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42 of 45 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars No longer as thick and thieves
This books took me completely by surprise and was so compelling I read it straight through. For anyone interested in the man behind Paul Weller the artist, this is a fascinating read. Once Weller and Hewitt were fast friends, but now - and this makes for a more revealing and better read - they have gone their separate ways. The book is tinged with sadness, yet Hewitt...
Published on 26 Sep 2007 by S. J. Lightfoot

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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Nothing new to add to the story
Just finished reading this book, not bad but no major revalations. I think we all knew about PW's personal side anyway as it comes across in interviews and on the few occasions I met him (which kind of put me off meeting my "heroes" in future so as not to be disappointed- like PW with Marriot I suppose). Hewitt doesn't really bring anything new to the table as regards...
Published on 9 Nov 2007 by A. Pacey


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42 of 45 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars No longer as thick and thieves, 26 Sep 2007
By 
S. J. Lightfoot (England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Paul Weller - The Changing Man (Hardcover)
This books took me completely by surprise and was so compelling I read it straight through. For anyone interested in the man behind Paul Weller the artist, this is a fascinating read. Once Weller and Hewitt were fast friends, but now - and this makes for a more revealing and better read - they have gone their separate ways. The book is tinged with sadness, yet Hewitt tells all with honesty and fairness, and how friendship with Weller is akin to living on the sea, with all its unpredictableness. The portrait he gives is that of a domineering, self-centred, neurotic, paranoid, generous, talented, hugely attractive and at times unpleasant person, the bottom line being that you either buy into his game-plan, or you don't take to the field. In looking for a framework to hang his book, Hewitt has used sixty-eight of Weller's songs whose titles preclude each piece. Some of the pieces are only a page long and read like snapshots of some greater picture, and often leave you wanting more. Throughout Hewitt sticks to his own perceptions of Weller and never looks beyond. For example he talks of Mick Talbot as a man of consummate ability and taste, yet there is nothing on his relationship with Weller. Steve White too hardly gets a mention. What does become clear is that Weller is very intolerant of anyone who does not agree with his vision, and one is left wondering how Talbot and White got on with him over the years. Needless to say Weller is often right. In one very funny snapshot Hewitt runs through some of the musicians Weller has slagged off and the way he tells it is hilarious. Weller even spits on a picture of Sting (a ***t of the highest rank to be sure!) in the Albert Hall. No matter what Hewitt says about Weller the person, however, the quality of the mans music remains undiminished, something which Hewitt goes some way to acknowledge. Few musicians have had Weller's longevity and success, and one struggles to name a musician whose music is still vital and authentic, whilst remaining steadfastly independent of the music industry (unless it's Graham Day of course).

All the subjects Hewitt has written about, The Jam, The Small Faces, Marriot, the Mod scene, Northern Soul are fascinating, yet something in his style is left wanting. There is never quite enough meat on the bones, not enough depth in his thinking, and no sooner has he started one thought when he is beginning another. In this book he brings in Anthony Storr - as clear thinking a philosopher as you could ever hope to read - to help explain the creative personality. Herbert Spencer even gets a mention, yet both these inclusions sit uneasily in the writing, which is often light and lacking penetration. Even more annoying are Hewitt's referrals, in brackets within the text, to certain songs (or is it the chapters in the book - who knows!) by Weller, so as to better understand the point he is trying to make. Some of these left me totally baffled. Yet for all this, Hewitt's book should be read, if only to get a sense of the man behind the music. You learn for example that Weller likes to write in the kitchen after midnight; that after a nasty bust up with Gill, his first serious girlfriend, his only concern was for his rare Small Faces 45's (too right mate!) that were still at their flat, and that he once gave Hewitt a years salary as a Christmas present when he was starting up as a freelance journalist. All in all then this is a good read and Weller fans will find much here to fascinate them. It is not, however, a definitive biography and does not attempt to be. To really do Weller justice you need a writer of large talent and insight, one who is able to go beyond the confines of pop music and look at Weller as part of a wider, romantic tradition that is unique to England.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Nothing new to add to the story, 9 Nov 2007
By 
A. Pacey - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Paul Weller - The Changing Man (Hardcover)
Just finished reading this book, not bad but no major revalations. I think we all knew about PW's personal side anyway as it comes across in interviews and on the few occasions I met him (which kind of put me off meeting my "heroes" in future so as not to be disappointed- like PW with Marriot I suppose). Hewitt doesn't really bring anything new to the table as regards fresh insight on the man, just a few personal anecdotes about various drinking sessions and temper tantrums. I really expected more from the writer considering his closeness to his subject over the past 26 years.
Anyway not a bad book but I noticed some glaring inaccuracies: Waiting released in 1986??? Have you Ever Had It Blue was a re-write of With Everything To Lose??? He helped to write We Are The World and not Do They Know It's Christmas?!?!?
Ok for the casual fan (post- Stanley Road) but nothing really of interest to an "anorak" like myself......... 5/10

Note to author: The TSC years are probably Weller's best documented years available in print via Iain Munn's "Mr. Cools Dream". At the very least you should have used this book as a reference and got the facts right.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars So Sad About Us, 6 Feb 2008
By 
This review is from: Paul Weller - The Changing Man (Hardcover)
Poor Paulo. If he thought it was all over, it is now. If Hewitt's assessment of Paul Weller's character is correct (hardline, determined, unforgiving - and that's when Paulo's feeling charitable), he's not going to be best pleased to read this all-guns-blazing attack. And who can blame him?

