Paul Weller 2006
Here was the new soul vision that Kevin Rowland had been promising five years earlier with Dexys Midnight Runners’ Searching For The Young Soul Rebels.
After the demise of The Jam, Paul Weller and his Style Council - a collective built around the nucleus of himself and Hammond player Mick Talbot - provided an exhilarating gateway into a cosmopolitan world of cappuccinos, coffee bars, Blue Note jazz and rare soul.
They were socialists, vegetarian, didn’t drink, wore cool rain macs, colourful knitwear, expensive footwear and made some of the most brilliant modernist music ever. They also spoke out against the corrosive issues of the day, even if it meant the threat of commercial suicide.
Their inaugural long player Café Bleu set their thrilling manifesto; throwing away the traditional pop rock rule book and casting aside Paul’s musical past, here was a deliberate attempt to confound expectation and shift the spotlight away from Paul’s one time ‘spokesperson for a generation’ tag.
On this courageous mix of pop, soul, jazz, rap and funk Paul sang on only six of the 13 tracks, three of which - You’re The Best Thing, Headstart For Happiness and My Ever Changing Moods - just happened to be up there with his finest work.
The album also contained five instrumentals, it even kicked off with one, Mick’s Blessings, with Mick Talbot’s blatant steal from Billy Taylor’s I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel To Be Free.
“It was totally liberating,” enthuses Paul Weller today. “With The Style Council I had thrown off the shackles acquired with The Jam, I still enjoyed The Jam’s music, but this just felt like it was the right thing to do, the right time to do it and I was at the right age. When I first started talking about doing the collective with Mick I got this great big box of records and gave them to him to go away and listen to. I said, ‘you’ll see what I am looking to do from these.’ There were old soul and R&B albums in there and a bit of jazz too. It was a musical reference for him.”
Mick Talbot had first come across Paul Weller in 1976 and it had been his musical references that had attracted him then.
“I saw The Jam very early on, when they had a month’s residency at the Red Cow in Hammersmith. I thought, there’s a real Dr Feelgood vibe here. Paul had a bit of Wilko Johnson about him. The Jam didn’t deny their history like the other punks did, they didn’t make out that they’d been dropped here by aliens, that 1976 was Year Zero. They didn’t have many originals in their set, they covered Lee Dorsey’s Ride Your Pony, Wilson Pickett’s In The Midnight Hour, Who songs from the My Generation LP. They were touching base with records I already had. I could immediately relate.”
Three years later Mick collaborated with The Jam on their Setting Sons album - he contributed piano on a cover of Martha And The Vandellas’ Heatwave.
“I was in the Merton Parkas with my brother Danny,” Mick recalls. “Danny knew Paul and it was through him I got to play on the song. Danny had bumped into him, he’d heard our single You Need Wheels, he was honest about it, he didn’t like it but he liked elements of the B-side I Don’t Want To Know You, my 20 second piano break and he asked Danny for my number then got me to come along to the studio. He asked if I knew Heatwave, I did, he said do what you think and we put the track down live. I played a nice upright piano. The Jam were really tight, they knew the song inside out. It was pretty easy and we went off and had some spaghetti Bolognese after. It was very casual.”
Paul was impressed by Talbot’s cut and Talbot joined the band on stage at London’s The Rainbow on April 7 and 8 the following year as part of the venue’s 50th anniversary celebrations.
“After a few years had passed,” continues Mick, “Paul rang out of the blue and told me about his plans for a new band and I agreed to be part of this. Then Bruce suggested getting me in on the last tour too. But I had other commitments. I remember thinking what am I doing, Paul’ll get in another keyboard player, he’ll be the business and that will be it."
"This was late 1982, The Style Council didn’t exist as a band until Spring ’83 but we were working together in the period bookended by those last two Jam tours (A Solid Bond In Your Heart and Beat Surrender tour) – working on a couple of numbers, Solid Bond In Your Heart and Speak Like A Child and a few more ideas."
"Initially Paul was concerned because I was in The Bureau at the time, we’d split from Dexys Midnight Runners, and he didn’t want to break The Bureau up. But we’d already been dropped by Warners. I was on the dole and I was thinking maybe this is it for me because I knew how fickle the music business was. But The Jam split, that was all pretty hush hush at this time. I knew not many people knew about it and I was told to keep it under my hat but I knew it was going to break, there were murmurs in the press and I just thought when it does break I hope they don’t think it’s me opening my mouth.”
On October 30, 1982 The Jam delivered a hand written statement announcing their split.
