November 25, 2020
Sat. 11/28: Watch Project Kids-Care, an Online Telethon ft. Kenny Loggins, Jack Black, Joe Jonas, Conan O’Brien, Dionne Warwick, Brian McKnight & More
November 25, 2020
Paul McCartney Shares New Preview of ‘McCartney III’ Album, Due Out 12/18 (Pre-Order)
November 25, 2020
Rest in Peace, Argentinian Soccer Legend Diego Maradona: 1960-2020
November 25, 2020
Available to Stream 11/27: ‘Zappa,’ an Official Frank Zappa Documentary from ‘Bill & Ted’ Star Alex Winter
November 25, 2020
Preview the Kinks’ ‘Lola Versus Powerman’ 50th Anniversary Set with a 2020 Remaster of ‘Lola’
November 25, 2020
Taylor Swift Premieres ‘Folklore: The Long Pond Studio Sessions’ Concert Film on Disney+, Deluxe Edition of ‘Folklore’
November 24, 2020
‘Mick Fleetwood & Friends Celebrate the Music of Peter Green’ in Theaters in March; Blu-ray/LP in April
November 24, 2020
2021 GRAMMY Awards: Nominations Announced; Trevor Noah to Host Jan. 31 Event
November 24, 2020
A Tribute to Freddie Mercury on the 29th Anniversary of His Death (Including Posts from Brian May + Roger Taylor)
November 23, 2020
The Go-Go’s Share ‘Club Zero’ Music Video; Acclaimed 2020 Documentary Coming to Blu-ray/Digital Feb. 5
Reappraising Paul Weller’s The Style Council (New Best-Of and Sky Arts Documentary Out Now)
“When I do look back, that was the most fun I ever had in my career,” Paul Weller told me earlier this spring about his days in the Style Council, the band he formed with keyboardist Mick Talbot after splitting The Jam at the height of its popularity.
A great new compilation, Long Hot Summers: The Story of The Style Council is out today on digital platforms and Nov. 6 on CD, and a documentary of the same name airs Oct. 31 on Sky Arts in the U.K. (and is reportedly coming soon to Showtime in the U.S.). These releases are reminding even casual fans just how remarkable Paul Weller’s post-Jam band was.
There’s also an amazing new illustrated book about the band, Soul Deep: Adventures With The Style Council which has already sold out — but we can report here exclusively that the book will be headed for a paperback edition in 2021, and will take fans back to the classic, ultra-stylish heyday of the band that set Weller and his colleagues apart so markedly from any contemporaries.
In honor of the release of the Long Hot Summers best of and film, Rock Cellar has compiled recent interviews with the bandmembers, and those who were there and have studied the Style Council’s career and legacy closely, to reflect on one of the few bands of the 1980s whose sound and image has stood the test of time.
Paul Weller (vocals, guitar): I was done with The Jam. We’d taken it as far as I thought it could go.
Mick Talbot (keyboards): I think the U.K. being a small island, and three or four music papers dominating things in those days and having a bigger influence, a large part of their staffs were people that understood things as long as they were guitar-driven. But I do think the Jam was such an important part of people’s growing up, and for a certain generation, they were quite heartbroken. I can understand that. I’m still a bit miffed with the Rolling Stones for taking Ronnie Wood away from Rod Stewart and the Faces!
Pat Gilbert (journalist, liner notes for The Complete Adventures of The Style Council): The punk and the new wave thing had exhausted itself. It had fragmented. So in that period, everything was changing. All the punk bands had split up. The Clash had gone to America. And The Jam had this very schoolyard following. It was very tribal, and a lot of their fans were very young.
The Style Council's new compilation album 'Long Hot Summers' is out now! The long-awaited and eagerly anticipated definitive career anthology teaming with greatest hits, demos, remixes and unreleased tracks, is available now ✊ https://t.co/P7HnLHEL7J pic.twitter.com/AJJGxczJzh
— Paul Weller (@paulwellerHQ) October 30, 2020
Stuart Deabill (co-author of Soul Deep): The Jam was my band. They made a big dent in my life. But I’d got into The Jam midway through their career, so when they split, I wasn’t heartbroken. My first gigs on the farewell tour. There was so much other stuff going on, it wasn’t the be all end all of my life.
