I sometimes feel TSC were often overlooked in the 80's, sadly maybe due to the principal songwriter's changing career from his previous band. From 1977 - 82, Paul Weller was a serious young man, not really smiling just creating some of the most energetic,influential music of all time, but from 83 - 89 he became less serious, adding humour, soul and fun with TSC, ably co-coordinated by Mick Talbot. That previous band ceased whilst at their peak and this new career direction evolved into the soulful, political and much more pop venture The Style Council. Some band's simply run their course before they and their audience grow tired and like the TSC leave us with some wonderful music to reflect on. 83' was a great year for music, the wonderful and charming debut 'Speak Like A Child' soulful and catchy, the political follow up 'Money Go Round' then the summer track of all summer tracks, 'Long Hot Summer' perfect radio music to unwind too then the wonderful 'Solid Bond In Your Heart'. The lovely 'You're the best thing' came from the diverse and jazzy LP 'Cafe Bleu' and was a summer song for 84' before TSC peaked at around the 'Our Favourite Shop' period, tracks 'The Lodgers' and the much criticized but in my opinion the comically and charming 'Come to Milton Keynes', which had a wonderful video. Even the last few years of TSC produced some lovely singles in 'Wanted' , 'How she through it all away' so we are left with a lovely snapshot of the 80's I suggest alongside purchasing this CD, try the DVD 'The Style Council on film' it just is a nice companion to the collection here and shows how Paul Weller and Mick Talbot let their hair down and just enjoyed themselves.
At last, Polydor releases a proper Style Council singles collection - almost. Unlike 'The Singular Adventures...', which included re-worked or remixed versions of early tracks ("You're the best thing", "Money-go-round", "Long hot summer"), all the tracks on 'Greatest Hits' appear in their original mixes - and in chronological order, even - which alone makes this collection worth getting. Even "Come to Milton Keynes" and "The big boss groove", which were left off the earlier collection, are here - though "Soul deep" is still missing, and "Long hot summer 89" was presumably not included in order to avoid redundancy. At the same time, 'Greatest Hits' and 'The Singular Adventures...' are sort of funhouse mirror opposites of each other: 1. 'Greatest Hits' includes the 12-inch or LP versions of "Shout to the top!", "The lodgers", and "It didn't matter", which appeared on 'The Singular Adventures...' in their 7-inch versions. Similarly, it includes the 7-inch versions of "Long hot summer", "My ever changing moods", and "Have you ever had it blue", which appeared on 'The Singular Adventures...' in their 12-inch versions. Then there's the weird case of "You're the best thing". On 'The Singular Adventures...', we got a re-worked/remixed version of the 7-inch, with the extra half-verse in the middle repeated. On 'Greatest Hits', what we get is essentially the 7-inch arrangement of the LP version (minus the brief percussion-only intro), with the extra verse completely absent. I don't recall this being on the 12-inch, so its inclusion here is a bit of a mystery. 2. Like 'The Singular Adventures...' and 'Here's Some That Got Away' before it, 'Greatest Hits' sports a 'Cost Of Loving'/'Jerusalem'-era cover photo. Why Polydor insists on using photos and design motifs (especially that orange!) associated with the period widely considered to be the band's nadir on what are otherwise supposed to be "best of" collections is still baffling. That said, 'Greatest Hits' is still a welcome addition to anyone's Style Council collection, and a vast improvement on the three other compilations released since 'Here's Some That Got Away'. The tracks here don't seem to suffer (or suffer as much) from the over-compression that mars the rest of the Style Council remaster series (you'd think that this would have been addressed in the two years since the release of the box set); and the versions of "Money-go-round", "You're the best thing", "The lodgers", and "Have you ever had it blue" have not been available on CD until now; and the liner notes are probably the best I've seen on a TSC compilation. A few Cappucino Kid sleevenotes would have been nice, though...
Considered for quite some time to be the awkward & dated part of the Weller back catalogue, even the most hardened fan of the Jam or his post 1990 work has to acknowledge now, that the style council period not only contained some finely crafted songs (he performed 'Shout to the top' on his recent 22 dreams tour) but was in fact an essential part of his growth as a song writer.
Weller could never have written modern classics such as Changing man, Broken stones and Wild Wood without this period of experimentation and reflection with his future wife Dee c. Lee, future long time collaborator Steve White on drums and Mick Talbot on the keys.
Songs included are Have you ever had it blue, Long hot summer, Wanted, Shout to the top, Speak like a child (the style council debut single), You're the best thing, and the glaringly autobiographical My ever changing moods are all here, and wrapped around them are other Style Council classics which are thankfully mainly from the Style Council's most prolific output between 1983 and 1987.
For the now low cost of purchasing the album, one can forgive the inclusion of the plodding watered down house music cover version of Promised Land (presumably included on the basis of chart success) as in the humble opinion of this reviewer this would struggle to qualify as a classic single from the Weller collection. I also see little reason to elaborate upon the politics of the day in relation to the music as for me it neither adds nor detracts from the quality of the songs.
So here we have it, with the odd exception, this is a superb collection of the Modfather's Style Council back catalogue all in one place, and for some this collection will be investigation enough of his 80's output, but the fact that in retrospect the quality of the songs written during this period now stand up on their own, and are worthy of fresh interpretation by the man himself in his live set, says a great deal about the man and his music. If you are a Weller fan than you owe it to yourself to get a copy of this and hear where the song writing roots of his current Mod revivalist musical direction were formed. Enjoy.
This is a pretty good "Greatest Hits" collection but would more accurately be called "Almost All the Greatest Hits" as not all of them are here. The band didn't have a vast number of hits, though it did release many decent records that charted. even so, this is the best of the hits albums out there, until someone has the sense to put all the hits on one album.