For fans there was slight solace to be had in a performance on the first episode of Channel 4’s music programme The Tube on November 5 and a final tour in November and December, which culminated at Brighton Centre on December 11. That same day Paul appeared on the evening news discussing their demise.
“Everybody was shocked,” remembers Dennis Munday, The Jam’s product manager at the time. “Polydor were unhappy. The Jam were climbing the ladder, at the apex, no one knows where they would have gone next. The fans were unhappy. Some still are to this day. But there was a tremendous amount of pressure on The Jam to deliver, from the press, from the record company, from the fans and The Jam couldn’t go down the music avenues Paul was travelling. In some ways the split was inevitable. The Style Council gave Paul the chance to broaden his musical horizons. The Jam didn’t allow that.”
After all the attention Paul had garnered as their frontman, and the emotional turmoil caused by the break up, it was perhaps only natural that he would step out of the limelight and push the music to the forefront of his next project.
“He’d been a part of a regimented band which had a regimented sound,” comments Mick. “He felt hemmed in towards the end. He instinctively wanted to take the Council in a different direction to The Jam. He wanted the Council to be flexible. He wanted to put the songs we were working on in front of any kind of egos to the point where he didn’t play on some of the songs on *Café Bleu."
"He saw his role as more directional, in the filmic sense of directing, he’d get involved in the arrangements rather than the playing. He wanted to experiment, he talked about labels he liked – Motown, Immediate, Blue Note, iconic labels that had influenced him, he was very open but he was also in charge because at that time he was such a prolific writer, he always had a stream of ideas, he was never without a bag with a notebook in it, he was always scribbling down lyrics, ideas."
"When we first started he had two boxes of seven inch singles which were all relatively rare ’60s and ’70s soul, some northern, some funk, these influenced his writing on the early Style Council singles. By the time of Café Bleu we were trying to embrace jazz such as it is, we didn’t see ourselves as jazz musicians, we were musicians who liked jazz.”
“I wanted to get away from the rigidity of having a set band,” confirms Paul. “I needed someone to work off and Mick was the perfect person for that but I wanted to keep it open outside of that, I didn’t want it that the bass player always had to play bass on the track, the drummer always had to play drums. I wanted something looser so I could bring in the right person for the right track, which is pretty much what we did. We all hung out together too, we had a great time, it was a bit like the youth club the first few years of The Style Council.”
By the time of Café Bleu’s follow up, Our Favourite Shop a year later, the collective had gravitated around a core line up of Paul, Mick, drummer Steve White, singer Dee C Lee and bassist Camille Hinds. “It was a natural thing,” says Paul. “We’d been out on the road and had settled down to this nucleus of the four or five of us. It was a logical progression from playing live all the time. We’d become a very tight knit unit.”
Paul had first spotted Dee C Lee when she sang backing vocals on Wham’s Young Guns (Go For It) on Top Of The Pops.
“I liked the way she looked as a singer, the way she held herself on stage, she was unique. We’d had a couple of female singers in the Council and none of them had really worked out, but I had this thing in my mind, I wanted the Council to be like Steampacket, when they had Rod The Mod (Stewart) and Julie Driscoll on joint vocals, and I wanted a dual lead vocal like that. Dee came and sang on our second single, Money Go Round, and it clicked, she sounded different to all the other session singers we’d met.”
Teen sticksman Steve White, meanwhile, was introduced to Paul and Mick via their product manager Dennis Munday in May, 1983. White had been schooled in music by Bill Bruford and Bobby Orr - the former who drummed with Yes and King Crimson, the latter who backed the likes of Milt Jackson, Zoot Sims and Dizzy Gillespie - and had worked on Chris Difford and Glenn Tilbrook’s musical, Labelled With Love.
“Dennis was A&Ring another band on Polydor and I went and did an audition for them,” Steve White takes up the story. “I wasn’t right for them but their lead singer mentioned to Dennis that I was jazz influenced and a good player. He knew that was exactly what Dennis had been told to find for The Style Council.”
After Steve’s mum had called Dennis to check the audition invite wasn’t a wind up – “My friend, he’s now an engineer in Hollywood, he was a right sod, he used to phone up and pretend that people wanted to use me for gigs and my mum thought it was him”
Steve made his way to audition at West Kensington’s Nomis studios, only to find on arrival that Paul had already filled the drum stool.
“Nomis studios was the hub of the pop world at that time,” recalls White. “At any one time half of the chart was in there. When I turned up Spandau Ballet, Duran Duran and Culture Club were recording and aha were rehearsing there. Paul had a small office there and he would use the studios to rehearse."
