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Studio 150 [CD]

Paul Weller Audio CD
3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
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After the Jam's Motown covers, the Style Council's appropriation of smooth 70s funk, and solo forays into white soul, what of Studio 150, an album of nothing but covers? It's certainly a brave move, and a mostly successful one, thanks to the eclectic, thoughtful selections and the Weller trademark sound. That's not to say it's just his usual rock style- "The Bottle" is Weller at his funkiest, and "Don't Make Promises" has some commendable Band-esque looseness to it. However Weller succeeds most when he put a twist on household classics with new, mostly enjoyable arrangements. "Wishing On A Star" is twisted into downbeat nightclub rasp, while Dylan's "All Along The Watchtower" becomes a keyboard-heavy jam with arresting gospel vocalists. Similarly, the less known songs may well inspire his fans to check out the originals and win himself some new ones along the way- Neil Young's "Birds" is sympathetic to the original- Weller's gruff voice standing in contrast to Young's high tenor of the original. Add to this the general usual excellent musicianship (albeit slightly less guitar that you'd expect) and Weller's always-passionate voice, and you have an album that should appeal to fans of Weller and the original legends alike. Thom Allott

BBC Review

Paul Weller is as keen on re-invention as that other 80s icon Madonna - fortunately without the religious imagery and pointy bras - and this latest album is testimony to his determination to follow his own path.

Fans at an in-store album launch this week were unanimously supportive of Studio 150. A BBC 6 Music vox-pop found a wide cross-section who said Weller had introduced them to artists they'd never have otherwise discovered: "I'd never heard of Neil Young until Weller first played his version of "Ohio" in 1993" said one fan. Others said they admired him for avoiding the obvious, saying they thought he was pretty brave to record a version of Gil Scott Heron's "The Bottle".

When rumours first circulated that the Modfather was releasing his version of Rose Royce's "Wishing on a Star"as well as Sister Sledge's"Thinking of You",eyebrows were raised. But true Weller fans won't be fazed by this dalliance with disco.

The Style Council's cover of Joe Smooth's "Promised Land" heralded the advent of Weller's fascination with house music and as a true modernist he's always chosen breaking down musical barriers over reiterating a successful formula - witness his announcement that in October '82 that The Jam was no more whilst at the height of its popularity.

At the time he said he was frustrated with the trio's sound - coming as it did on the heels of the number two hit "The Bitterest Pill", and preceding their final single, "Beat Surrender" entering the charts at number one - it's been clear since the start that commercialism was never a factor in the workings of Weller's mind.

And so to Studio 150, named after the venue in Amsterdam where this collection was recorded. Opening with northern soul stomper "If I Could Only Be Sure", this promises not to be too much of a departure with a heavy Gibson riff underpinning Weller's gruff vocals.

Again, with his version of Aaron Neville's "Hercules" which fizzes along on a funky bassline,his B&H tinged vocal is a sharp counterpoint to the sweetness of the original. "Wishing on a Star" is "Broken Stones" for 2004, and Weller's voice is poignant on "Black Is the Colour" with Eliza Carthy.

Established fans of Weller will appreciate this opportunity to hear the Modfather take these classic songs and make them his own - but unfortunately, I doubt Studio 150 will bring him any new converts. --Julie Cullen

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Product Description

CD V2, vvr1026902, Jewel Case 12 Track 2004
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