on 22 April 2010
This is as unexpected as it is brilliant. Just pause to consider these facts -- Weller is 52. All of his contemporaries from the late-70s have disappeared from view. And he has probably just made the album of his career. I've enjoyed Weller's solo work. In particular, his solo debut, Wild Wood and As Is Now are outstanding albums. But this... this is in a different league. It lacks some of the plodding of other collections -- it's urgent, fun, moving, and energising. If you're a selective downloader, you'd be doing yourself a disservice by cherry-picking selective tracks -- it feels like an organic piece of work and merits 'start to finish' listening. But clear stand-out tracks are the title track, 'No Tears to Cry' with its 'Broken Stones' vibe, 'Andromeda', 'Find The Torch/Burn The Plans' and the astonishing 'Trees'. Lyrically, this song covers the same ground as Elvis Costello's 'Veronica' -- imagining the previous life of residents in a nursing home, but it's so much more than that. It's proud, musically wonderful, and wistful too, when you consider that one of those residents was Weller's own Dad, John. Maybe it's the emotional trauma of his loss that gives this album its rawness, or maybe Weller is just having fun these days. Either way, he has delivered the best album of his solo years, his most musically interesting since 'Confessions Of A Pop Group' and maybe his career masterpiece.
on 19 April 2010
If like me, you have grown up grown old with the music of Paul Weller then you are in for a bit if a surprise. Do you remember all that gritted teethed aggression and unashamed exuberance at Weller's wild and slightly crazy expressive side ? Well, my fellow music lovers it's time to get very excited indeed at this latest offering by yer' man. The sheer energy and passion of this album will take you back to that of the Jam. Our man has combined every element of his musical journey to culminate in a diverse but surprisingly addictive collection of tunes. He probably doesn't need any more plaudits and pats on the back and I'm sure he's aware by now how truly talented he is but I have to say this maybe is the best solo album of his career. Thank god for Paul Weller, imagine the size of the void in the music industry without him the last 30 years. Yes, that's right it's unimaginable....
on 28 April 2010
First play of this CD left me wondering if The Man had lost his marbles. Too experimental, a bit avant garde.
Second play and I was coming round to Mr Wellers way of thinking.
By the fifth play I fully understood what this album was all about. There are so many different sounds in there, it takes a little while for your brain to catch up but once you've got your head around it you're on the train.Enjoying the ride, letting your senses absorb every little detail of the journey. Weller is in total control of this guitar led adventure. You will pass through Curtis Mayfield territory, visit Walker Brother Land and stop off somewhere near to the town of Northern Soul. There's also plenty of Paul Weller in there too!!!
As a body of work, this album is a true masterpiece.
If 22 Dreams failed to excite you, then this one is for you. A total change of direction, The Angry Young Man of yesteryear is back and He's got plenty to say.
on 17 September 2010
Shall I or shall I not? To Deluxe or not to deluxe? Stanley Road Deluxe; great but nothing special. In the end the lure of getting a second CD for not a lot of money was too great. After a minor fall out with the other half withdrew to the shed to pack a few more boxes (we are moving house). Listened to Wake Up The Nation for the first time. Abolutely brilliant. Short sharp excellent examples of just what Weller is. Everything is there. Every creation, mood, influence, style, mode, arrangement Paul Weller has ever experienced and provided for us to enjoy and wonder at is there. This is the culmination of everything Paul Weller has been to date but it is absolutely original, not just churning out the same old crap as too many do today but building on all that has gone before. Absolutely brilliant Paul Weller as we all love him. The pinnacle of his career; or so I thought.
