The Style Council. The band that followed The Jam. The reason The Jam split up. Paul Weller’s weird years. Call them what you will, The Style Council have always been an exceptional band of the 80’s, possibly the best of the period and a band on the cusp on greatest but held back, maybe, by one of the main members previous band. Nevertheless with a documentary and new anthology compilation about to be released its time for a well-deserved revaluation of this outstanding band.
Gigslutz caught up with one of the original members, keyboard player and vocalist Mick Talbot to discuss some of his memories and recollections of the period.
What was the first music you can remember hearing?
The first music I can remember hearing was my Nan playing the piano and on the radio The Beatles.
Any early organ playing influences that you had?
Ian McLagan ( Small Faces & Faces ) was an early organ playing influence.
What about singing? Did you have anyone of you looked to who were influences?
From a vocal perspective I was always interested in harmony groups so The Delfonics & The Beach Boys are two groups that stand out for me.
When Paul asked you to join a band he was forming what were you initial thoughts? Excitement? Nervousness?
I would say I was excited at the prospect and potential of it all when Paul asked me to form The Style Council with him.
Your song writing exploits with TSC were there from the get go what with Micks Up, Dropping Bombs on the Whitehouse before leading onto you almost co-writing half of the tunes on Our Fav Shop. What was the song writing partnership like with Paul? Did you jam out things together or was it mostly bringing ideas to the studio and thrashing out ideas until a song was formed?
On the songs that I co-wrote with Paul I mostly had the music and melody, then Paul would hear something in them that would lend itself to his lyrical ideas. Sometimes it could be a little less like that, but that’s how I remember most of them.
Who decided you should sing on Homebreakers? I heard Paul thought your voice would sound better on the track?
Yes it was Paul’s idea for me to sing Homebreakers. The lyrics to that song had some elements of what my Dad & Brother were experiencing in their jobs, so that gave me an emotional connection to the story in that song.
Live the band had some formidable line ups at the heart was Steve White, mixing with a number of bass players, brass, strings and instrumentation. How did the live bands come to fruition? Did you see someone you wanted to play with and invite into TSC throngs?
We would ask people that we thought suited the music we were making to work with us.In 1983 we concentrated on studio work, we got busier with live work in 1984 and by the time we got to 1985 we had settled on a core line-up which was Paul, Me, Steve White, Dee C Lee, Helen Turner and Camelle Hinds. Sometimes we used a brass section, sometimes not but those six people were the nucleus of all our best shows.
Do you have any other gigs that stick in your memory as being particularly memorable?
Live Aid is probably the most memorable gig. It was a unique event and a tremendous achievement for Bob Geldof to focus the world’s attention on such a crisis.
Despite some regrets getting involved with politics including the Red Wedge tour, The Lodgers, A Stones Throw Away and other songs, the messages behind these songs still resonate now would you agree?
I would agree that a lot of the more political songs on Our Favourite Shop still resonate today, 35 years later. Sadly it makes you think how little things have changed.
Confessions Of A Pop Group is my second fav TSC album what with Changing Of The Guard and It’s a Very Deep Sea making appearances. Are these stand out tracks for you in the TSC back catalogue? Do you have any recollections of hearing these songs for the first time and how they came to fruition in the studio?
I think ‘ It’s A Very Deep Sea ‘ is one of Paul’s best and possibly most underrated songs. Most of side one on The Confessions of A Pop Group started from Paul’s demos with him playing piano and singing. We’d then develop the band approach for each track, Johnny Mealing did some wonderful orchestrations for the tunes that needed them plus a vocal arrangement for The Swingle Singers. All in all quite a rich and multi- layered record.
With TSC coming up for some reflection with new releases and the new documentary have you had time to further reflect on the band and their legacy? If so what legacy do you think the band have left behind?
If ever there was a year for reflection, this is probably it. I’m proud of what we did and hope that the anthology and documentary will open up people’s minds and ears to our music regardless of their age. Hopefully people that are fans will enjoy it all and people that overlooked us may see us in a renewed light plus younger minds and ears that weren’t even around in the eighties may also be engaged.
Finally, what’s on your turntable at present?
I’ve been listening to Britanny Howard’s album ‘Jaime’ quite a lot and The Black Pumas.
Long Hot Summers can be purchased via the following link