Tell me more, tell me more, like did he play guitar? Paul Weller divides people into 2 camps – Godlike Genius or crap revivalist. I’m in the first camp. While I don’t worship at his Patrick Cox-clad feet, I’ve bought all his records (yes, even the Style Council box set), been to see him live loads of times and look forward to his next album, ep, single, song, chorus, verse, chord, anything. To yer average Weller fan (those who bought Stanley Road 12 years ago, or those beer bellied fatties who saw the Jam once in 1980 and chant ‘We Are The Mods’ at Ocean Colour Scene concerts), it would appear that this year has been quiet for him, but nothing could be further from the truth.
In the summer, Regal Records released his collaboration with Blur guitarist Graham Coxon. ‘This Old Town’ has Coxon on lead vocals. Weller takes a back seat, singing on the chorus and playing his usual blistering lead guitar. It sounds like one of those 70s power pop records. I’ve got it on super-heavy 7″ vinyl and it’s great. In fact, it’s one of my singles of the year. Here it is.
Weller met Andy Lewis when Lewis was working as a backline tech for the band Dogs, who supported Weller a couple of years ago. Lewis seized his moment, gave Weller a CD of some demos he was working on, and voila, ‘Are You Trying To Be Lonely?’ was born. It’s your classic brass-driven Northern Soul stomper, complete with key changes and all the rest of it. It’s just been released by Acid Jazz. Underlining the versatility of Paul Weller’s ouvre, it sounds nothing like his Graham Coxon single. This mp3 isn’t the best quality, but if you like it you’d probably want to buy it anyway.
Last October, the BBC ran its first Electric Proms. Weller played the Camden Roundhouse and had a few guests on stage with him – Richard Archer from the none-more-dull Hard-Fi, Carl Barat (who did a brilliant ‘Peacock Suit’) and Amy Winehouse, who came on and sang ‘I Heard It Through The Grapevine’ and this, ‘Don’t Go To Strangers’, a brilliant piece of Stax-inspired southern soul that if recorded in the studio wouldn’t sound out of place on a mid-90s Weller ep. I think Etta James did the most well known version of the song, but it’s one of those soul/blues standards that everyone’s done at one point. Mr Weller. Do yourself a favour. Get yourself into the studio with Amy Winehole (as Pamela Anderson calls her) and record this properly.