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on 4 June 2008
I was too young to have been into The Jam but I was old enough to know that I didn't really like The Style Council so it was Paul Weller's solo work that initially caught my attention. The first two albums anyway. Then it all went a bit dad-rock and he kind of fell off the map for me. The last thing anyone was expecting was his latest album, an eclectic, creative and dare we say it, exciting opus with over 2o tracks.

The title track is a stomping number with blasting horns and bags of energy, not what one might expect from a man who recently turned 50. It's a good example of the vigour of proceedings which makes this album so impressive. Push It Along is another track bursting at the seams with organs and 'ooh-ah' backing vocals which sound like King Louis' cohorts from the Jungle Book have invaded the studio. Which isn't to say that there isn't plenty of what you might expect from the man they call the Modfather but it's all augmented by some interesting musical choices and the kind of wilful disregard for what people think which can produce really exciting results.

It's not always successful; Lullaby Fur Kinder sounds worryingly like hotel lobby music, the spoken piece God is a bit like being harassed by one of those evangelists on the tube and the instrumental (if that's the word for it) 111 is a little indulgent, but these are small prices to pay to get an album that includes influences from South American tango to English folk.

Sometimes it all comes together. Empty Ring sounds like Weller is being accompanied by The Avalanches whose cut-up all-sample Since I Left You was such an amazing album. Black River has a cheeky-chappy appeal. And Echoes Round The Sun is a reverb heavy number with film score strings that lend it bite rather than making it sound pretty. But there are equally impressive songs like Invisible and Why Walk When You Can Run which, with simple accompaniment, hit the right note by leaving Weller's matured voice to do the work.

I didn't think I'd find myself buying another Paul Weller album but if you've ever had a liking for his work I suggest you do just that. There's life in the old Mod yet.
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on 16 June 2008
Great album. Only 2 stinkers on it (for me), otherwise I'd have given it a 5. I reckoned those were God and 111 - but maybe I'm just not creative enough to 'get' them.

Given he was happy to collaborate with Ross Geller on 111, I wonder if the Modfather will now be reconsidering his famously terse rejection of the duet with James Blunt?
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on 12 June 2008
Anyone with an eye on the music press will have seen the gushing reviews for 22 Dreams. Once an act reaches a certain level every new release is lauded as a return to form (Morrissey, Bowie....) and inevitably the reality is more than a little disappointing. So I approached the new Weller with a sceptical ear, his recent releases have had their moments but for someone brought up on the Jam and the Style Council they've been underwhelming for the most part.

I'm glad to say though that 22 Dreams isn't just a return to form, it's a return to the fire, passion and adventure which inspired his best work. This is really a companion piece to Sound Effects, Cafe Blue or Wild Wood in that it shows a spirit of open minded inquiry which has been sadly lacking from his recent work. It helps too that his voice is as good as it's ever been too.

If you've no interest in exploring the byways of popular music such as krautrock, folk or free jazz with Weller then you'd better stick to the tried and trusted britrock he's been peddling since Stanley Road. If you're at all curious in seeing where Weller's going then jump right in, it's an exhilarating and moving experience.
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on 10 July 2008
22 Dreams
This CD sums up the influences of Mr Weller, there is soul, jazz, folk and biting lyrics. This is a grand album, taking the listener on a magical tour of England, and all it offers, the songs roll into each other like chapters in a book, everyone will have a favourite, mine being "empty ring" a powerful song with sad lyrics set against an upbeat Curtis Mayfield style beat, this set is Weller at his best, taking chances and playing it like it matters, buy and play this with the knowledge that you will return to it time after time.

peace
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on 29 September 2008
This has been variously described by others as a concept album, theatrical, self-indulgent and rubbish. I don't agree with any of those descriptions (and certainly not the last one!).

While I don't like every track on this album, there are more than enough great songs for anyone. I can understand that it's not everyone's bag, but let's face it, PW can't just keep on recording new versions of the changing man and peacock suit! We went to Paul's Bristol gig earlier this year where we heard lots of these for the first time. Sometimes difficult to hear a song for the first time, but you could still tell they were quality!

Have you made up your mind? is, for my money, an absolute classic, and one of the stand-out tracks on the album. But sea spray is my personal favourite. It reminds me of when I moved back home to the seaside and always brings a tear to me old eye! For that alone, thanks Paul. See you in November!
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on 4 June 2008
This album will alienate many fans who expect a Stanley Road or All Mod Cons, this is Weller doing what he should have done 3 albums ago.....which is indulge his own passions for the type of music he loves, and so here we have 22 dreams which skips 'literally' thru the seasons & along the way takes in inspirations from Mayfield,Mingus & Alice Coltrane not to mention forays into psychedelia & folk music aswell...I wont bore you with a run down on each track but would only add that nearly all songs on the album is something different from what you would expect of a more recent Weller outing & for a guy who's been around as long as he has this is a testament to his passion & a need to stay fresh when most if not all of his contemporaries have long faded away. Stand out tracks for me are Cold moments,All I wanna do,Push it Along,Have you made up your mind & Empty Ring.....the songs which will generally divide the few are obviously the instrumentals & I'm sure most people wouldn't enjoy sitting thru 111 on repeat!! But in the context of the album it does fit in & when 'Sea Spray' kicks in its all the more joyous & I can see the idea,the only let down for me is the spoken word track 'God' which I just don't get & should have been left as a scrap book poem....but for an album of 21 songs this is forgiven, in an age when `indie guitar rock' can irritate and bore even the most patient listener Weller is a breath of fresh air, as with All Mod Cons,Confessions of a Pop Group & Wildwood this album is another landmark in an amazing career.
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on 14 January 2009
This is one of the most varied albums by Changing Man. Really diverse in it's mood, style and performance. IMHO, this is Paul Weller at his best: trying to breath some new air and succeeding.

