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4.7 out of 5 stars
38
4.7 out of 5 stars
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on 26 October 2006
This is the connoisseurs Weller album. This is his best. Wildwood and Stanley Road are great, but this is his best. I think Weller sounds most comfortable when the songs are lighter. Revelling in his first love.. soul music. Even in the Jam the records improved when there was more of a groove (hear Sound affects, The Gift). To look deeper, listen to the production on this album and to the same extent Wildwood compared to the clunky, stodgy rock of his later albums. Paul Weller is a great singer..honest. and it's audible more here than any other solo effort. A still young artist revelling in his new found freedom, this is Weller full of enthusiasm and sounding fresh and once again a vital force.
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on 16 August 2007
Paul Wellers first solo album was a fantastic return to form after what appeared to be the end of the line for the Modfather. a mixture of soul and the birth of what became known as 'britpop' also an element of acid jazz makes this probably the best of his work .
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on 17 February 2008
I don't know Paul Weller personally but I have noticed that he is a man rarely prone to not knowing exactly what he wants.

It seems that once he has subscribed to a particular idea, the idea becomes an obsession at the cost of virtually everything else. There was once a time (quite a long period of time, actually) when he obsessively hated the idea of `rock music' and steadfastly refused to appear on stage without a full orchestra of keyboard, string, wind and percussion musicians. This idea probably took hold some time in the period between the recording of "Sound Affects" and The Jam's last studio album, "The Gift". It ultimately led to the disintegration of the band at the height of their popularity, for which some people, music critics and fans alike, have never truly forgiven him. (Paul Weller famously quit citing his frustration at the limitations of the guitar-bass-drums format - how ironic is that?).

It also led to five albums (one of which his record company refused to release) featuring a variety of musical styles ranging from Britfunk to northern soul to modern jazz, French ballads to classical music, hip hop to garage house and just about anything in between - just so long as it wasn't `rock music'. You can take your pick from any of those five albums recorded between 1983 and 1989 (or any of The Jam's from 1978 to 1982, post-"The Modern World") and discover plenty of truly great music.

Later on, Paul Weller had another great idea. He fell in love with his guitar again and became a rock musician - the earthy, analogue type that might wear a Marshall Amps T-shirt and reject the kind of `namby-pamby' ideas he had been playing around with in the preceding decade. The instrumentalists were sacked and the guitars were turned up. Out went wedge haircuts and Zeke Manyika and in came Ben Sherman shirts and Noel Gallagher. And that's basically the idea Paul Weller has been exploring in various ways since "Wild Wood", his second solo album from 1994.

But then there is this album which springs from the period between The Style Council's ill-fated experimentation with garage house and the pastoral folk rock of "Wild Wood". How would you bridge that startling divide? Well, this was a period when Paul Weller didn't seem to have a big, all-consuming idea (or maybe he was in-between two of them). The soul-funk-jazz influences are still firmly there but Paul was simultaneously rediscovering his love of sixties pop and psychedelia. He neither scorned digital music nor 'real' instruments. I don't know if this stemmed from his frustration with the latter days of The Style Council or the combined influence of Acid Jazz/Rare Groove and the various indie bands around at the time, which were mixing up dance music rhythms with psychedelic guitar pop (c.f. Stone Roses, The Charlatans).

Either way, as far as I am concerned this is by far the greatest stand-alone album Paul Weller has ever produced - and I include in that his entire recorded output from The Jam onwards. It is an almost perfect pastiche of all those mod influences he had flirted with over the years combined with the kind-of wistful writing style that he mastered on songs such as "Tales From The Riverbank", "Thick As Thieves", "Piccadilly Trail". Producer Brendan Lynch, perhaps slightly influenced by Massive attack, also manages to cook up a wonderfully subtle 'dub' sound that beautifully bridges the gap between analogue and digital. This includes a plethora of samples buried within the music (one of my favourites being Hendrix's "Voodoo Chile" on "Kosmos") and those kind of "Tomorrow Never Knows"-style snatches of reversed music (this overall sound was later stretched to its logical conclusion on the highly acclaimed SXDUB 2000 remix of "Kosmos" which featured as a B-side to "Sunflower"). I have listened to the album hundreds of times over the years and I swear I still hear new things hidden in amongst the various layers of sound. It is also one of those rare albums with which I never skip a track - I love every song and I love the way they sound.

Sadly, the album was panned by the music press and Paul - in his quest for rock authenticity - swiftly moved away from this beautifully textured sound towards the stodgy 'Dadrock' of "Wild Wood" and "Stanley Road (and funnily enough, The Stone Roses did a similar thing at around the same time). It is true that he has had more success than ever during this period but I deeply miss the old Paul Weller. Thankfully, we do have this record of what might have been - and it appears to keep on giving he same pleasure as it gave on the first listen.

And, hey, who knows. Following some distinctly hopeful signs on the last album, "As Is Now", maybe the new album, "22 Dreams" (scheduled for release in June 2008), will recapture the same spirit?
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on 14 August 2000
I've been a fan of Paul Weller for years and this is a particular favorite of mine,not only has he inspired a lot of bands today,this is the start of his best material,naturally with outstanding,energetic performances round uk venues. A musical and songwriting genius, a totally cool album.
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on 20 February 2017
£34 for a single LP, normal non audiophile pressing with a very dodgy reproduction cover that I think Weller did on his photocopier...... Fantastic album, but £20 quid overpriced. And it seems to be the same price everywhere. I wonder what the thinking is?

Milk the middle aged mod?
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on 25 July 2012
Great debut which has tinges of Style Council - some crafty melodies and great chord changes. Worth getting for the amazing Amongst Butterflies alone - no other song can bring you back to running through the woods as a child like this. Uplifting and soulful - the man was truly back!
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on 29 August 2015
Very good début album by the ex lead singer of the jam. One he in my opinion set the bar pretty high for him to follow. A little raw in places but that is what it gives it the edge that helps make this such a good album.
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on 9 October 2013
This is quite simply the yardstick which all other albums have to measure upto it's as simple as that. From track one to track 12 and a half (hidden rift),It's blinding.
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on 3 June 2008
How did The Style Council go so badly wrong (at the end) when PW still had music like this inside him?

If truth be told, he probably didn't at the end of the 80s. I never heard the "new decade in modernism" album til it came out on TSC's box set, and to be frank, I've never been so grateful for a "skip" button on a CD player.

But this is something else. A man cornered, perhaps, but if so, he certainly knows how to come out fighting. This album is to Weller what All Mod Cons was to The Jam. A new beginning, a new hope. It still makes me glad to be alive!
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on 28 June 2010
The first of Pauls solo albums, and still arguably one of his best...I love every track on it, and it gets better on repeated plays
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