The second disk is without question one of the greatest musical creations I have ever experienced. I still cannot believe what I hear. Argument forgotten I rushed into the kitchen..... What do you think of this then? I enthusiastically enquired of one who is no mug when it comes to Weller. It's awesome was the reply. Who is it then? I asked. No idea, sounds like an upbeat remixed Paul Weller. Exactly what it is. This is Weller being Weller; using everything he has and then encompassing modern beats, electronica, vocals, mixes and techniques to produce something that is a musical milestone. Dubstep with raw aggression, The Jam gone electronica, The Style Council with melodious backing, Weller truly embracing every musical style and using every device available to produce the Michelin 5 star album. (Yes I know Michelin only gives 4 that is why I say 5) No Tears To Cry (Leo Zero Remix) has everything; but all the tracks do so ......... There really is nothing much else to say except that the second disk could be released as a stand alone. Anybody who declines to add Wake Up The Nation to their collection is missing a treat. Is it "Mixers using great source material to produce masterpieces or is it Weller using modern mixes to make his stuff even better? Half full or half empty; same result different explanation: who cares? Everyone who enjoys music of any description should beg steal or borrow; maybe even buy, the Deluxe edition for it is the deluxe bit that epitomises Weller and really is one of the greatest albums I have ever heard.
on 21 April 2010
This album works - wondefully. On the whole it is fast and furious and angry - all those things about Weller so many of his fans love - but it has clever and quieter moments too. Worth buying, just for the wonderful "Trees" - a medley of 4 songs which has to remind the lister of Abbey Road - with the medley of Lennon/McCartney songs - though this is clearly Weller. "She Speaks" and "Find the Torch, Burn the Plans" are rousing songs of geuine quality, and there are plenty of songs to get you up and your feet. "Andromeda" reminds the listener of Bowie, "No Tears to Cry" of Orbison - but the whole album - well, it could only be the modfather!
It does not have the commercial appeal of Stanley Road - there will not be a string of successful single releases, but for thos of you who like a fratic, electric Weller, the this album is absolute top drawer. I am one of those people, and I love it!
on 24 April 2010
For far too long, in my opinion, Paul Weller was treading water. From 'Heavy Soul' on, the sparkle was disappearing slowly from his work. 'Heliocentric', 'Illumination' and 'As Is Now' all meandered from the occasional wonderful riff or 2 or 3 barnstorming tracks, only to be dragged down by what I thought at the time were fillers. I yearned for Paul Weller to begin to experiment once more and ditch the 'formula' he'd been using.
Finally, with his previous album '22 Dreams' he showed signs of re-igniting the fire and finding the torch. Although that album sprawled and lacked a little focus, it did show some wonderful moments and at the very least, it showed that Weller still could surprise us and challenge us. One of the main criticisms he has had to take from people who 'don't get Weller' has always been that he is derivative, unoriginal and bland. '22 Dreams' refuted that and 'Wake Up The Nation' buries the notion once and for all. Mind you, if you always hated him, this won't change your mind, but if you listen with an open mind, then you might like it.
My one issue with this album is that it begins with, I think, one of the weaker tracks in 'Moonshine'. It's an up tempo 'welcome mat' of a song, but it isn't indicative of what's to come at all. With the title track 'Wake up the Nation', Paul makes his point in typical Weller fashion. It's his wake up call, the way he does 'politics' these days I guess - close your laptop, enjoy your life in real time and wake up. It's catchy, stompy, short and sharp and I love it.
He then immedaitely jumps off at a tangent to 'No Tears to Cry', which is a lovely Motown-esque, bass driven catchy song with a lovely hook. It was a double a-side single with 'Wake up the Nation' but received precious little airplay sadly.
Former Jam bassist. Bruce Foxton appears on 'Fast Car/Slow Traffic' which is another short, sharp song with a wonderful and typically Foxton bassline. It is very reminiscent of The Jam and it was certainly uplifting to me when I heard it. It's almost 1978 again with this one and let's face it, this is as near as you'll ever get to a 'new' Jam song, so enjoy it.
Standout tracks are aplenty elsewhere on this album though. 'Find the Torch, Burn the Plans', in spite of its weird title, is a cracking singalong song that drips with hope, camaraderie and passion. 'Aim High' sees Weller go falsetto for the first time in a while and he pulls it off. It's a wonderful track and very much what The Style Council were trying to do, but never quite pulled off 100%. This one has it all, funky guitar, lovely strings and jazzy Gil Evans style arrangement.
'Trees' is unlike any other song I know. It's like a five part story told from the point of view of those he saw when he visited his ailing father in a care home before he passed away. It's original, off kilter, intriguing and it takes you to places that you probably never thought you would see Paul Weller go. This is as good a track as he has written in his career I would say.