Mick Talbot: It felt like a natural progression from a musical point of view, because I think at the tail end of The Jam, there were a lot of clues there with Paul’s writing.
Gary Crowley (BBC DJ, producer Long Hot Summers): I started on the radio in 1982, so the only Jam single I played on the radio show when it had come out would’ve been the last one, “Beat Surrender.” So the Style Council were really the band that I associate with that period, along with Everything But the Girl, Haircut 100, the Smiths and Aztec Camera. It was an exciting time.
Pat Gilbert: For fans of The Jam, their lives were changing. They were moving from childhood to adulthood. That was part of what made The Style Council quite attractive. They represented the liberation of adulthood that a lot of people were feeling.
Steve White (drummer): Some Jam fans still haven’t got over that split. They still hold it against Paul. They’re like the Pacific Island Japanese troops.
Dee C Lee (vocals): My respect for Paul comes from the fact that he’d come from this very successful band, but was just about being a musician. He wasn’t into just hanging onto whatever to keep it going. He just kept wanting to grow as a musician. So I have a lot of respect for him from taking that brave leap of leaving one audience and hoping to pick up another.
And he did, but it was hard. Especially bringing a bit of a soul element in was a little bit weird for some people.
Pat Gilbert: Something that was alluring about the Style Council was that Paul and Mick were from working-class backgrounds. And they were incredibly hostile to what they perceived as being the middle-class media. So they were kind of outsiders. But they obviously liked soul music. And I think, it’s safe to say, jazz. So they were working class soul boys with a bit of an attitude.
Mick Talbot: It’s a funny term, Mod. You meet ten different people and they’ve all got a different idea of what it is. When you label something, there’s always going to be someone with a certain set of rules in their head about it. And if you don’t adhere to their ten commandments, then it’s not their version of Mod.
Gary Crowley: The clothes were amazing!
Stuart Deabill: I knew Paul would be alright. When someone’s that good, especially as a songwriter, it’s inevitable. I was old enough to know that Paul would carry on and I’d follow that. So for me, all the early Style Council singles, they were just a continuation.
In 1983, a string of singles and EPs were released, and were a marked departure from what Weller had done with The Jam.
Stuart Deabill: 1983 was a big year in pop music in the U.K. And all of the singles that year, for me, are up there with the Kinks’ best. And the A Paris EP, it’s one of my favorite records.
Mick Talbot: In that first year, we weren’t in a rush to play live, and we weren’t in a rush to do an album. We liked the EP format. It would’ve been nicer if we’d done it more. We also wanted to make singles as standalone things, and not put them on albums. So for the first 18 months, we did a phenomenal amount of recording. But that A Paris EP, I think that’s one of my favorites of the early stage, because it’s four very diverse tracks, and that set up where we were going. I think that EP explains where you might be led in any era of The Style Council.
Using a loose collection of studio musicians at the time, the band settled on drummer Steve White on the evening before a BBC Radio live broadcast.
Steve White: We didn’t have a rehearsal. We ran the song once and that was it. In fact, Paul was still finishing chords up. “Paris Match” was performed at that session as he finished it. He was looking at me and nodding where there was a verse and a chorus and for the middle eight. And I just went with it. But to be honest, that was not that dissimilar to the way I’d spent the last two years doing gigs in London with dance and pop bands.
Mick Talbot: “Long Hot Summer” was another great track from that period. There’s a lot of classic analog keyboards, but there’s quite a contemporary drum machine with some bongos and hi-hat. We were influenced by what was quite current in Black music — synthesized bass lines and what have you — because in our foolish minds, we were imagining we’re the Delfonics. We weren’t trying to make a Delfonics record, we just had block harmonies and a little bit of this and that. We always had our own way of doing it, anyway.
Pat Gilbert: The iconography of the sleeves, that was all great. And “Long Hot Summer” was a great, great, great record. The hardcore Mod lot didn’t like it, because it had a soul thing going on, and because there were elements of homoeroticism in the video, and it was a bit surreal and a bit of English silliness. They wanted the grit and street poetry of The Jam and so they were understandably alienated from the whole thing.
