Cover Versions, Get This!

It’s A Funny Little Thing When It Dawns Upon Ya*

The Style Council’s Shout To The Top is the bright ‘n breezy signifier of a summer just around the corner. A groove of loose piano and stabbing guitar, it’s a string swept beauty that endures to this day.

If you’ve caught Paul Weller on any recent tour, there’s a good chance he’ll have slotted it in mid-set, a major 7th audience perker-upper after one new track too many. It still has the ability to raise a smile and just a smidgen of Proustian angst, of being glued to Top Of The Pops in the hope that it might make it to that week’s show. A frothy and enduring number, it reached number 7 and was, serendipitously, single number 7 for The Style Council as well. One of its writer’s very best, for sure.

The Style CouncilShout To The Top

It’s got a stylish video too, all four group members in its spotlight with Weller happy to fade to the back when he feels like it. Weller is understated cool, the gum-chewing singer in carefully chosen penny loafers and well-cut ankle hugging trousers, the missus alongside him in a sleeveless halter neck and hair band, tight fighting capri pants and bee stung lips, looking fantastic and dredging up all sorts of forgotten teenage fantasies. YouTube is your pal, old man, YouTube is your pal.

Weller glides the soles of his loafers across the floor, almost northern soul shuffling, hanging on to that era-defining skinny mic for all its worth, his swept back and centre-parted hair looking distinctly European and modernist.

By the time The Style Council were playing it live, Weller’s fringe had fallen as long as the silly faces on all those old Jam fans who still pined for a clanging Rickenbacker and an angry vocal delivery. Imagine having to pretend you didn’t like Shout To The Top. Life’s too short for that sort of idiocy, man. Embrace the new and, yeah, shout to the top.

There’s a magic, discofied club version out there. Loleatta Holloway takes over from Weller, giving it the full soaring house diva approach, Philly strings, Italo piano and a four-to-the-floor disco beat replacing much of The Style Council’s idiosyncratic nuances, taking it home in a riot gold hot pants and over the topness.

Originally released in 1998 with dance production team Fire Island, the track was reworked into a thumping, filling-loosening club classic by Hifi Sean a year or two ago. Stretched out and funked up, you need it in your life.

Fire Island ft. Loleatta Holloway Shout To The Top (Hifi Sean mix)

* I know that’s not the line that Weller sings in the bridge, but it’s what I’ve always sung. It’s a funny little thing when it dawns upon ya right enough.

Get This!, Hard-to-find, Sampled

Someday We’ll Evaporate Together

One of the high points of lockdown (pts 1 and 2) has been the consumption of new music. I’m a particular fan of Bandcamp Friday, when on the first Friday of the month, Bandcamp waives their usual artist fee and, with no string-pulling middle man, the artists benefit by an extra 15%. If a record costs you twenty quid, the artist gets every penny of your twenty quid; good business for both sides in the transaction.

I took a bit of a punt on Hifi Sean‘s ‘Ft.‘ compilation – only half of those twenty notes, as it goes – and I’m glad I did. Hifi Sean is Sean Dickson, one-time vocalist with the Soup Dragons and Ft. is a double album of Sean-produced electronica where a whole gamut of disparate guest vocalists pop up to add their recognisable voices and/or playing to the music. With collaborations involving Crystal Waters, Norman Blake and David McAlmont, an elastic-band bass-popping Bootsy Collins, Alan Vega and Soft Cell’s Dave Ball amongst others, it’s quite the pick ‘n mix. But the standout in what is undoubtedly a bountiful bunch is the Yoko Ono-voiced In Love With Life.

It’s astonishing. Ambient, textured and glossy, it’s a beautiful mesh of Pet Shop Boys’ minor key minimalism and the sort of dragged-out dark beats that Underworld might choose to close an album with.

Yoko OnoIn Love With Life

A good marker for the sort of music Sean has been creating in recent years, it’s as far removed from both his old band and Yoko’s more artistic endeavours as you could possibly get. Synthetic and computerised, sterile yet soulful, it’s a juxtaposition of spoken word against synth washes and echoing snares that triggers some sort of deeply conscientious nostalgia for simpler times and clearer values. Seriously, it does.

Yoko’s vocals are lovely, taking centre stage when they need to before dropping out to let the music wring your heart dry. It’s like an audible yoga trip or something; cleansing and spiritual and, despite the subject matter, life-affirming in many ways.

I hate thinking that our civilisation and the culture that we’ve created in 5000…10,000 years, we’re trying to destroy it.

It saddens me because

I am in really in love with life

and with people

They’re beautiful.


That’s it. That’s the message. We’re destroying everything that’s sacred…and standing back watching as we do so.

Yoko’s words are almost haiku in economy. She writes simplistically yet she says it with a real, undeniable gentle love, an extension of the words she first wrote in Grapefruit in the mid ’60s when she said, ‘Listen to the sound of the earth turning.

I assumed the Yoko vocal to be a sample but part of me would love to believe that Sean and Yoko (Sean and Yoko!) sat down together in some small studio or other and recorded it together, he at the faders while she recited her simple poetry atop the glistening beats. It’s all rather cryptic, though, as Sean told me.

“Myself and Yoko decided we would not reveal how we made this track, as the mystery of it adds to the magic of it all.

All I can say is that it was based on a poem Yoko wrote and we both worked together to make it work with the music. I wrote the track around the concept of the poem, with Yoko deciding where she wanted to place the words.

She loved the finished track and in 2016 featured it as part of the Ono Lennon ‘Give Peace A Chance’ campaign.”

So there y’go.

There’s also a remix/revision (track 7, below) on Ft.’s sister album Excursions. It’s currently a tenner on Bandcamp too, and if you wait until Friday to order, Hifi Sean will receive all of what you pay. You really should buy it.

In Love With Life in both its forms is terrific. Hippy, peace-loving and pleasantly at odds with the mess of the world around us, it’s the Balearic end-of-set closer that never was. I reckon you’ll play it forever.

*You can buy Ft. at Hifi Sean’s Bandcamp page here.