"Dennis had told me the night before I was going along to audition for The Style Council but as soon as I got there I was told the position had been taken. Kenny (Wheeler) said he’d mention to Paul I was here anyway. Paul was like, ‘we’ve got someone, we’ve got someone,’ but I was insistent to Kenny. ‘I’ve come a long way to do this, please give me a go.’ He went back to Paul and related this and Paul let me in. He was getting his coat on, getting ready to go but asked me what I was into. I said jazz, so he said, ‘play a bit of jazz for me.’ I think a lot of young musicians would have gone in there and tried to play like Rick Buckler because they thought it would have got them the gig. Instead I did a bad Elvin Jones impression. He told me how they were doing a session the next day for the Kid Jensen show at Maida Vale, how he hadn’t written all the songs yet for it but told me to come along.”
“I was just blown away by his youth and versatility,” remembers Paul. As was Mick.
“Steve was very persuasive about being heard, he was good, he had a feel for things, he had a lot of enthusiasm, the confidence of youth and the talent to back it up. He seemed wise beyond his years in his playing. That Kid Jensen session was a baptism by fire and he really shone, we didn’t have to draw him a diagram, we’d say what we wanted and he’d do it. We thought he sounded a bit like Al Jackson (of Booker T And The MGs.)”
Having shied away from any identifiable tag in The Jam, Paul now proudly wore his political beliefs on his sleeve. Royalties from second single, Money Go Round were donated to Youth CND, which the Council had played several benefits for (as had The Jam previously). Paul was also a keen supporter of animal rights and in his role as the joint president of the United Nation’s International Year Of Youth in 1985, backed the National Youth Trade Union Rights campaign against “industrial conscription”, calling for the right to supplementary benefit for teens who refused to join YTS schemes and for the protection of youths placed on such schemes.
Their October 1984 single, Shout To The Top, a Number 7 hit, was a glorious celebration of worker solidarity pinned to a jubilatory Philly soul-esque backdrop engineered by Jay Mark, with adverts for the single screaming, “Make no mistake/This is all class war/Fight back/Shout To The Top!”
Their next single, Soul Deep released under the moniker of the Council Collective, who also featured UK soul singer Junior Giscombe (he’d had a Number 7 hit with Mama Used To Say in 1982), Motown star Jimmy Ruffin, Vaughn Toulouse and Dizzy Hites raised money for the miners strike – the Council had already shown their commitment by playing fund raising shows for the miners before its release. Its B-side, A Miner’s Point further explored the struggle through an interview with two miners conducted by journalist Paolo Hewitt.
“It wasn’t a time to be non partisan,” reflects Paul. “It was too serious a time, too extreme. I wasn’t waving the Labour party flag but the socialist red flag that’s for sure. In The Jam I didn’t want to be a part of any movement. But this was different. Thatcher got into power in 1979, and from the Falklands war onwards, that was her wielding her power, the trade unions were being worn down, we had the miners strike, there was mass unemployment, there were all these issues, you had to care and if you didn’t you had your head in the sand or didn’t give a fuck about anyone but yourself. You couldn’t sit on the fence. It was very black and white then. Thatcher was a tyrant, a dictator.”
Steve: “It was the last stand of the traditional working class man. The traditional working class doesn’t exist anymore and that was down to that pivotal time. That’s not to say it wasn’t time for reform but that was like open warfare to show all working people in this country that we (the Conservative party) hold the power, we can turn the police on you, we can get the Metropolitan police to go up to South Yorkshire and beat the crap out of you and that was Thatcher’s message to the working classes, Don’t mess with me."
"In the early days of the miners’ dispute, there were people who had their benefits stopped. They didn’t have anything to eat at the end of the week. We got asked to raise some money and we did. It all went wrong when the taxi driver (David Wilkie) died. That painted the whole thing in a much bleaker light and it made us feel collectively that we were out of our depth here.”
The miners strike raged for one year – from March 1984 to March 1985 and quickly elevated into a symbolic battleground for the Tory government and the working man/woman; simply put Margaret Thatcher after identifying the National Union of Miners (NUM) as the heart of the Labour movement, went all out to crush it – mid strike she referred to the miners as “the enemy within” - and in her heavy handed attempt to abolish nationalisation and the unions, she caused mass unemployment, poverty, and decimated communities.
