Listen Up: Wednesday, October 6, 2004
files\2005-10-06\lup1.jpg
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
Paul Weller

Studio 150 (V2 Records)

By Jimmy Fowler

Fans of the beloved British singer-songwriter Paul Weller might be surprised to learn that in his 27th year as a recording artist he has evolved into ... Tom Jones. There?s a low-key but intriguing blend of raspy vocal fervor, Anglo-funk, and strings-feathery balladeering on Studio 150, his eighth album as a solo artist. It?s almost enough to make one declare, ?Hey, Paul, catch my panties, please!? But longtime followers of Weller and his earlier incarnation ‹ as spiky-haired, articulate frontman/songwriter for both The Jam and Style Council ‹ might not get so caught up in the swirling romanticism he lends to 10 cover tunes originally recorded by performers such as Oasis, The Carpenters, Gordon Lightfoot, and Bob Dylan. People really shouldn?t be shocked. In their native U.K., The Jam was more successful in its punk-pop rivalry with The Clash, perhaps because Weller has always been a grand sentimentalist beneath all the cheek. He was like Billie Joe Armstrong with a Motown fetish, especially in classic Jam tunes like ?In The City? (listen to it again; it sounds like Green Day recorded the day before yesterday) and the tender, worshipful ?English Rose.? He sang about disaffected young adulthood with uncommon authenticity. The Style Council was the logical if irritating leap into ?80s Britpop, with Weller?s charmingly ragged vocal style and smart-ass lyrics often unreachable beneath jazzy synth keyboards and sprightly beat-box rhythms.

   Studio 150 arrives the year Weller turns 45, and he sounds ready to pour his sound from Starbucks store speakers and adult-alternative satellite stations everywhere. ?Wishing on a Star,? with its dreamy harp flourishes, is guaranteed to get the first five rows as wet as spring at Caesar?s Palace. ?The Bottle? charges aggressively forward with a Jam-friendly beat and frayed wah-wah bursts, but the flute solo manages to keep things safe. Some are ready to write Weller?s artistic obit for covering The Carpenters? ?Close to You,? but he gives it a sultry Detroit cred that Berry Gordy would appreciate. He closes things with a lovely, melancholy piano-and-organ treatment of ?Birds,? Neil Young?s meditation on the broken heart as transcendence. Critics are lining up to savage Studio 150, but Paul Weller sounds so sincere, so utterly at home in easy-listening mode. They should at least acknowledge he?s been pointed in that direction since The Jam days.


Email this Article...

Back to Top


Copyright 2002 to 2017 FW Weekly.
3311 Hamilton Ave. Fort Worth, TX 76107
Phone: (817) 321-9700 - Fax: (817) 335-9575 - Email Contact
Archive System by PrimeSite Web Solutions