'Grasp and Still Connect' will almost certainly go on to become a live favourite (hopefully even the people who only own the Greatest Hits and infest his gigs nowadays will love it) and '7&3 is the Striker's Name' is an angry, feisty rant with a cracking arragement and here I must compliment Simon Dine's contribution on this album. I think he has helped to reinvigorate Weller.
If you like Weller to take some chances, surprise you and you don't give a toss what anyone else thinks of him, then buy it and I don't think you will be disappointed. This album really ought to win some awards.
on 19 April 2010
Tradition seems to have it with Paul Weller albums, that when they are released they are described as "The Best since Wild Wood", or "The Best since Stanley Road". Well - say it no more, because this is the modfather at his peak again. If you're after the more introvert, reflective Weller, or even the more "commercial" Weller (if that's a label that can be applied), then this may not be the album for you. There are no soft ballads, no love tales - it is loud and energetic throughout. Experimental too - but not hugely so - everything he tries "makes sense" - it is not merely random noise.
From start to finish - this is "in your face" Weller at his finest and most creative. The anger and energy is all there - combined with the desire to make the world a better place. Play it at full volume - anything less and you won't get the full effect.
This is an album that demands live performances. "Find the Torch, Burn the Plans", "Moonshine", "7 & 3", "Grasp and Still Connect" will have the crowds up and jumping for sure. The softer moments, if they exist - come in the likes of "No Tears to Cry" - a fantastic Orbison-esque tune, which was released as the single.
Having said all that - will this gain Weller new fans? Probably not too many, but for those of us who have followed him for 30 years - this is pure genius
on 7 June 2010
First, let me say that I have been a big fan of Paul Weller's since his days in The Jam. Second, I typically buy the LPs of albums I like, because they sound better than the CD or digital download equivalent. That is, of course, if the LP is sourced from the analog master tapes, or from high resolution digital (i.e., 24-bit 96kHz minimum). Unfortunately, some labels skimp and just use the CD (Redbook 16-bit 44.1kHz) digital files as the master for the LPs. That appears to be the case with this LP, as it exhibits all the characteristics of bad CDs: thin, flat sound, that is abrasive and has been significantly compressed and therefore has no dynamics. This was a difficult LP to listen to: I just wanted to take it off the turntable. What a waste, as the music on this LP is fine. The record labels should stop cutting corners and NEVER use CD masters as the source material for LPs. Good job Mr. Weller, very bad job, record label.
on 12 May 2010
I really enjoyed this album and as is often the case with Weller he raised some interesting views on the world which we live in; I bought the deluxe edition with the additional CD, Booklet. The one thing I miss from the days of vinyl is the artwork, opinion & sleeve notes which is lacking from most albums today, worth the extra in my view. The stand out tracks are many on this album, however I admit to being a Weller fan since the late 70's, the soulful No Tears to Cry is probably my favourite track today or is it Find the torch/burn the plans or..!
I was less impressed with the second CD `Change up the Nation' which I found to be a confusing mix of different styles which are not coherent when listened to back to back, but again some of the remixes were to my taste and I felt that overall it added to the value of the deluxe edition, lets face it your probably already a Weller fan if your buying this version over the single disc version or the download.
on 20 April 2010
I`m a massive Weller fan and would probably buy an album made up of experimental flutalance noises should he ever release such a thing. Not a good start for a review I know, however after reading many 5 star reviews I approached this album expecting it to carry on where 22 Dreams left off. I did`nt expect what I found; on first listen a lot of the songs seemed unfininshed and almost improvised, and I found some of them very challenging to listen to. But this is the point, a lot of this album is improvised and after a few listens I could rid my preconceptions and enjoy what was going on. I cannot wait to see and hear these songs grow as they are performed live (Aim High Shoot Low performed on Jools Holland was simply superb)which is where Weller excells. Whether it is the "finest thing he has done so far" is a very subjective statement. Personally I love his guitar playing (especially his lead stuff), something he dose`nt seem to do as much these days (good job I like Craddock too then!) and you aint going to here much on this album either. But you do get an album made up of predominantly excellent tunes with a smattering of abstract moments.....where to next?