When Paul Weller left Foxton and Buckler to start a new band many might have thought; will he still play a Rickenbacker? Will it be as good? Has he lost the plot? Whilst the first 2 questions were firmly answered with a yes, the final question was far from the truth. Infact this was just the sort of thing that would become normal behaviour in The Style Council. Very much revolving around the backbone of Weller, expert organ/keyboard player Mick Talbot, the world class drumming skills of Steve White plus the husky soulful voice of Dee C Lee, the rest of the band members that came and went within their ranks was just what the doctor ordered, which only helped elevate The Style Council to be the best band of the 80’s.
Now marking nearly 40 years since the formation of the band have a new compilation; Long Hot Summers, released via Polydor Records on 30th October on coloured vinyl, CD and download. This fresh package features previously unseen pictures plus newly remastered tracks that shed fresh light on a band too often forgotten, which is criminal due to the quality of everything that appears here. Dropping the needle onto opener Headstart For Happiness, with just Weller at the microphone for this particular version, the version that appeared on Café Blue was a smart 80’s summer pop guitar number, just the tonic for boy and girl about town. What was surprising to many at the time was Mick Talbot taking the lead microphone on the opening of the track. Many might have thought, ‘how dare he’!? But this was again a master stroke, Talbot had just the voice for the track and the mix of Talbot and Wellers voices over this set, and whole The Style Council material, delivers the goods every time.
There are bag upon bag of goodies here; an extended version of Long Hot Summer with pictures that come to mind of a Weller topless whilst Talbot and White play about on a canal are the stuff of legend, Walls Come Tumbling Down with Weller spitting out the word ‘crap’ like his life depended on it was him delivering a line with just the same amount of passion the working class had for the serving government of the time, the northern soul upbeat feel of Solid Bond In Your Heart, the smooth soul of Wanted with an elasticated bass line interlude, the everlasting enthusiasm for life of Shout To The Top, the soul jazz Have You Ever Had It Blue whilst Speak Like a Child which kicked the whole Style Council story off in 1983 still delivers a fab pop organ explosion.
Amongst the traditionally well-known hits there is a smattering of gorgeous B sides and album tracks plus what is labelled as a demo of My Ever Changing Moods sounds familiarly like a version of the track Paul and Mick performed on TV Show Pop Goes Christmas featuring Bobby Valentino on Violin. What is debated within the Weller fan base is the B sides are sometimes as good and maybe judged even better than the A side. The Small Faces sounding organ of Party Chambers, the haunting acoustic feel of Ghosts of Dachau, the swinging jazz jive of Sweet Loving Ways, Piccadilly Trail that received a wonderful revival in the Paul Weller Movement and finally the all-time classic orchestral beauty Changing Of The Guard taken from the band final album.
This is a welcome re-evaluation of these soul survivors that sung so passionately about the political debacle around them and their fans at the time. They gave hope and a voice to thousands, meaning the band had their very lyrics sung back at them loud and proud at the gigs of the time. How much do we need such a band at this very moment in time.
Long Hot Summers can be purchased via the following link