You really have to wonder who the publishers thought this book would appeal to. As another reviewer has pointed out, surely the only people who will be interested are Paul Weller fans, people who like the man and/or his music. This book mercilessly attacks both. Paul Weller is a monster, it says, and all those songs you so love? Actually he copied them all. Titles, chords, riffs, lyrics, they've all been ripped off. Yeah, right.

Well, now I'm the one who feels ripped off. I bought this knowing Hewitt had fallen out with Weller and was therefore expecting some sort of insight beyond his previous matey assessments, or at least some new stories. I got neither.

Hewitt seems reluctant to reveal ANYTHING about his relationship with Weller - there's almost nothing about what it's like being a pop star's friend, being on tour with him, hanging out with his famous friends, watching him work and nothing worthwhile about the other people involved in this story - Bruce and Rick, Dee and Mick, the two Steves.

So what DO you get? Hewitt's third-rate music hack assessments of a handful of songs and the standard biog, which everyone who buys this book already knows. We don't even get any new photos! Well, at least now I can say I feel like Paul Weller - disappointed, fleeced and well and truly shafted.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Cappuccino kid deconstructs his old mate, 29 Nov 2007
By 
C. O'Brien (Scotland, UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Paul Weller - The Changing Man (Hardcover)
Ex-music journalist Paolo Hewitt's biography of Paul Weller is subtitled "the music, life and times of a British songwriting legend". That suggests an exhaustive study of Weller's life and an assessment of his musical career, when in fact what we really get here is a personal view of a failed friendship. Hewitt - wildly held to be the "cappuccino kid" of Style Council sleeve-note legend - recently fell out with his old mate after some unspecified conflict. The style is heavily conversational, as though Hewitt's unburdening himself in the pub, and there are grammatical howlers which really ought to have been picked up in the edit.

Still, there are plenty of entertaining anecdotes as well as some engaging insights into the songs. Hewitt takes a thematic rather than a linear approach to Weller's career, basing his analysis on the lyrics. This would work a lot better if Hewitt actually had permission to quote at length from Weller's published works, which it appears has been withheld.

This could have been a great biography had Hewitt's personal insights been allied to some objective analysis and a wider pool of source material. As it is, it's only a part of the story.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Changing Book, 15 Dec 2008
By 
Kieran Byrne (Dublin, Ireland) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Paul Weller - The Changing Man (Hardcover)
First off, the main mood I get from this book is sadness. Whatever Hewitt and Weller fell out about we'll probably never know. But one thing's for sure. Hewitt deeply, deeply admires Weller and misses him terribly. Other reviewers have dismissed The Changing Man as a bitter attack, a kind of 'spurned lover' account from a poison pen. I prefer to call it the Changing Book because that's what it's like - a book that changes page to page. If there was such thing as a rollercoaster set to print, this would be it. On one page Hewitt is singing Weller's praises; on another he's putting the boot in, slagging Weller off for submitting to 'second youth' masculinity and prone to getting pissed and inviting people who don't agree with his world view to 'continue the conversation outside'. This is my main - and possibly only - criticism of this multi-layered work. I can't help shaking off the feeling that Hewitt shed more than a few tears as he tapped away at his laptop. And that's the problem, I think: he wrote the book way too soon. Some objectivity and, I suspect, a lot of time (maybe a year) would have ensured a longer cooking time for the book and possibly a more calmer read. The heart of the book, however, is honest and heart-broken and regretful. Hewitt may be a lot of things but dishonest isn't one of them. His admiration and deep affection for Weller shines through on every page. I've read a lot of Hewitt's stuff and he's usually a lot more thorough in his prose craftsmanship. This book has the air of one written with white-heat, fired up on anger and not a little spite. Yes, it sometimes does have the feeling of a tabloid-style 'Tell-All' but I don't think that's where Hewitt is coming from. Like I said, whatever happened that caused them to fall out we'll never know; but I continue to believe that Hewitt would be happy to be back on pally terms with Weller in a micro-second. I don't think it'll happen. Once Weller puts the block on you, you're gone. Just ask two gentlemen named Rick Buckler and Bruce Foxton.....
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars paul weller-the changing man, 26 Aug 2011
By 
I bought this book a few years ago being a long term Weller fan. Even though I knew that Paolo Hewitt and Weller were no longer friends, I was quite surprised at how acidic the author is in certain chapters. We all know that Weller can be a gruff opinionated man and indeed that's why many of us like him but for every sentence showing Weller's good side, there seem to be five showing him in a bad light. If Hewitt finds him so disagreeable, then why the hell did he hang around with him for so long. If I was a cynic, I'd say that he may have been feathering his own nest and clambering up his own career ladder on the back of their connection.
Not a bad read but I wonder how much is the real thing and how much is sour grapes.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Have you made up your mind?, 3 Jun 2008
This review is from: Paul Weller - The Changing Man (Hardcover)
It's taken me ages to decide what I think about this book; and to be honest, I still haven't really worked out whether it's any good or not. Being an avid Weller fan, I got it hot off the press and zapped through it with gusto!

