The ONLY book in the world solely dedicated to The Style Council is Mr. Cool's Dream. We've been reviewing a copy here at PWNews and, quite simply, we can't recommend it enough. The book has been a passion project by Iain Munn, who has been vigilant in carrying on the legacy of Paul Weller's post Jam project that often gets lost in the shadow of The Jam. But there can be no doubt! There are fans out there as passionate as those hard core Jam fans for what many still affectionately call, "probably the best pop group in the world!"
We were lucky to catch Iain amidst the frenzy of filling, packaging and sending out orders for the book and he was gracious enough to answer a few questions about the project.
I suppose the obvious question is, why did you decide to write a book about The Style Council? When did you become a fan?
I have been interested in The Style Council going back as far as my musical memory will take me. I was 13 in 1983, Long Hot Summer it was. I was also delighted to discover Dee C Lee on The Wham Fantastic album which my sister played continuously. Great LP that. I wasn't a Jam fan, I remember being in Austria with the school in 1986 and the guys were singing "Eton Rifles" after I'd brought the German import/special sleeve of "Walls Come Tumbling Down" in a local shop - you know I'd never heard "Eton Rifles" at that point. Not too difficult back in those days for entire bands and albums would pass you by. Though I did eventually move into their back catalogue, The Jam didn't do it for me, be it youth, lack of money, I don't know. I moved into Animal Nightlife, Working Week, Everything But The Girl and the little Jazz room they used to have in Virgin Megastores, behind a glass wall. All these £3 Blue Note samplers. Brilliant. I do find it strange when The Style Council are still battered in 2014, just for being The Style Council.
It is well documented but I wrote the book after starting to do free work for people in response to a letter published in Record Collector early 90's challenging them to a wrong article on the final TSC concert in July, 1989. From there, Dennis Munday was in touch and we worked on a few official releases - the live CD and the 1998 box set where he kindly secured the first recognised release of Mr Cool's Dream - if you could call jt that. It was a paper thin booklet, about 4,000 words. Very early, but grey potential. I know the guy who sold it on Ebay for £121. Sure he owes me a pint from that. In 2014 the words total 108,000 so its come a long way.
The last release of Mr. Cool's Dream was in 2008. What's new in this update?
To be honest everything. The look, the feel, the smell even. New & enhanced information too. It was a very easy option just to reprint the hardback, but every issue must evolve. I have many people who buy every release and for them you've got to do something different - and I am sure this has been achieved with this release. I actually pasted the hardback into 'notepad' to purposely lose all formatting & force me to revisit every single word. It is a 360 page heavyweight and every page is gloss (books normally have 8 with photos) so it honestly smells like one of those Next or Argos catalogues!
I also licenced The Style Council font, got permission for the first time from Polydor and Simon Halfon to reproduce the artwork and sleeves. Got lots of new forewords, including Hollywood star Martin Freeman, a massive Style Council fan. The format is now less of a diary too and centres around each release and key events, though none of the content is lost. The sleeve uses an image of all 4 for the 1st time. Not easy to get all of them together with permission to use it on a book sleeve, 1985 blazers, Levi's, the ultimate line up. It has had great reviews from the pre orders on its look and quality. Big thank you to W&G Baird in Belfast for an amazing printing service & meeting my many demands.
Do you, who many consider the authority on TSC, think there are more things to discover about the band?
Haha. Yes! I'm not the authority and I hate to think if I didn't start Mr Cool's Dream there still wouldn't be a book on The Style Council. They'd be dead and buried, the forgotten years for sure. I couldn't let that happen. Is there more to discover? Well, there's an interesting quote in the book I got from Paul in December there, I took it with a pinch of salt, but both he and I without saying anything directly that..... Erm, I guess, owning a studio back then ensured every day was a potential recording day and not just for dreaming or eating chips. Sadly, there isn't any drive coming from the record label towards The Style Council, and as Paul is successful as a solo musician, he doesn't need to be bothering about digging through tapes 30 years old.
