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Weller Throws Back The Curtains and Illuminates,
This review is from: Illumination (Audio CD)
Illumination casued more consternation amongfst fans than just about any other album he's worked on. First of all was the wait, two years was the standard waiting time, but the Weller camp had been unusually quiet about it. Then in a blaze of publicity it came; festival shows given over to the new work, taxis playing the music exclusively, and positive advance reviews. Several things had changed; firstly Brendan Lynch was no longer behind the mixing desk for the first time, the album was mainly just Weller and long time drummer Steve White, and after the dark spiky revious two albums the joyous nature of the songs was like a breath of fresh air. Weller was getting politcal and current in his lyrics at times. In many ways this a precursor to 2008's 22 Dreams, Weller locked in his studio inviting guests in to play on various tracks.
Going Places; the first time a Weller album had opened with a gentle, breezy track, and sounds none the worse for it. A summery accoustic soul ballad about the simple job of being in love.
A Bullet For Everyone; harder edged track about the war and violence that seemed to explode from 9/11, Weller bemoaning the fact that while food is scarce in parts of the world, we have more than enough means to kill everyone on the planet, set to a rocking track whcih borrows liberally from Norman Greenbaum's Spirit In The Sky.
Leafy Mysteries; based on the title of a Postman Pat book apparently! Light accoustic tinged rock with harder edged sections in the instrumentals, backed by OCS friends Minchella and Craddock.
It's Written In The Stars; the lead single made people stop, stand and stare. Happy lyrics? Samples? Was this a solo Weller single? It gave him a top five hit, and caused many people to reassess as Weller sang about the joys of life to his own soulful playing and sampled horns from Simon Dine of Noonday Underground.
Who Brings Joy; Paul McCartney style accoustic musing about his then new born son. A gentler moment after the opening rush of the album, with some nice playing by Steve Craddock.
Now The Night Is Here; A more straightforward collaboration with Simon Dine, a gentle accoustic love song with various keyboards and samples colouring in the pieces inbetween.
Spring (At Last); Aziz Ibrahim joins on this mid album break of an instrumental. This music would playuer Welelr on to the stage during the album's tour.
One x One; recorded with Noel Gallagher and Gem Archer at Noel's studio, this is an odd semi accoustic dark sounding song, which feels at odds with the rest of the record in tone at times, but sweeps the listener along with it's epic tint.
Bag Man; Another accoustic ditty, played entirely with Weller and White, musing on the plight of one homeless character, and in classic Weller style.
All Good Books; Weller rails at the corruption extremists take on religious texts they claim to hold sacred. Again a semi accoustic sound under what is one of the finest vocal performances Weller has commited to disc.
Call Me No.5. Demoed musically, but unable to finish it, Weller turned to Kelly Jones of the Stereophonics for the lyrics. The result is this blues rock duet set to what is almost free form poetry.
Standing Out In The Universe; A stand out show closer at the times. Using the same musical tack as first album Bitterness Rising, this goes further, with soulful backing singing from Carleen Anderson and Jocelyn Brown and enthusiastic playing from Croddock, Whuite, Minchella and Dine.
Illumination; A parting shot. Weller and accoustic guitar musing on finding 'the light', whatever that may be for him. A calming down.