Weller, Weller, Weller, Ooft!June 11, 2012
Tell me more, tell me more….
This is old news to those in the know, but to cut a long (and a bit boring) story short, it appears that the grumpy old pipe ‘n slippers Dadrocker turned re-energised spiky-riffed angry old man with greying Limahl haircut has gone and fallen out with Simon Dine, the sonic architect-in-chief on his recent trilogy of back to form albums. Simon Dine made a name for himself a few years back under the guise of Noonday Underground, a cut ‘n paste sampler’s wet dream of a ‘band’ who made modern-sounding records from obscure skittering 60s drum breaks, forgotten horn riffs, many fluffy needle drops and found sounds. His/their best, Surface Noise is a really good album. I think you’d like it. Paul Weller liked it so much he got Simon in to work his magic on 22 Dreams, Wake Up The Nation and Sonik Kicks.
The Thieving Magpie
You know all this already, but after falling out with Brendan Lynch, his 90s producer of choice who turned bog standard album tracks into works of spaced-out magic, Weller treaded water with a fairly uninspired run of late noughties albums. I suppose when you’ve released as many LPs as Weller has (648 at the last count, if you include The Style Council) you can be let off for letting the standards slip now and again. But until fairly recently, PW was trading on his reputation and not the music. All that changed after he hooked up with Simon. Those last 3 albums are great. (The middle one shades it for me). Those filmic bits you can hear. The Moog bits. The static crackles and bursts. The Bruce Foxton bass riff. They were all down to Simon. Without him in the controller’s chair, Weller would once again have been treading water. Instead, he’s reinvented himself (or rather, Simon reinvented him) and everything’s groovy in the garden once more. Until the ugly subject of money reared its head. Knowing much of this recent success was down to him, Simon wanted a fair slice of the pie. Paul was unwilling to give him that fair slice and, well, that’s that. Weller’s loss is our gain however, as Simon is at this very moment working his magic with that most under-rated, under-appreciated and under-sold of bands, the Trashcan Sinatras. Given that vocalist Frank contributed two beautiful (man) vocals to Surface Noise, I for one can’t wait to hear the results…
But back to Mr Weller. From French cut crop on top to desert booted toe below, Weller has always modelled himself from the inside out on Steve Marriott. The cut of the cloth and the length of the hems. Those square sunglassess he wore on his first solo tour. Even the dirty old man Mac he digs out when the Summer fades and the Autumn leaves start blowing up the Thames. Cut him open and you’ll find the word ‘Marriott‘ stamped into his bones like the lettering on a stick of Blackpool rock. Watch how Weller holds his guitar. The angle it hangs. The way he attacks the chords. The way he slashes at the solos. That’s pure Steve Marriott (with a tiny bit of Wilko Johnson if you look closely). Close your eyes and listen to Weller’s white man sings with soul on Out Of The Sinking. Now go and listen to Song Of A Baker. That’s pure Steve Marriott too. He’s easy to poke fun at, Weller. He’s responsible for Ocean Colour Scene and for that alone he needs a good talking to. But he has made some life-changing, life-affirming records. But you knew that already. Here’s hoping he makes many more. Methinks It’ll be a few more years in the wilderness before he finds another Brendan Lynch or Simon Dine until he’s back on top of his game.
Small Faces – Get Yoursef Together
The Jam – Get Yourself Together
Noonday Underground (feat Francis Reader) – Barcelona
Noonday Underground (feat Francis Reader) – Windmills