But while it's very readable, I'd agree with some of the other reviewers who were disappointed that it doesn't tell us anything we don't already know about the man. I suppose my problem is that I don't know what Paolo Hewitt was trying to achieve with this book. Unlike his excellent biography of Steve Marriott "all too beautiful", this work struggles for a clarity of purpose, and by the end of it, I could only surmise that it was almost an apology at having fallen out with a long-term and much-missed friend.

We all have friends with temparement like Weller. People who, whilst they lack Weller's lyrical and musical talents, share many of the same behaviour traits. We learn to manage them if we value them, and benefit from the parts we value, and tolerate the parts we don't. But we don't all write books about them. It would make for fairly shallow reading, which I'm afraid, this book is.

So buy it if you like - I did! Laugh at the bits you know are coming; cringe at some of the others. I suspect Weller is no different from many of us "ordinary folk"; a complex mix of individual parts; inconsistent and flawed. Why should he be the perfect human being just because his music inspired so much of our teenage (and beyond) years?

You know, I suspect Paolo Hewitt still likes Paul Weller. And though I've only ever been lucky enough to say "hello" to him a few times, I still like him, too.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Bitter, twisted, badly written, 4 Feb 2010
By 
M. Algie (UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
You never find out what caused the end of Paul Weller & Paolo Hewitt's 30 year friendship and by the end of this book (if you make it that far) it's unlikely you'll care.

This is essentially a bitter and vengeful rant about Weller written with very little insight or intelligence. It's badly structured, dotted with laughable references to psychology and the details that Hewitt reveals about Weller are occassionally reasonably interesting but more often than not the insights are one-sided, gossipy and probably best kept to himself.

What is essentially is one long betrayal of friendship is all the more shocking when you consider the argument that Hewitt has hung on the coattails of Weller's fame for about 20 years, most prominantly throughout the Britpop years, and I'm sure his association with Weller certainly helped open doors to Oasis and shift a few copies of his consequent Oasis biographies and assorted Weller/Mod related tomes.

There's an anecdote about Weller very giving the author a cheque for a year's salary as a gift when Hewitt left the NME to persue a freelance writing career. I bet he wishes now he hadn't bothered.

Avoid.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Compost?, 28 Sep 2008
By 
Andrew Packman "Herbmaster" (Lusmagh, Ireland) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Paul Weller: The Changing Man
If all require from a biography about Paul Weller is a cobbled together collection of interviews, reviews & hearsays about him, then this is perfect for you.
I would love to say I couldn't put it down, but I truthfully couldn't wait to put it down. So much so I only managed to get to page 112 before growing tired of Paolo Hewitts he said, she said style of writing.
Non swimmers will also love this book, it's so shallow you'll barely get your feet wet. If Mr Hewitt were to write a Weller style song, it would surely be called "Skimming Stones".
So, in answer to my heading Compost? this book is definitly being added to the garden compost.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Bitter and Twisted, 19 May 2008
By 
Coincidence Vs Fate - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Paul Weller - The Changing Man (Hardcover)
Paolo starts the book by stating that his 26 year friendship with Paul Weller is over. At the end of the book he tells us that songwriters are a different breed to the rest of us; intense, etc.

Inbetween Paolo Hewitt takes every opportunity to paint Paul Weller in a bad light - he's moody, he's nasty, he's selfish, he's tight-fisted, he's prone to violent outbursts, he's pinched most of his material from other artists...you get the picture.

Well, after reading this book, my opinion of the man has changed...not Weller! I thought Paolo was alright, how wrong I was.

Although I've been a massive Jam/TSC/Weller fan for three decades now, I'm not blinkered or stupid...I know that all of us have our faults and our frailties, Paul is no different, he's human.

His faults make him no less of a brilliant musician and songwriter. His faults do not make his songs worth less. His legacy is still there and always will be, reagardless of whether or not he throws the odd tantrum.

A message for Paul. Don't bother reading this mate, it's rubbish.
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Paul Weller - The Changing Man by Paolo Hewitt (Hardcover - 24 Sep 2007)
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