RECOMMENDED RECORD: 66: Paul Weller (digital outlets)

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RECOMMENDED RECORD: 66: Paul Weller (digital outlets)

From time to time Elsewhere will single out a recent release we recommend on vinyl, like this reissue which comes in a gatefold sleeve (art by Sir Peter Blake) with an insert of lyrics and a large fold-out poster of the still handsome and dapper Paul Weller.

Check out Elsewhere's other Recommended Record picks . . .

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In the late Seventies I started buying every single by the Jam because, like the Beatles before them, they would have terrific B sides which often didn't appear on any album at the time. They were sometimes live covers or cracking nuggets like Dreams of Children, Tales From the Riverbank, Precious (the 12'' was great), Move On Up, War . . .

The Jam were a band I – as an adult, not some teenage fanboy – pledged allegiance to and their songwriter Paul Weller rarely disappointed, then or in his subsequent career.

Alongside Elvis Costello, Weller is one of few from the British post-punk era with a capacity for successful, repeated reinvention.

With the Jam (1976-1982) he initially tapped Mod culture but rapidly emerged as a refined social observer. In the Style Council (1983-1989) he embraced European cool, jazz, balmy moods and offered the self-analysis of My Ever-Changing Moods: “I'm caught up in a whirlwind and my ever-changing moods”.

His subsequent solo career has seen him frequently return to soul, folk, psychedelic rock, pastoral moods and on the song The Changingman in 1995 addressing his constant need to shake things up when they became too comfortable.

In a life notable for critical praise, his 2020 On Sunset (the title track a wistful reflection on time passing: “the world I knew has all gone by”) and Fat Pop Volume 1 (2021) were career highs.

On 66 – his 17th solo album -- Weller opens with Ship of Fools, a flute further softening his reflection (“These high seas can be so cruel/when you're trying to find your own way”), a mood picked up again in the philosophical Flying Fish: “A million stars/lift me up so far”.

Later in A Glimpse of You he sings, “I find a wooden seat where I can wait until the end of the world” and with I Woke Up he wonders aloud: “Within this realm of constant motion/I'm trying to find my role/in it all”.

Although this may sound like a retirement village soundtrack, the consistently interesting album also includes horn-driven rock (Jumble Queen), edgy guitar riffs (Soul Wandering where he considers what lies beyond life) and wah-wah soul (In Full Flight with “lately, I've been doubting it/not just one thing/but kind of all of it”).

There are also elegant dream-pop ballads in Nothing and the soulful Rise Up Singing, which recalls the Style Council.

On this pensive collection – with Noel Gallagher and Bobby Gillespie (both contributing lyrics), Madness' Suggs and others – the 66-year old changingman eloquently addresses aging in another of his ever-changing moods.

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You can hear this album at Spotify here

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