Pat Gilbert: The video was really important for “Speak Like A Child,” because they were on a double-decker bus driving around in the country and it was all a bit playful. The Jam had never been playful. So that was good. And the song was pretty good.
Steve White: I was definitely right place, right time. And I think that when those kinds of things happen, it’s really up to you to see how far you can take them. It’s a bit of a cliché, but the harder you work, the luckier you get.
Dee C Lee: I came in on “Money-Go-Round.” I literally auditioned on “Money-Go-Round,” and joined the band all on the same day.
Pat Gilbert: “Money-Go-Round” kind of confused people, I think. It’s a good idea, but it’s not a brilliant song.
Dee C Lee: At the time I was working with Wham. I was a session singer. Paul said that he got my number from the musician’s union. They were really lovely. I went to the bathroom halfway through the interview and I noticed all these gold discs of this band called The Jam. I said to them, “So who are these guys?” And Paul said to me, “Oh, some shit band who record here.” And I thought, they can’t be that shit, because there’s all these gold discs everywhere. But I didn’t think anything of it.
Mick Talbot: We were quite fortunate, there was an A&R man who was a friend of ours as much as our A&R man. He kind of defended any decisions that may have been seen as wacky. He kept the label people away from us. He went out on a limb. It was great that we had someone there, fighting in our corner.
Gary Crowley: They need that because they were kind of out on their own.
Dee C Lee: I was walking around London, and I bumped into some musician mates of mine. We were all asking each other what we were working on, and I said, “Yeah, at the moment I’m working with, his name’s Paul Weller, and he’s just started this band called the Style Council.” This musician mate of mine went, “What?!” He just freaked out. “You know who you’re working with? That’s Paul Weller, man! Paul Weller of the Jam! Massive.” And I said, “Well, the music’s nothing like that, so I’m sure you’ve got it wrong.” I wasn’t listening to punk at that time. It’s not that I didn’t like it, it just wasn’t my thing. I was into jazz and jazz funk, so I really didn’t know what was happening in the charts at that time. But it was really, really innocent. I totally know who they are now. [Laughter]
The band’s first album, Café Bleu (My Ever Changing Moods, and dramatically reconfigured, in the U.S.) was as far from anything The Jam had released as any album could be.
Steve White: I’ve revisited the record: It starts off with a bluesy instrumental, and then there’s an acoustic song, and then it goes back to an almost Latin-inspired instrumental. And then there’s a song that deliberately mocks the American home of democracy, “Dropping Bombs on the White House,” and then we go into some sort of go-go inspired hip hop. Woah. Hang on.
Pat Gilbert: Weller was on a voyage of discovery, getting deep into soul music and jazz and the Blue Note stuff, and Northern Soul. A lot of people in the music press were really sniffy, because they were quite a bit older, and they knew about soul music and they knew about jazz. But we didn’t know about soul music and we didn’t know about jazz, or Northern Soul. That was all new if you were quite young. So us kids were going on our own journeys, too.
Mick Talbot: We had a fearless enthusiasm. I had nothing to lose, but Paul had a great deal to lose. Yet he didn’t balk at trying things. He wasn’t conventional.
Dee C Lee: What was really fun was hanging with all the guys and finding what would work, and having my opinion be really important. It was great to be that involved in the process.
Gary Crowley: I think that with the Style Council, there was just this liberating feeling. He found someone in Mick who had lots of similar interests, and a similar background, plus somebody with a lovely dry sense of humor. And there were lots of different people coming in and going out again and I think that that made it fun.
Mick Talbot: I think in our more pretentious moments, I’d like to think that these things were all dramas that needed the correct cast. So we just tried to do that.
Paul Weller: Having our own studio was really important.
Pat Gilbert: It was clear that Weller was in transition. It was experimental but there was enough brilliant stuff on there to suggest that he hadn’t completely gone mad.
Stuart Deabill: It’s very much a purple patch, that period from ’83 to ’85. It wasn’t just good. It was fucking amazing. When Café Bleu come out, I’d never listened to a record like that, even though my dad’s a big jazzer. I’d never heard that sort of thing before.
Pat Gilbert: That’s a really strong album in that all the songs are good. But the thing about Café Bleu is that what you get there is the first evidence, really, that Weller couldn’t have actually gone on with The Jam. It’s got a proper weightlessness and lightness that he could never have done.