The flame was ignited on March 1, when the National Coal Board (NCB) led by anti-trade unionist chairman Ian MacGregor announced the closure of pits - the first Yorkshire’s Cortonwood Colliery – on the false grounds of unprofitability. He then threatened the future of a further 20 and 20,000 jobs. On March 12, the president of the NUM Arthur Scargill declared a national strike. By the end of the month further unions - NUR, TSSA, ISTC, TGWU, NUR and EETPU - were showing their support.
The government retaliated to this show of worker solidarity by withdrawing miners’ state benefits, leaving their families to survive on handouts and donations and soon many were starving and forced into poverty. Unsurprisingly tempers flared – in Orgreave, near Rotherham there were violent clashes between the miners and the police, the latter who were bolstered by forces drafted in from around the country.
As miners struggled in difficult conditions, some drifted back to work during the cold winter months and when in November, a taxi driver, David Wilkie was killed taking strike-breaking miners to work in Merthyr, South Wales – the result of two strikers lobbing a concrete block from an overhead bridge – defeat seemed inevitable.
Mick: “Soul Deep seemed like a simple thing to do until all the violence occurred. It’s easy to see these things in black and white but there is a lot of grey. When we were immersed in Red Wedge, when we were working with politicians we got to see what a slow moving beast politics is. It was like wading in sludge trying to get anything done. I’m pleased we supported the miners, highlighted their plight because it was a crunch time but once we got involved in Red Wedge, well what quickly dawned on us were people were coming to see the bands and not taking the message in."
"Then we’d get to a press conference in the Midlands, and you’d find you weren’t talking to the NME but a political correspondent from a broadsheet. There would be us, a few blokes out of Madness, Junior Giscombe, no one’s got a consensus of opinion and we’re asked, ‘What’s Red Wedge’s policy on Ireland?’ It’s hard enough to answer this question now when things are more stable, but back then everyone just looked at each other, and I just thought, Is this why I collected and jammed along to all those soul records? On the positive side I’m pleased we tried. It’s easy to be cynical in hindsight but at the time you felt you needed to stand up and be counted and I’m proud that we did that.”
Recorded in September, Soul Deep took just two days to put together and released in December, it made Number 24, with proceeds from sales going to the organisation Women Against Pit Closures and David Wilkie’s widow.
The Style Council’s follow up single, Walls Come Tumbling Down was equally forthright, passionate and dedicated to socialism. Defined by its anger and bile with Weller’s opening lines, “You don’t have to take this crap” pinned to a pounding Northern soul beat, it made Number 6 in May, 1985 and proved once again that you could successfully marry politics to exhilarating pop. It also hinted at what was to come next. With its lyrics steeped in socialist conviction, and its captivating soul pop sensibility, not only is its parent LP, Our Favourite Shop Weller’s most political work, it is one of his most exciting too.
Work had tentatively started on the album in February 1985. Steve: “Although it wasn’t set in stone. We would get a call or be gigging and Paul would say I want a couple of days in the studio, it wasn’t rigid, like, ‘we start the album now’, it was more, ‘let’s go in and knock some tracks down. It was a very creative time.”
“It helped we didn’t have to worry about studio time or costs,” explains Paul, who had bought Stanhope House, the old Phillips Studio at Marble Arch in 1983 and had been using it as his engine room for The Style Council after renaming it Solid Bond Studios.
Paul: “We’d go in everyday almost like a nine to five, no one was pressurising us, no one was looking over our shoulders, we could go in and work away. It was like a HQ for us, a base, we could experiment, but when we wanted time out we could play some tunes, have a cup of tea, walk around Oxford Street."
"It wasn’t until recent years that I appreciated what it was and where it was. The Walker Brothers and Dusty Springfield had recorded there. I didn’t think about that at the time and when we took it over we even had the same desk, which you’d pay a fortune for now. We foolishly after Our Favourite Shop got rid of it and got a new state of the art SSL desk and ended up sounding like every other band.”
Steve: “It was like a social club. Because it was in such a lovely position, we could sit outside on the lawn and drink tea. Kenneth Williams would walk past, Ava Gardner too. Kenneth would say good morning to us dressed in his blazer, college tie and chinos.”
Production duties fell once more to Pete Wilson who had previously produced The Jam’s The Gift and then The Style Council’s Café Bleu. Pete had first met Paul when as Polydor’s house engineer he had recorded Jam demos in the late ’70s.
“It was a relaxed set up,” states Pete Wilson. “With The Jam when I took over from Vic Coppersmith Heaven on production, they were hugely successful, they had tours lined up, album deadlines to meet, there were huge expectations and pressure on them. With The Style Council no one knew what to expect. After Paul acquired Solid Bond studios, he was doing demos all the time, and demos would turn into songs. He thrived in that atmosphere.”