I know release wise it is still the Jam who make the money, so for now, I guess, we wait. I was genuinely disappointed when I got a reply from Universal to say there were no plans for a deluxe edition of Cafe Blue - then a few weeks later the Jam vinyls were announced. I don't know what it costs to licence/create CD's but I'm positive any deluxe Style Council CD would make money for them. I wish I had the money to licence a release and I'm sure Mick, Steve and Dee can also contribute a lot of music. Mick alone must have hundreds of ditties & Hammond swirls on cassette. But they are all busy, still recording, still touring. I'm hoping they'll all knock on my door with a bag of tapes to sift through when the time is right. The book does touch on some unreleased songs mentioned by Tracey Thorn, Camille Hinds, the aborted sleeves, etc. Sorry, thats another long answer. I shoulda just said 'yes.'
How does it feel to see older editions often selling for hundreds of pounds on some resale sites?
Well as it stands today the 2014 paperback is showing at £152,000+ on Amazon. I kid you not. I've no idea why they do this, but yes the book has sold for over £100. Not to me though. It pleases me in that it will never be in your bargain bin for £1 or on Amazon marketplace for 1p with another 2,000 others.
Due to high costs I only ever print enough copies to last a year, then that's it. The 2014 paperback WILL sell out. The lucky 100 who pre-ordered with the numbered book and Kristyna Myles "Paris Match" CD should then see their £9 investment turn into a good profit. I hope no one sells the CD/Book combo. I did it in a way where they didn't have any idea there was a gift, so pre orders went to the fans who really wanted it - a full year before I released it. Kristyna's version of "The Paris Match" is stunning, and if there ever was a The Style Council charity re-union, then that is one special guest that should be on the bill.
Many will have to buy the book to know what page 5 challenge is, so let's not spoil it for them, but do you know anyone that's done it?
Yeah, spoil it, might make people buy it to participate. Page 5 challenge is something I thought of. I haven't seen it anywhere else. The idea is you bring your book to an event where a Style Councillor is performing and you get it signed by them. The challenge is to get all 4 signatures. Simple? No chance!
Living nearly 500 miles away from London it is extremely difficult for me and trips need to be made down south to secure the signatures. I know of only TWO hardback books with all 4 signatures - and you know what, Simon (we will call him that) only got Paul's signature in Belgium last week! He is kicking himself for not having the 2014 edition with him. The other one is mine. There are a few with 3 signatures. It was not easy. I got Steve at Trio Valore in Edinburgh in 2008, Paul at SECC Glasgow when I asked the SECC manager to tell Paul I was here (it worked!). Dee I got at the Deep MO gig. It was a funny one. There is a VIP room in Dingwalls guarded by security. I asked on 3 different occasions and he said no. I went up again and he said, you know what in you go, you seem to know what you want. Dee was brilliant that night and i've kept in touch with her since. Then as I was leaving, at the bar talking to Billy Chapman was Mick Talbot! Two signatures in one night. Book completed.
It's great to get emails from people delighted to get Steve's signature in Italy or Mick's in a little pub in London. If you approach politely and wait your turn, that is key! Then, I've never known a Councillor to say no.
There is a new challenge in the 2014 paperback. I am luck to already have Dee's. I will be meeting Steve at a Trio Valore gig this weekend and hope to meet Paul in Liverpool in July, which leaves a bit of negotiating to get Mick, but hopeful i'll have all 4 by end of 2014. I know Paul signed a book in Amsterdam so the challenge is well underway. The value of a book genuinely signed by all 4? Easily worth over £100. If you get 3 then contact me.....
Is that it? Been great to talk to you and I look forward to PWNews continuing to champion The Style Council in 2014.
HUGE thanks to Iain for taking the time and for his continued efforts to Keep The Torch Burning!
If you'd like to order an author signed copy of Mr. Cool's Dream directly from Iain, with a 22% discount, please follow and use the link below. He will ship it to you where ever you are in the world.
"Rise up now and declare yourself, an INTERNATIONALIST!
NOTE: When you get the book, be sure and check out page 225. Thanks Iain! Dave...