Mick Talbot: Maybe they could have done it, but maybe they wouldn’t have been as into it as he might’ve been.
Dee C Lee: We used to be in the studio nearly every day, rehearsing or working on new material. We were forever in the studio.
Steve White: It was very creative. It was very joyous. We had our base in Marble Arch. I used to drive in to work. It too 40 minutes and cost me three quid to park for the day. We would start early, break for lunch, go to the café and go back and do some more. And then it would be like, what are we doing tonight? We’d go off into SoHo and watch bands; see Curtis Mayfield at Ronnie Scott’s, or catch the Kubrick cut of Spartacus at Marble Arch Odeon. Or we’d go clubbing. We would go out to Bogarts and we would go to Do-Do’s in Charing Cross Road, which was where Vaughan Toulouse DJ’d, and was really where I opened my eyes up to the wonders of the LGBT community, meeting my first gay DJs and seeing incredible artists at Heaven and places like that.
The next album, Our Favourite Shop, was a smash, even though it featured politically charged lyrics directed at the Thatcher government.
Steve White: I think that what you can hear on Our Favourite Shop is definitely a consolidation of the touring, cutting our teeth, being out, gigging a lot. That really, really shines through. The settling down of the lineup to include what I consider the classic lineup. That was, arguably, one of the best pop records of the 1980s.
Pat Gilbert: Our Favourite Shop is a great record, with brilliant singles and very slick. It was extremely political, though, which makes it quite a curious record to listen to now. I would imagine if you were 15 and you played it, you’d have to explain what was happening in England at that time.
Mick Talbot: Café Bleu got to Number Two, and that one went to Number One. A lot of the songs still sound like they’ve got some meaning in this modern world, even though they’re 35 years old. It was a really good mirror reflection of the world as it was politically for the U.K. at the time. And the sleeve was very well received.
I know some people that haven’t been very well educated that think that’s where they got half their education from. I’m not saying everything on that sleeve is highbrow. A lot of it is just trashy stuff that we grew up with. Not every book on there is some big classic. It’s just things we grew up with. Some of it’s quite deep stuff, and some of it’s shallow. But it’s what made us what we were.
Steve White: I had mates that commented on the production at the time and called it retro, but when you put the record on now, it really does stand up as a great record.
Dee C Lee: We filmed “Walls Come Tumbling Down” in Poland. It was like such a weird place to go at the time. It was really very poor. We stayed in a hotel and nobody could order the same food. We were at the top hotel in Poland, but with five people in the band, if three people ordered a ham sandwich, one of us would have to make do with something else, because they just didn’t have a lot of anything. Plus, it was really odd, because in Poland they’d never seen black people. So they were weird and terrible, but my white brothers there had my back and really, really protected me.
But after years of touring with The Jam, Weller had yet to take the Style Council show on the road.
Pat Gilbert: The Jam sometimes did two or three U.K. tours a year. They were always playing. And there was always a record out. It became very more intangible with The Style Council, because they weren’t touring all the time. They were more studio-based.
Mick Talbot: Once we did get out on the road, I remember Paul remarking about how many women there were in the crowd. That was a difference.
Steve White: We did the Wiltern in L.A. and the Savoy in New York after coming back from Japan, where we’d played for three weeks. We did two shows in America! Paul knew that if we were going to do America, it would mean a lot of the and excitement would be gone, because we would be out there for weeks and months. And I think, especially in those first couple of years, Paul really felt the freedom when we played abroad.
We had an eight-piece band with four girls and four guys, and mixed race, which was quite unusual. It was quite progressive. I do remember the first time that we played in the U.K. at the Dominion in Tottenham Court Road, we did two nights, and it was palpably different. But Italy straightway got it. We were playing to thousands and thousands of people in Italy. And Germany as well. All over Europe, Japan and Australia.
Pat Gilbert: Glastonbury was nasty and horrible and muddy. And it wasn’t the big thing that it is now. It was really quite alternative. The Style Council played in all their finery, and it was a mud bath. So they just got pelted with mud and Paul, who wasn’t drinking at the time, but found the whole experience so miserable that he drank a bottle of vodka, at one point he fell over into the drumkit. That was quite sort of special.
