A Kind Revolution (Deluxe Edition)
I liked a lot of Weller’s last release Saturn’s Pattern and its playful sonic energy and range. Weller seemed to be getting best out of his players and his own playing had the boldness that fans cherish. I don’t know what he thinks about it, in retrospect and hopefully he wouldn’t argue with my perception. Now comes this brand-new record and we’ve decided to review the expanded version of the album. There are some quality portraits by Tom Beard. In one, Weller looks as though he is going to tear you limb from limb without batting an eyelid. But I’m not one to talk about being of stern visage..
Woo Se Mama pounds into earshot, with ominous descending chords – a Weller staple – and Paul sounds fired up. The Hammond warms up the ensemble sound which has distant echoes of Question Mark & The Mysterians. After a minute a sharp burst of guitar hits you in the forehead. It’s back briefly @ 2:20. This is Weller’s style of voodoo, riddled with percussion and cruising bass. Nova evokes the darkness of the soul, the closest our man will get to Lou Reed. Close listening makes me think this may be a nod to Bowie? Excellent song and this one really stays with you. He is paired with Steve Craddock on guitars but all sorts of cosmic wizard effects pepper the cut.
Long Long Road is a lowish-register ballad, straight out of a meadow. Weller can do this pastoral stuff pretty well by now and before long he is singing in Winwood style over a pretty cadence of strings ; She Moves With The Fayre plays with syncopation and quasi-funk guitar. It’s a love song of sorts but I can’t elicit much from the printed lyric. I’d like to think from the joyous – allowing for Englishness! – delivery that it somehow connects with the artist’s regards for the late Curtis Mayfield. A startling trumpet insert has a Donald Byrd tone. It’s Robert Wyatt ! This one a bit of a jigsaw puzzle. The Cranes Are Back is airy and unhurried and neat chorale singing. Weller seems to refer to the birds, not lifting machinery. Towards the end there is reference to the refugee crisis and the album title can be found at the close of this song. The backing is steady, minimal, a tad icy.
Hopper seems to celebrate the painter rather than the actor. It’s almost ragtime but the drumming is more martial. A rather curious tempo but what a great song! Weller sings it almost as a story, the grainy brass adding to the cityscape sound. Prodding piano almost points to this being a lost Style Council song.
New York sneaks up with its percussion overlay and once more the Bowie flavour is there in the vocal phrasing and the tune’s Bohemian lope. The bass runs are splendid, how tempting to slip into a Talking Heads vibe on this ! Street sounds add to the metropolis setting; One Tear is a winner from the outset, a spacey pulse under the cosmic debris of sound fragments and then a proclamatory vocal before the pulse solidifies amidst the arpeggio’d guitar. This selection sure sounds like an adventure of a song! It’s like Norman Whitfield hanging out with Magma. One you have to hear, dear readers….
Satellite Kid finds the artist casting himself as the outsider, over a swinging pattern. This one should be a single, it’s quite hypnotic. The Impossible Idea is an acoustic guitar-centred that sounds very fresh-air. I don’t understand a word of it! My loss, I guess…
Now the second CD of the three has instrumental versions on the lead disc tunes, in the same track order.
The third CD of the set brings us remixes, seemingly by a few young psychedelic outfits and others.Now this worked with that first great album by Temples, let’s see what we have here then…
Alpha is an unreleased song and starts Disc 3. It’s a heavy-sounding piece of electronica and the tempo is uncomfortable. Amid the dense pounding sound, harmonica and wah’d guitar slivers float in and out. Did anyone bring a song?
She Moves With The Fayre has mystic feel and is a Villagers Remix. He’s one bloke isn’t he? This ends up with a Matt Deighton touch; New York – Nightwatch has Prof.Kybert involved and sounds like a weird dream. I hope that’s the idea. For all that the strings sound fantastic.
Nova – Toy Remix is a bit jungly in their hands ; One Tear – Club Cut has Kybert back, sequencers used and it’s not bad..he must like ‘Low’ ! Hopper – White Label Remix doesn’t do the song any favours. Satellite Kid – Syd Arthur Remix is a bit of a gem, backwards sound stabs and all. Good use of reverbs, at least. She Moves With The Fayre – Breakdown Instr. is a cool trip, reminds me of The Beauty Room, an act worth investigating if you don’t know them. Then we are where we started with Woo Se Mama – E & TC Remix puts the whole number in a different setting and for me it worketh not.
Whilst I was never a Jam fan and am not a Weller obsessive, Paul has a place in music and the pleasing factor of not making the same album over and over. Some of his songs do really get to me – I do one Weller composition in one of my bands – and the enthusiasm of his fans is understandable. Whatever stage of his career they came aboard, his live performances are tempting to say the least. On this record, it does sound to me as though he was more influenced by Bowie than was evident before. There is perhaps a coldness about some of the song performances, but I think that is how he delivers his version of soul and the presence of so many accomplished players complements his own talent to maximum effect.
Paul Weller’s new studio album ‘A Kind Revolution’ is out now on standard CD, Deluxe Edition CD, Download & Vinyl on Parlophone.
In addition, Paul Weller will be touring the UK in February & March 2018. For more information you can read our announcement here: http://bit.ly/2oCwAfy
For artist info and tour dates, get yourself to http://paulweller.com/akr/