Wednesday, March 5, 2008

The Style Council

Shout To The Top

Walls come tumbling down

The Style Council was an English musical group formed in 1983 by ex-The Jam singer and guitarist Paul Weller with keyboardist Mick Talbot. Both Weller and Talbot had played a significant part in the Mod Revival. The first couple of singles featured drummer Zeke Manyeka. The Style Council also featured a singer called Tracie Young who had solo hits with "The House That Jack Built" and "Give It Some Emotion" on Weller's Respond label. Young can be heard providing emotive and solid backing vocals on "Boy Who Cried Wolf" (1984). The U.S. release of "My Ever Changing Moods" included Tracey Thorn of Everything But The Girl singing the Weller composition "Paris Match." The permanent lineup grew to include drummer Steve White and Weller's then-wife, vocalist Dee C. Lee. Other musicians, including a horn section, were brought in as required.

The band's early singles showed a diversity of musical styles. Speak Like a Child (with its loud soul-influenced style), the extended funk of Money-Go-Round and the haunting synth-ballad Long Hot Summer all featured Talbot on keyboards and organ. These singles were compiled on "Introducing The Style Council" towards the end of 1983. This was a mini-album released in Holland and Japan. The Dutch version was heavily imported to the UK.

In 1984, the single "My Ever-Changing Moods" B/W the Hammond Organ instrumental "Mick's Company" reached #29 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the United States, remaining to this day Weller's greatest success on the American charts, while the group reached the peak of their success in the UK with the 1985 album Our Favourite Shop.

However, to Weller's fans, the decision to split up The Jam at the height of their commercial success was met with considerable controversy. Weller deliberately distanced himself from The Jam's sound and style, with his use of new musical arrangements and instruments in a much slicker, more heavily produced style. In the place of the Bruce Foxton-Rick Buckler rhythm section were drum and bass parts done entirely on synthesisers. Along with this, the band's early persona - the donning of make-up and New Romantic-style clothing, coupled with mysterious album sleeve notes by "The Cappuccino Kid" (a pseudonym for Paolo Hewitt, biographer of The Jam and friend of Weller), the use of French lyrics and themes (reflected in the titles of their third single, the 1983 À Paris EP, which saw the duo posing in front of the Eiffel Tower, and their debut full-length LP, 1983's Café Bleu), dabblings in rap and, later, dance music, and the homoerotic imagery in the video for the single "Long Hot Summer", only served to further confuse and alienate loyal Jam fans. Structurally, many of the band's early singles were not far removed from The Jam's latter-day soul-pop efforts such as "Town Called Malice" and "Beat Surrender", but they were often criticised as overproduced, despite Weller's impressive songwriting. Moreover, many observers saw even the early albums as indulgent and overly experimental; Trouser Press called Café Bleu "too schizophrenic to be a good album".

The criticism only grew as the band's career wore on, and Weller's star status in the UK plunged.
The Style Council took a more overtly political approach than The Jam in their lyrics, with tracks such as "Walls Come Tumbling Down", "The Lodgers", and "Come To Milton Keynes" being deliberate attacks on "Middle England" and the Thatcherite principles which were prevalent in the 1980s. Weller was also instrumental in the formation of Red Wedge with Billy Bragg. However, he has more recently expressed that this began to detract from the music - "We were involved with a lot of political things going on at that time. I think after a while that overshadowed the music a bit".

In 1986 the band released a live album, Home and Abroad, and in 1987 the album The Cost of Loving was launched, followed later in the year by the upbeat single "Wanted (Or Waiter There's Some Soup In My Flies)". However, by the time "Confessions of a Pop Group" was released a year later, the group's popularity had largely evaporated.

The Style Council broke up after recording a house album, Modernism: A New Decade that was rejected by their record label. Weller moved on to a more commercially successful solo career (still featuring Steve White on drums) while Talbot and White released two albums as Talbot/White -- United States of Mind (1995) and Off the Beaten Track (1996). More recently Mick and Steve have formed "The Players" with Damon Minchella (Ocean Colour Scene/Paul Weller) and Aziz Ibrahim (Ian Brown).

All of the Style Council's United Kingdom releases (including singles, 12" maxis, albums, compact discs and re-issues thereof) featured the work of graphic designer Simon Halfon (often working with Weller and honing his ideas into a graphic). Weller and Halfon began working together at the end of the Jam's career, and continue to work together to this day on Weller's solo material.

Music videos
Speak Like a Child
Money Go Round
Long Hot Summer
Boy Who Cried Wolf
Solid Bond In Your Heart
My Ever Changing Moods
You're the Best Thing
Big Boss Groove
Shout to the Top
Walls Come Tumbling Down
Come to Milton Keynes
The Lodgers
Have You Ever Had It Blue?
It Didn't Matter
Life At A Top Peoples Health Farm
How She Threw it All Away
Promised Land

Introducing The Style Council (1983) - A mini-LP initially released only in the U.S., Holland, and Japan.
Café Bleu (1984) UK #2
My Ever Changing Moods (1984) - was a variation on the "Cafe Bleu" album released in North America by Geffen Records US #56
Our Favourite Shop (1985) UK #1
Internationalists (1985) - the North American version of "Our Favourite Shop", again released by Geffen US # 123
Home and Abroad (1986) UK #8
The Cost of Loving (1987) UK #2, US #122
Confessions of a Pop Group (1988) UK #15, US #174
Modernism: A New Decade (1989) (unreleased until 1998)

1983 "Speak Like a Child / Party Chambers" - #4 UK
1983 "Money Go Round (Part 1) / Money Go Round (Part 2)" - #11 UK
1983 "A Paris EP (Long Hot Summer / Party Chambers / Paris Match / Le Depart)" - #3 UK
1983 "Money Go Round (Part 1) / Headstart For Happiness"(re-entry) - #74 UK
1983 "Solid Bond In Your Heart / It Just Came To Pieces In My Hands" - #11 UK
1984 "My Ever Changing Moods / Spring, Summer, Autumn / Mick's Company" - #5 UK
1984 "Groovin' EP (You're The Best Thing / Big Boss Groove)" - #5 UK
1984 "Shout to The Top! / Shout To The Top (instrumental) / The Piccadilly Trail / Ghosts Of Dachau" - #7 UK
1985 "Walls Come Tumbling Down / Spin Driftin' / The Whole Point II / Bloodsports" - #6 UK
1985 "Come to Milton Keynes / Our Favorite Shop (club mix) / (When You) Call Me / The Lodgers (club mix)" - #23 UK
1985 "The Lodgers / Big Boss Groove (live) / Move On Up (live) / You're The Best Thing (live) / Money Go Round (live)Soul Deep (live) / Strength Of Your Nature (live)" - #13 UK
1986 "Have You Ever Had It Blue / Mr. Cool's Dream" - #14 UK
1987 "It Didn't Matter / All Year Round" - #9 UK
1987 "Waiting / Francoise / Francoise (Theme From Jerusalem) / Waiting (instrumental)" - #52 UK
1987 "Wanted / The Cost / The Cost of Loving" - #20 UK
1988 "Life At A Top People's Health Farm / Sweet Loving" - #28 UK
1988 "How She Threw It All Away / Love For The First Time / Long Hot Summer (89 mix) / I Do Like To Be B-Side The A-Side" - #41 UK
1989 "Promised Land / Can You Still Love Me?" - #27 UK
1989 "Long Hot Summer 89 (re-mix) / Everybody's On The Run?" - #48 UK

External links
The Complete History of The Style Council

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