By Paul Weller
Like many of today's music buying public I'm too young to remember The Jam as they were but like so many others I have a few of the albums in my collection and I can hum the classics. I'm old enough to remember how bad The Style Council were (do you ever hear them played on the radio?) and like most my best knowledge of Grandad Weller stems from his solo career. So am I best placed to review a man who has such a fanatical following? Now they know my weak Weller heritage they will no doubt scoff in my face should I say a bad word against the bowl hair cutted mod man. But if you are in a similar position to me then this is for you.
NME claimed Weller had left his "blues rock cul-de-sac" with this album, but if he has he quickly meandered down Folk Rock Avenue and took a stroll on Background Music Terrace. From a man of such calibre it is quite disappointing to only have one stand out track from one, two, three, four listens. Said track is (the decidedly different to the rest) "Written in the stars" which quips nicely with its cute brass riff. But for the rest a rather straight acoustic strum-a-long mix takes over and although not unpleasant, there is little that makes you take note of the track number for repeat airing.
Weller sadly continues his association with Ocean Duller Scene to little effect, but the momentary highlight of the bleak "One X One" featuring Noel & Gem of some band called Oasis is a turn up. Real teeth grinding comes with the peoples rocker Kelly Jones on "Call me No5" which reduces Weller to a sort of Reload style Tom Jones duet.
For me, despite being more commercially minded, some of the PW's earlier solo efforts had more about them and ironically although this album seems to be a distinct move towards a newer (bleaker) direction it feels like the journey is only half complete.