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Customer Review

on 26 April 2003
In retrospect 'Confessions' can be seen as a watershed in Paul Weller's career, marking a shift from politically motivated pop to songs of a more personal nature. The brittle production that marred 1987's 'Cost of Loving' LP is thankfully missing, replaced with a more natural acoustic feel. While bands of the time, such as The Happy Mondays and New Order embraced the explosion in house music Weller and Co were taking a sojourn into classical. 'Confessions' was and remains Weller's most ambitious and complex album and in the main it worked.
Despite being grandiose, the opening side (the first five tracks for those listening on CD) features some of his best recordings.The piano drenched opener 'It's a Very Deep Sea' is one of these, as is the sweeping 'Changing of the Guard'. Lyrically it's also strong perhaps best highlighted on 'The Story of Someone's Shoe', which in no uncertain fashion details the emptiness of a one-night stand. The record's theme is one of reflection; many of the tracks are awash with tales of regret and missed opportunity.The fantastically poppy 'How She threw it All Away' and the equally melodic 'Why I Went Missing' are both in this mould so too is the Big-Band style 'Confession's 1, 2 and 3'.
However fans of Weller's more robust work should probably steer clear, only on the title track does he unleash some of his old fury. 'Cheap and nasty bullshit land' he spits on the tracks opening line, as the band launch into a nine-minute plus synth-funk tirade on 1980's culture.
As a collection of songs it's as complete as 'Our Favourite Shop', perhaps just lacking a little of that record's swagger. Only 'Life at a Top People's Health Farm' (which must rank as Weller's worst ever single) and the lacklustre 'If I Was a Dole Dads Toy Boy' disappoint. Mick Talbot whose previous offerings are at best described as 'mixed' even contributes two fine instrumentals while DC Lee's voice also sounds less abrasive. The singer putting in her best Council performance on the elaborate 'The Gardener of Eden', which somehow manages to open with a heavily orchestrated piece and close with a Beach Boys pastiche.
It's this track that evokes the diversity of the Style Council, who 18-months after the release of 'Confessions' were no more. A musical journey that had taken in jazz, soul, fink and pop brought to a close when their record company rejected the band's garage house direction.
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