Dee C Lee: Glastonbury, that’s a funny story. I had never done an outdoor festival. I got a really big shock. It was muddy and awful. I don’t think any of us realized, because we were dressed in white, for God sake. That was our look. Anyway, we got there at 12 o’clock but we didn’t go on till 12 o’clock at night. It was probably the very worst performance we ever gave, but it was the funniest performance we ever gave. I mean, half of the audience were on stage with us. It kind of reverted back to punk days, quite frankly, but in the nicest possible way. It was hilarious. I’m really hoping it wasn’t televised. If it was, I never want to see it. It’s one of the worst performances, because quite frankly, we were all drunk.
Mick Talbot: We weren’t the typical Glastonbury act. And if the weather doesn’t behave itself, it could become like a warzone. It reminded me of M*A*S*H. We weren’t in a mud field in Korea, but we could’ve been, the state of it. It was pouring with rain, so we adjusted the setlist and started with “Long Hot Summer.” Let’s really send this up. And there was a bottle handed around. But we won the crowd over because Paul fell over and they realized that the band were maybe equally as out of it as the crowd. And I think we engaged people that we didn’t expect to get across to.
Steve White: I was 19 when we did Live Aid!
Mick Talbot: Live Aid, that’s a once in a lifetime thing. It was a frightening but an amazing thing that Bob Geldof put together. It was a tremendous achievement. David Bowie said he felt that it should happen like the Olympics, every four years or something. No one ever got around to that. But that didn’t sound like a bad idea to me. But it was certainly something to be a part of. The first couple of bands that were down there were asked if they wanted to do sound checks, such as they were. We had the opportunity to meet Charles and Diana, but we said we’d rather do a sound check.
Steve White: We were one of the first bands to support the entire venture. There’s no doubt that. And at the very start of it, even though there’s this rumor that Paul and Bob don’t get on, or there’s this friction between them, Paul definitely was one of the very first artists that agreed to do it.
Dee C Lee: We were the second act on. We were very professional. We get there, the dressing rooms were there for a little bit, and then you’d backstage and there was lots of other big superstars there. And then somebody on the stage was telling me to go peek at the audience. I had already heard it was going to be televised. That was enough. All around the world. I was trying not to think about it, because if you think about these things, it makes you nervous, and I have enough worries about just making sure vocals are on par.
But I made the mistake of looking out and saw the audience. I went back inside to the dressing room and threw up. All my eye makeup was running down my face. I literally had about five minutes to go back on stage. So I had to wear dark glasses. I never wear dark glasses on stage. It’s one of those things I hate doing. Of course, I’m in dark glasses onstage because I didn’t have time to fix the eye makeup. And we performed. I think we sounded good. It kind of went by in a blur. But we enjoyed it. We got a really good reaction, and I forgot about the televised bit and I just got into the audience. It was a lovely, lovely day. The weather was beautiful, which is really not normal in London. It was a great, great day. Very overwhelming.
Mick Talbot: That period helped us reach a more settled lineup and become more aware of our strengths and weaknesses. Steve was well established with us. We’d go out with a horn section. But for me, all the best live dates we did depended on six people, Camelle Hinds on bass, Helen Turner, our second keyboard player, Steve, Dee, me, and Paul. As long as those six were on stage, I think we delivered. And that came to have an influence on Our Favourite Shop, I think.
The Style Council soon found themselves on the ill-fated Red Wedge tour, originally as a way to engage young people in the upcoming general election, but soon co-opted by the Labour Party.
Stuart Deabill: By mid-’85, we’d just come out of the miners strike, so that north-south divide was very much there. The miners plight, which I was really passionate about, really opened my mind up to how Thatcher was and how she was treating them. So those songs really resonated with me.
Pat Gilbert: It was the height of Thatcherism; it was the height of unemployment. The Style Council were very political. Paul was becoming a political spokesperson.
Steve White: Politically, we were all very much on the same page. Originally, it was to raise awareness to vote, because there was a lot of apathy about voting. That was one of the reasons that I really wanted to do it. And also, I wanted to see a promotion for a Labour government. But there were lots and lots of umbrella causes, and then suddenly it got more and more splintered.
