Skip to main content

The Quietus Reviews Paul Weller's "Wake Up The Nation"

Paul Weller
Wake Up The Nation
Steve Jelbert , April 27th, 2010 07:49
The Quietus


Psychedelia never dies, and seeing as really it's a polite signifier of music that evokes the kind of drug experience that can't really be fitted in around a busy work schedule it never will. But it does shift, and right now a woozy wave of, er, chillwave has taken over from the wobbly Wilson lovers most recently been labelled thus. But there are still classicists out there, clinging to backwards guitars and unexpected brass stabs just like they did back when acid was still legal and adults wanted to be children rather than the other way round. Even now I'm surprised as how effective the underrated Aliens are when they pop up suddenly on my iPod, jumbling up generations of lose-yourself music.

Weller's new album does something similar, heading backwards in time and sounding all the better for it. 2008's sprawling 22 Dreams, also produced by Simon Dine, was over-praised, largely for its ambition rather any musical success. To borrow Samuel Johnson's opinion of lady preachers, it wasn't done well, but it was surprising to find it done at all. But Wake Up The Nation, lurid mod title aside, is a very different proposition. For a start it's mad, properly mad. I never thought I'd ever find the shared credits of Weller and Foxton again, let alone bolstered with a contribution by Kevin Shields. If Wellah wills it, it will happen. He wants that gleeful thump that powered all those old ELO records? Just enlist their aged Thatcherist drummer Bev Bevan. Hell, Clem Cattini drums on this record (doubtless still sore over being depicted by James Fucking Corden in odd movie Telstar) and he was knocking on when the Yardbirds were London's hottest new act.

Surely the only British musician whose name could be attached to a police sting (“Operation Paul Weller' has just the right ring, don't you think?), Wellah has ditched the dozy rural Traffic-isms that intermittently plague all his solo records and plugged straight into electric 1966. Alright, there are drum loops and the sort of random white noise that could be deliberate, or could be down to the failing hearing of an aging rock star. But at heart this snappy record- forty minutes, sixteen tunes- is both tribute and addition to a historic style. Underneath Weller's characteristically terse grunts are lush Beatles tributes played by men old enough to dissect effortlessly the songs they've loved the longest.

So the title track or the ponderous 'Moonshine' or the grinding 'Find the Torch, Burn the Plans' don't hold surprises but they are strangely alive. Genuinely odd is the sprawling, crudely edited 'Trees', his imagined tales of the past lives of the other patients in the residential home where he watched his father decline and die. It's clumsy, barely listenable really, but inescapably touching nonetheless. Plainer fare is provided by the sharp and grumpy 'Fast Car/Slow Traffic' that features Foxton (whose Porsche is up for sale on Auto Trader right now, incidentally), while 'Aim High' proves that Weller has yet to, and may never, truly master the soul ballad. But he certainly sounds like he's having fun trying.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Steve White On The Passing of John Weller...

It wasn't unexpected to get the news that John Weller had passed away , it was a beautiful sunny morning in fact , but the news still stung even though the anticipation existed .

I finished work today , a day peppered by texts and calls , I missed the call that mattered but made ammends and spoke to the one person I needed to speak to , I raised a glass at dinner and reminisced with my beautiful partner of days of travel and nights of glory that followed , and after a little to much wine the drowsiness lifted and the harsh reality that someone very special had passed hit me , I wanted to say that , with my emotions bubbling very much to the surface , I wanted to remember those decades and shows and nights that we all spent together , indestructible , laughing and making the music of our dreams , wide eyed vagabonds not quite believing .

I remember the day on arriving back from Sydney, John telling me it was all over and he had enough of "this lark" , that was 24 odd years …

John Weller Obituary From The Independent...

For thirty years, John Weller managed the career of his son Paul, through the salad days and success of The Jam in the Seventies and early Eighties, the ups and downs of The Style Council and Paul’s re-emergence as a solo artist in the Nineties. Theirs was a unique father-son relationship in the music industry, built on John’s unwavering belief in Paul’s talent and shared values like hard work and pragmatism.

John could be blunt, and once refused to have lunch in a record company’s executive dining room, remarking to the managing director: “I didn’t come here to eat, I came to do business.” But his bark was worse than his bite.

John’s success was all the more remarkable since he started in his forties after years working in factories, on building sites and driving a taxi. When The Jam signed to Polydor in February 1977, for a £6,000 advance and a six per cent royalty rate, John admitted he didn’t have a bank account and asked for cash instead of a cheque. A&R man Chris Parry duly we…

Paul Weller's Son, Natt Gives A Candid Taxi Interview

Where else to meet the musician son of the agelessly groovy Modfather but at London’s trendy Met Bar? And there’s more than a hint of moody Mod style about the Japanese parka that Paul Weller’s eldest child Natt has slung over his Vivienne Westwood top.

Yet there all similarity ends, for singer-guitarist Natt has inherited the exotic beauty of his mother – former Wham! and Style Council backing singer Dee C Lee – rather than the famously angular features of his father.

‘Everybody always goes, “Luckily he took after his mum…”’ laughs Natt, whose mother is from France and St Lucia and whose great-great grandma was Japanese. Hence Natt’s fascination for Japan, where he moved in 2006 for a year to learn the language.

To pay for his studies, he modelled and deejayed, ‘I felt like an outsized monster,’ confides Natt, 21, a 6ft 1in beanpole. He returned a fan of Japan’s popular culture – from manga cartoons to punk-goth music – and with a different spelling to his name, which now features two ‘…