybrid of lounge jazz, breezy pop and white funk.
Scoring from the get-go with the Top 5, `Speak Like A Child’, the collective (featuring D.C. Lee) continued the Top 10 run with `Money-Go-Round (Part 1)’, `Long Hot Summer’ and `Solid Bond In Your Heart’. Not one of them accompanied The STYLE COUNCIL’s debut album CAFE BLEU (1984) {*7}; while the mellow atmospherics of `My Ever Changing Moods’ gave the group another huge hit. The album itself was a lush fusion of summery jazz and easy soul, the keening strum of `You’re The Best Thing’ making the Top 5 and arguably the best Weller and his collective ever penned – almost the creative pinnacle of what they were trying to achieve.
Weller became increasingly political as the decade wore on, the rousing soul/funk of `Shout To The Top’ and its back-to-back Top 10 smash `Walls Come Tumbling Down!’, an indication of the direction The JAM may have taken had they still been in existence. With the miners strike in full effect, politics were very much still an issue in rock/pop and Weller and Co released a benefit single, `Soul Deep’, at Christmas ‘84 under the Council Collective banner. With production handled by HEAVEN 17’s Martyn Ware, the project included the likes of JIMMY RUFFIN, Junior (Giscombe), Vaughn Toulouse, Dizzy Heights and Dee C. Lee.
Lee, in turn, became not only Paul’s other half, but a full-time backing singer for his STYLE COUNCIL, her sweet soul tones helping make OUR FAVOURITE SHOP (1985) {*7} a minor soul classic. The overall sound was more satisfying and the writing was sharper; `Come To Milton Keynes’ (and the Thatcher-bating `The Lodgers (Or She Was Only A Shopkeeper’s Daughter)’) was Weller’s most cutting slice of social commentary since The JAM’s heyday.
Come 1986, The STYLE COUNCIL became heavily involved in the “Red Wedge” movement alongside the likes of The COMMUNARDS and folkie BILLY BRAGG, attempting to educate music fans into voting for the right party in the upcoming elections, i.e. Labour. Such an openly party political stance was probably doomed to failure from the start, the attendant tour floundering and the Tories of course, predictably romping home. The ill-advised live in concert set, HOME & ABROAD (1986) {*4} suffered bad press as a result.
It was the last time Weller would lay his beliefs on the line, and the failure of the project seemed to lie at the heart of the lugubrious meanderings of the double set, THE COST OF LOVING (1987) {*4}. `It Didn’t Matter’ (their final Top 10 entry) was as poignant to their slide downwards in the eyes of the critics and fans alike.
The following year’s CONFESSIONS OF A POP GROUP (1988) {3} was similarly lacking in focus, its string arrangements and classical pretensions seeing The STYLE COUNCIL sinking in a mire of self-indulgence. The record failed to spawn any major hits and didn’t even make the Top 10; when Polydor refused to release a proposed fifth set (`Modernism: A New Decade’), PAUL WELLER finally adjourned the ‘Council and retired to re-evaluate his career. When he returned as a solo artist, he’d learned a lot from his 80s inclinations, lessons that would stand his newfound solo status in good stead.
© MC Strong 1994-2006/BG-GRD // rev-up MCS Jun2012

Share this Project

Leave a Comment