Dee C Lee: All the boys — Paul, Mick and Steve — they all have really strong political views. So, it was refreshing and interesting, that they had such strong political beliefs, and put them into music.
Steve White: I think that at a certain point, you have that choice of, “Well, am I going to be a politician or am I going to be a musician?” But we did rattle cages. So the hardcore press were onto us. “What do you know about politics?”
Stuart Deabill: The Red Wedge tour, in ‘86, I saw three shows. The one I saw in Leicester had a really good vibe and the crowd were into it.
Dee C Lee: Paul had to take a lot of it, and there were quite a few times he’d go, “Oh, bloody hell, they’re dragging me in that. What have I started?” But it was just great. We had some other lovely musicians along. Jimmy Ruffin, and Bobby Womack! That was wonderful.
Steve White: I remember going on a march with Paul, and we were walking with two elderly gentlemen, and one of them was getting really upset because people were shouting, “Traitor, traitor.” And at the end of it, this gentleman moved his coat and I saw these service medals. I asked, “How did you come to be wearing those medals today, sir?” And he said, “I was a spitfire pilot.” And I thought, “Wow. You have no idea who you’ve just been calling a traitor.”
Stuart Deabill: There was a big anti-apartheid festival at Clapham Common in ’86, and they were middle of a show, but they were right on it.
Pat Gilbert: After ’86, the energy went out of it. They kind of disappeared and when they came back, it was with The Cost of Loving, which isn’t an overly political record. It’s got a very kind of slick, synthesized sound. They looked superb and again, so it was another interesting evolution. But I don’t think they took people with them. But I really loved the Orange album, The Cost of Loving.
Mick Talbot: I think the closest we tried to get to modern production techniques of the time were with The Cost of Loving, and that’s probably our weakest album. We put this superficial production above the content. So, when we did get as close as we could to what was happening in eighties music, we suffered the most, because we stopped being ourselves.
Steve White: I didn’t feel that the energy was as intense once we got into ’86. And I think when you listen to that record, the energy and the intensity is not what it was on Our Favourite Shop. And even though there’s some really good tracks on the record — “Heaven’s Above” is a wonderful track, and I love “The Cost of Loving,” which is a beautiful track — it just didn’t measure up.
Confessions of a Pop Group followed, but the Style Council’s audience had moved on.
Pat Gilbert: There were so many other things happening musically at the time. The whole indie thing, with the Smiths and New Order; the Stone Roses and the whole Manchester thing had kicked off by that point. It had gone too far in another direction, really.
Stuart Deabill: I’d gravitated towards a lot of the indie bands and stuff like Primal Scream. But I loved “It Didn’t Matter.” I don’t know why, but I just equated it with Joy Division doing blue-eyed soul.
Mick Talbot: I think that was a strong album. I prefer the “Piano Paintings” side. My favorite song on it is “It’s a Very Deep Sea.” I think the three-piece suite goes on a bit too long, but it was a pretty strong record. In the UK, it suffered because we’d lost a lot of people with The Cost of Loving, and we never got them back. So it’s an album that’s been reappraised in retrospect. I don’t think it’s quite as strong as Our Favourite Shop, but it’s favored by a lot of people now, because people like a bit of an underdog. People like to have a little undiscovered gem.
Pat Gilbert: The amazing thing about Confessions of a Pop Group is I don’t know anyone who bought it. You can look nostalgically back with revisionism, but it just died a death.
Steve White: I think the cover is fantastic. That is one of the seminal band shots of the Council when we really looked like a band.
Pat Gilbert: The JerUSAlem film they made around that time — and played before coming on at live shows — is fucking bonkers. It’s very beautiful, and a very theater piece. But it’s insane. I think most people thought that Weller had just gone mad.
The band’s final album, Modernism: A New Decade, was unceremoniously rejected by Polydor, the label Weller had called home for nearly twenty-five years.
Pat Gilbert: They were fizzling out, really. That energy and that excitement; the sheer novelty of the whole thing, which had been part of its appeal, had gone.
Paul Weller: I was really into house music at the time — really garage — and when I’m into something I’m all in.
