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The Changing Man,
This review is from: Modern Classics: The Greatest Hits (Audio CD)
Paul Weller's status as the most resilient survivor from Britpunk's class of `76 was challenged by his last album of original songs. Whether Weller's fire had really gone out or he'd merely succumbed to midlife doldrums, a refresher was urgently required. Weller can afford to wear his influences on his sleeve because, as this new collection attests, the man remains, ultimately, his own best and truest guide. Modern Classics showcases a songwriter whose singular voice endures; it's grown quieter perhaps, but no less vital or honest.
Born in 1958 and raised in Woking, Paul Weller formed The Jam at 14, who were influenced by The Beatles, Amen Corner and The Small Faces. In 1976 (Weller was 18) after hearing The Who's 'My Generation' and seeing The Sex Pistols play London's Lyceum, Weller found the direction he was looking for and established the blueprint for what would be Britain's biggest band for the next five years. From the release of their debut album 'In The City' through the seminal 'Down In The Tube Station' and 'That's Entertainment' and the classic straight-in-at-number one singles 'Going Underground', 'A Town Called Malice' and 'Beat Surrender', The Jam were a huge critical and commercial success. Weller penned a succession of songs, brilliantly reflecting his audiences experiences, until in 1982, convinced he'd taken the group as far as he could, he split The Jam to form The Style Council. Radically different to The Jam, The Style Council, incorporated touches of funk & soul. While his first solo album had firmly established Paul Weller as a potent solo artist, the second album, 1994's 'Wild Wood', was to see him hailed as one of the finest British songwriters of the last three decades. 1995 found Paul Weller riding high on a heady mix of popularity and critical acclaim leading up to the release of 'Stanley Road'. 'Stanley Road' managed to even outstrip 'Wild Wood' in its critical acclaim.
Having risen from the wreckage of The Style Council to regain his status as an important figure in British music, Weller closes the first chapter of his solo career with this greatest hits set. It's a perfect encapsulation of the harder side of Weller, gritty vocals, water-tight backing and some lovely guitar flourishes. The years have seem Mr Well his temper and look at the world without the blinkers of his adolescent youth. Included on this album we find the softer Weller with haunting guitar solo and the gentle shuffle of ballads. This album reaffirms that Weller can still churn out the nuggets as well as he did in the halcyon days of The Jam. The onset of middle-age has meant he's settled effortlessly into the role of Mod Father of British guitar music. While the tracks may not be invested with the freneticism of yore but they still have the passion and commitment he's invested in everything he's turned his hand to.
As ultimately impossible as it might be for Weller to ever top his tenure with the Jam in terms of watershed artistic achievement or cultish notoriety, you've got to hand it to the guy for trying, or more accurately, for not trying. Weller's never attempted to replicate the sound and fury of that celebrated group who, along with the likes of the Clash and Sex Pistols, ignited a musical revolution in the U.K. that (for a while at least) swept the established dinosaurs of rock to the margins of relevance. Weller can afford to wear his influences on his sleeve because, as this new collection attests, the man remains, ultimately, his own best and truest guide. Modern Classics showcases a songwriter whose singular voice endures; it's grown quieter perhaps, but no less vital or honest. Some twenty years after the Jam boldly announced a new era of "the Modern World," an older, wiser, but seemingly no less satisfied Weller continues to take stock of it. He's still grappling and searching for ways to live in a world that perhaps hasn't turned out to be so terribly different from the old one.
Changing Man Weller delivers on hos own terms sometimes he gets it right somtines he doesent. This is weller at his best