Polydor understandably lost all patience with Mssr. Weller the moment this was heard. After all, the group had been a marketing department's worst nightmare almost from it's very inception, when the prodigal son of England's Punk scene commited the unforgivable sin of broadening his horizons.
In retrospect, the only real sin he commited musically was the growing tendency to try too hard. Considering the unprecedented hatred the group starting receiving the moment it debuted (which makes the Carpenters look like critics darlings in comparison), how could anyone possibly have avoided such a path? Where Poly went wrong was in trying to market the group by conventional standards. What the Council most needed was the sympathetic and pointed leverage of a hard-hitting indie label - the very kind of label that emerged in the early eighties as a direct result of the movement Weller had defined and exemplified with the Jam.
Initially limited to punk and avant garde rock genres, Britain's "Indie" labels had brilliantly utilized low-cost guerilla marketing tactics while adopting and introducing American house music to the British public. Weller's debut solo release would benefit from the street-level approach of Go! Discs. After years in the red, The Council were bound to Polydor with financial and legal "Super Glue", and disbanding would prove to be the only escape.
While "Modernism: A New Decade" was far short of an Earth-shattering development in house music, it was a brilliant example of the kind of beguiling EP the Council had initially utilized to differentiate itself (with early four and five song twelve-inch vinyl such as "Au Paris" in Europe, as well as the US debut "Introducing"). This fabulous low-key, low-expectation approach to releases was a delight to record buyers, sadly vanishing with the CD era.
Oddly, the Council had started to garner some underground interest in the States with the dance vinyl that was sealing their fate in Europe. A whole generation of record buyers (completely unaware that Weller was a traitor to be despised) had heard something interesting in the records. Perhaps it was the fact that Mick Talbot could actually play all those keyboards. Maybe it was the oblivious approach to the programming (not very hip at the time, but infinetely more listenable today than the records that WERE hip at the time). The Council had always shone brightest as a novelty act with just-that-someting-extra. I suspect Paul himself knew he'd never break out of this trap. Both the final UK single "promised land" and it's Japanese counterpart "Sure is Sure" have the kind of undeniable finality that has to be imbued from the very start. The "freedom" theme could not be more obvious, and was continued into Weller's brilliant first solo effort.
To be a Council fan is almost a religion itself, taunting the listener with constant "What If?"s and ultimately boiling down to an inexplicable faith in the recordings themselves, despite the glaring flaws. The Council arguably took the road less travelled and helped to change the way popular groups approach their material as well as their marketing. The bulk of the luck, however, was not to be theirs.
I personally recommend this release and quite enjoy it.