Mick Talbot: It was a pretty natural progression. We’d been going to a club called Dingwalls, and Norman Jay was the DJ there. He had couple of different nights, and one night was called “Shake ‘n’ Fingerpop.” And that was just rare soul and funk 7-inches, which was quite a retro sort of night. They were quite rare records he was bringing up, so they were fresh to a lot of people’s ears.
But he had another night called “High on Hope,” which was the more soulful end of garage and house. And because Norman was about the same age as Paul and I, he had very strong roots to a lot of Philadelphia soul, and we could see a direct link there. Some of the stuff out of Chicago had four sets of vocals, so it wasn’t a million miles from Curtis Mayfield. Even though the records were quite raw, and the production was not slick, there was a lot of church in it, as well. It felt like it had certain elements of the roots of soul, so it was a natural thing for us to embrace.
Dee C Lee: Towards the end, when we all got a little bit house-obsessed. That was us, again, being self-indulgent. But, you know, whatever.
Stuart Deabill: I listened to that album recently. I’d dismissed “Promised Land” because I love the original so much, but I’ll tell you what, it ain’t a bad cover. I think it stands up a lot better in hindsight than it did back then.
Dee C Lee: We thought “Promised Land” was fantastic! I think we were ahead of our time, because we got slated, and nobody was really playing or listening to us. We were losing love at that stage, but I wasn’t really paying attention, to be honest with you.
Mick Talbot: It was an album that we were passionate about, and that we put a lot into, so it was a shame that it didn’t come out. And I think it would’ve made more sense in the time it was made in, rather than to have come out on the box set 10 years after the event. While it was lovely that it had seen the light of day, it was even more out of step with the times.
Pat Gilbert: In the mid-nineties, when there was the Britpop thing, channeling the sixties energy and iconography, the Style Council sounded like it was from a different place.
Stuart Deabill: I always liked bands that have a perfect start, middle, and end. And I think they do. Jam fans can say what they like, but the Style Council sell more records across the world, so I think people will go back to them now.
Pat Gilbert: A couple of months ago, I saw This is PIL, the PIL documentary. I was thinking how mental the eighties were. All these people who’d come through punk, these really young people without any musical heritage themselves, they’d gone into the eighties and made the music that they really wanted to make. Maybe the Style Council and PIL and a lot of those bands are just a product of a very strange decade, and that says a lot about that decade.
Stuart Deabill: For me, personally, I always thought that The Jam was school, and the Council was university, because they upped the level of how you listened to music, with the jazz influence and all that. But early in the days, they were just a perfect pop band.
Pat Gilbert: I play those records now and I understand them better because I’m older and I’ve listened to a lot more music myself, and probably some of the music Paul would’ve been listening to when he made the Style Council records.
Mick Talbot: It’s funny how many pockets of people you find who love that band. I know that Paul was quite intrigued when he met Brad Pitt a few years ago, and he had quite a deep knowledge of the Confessions album. It was just, “Wow, that’s baffling.” But he said well it was a bit of a cliquey thing with a couple of college mates, and that was their thing. So people like their things and sometimes they like it to be a little bit obscure.
Pat Gilbert: I find it all very inspiring to this day. I still like to wander around French cafes pretending to read Le Monde, looking at girls and imagining they might be Francoise Hardy. The Style Council is something very deeply embedded.
Dee C Lee: Seeing the documentary was so emotional. We had a screening and I kept poking Mick and he kept poking me. It just made me think, my god, where did that all go? I said to Steve, what we’ve got to do as soon as we’re allowed to hang out together is do a little screening, just for the band. I’ll do the nibbles and I’ll get Steve and Paul and Mick and a couple of family members, and we’ll just have to watch it again together. Because it just has to be done.
We had such a great life. I’d forgotten what a great life we had, and the amount of brilliant things we did.
Mick Talbot: I’m proud of what we did. The people that got it got it, and people that didn’t, didn’t. But in the lead-up to the new best of and promoting the documentary, there’s been quite a few people who were old enough to know the band at the time who have reappraised us, who’ve told me, “I didn’t really get you then, but it’s much better than I thought.” That’s nice to hear. I’d be keen to hear what people who weren’t around — people under 30 — might make of what we did, and if anything has any sort of resonance with what they’re about.
Paul Weller: Everything kind of goes through a golden period, and now it just exists.
November 25, 2020
November 13, 2020