I'll always love Wild Wood, a perfect record of "classic" Rock 'N Roll (with lots of different influences throughout). Wild Wood is still my favourite by Weller (and probably will always be), but 22 Dreams comes close in second. And as far as diversity is concerned, 22 Dreams surpass it. And, although each song has a different feel, the album holds extremely well as a whole.

And this is not a merely a diverse album: it's diverse and good, actually great. In short: another Weller's masterpiece.
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on 9 April 2009
This is one of the greatest albums ever made and definitely a career highlight for Weller. An album that is best enjoyed in one sitting, Weller takes you on a journey through psychdelia, folk, jazz, soul and rock. Perfect summer listening!
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on 9 June 2008
I'm loving this album so much and I've only had it a day. Released in perfect time for a change of pace to our lives, with warm, slower and scented Summer nites now here, this album demands to be properly listened to.

The album is the soundtrack to walking through Paul's musical subconscious mind - it contains reminders in essence and blueprint of so many great Weller tracks of the last 30 years, yet the ingenious way this album has been conceptualised and realised makes this something totally new and special too.

There is a real freshness and strength to nearly every song as a song in itself, but I am also just as impressed with the sequencing and layering of the album, which keeps the album going as an ongoing diverse, emotional journey from beginning to end. Like looking through the windows of a train, passing through many places and climes.

I'm most reminded of the 'Summer dawn joy' of the first solo album ( meet you on a bus at dawn...) in tracks like Lite Nights, and also of the under-rated album Illumination, in it's acoustic, Autumnal firesparks kind of a feel, such as on Why Walk When you Can Run. I can certainly imagine me playing this album on an almost daily basis between now and September...

But certainly a very present unifying sound here is that of the Marvyn Gaye, Philly soul feel, that's been present in Weller's music for years, but somehow never so apparent and powerful as it is here. Empty Ring is imbued with the Marvyn soul of What's Going On, but not in an obvious way.

There are too many strong tracks for me to reference them all, but outstanding on early listens are the majestic All I Wanna Do (a kindred spirit to the glorious Out of the Sinking), the bass driven Cold Moments and the beautiful jazzy lament, Invisible - yes, it would be a big hit if Amy Winehouse covered it.

All musical bases, styles and moods are covered in these 22 dreams, which is why I think this really is Paul Weller's White Album, in that it's one of the most creative, sprawling and enthralling albums I've had the joy to absorb for certainly a long while. Even the side 4 instrumentals and soundscape strangeness of tracks like 111, being the album's Revolution Number Nine, help complete the record's sense of taking you on a long journey through the night, passing through many states. I've always loved the exotic Indian vibes of Weller, Kula Shakar etc and the shift in gear to instrumental moods in the closing tracks of the album is quite blissful, conveying the movement from night sweat anxiety (heralded by the trippy claustrophobia of Echoes Round the Sun)finally through to fresh daylight optimism with the buoyant Sea Spray.

How anyone claiming to be a Paul Weller fan can claim to be disappointed with 22 Dreams is just beyond me. I had begun to think he was settling into releasing patchy, solid but predictable albums with As is Now, but 22 Dreams is right back up there with his early 90's classics. However, it isn't re-treading old ground either.

Maybe its the obsessional fans who find it hardest to allow their artists to change and grow. Read some of the Beatles fans comments in Beatles Monthly about Sgt Pepper when that first came out! Fortunately the rest of the world could appreciate the bigger picture...

In some ways it feels too soon to write a review, which is why I'm giving it 4 stars. But I couldn't contain myself. I'm secretly thinking already that this is a fiver.
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on 2 September 2008
This has been going around my stereo for the last six weeks which means it can't be at all bad. Infact once you get past the cover, which I thought resembled the set off of Teletubbies, there's some good stuff here. Catchy tunes and introspective poetry in abundance.

Opener 'Light Nights' has that 'Wickerman' soundtrack feel to it and works well as an intro track, before '22 Dreams' kicks in like a brass heavy soultrain to throw you completely off the scent. Singles 'Have You Made Up Your Mind' and 'All I Wanna Do' are simply structured pop songs with those catchy little riffs that Weller and his band of choice always seem to capture so effortlessly. 'Push It Along' and 'Echoes Round The Sun' are soul/psych babies and it comes as little surprise that they have appeared on the single releases from the LP as extra tracks or B sides.

The other side of the sixpence includes the acoustic drenched 'Why Walk When You Can Run', the Style Councilesque 'Cold Moments' and the very esoteric poem 'God' (which features a slightly disturbing narration from guitarist Aziz Ibrahim who contributes to several tracks on the collection). Not everything here sticks in the head instantly but I think that is to be expected. After all, how much of the 'White Album' (to which this LP has been constantly compared to, albeit 'Weller's White Album') was considered to be garbage before the Beatles Renaissance declared everything touched by the hand of the Fab Four musically and artistically infallible? 22 Dreams, like The White Album, works because the tracks belong together on it, in it and around it and nowhere else.

This is a hotch potch of styles stuck together on an LP made by a man whose music has guided a million once angry young men into worldly and mellow middle age whilst picking up younger affiliates on the way. To me this sounds like the creation of someone enjoying their work and it does indeed for the most part...work! Give it a blast on it's own merit as opposed to judging it on what's been before. Shame to cut one's nose off to spite the face, wouldn't you say?
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