The 13 track album opened, like Café Bleu before it with a tune led by Mick Talbot. The soulful Homebreakers was a direct attack on Thatcherism and the savage effects of its policies.
“I’d been working on the music and was la la-ing the melody over the top of it and Paul suggested I sing it,” remembers Mick. “He came up with the lyrics - they reflected what was going on in my own family at the time. My dad had been made redundant after 35 years of working for the same firm, my brother was in the same print union and was about to be made redundant too. Paul had soaked this up and the lyrics reflect that. It was a bold move opening the album with me singing, a bit of a surprise for the listener!”
'Come To Milton Keynes', the album’s second single may only have reached Number 23 in July 1985 but it was, nevertheless, one of Weller’s most poetic and powerful social commentaries. “We used to chase dreams, now we chase the dragon,” he sings. Predictably it caused controversy – Paul had never stepped foot in Milton Keynes and its residents weren’t happy with his critique of their town.
“I was reacting to all the new towns that were springing up,” says Paul. “There was an advert on TV, ‘Come to Milton Keynes’ yet the reality was totally different. Concrete shopping malls where kids would wander around aimlessly, smack was massive in the ’80s. It was never about just one town, but was concerned with the underlying soullessness, which had been covered up with a belief in monetarism, greed and selfishness and on the street smack. It was a metaphor for the general wearing down of society. Of course the city was up in arms, the local paper had a piece on the front page about it.”
The string laden 'A Stones Throw Away' was another of the album’s standouts; lyrically returning to the plight of the miners, it was drenched in stirring John Mealing arrangements.
Mick: “It’s a beautiful song, John was so easy to work with. He wasn’t bamboozled by our quirks, the fact we used funny demos and weird sounds. He was flexible and adjusted to our work patterns. He was keen to give us what we wanted and he did.”
Contrastingly 'Internationalists was blazing and loud; their rousing rallying cry, a call for unity and uprising with its title a reference to the political anthem, Internationale. “I’d read Robert Tressell’s The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists early on,” recalls Paul, “which had influenced my view of politics. Coming from a reactionary working class background it opened up my mind to politics.”
The third single culled from the album, 'The Lodgers' was another pertinent assault on the Tory party and saw the band back inside the Top 15 in September 1985 while the Steve White penned 'With Everything To Lose' pulled apart YTS schemes.
Steve: “I wrote it in an hour, over the backing track that we had used for 'Have You Ever Had It Blue' for the Absolute Beginners’ soundtrack. I had been on a fund raising march opposing youth opportunity schemes. I was so angry about what was happening to guys my own age, how they didn’t have any rights when they took up these schemes, how they got injured and some got killed because of the dangerous jobs they were given to do. I took the words in sheepishly, showed them to Paul, he said they were really good, took them away and scanned them so he could sing them.”
'A Man Of Great Promise' was Paul’s ardent eulogy to his school friend Dave Waller who had died from a heroin overdose in 1982. Paul had already paid homage to him in 1978’s All Mod Cons songbook, “Dave, your words fill me with new hope for the modern world, whilst your words on decay and destruction have the foresight of a person a 1,000 years old. There are those who are held in high esteem who do not deserve it in light of you.”
“I still play that sometimes. I was really saddened by his death,” reflects Paul. “It was inevitable though because he went down that path. He was a friend from the old days, he was much more literary than me, I was only reading the NME then, but he was a real talent as a writer and poet. He’d point out lyrics and meanings in Dylan and Donovan songs that I hadn’t picked up on because I was only listening to the music then.”
Perhaps the only song to disappoint is 'The Stand Up Comic’s Instructions'. Nevertheless, it is a noble attempt to tackle racism built around Lenny Henry’s fierce lampooning.
“I still think it’s a brilliant idea,” says Steve. “To get a black comedian to talk about that racist, Northern, working men’s club tradition. We did a Saturday night TV show presented by Lenny on LWT. He came on stage and started singing with us on 'You’re The Best Thing' and Paul hooked up with him later.”
Mick: “That was bizarre, it was a message that kind of worked. He was keen to be involved and it was us having a go at the mainstream. Alternative comedy was just an infant then – Jim Davidson, Bernard Manning they were immensely popular. We’d grown up playing working men’s clubs and it opened us up to the narrowmindedness that bred in some of them.”
