Paul Weller - vocals, guitar; Mick Talbot - vocals, piano, keyboards; Chris Bostock - bass; Billy Chapman - saxophone; Steve White - drums; Jane Williams - vocals; Pete Wilson - synthesizers, keyboards
Ahhhh… the sweet sound of commercial sabotage. Listening to the Style Council now, it's hard to believe that the smooth melodies and danceable rhythms were so divisive. But when Paul Weller broke up the Jam in 1982 to indulge his more soulful and jazzy inspirations, a whole generation of Mod revivalists were crushed.
Despite his diehard fans' confusion, essentially what Weller was doing when he teamed with keyboardist Mick Talbot was Mod in the truest sense: Thoroughly modern and steeped in American R&B and soul music. At its core, the music of the Style Council shares many similarities with that of the Jam. Weller's distinctive hooks and socially conscious lyricism remain intact, as well as his fine European sartorial sense, but the youthful aggression is replaced by a much cleaner presentation that, though arguably sometimes a bit too delicate or sterile, was certainly modern for its time.
Clearly the recent success of single "My Ever Changing Moods" in the States energized the Council for this New York appearance in 1984. Among the highlights is that song, as well as other upbeat numbers such as "Speak Like A Child," and lighter-sounding tracks like "The Whole Point of No Return," the spare arrangement of which contrasts with the scathing class commentary of its lyrics.
While the breathy saxophone and glossy synths may have been a bitter pill to swallow for the scooter and parka set, Paul Weller's prodigious talent cannot be denied. Despite somewhat dated arrangements, these are stellar pop songs, some which carry great intellectual weight. So, polish up your winklepickers, put on your thinking cap, and get ready for a night on the town with the Style Council.