The gatefold cover artwork was as bold as the album inside. Encapsulating everything that was special to The Style Council, it harked back to the inner sleeve of The Jam’s All Mod Cons where Paul had amassed objects which held meaning to him. But here Paul and Mick took it a step further literally creating their own favourite shop.
“Paul had come up with the album’s title,” remembers Simon Halfon, the sleeve’s designer. “His initial idea for the cover was to go to gentlemen’s outfitters in Woking and take a picture through the shop window of all their favourite things. Unfortunately it didn’t work out, so Plan B was to recreate the shop on a set. Photographer Ollie Ball built the set and then we all made lists of what we’d like to go in there. Paul said, we’ll do it next Tuesday, don’t forget to bring your stuff in. Ollie took the shot. It was as simple as that.”
“For some reason we picked a Sunday to go down to the shop and of course it was shut. Then we decided it would be better to build our own shop. We were like two old queens me and Mick,” reminisces Paul. “We were always out shopping. We got a lot of suits made up, we were like two old birds at a jumble sale, we were both mad for clothes. I think we looked the dogs’ bollocks. I saw what I was wearing as an extension of mod, even my mad hairstyle was. That was an amalgamation of the Perry boys up north, with the soul boy thing and these older middle aged French birds from Paris, and that geometric ’60s look.”
“It was a Mr Benn like fantasy,” says Mick. “You’d walk into the shop and come out the other end with everything that means everything to you, every book you want, every record, every poster. We brought in half our attics, and there are loads of things I know are there that you can’t really see in the finished photo. It became such an obsession."
"It was Paul’s George Best coat hanger, his Brigitte Bardot picture and record player. I provided the Twiggy coat hanger, the Otis Redding T shirt, Tony Hancock scripts, George Bernard Shaw book and Up The Junction. There’s a pair of brogues there, a red towelling pair of socks, in the ’70s they were very sophisticated, they’re tucked away behind the cabinet but we know the right pair of shoes and socks are there for a certain era. It’s a real reflection of what we were like."
"Paul, Dee, my missus and me went on holiday once and the flight got delayed and Paul and I bored our respective partners with our nostalgia fests, we’d talk of the clothing around when we were 11 or 12, and records from 1969 to ’71. Our shop is a real reflection of such discussions.”
Simon contributed the Another Country and A Hard Days Night posters, the customised ghetto blaster, the Terry-Thomas and Michael Caine photos and the Billie Holiday poster.
“We loved the cover art, we were all fans of Bernard Buffet’s Verve work.”
The Homo birthday card had been created for Paul by friend and designer Peter Barrett, there was also a Gary Crowley Capital Radio sticker stuck on the till.
The album also came with an inside portrait of Mick and Paul which referenced David Bailey’s shot of Lennon and McCartney (which featured in their shop mock up) and was taken by photographer Nick Knight while the actual packaging mirrored The Beatles For Sale album where the vinyl went inside a sleeve pocket.
The sleeve also featured quotes from Tony Benn, US comedian Lenny Bruce and Oscar Wilde’s Man Under Socialism. “It was a tribute to everything we loved,” says Simon.
On its release 'Our Favourite Shop' hit the top spot in the UK. It was the only Style Council album to do so. Its follow ups, 1987’s 'The Cost Of Loving', Weller’s attempt to create a “modern American soul sound like Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis” only reached Number 2, the brave 'Confessions Of A Pop Group' from the following year, a mix of velveteen Debussy influenced piano suites and soul ballads, just Number 15, while their intended follow up, 'Modernism: A New Decade' went unreleased until 1998.
Paul: “I had a total belief in The Style Council. I was obsessed in the early years. I lived and breathed it all. I meant every word, and felt every action. Our Favourite Shop was its culmination.”
“With Our Favourite Shop we were like, here’s the message, if you like it, you like it,” says Steve. “When things were becoming bubblegum, with the concept of Rio and dancing in the sand and sticking your head in the sand, which was the message of the day, we had a band that went no thanks and we were still successful.”
Concludes Mick: “It’s a lyrical testament to where the country was at that time while musically we realised our strengths and played to them. The potential was always worth the risk with The Style Council. Sometimes we tried to punch above our weight and it came off, sometimes it didn’t. It wasn’t that we didn’t know what we were doing, it was a question of not standing still. Some experiments spectacularly failed, they just went boom! Others we surprised ourselves with and that’s what kept The Style Council inspiring. Our Favourite Shop was one of the ones that worked.”
Lois Wilson, MOJO Magazine
Thanks to Jon Harrington.