Reviews

Long Hot Summers: The Story of the Style Council

Photo by Peter Anderson

In praise of The Style Council: Ian Wade reviews the new compilation

First up, let’s enjoy some context: The simple fact of the matter is that The Jam couldn’t last. Well maybe they could have, but the wheels would have long come off by the middle of the decade, the number ones would have dropped off, and a lowering of standards would’ve been par for the course as the audience and venues got more selective. That might have pleased the faithful, but you know that Paul Weller wouldn’t have the status or respect he has now if he’d milked it. That’s facts.

Dispensing of a band that meant so much at the height of their fame was a gamble, but also utterly punk. The Jam clocked up a staggering array of hits, including four number ones – three of which entered that position on their first week – something The Beatles only managed once. A band so significant that their entire catalogue re-charted after their demise, and one of the few to juggle imported releases clogging up the chart between the release of official numbers. If there’d been helplines for such a thing, there’d no doubt have been tales of weeping mods and soul boys dialling in to express their distress. That, even now, Weller gigs are populated by a small portion of balding feather-cutted gents bussed in from the hamlet of Modley Mod and underestimating the slimming powers of their Fred Perry tops, patiently letting Paul ‘get this weird experimental stuff out of his system’ while hoping for a run through of Jam toe-taps, shows the level of passion there still is out there. But there’s more chance of The Beatles reforming than The Jam. One more time for those at the back – it’s Not. Going. To. Happen.

So maybe that’s why The Style Council were considered not as ‘real’ or taken as seriously, which is a cobblers take, quite frankly. Maybe it was because Weller and cohort Mick Talbot – the organist who’d done time in Merton Parkas and Dexys – weren’t seen as taking it quite so 4 Real as some would’ve liked. Romping around stroking each other’s ears in videos, photoshoots with Boy George, looking a bit narked on Band Aid and out of place at Live Aid, making films such as Jerusalem (the wonky pop film that makes Pet Shop BoysIt Couldn’t Happen Here seem quite straightforward). However, they took it all very seriously. They were more political than The Jam – more insightful, angrier, artier, scathing, cosmopolitan, European and fun. No longer standing on the scaffolding because they were about shock and young adults, yet far more forthright in an era of Thatcherism, the Miner’s Strike and becoming the leading light in Red Wedge. The young idea was still very much in evidence, but rebooted to navigate the increasingly shinier and brasher waters of the eighties pop landscape. While they may not have had the chart-topping success of The Jam – the only top spot occupant was their magnificent 1985 album Our Favourite Shop – in some ways this relaxed worry-free agenda allowed the group to excel in roaming down more eclectic avenues.

It’s basically Paul Weller shedding the clumpy mantle of being a spokesman for a generation (man) and having a bit of a lark. Gallivanting around Paris with a sweater around his neck and refashioning himself as ‘The Cappuccino Kid’, tongue-in-cheek-ly observing the world like a hot situationalist puffing on countless Gauloise snouts from a table outside a café. Alongside Mick Talbot, the key line-up expanded to a quartet of Weller, Talbot, then-teenage drummer Steve White and ex-Wham! and Central Line songstress Dee C Lee – and the four of them roamed the charts and TV studios for the entire decade. The original plan was of featuring a rotating array of collaborators such as protégé Tracie Young, Everything But The Girl’s Tracey Thorn and Ben Watt, percussionist Steve Sidelnyk and members of London’s jazz, classical and funk scenes. Hell, even Lenny Henry crops up on Our Favourite Shop.

The new compilation is very much the story of The Style Council as the title suggests. It’s not a consecutive run through of just the singles. As tremendous as they are, they don’t fully explain the full gamut of what The Style Council offered; this is an anthology to showcase what made them quite so special. Co-compiled by Weller himself, there’s room for all the hits, selected B-sides (‘Ghosts of Dachau’, ‘The Piccadilly Trail’, ‘Sweet Loving Ways’, ‘Spin’ Drifting’), album tracks primarily from Introducing…, Café Bleu, Our Favourite Shop, alongside The Cost Of Loving and Confessions of A Pop Group (‘Down On The Seine’, ‘Boy Who Cried Wolf’, ‘Changing Of The Guard’ etc ), some of the one-offs from soundtracks (the full, glorious ‘Have You Ever Had It Blue’ from the Absolute Beginners soundtrack) and a couple of bonuses (a string-based demo of ‘My Ever Changing Moods’ and an extended ‘Dropping Bombs On The Whitehouse’). One could whinge at the absence of numbers such as ‘Internationalists’ or a myriad of other bits and bobs, but that’s the beauty and confounding nature – it’s a director’s cut that’s neither the full, FULL story nor a patronising trolley dash.

Shall we have a quibble? Interestingly, nothing is featured from the doomed Modernism:A New Decade, which basically invented 1990. A slightly odd decision seeing as various tracks from it have cropped up on other Style Council collections over the years. Maybe it’s a painful memory, or it could’ve shown those squares that the Weller we celebrate for being restlessly inventive now, was simply being… restlessly inventive? It is perhaps indicative of the eighties pop landscape that having started the decade on top of it, that by the end of it, Polydor was refusing to release the album.

Long Hot Summers is a heavy affair – not necessarily as in content, although there are various attempts to dismantle the system using the methods of light jazz, smooth funk and triumphant soul-pop. No, the vinyl is very heavyweight, and this triple disc package is enough to test even the fittest of postmen. As is the law these days, it was remastered at Abbey Road and, with the exception of the odd period-specific production quirk, it sounds as dateless and magnificent as their catalogue always did. Inspiring Acid Jazz acts, a new wave of sharply turned out mods and soul boys, reaching out past New York, Gstaad, Tokyo and Marble Arch, who opted to keep the fire burning. It’s a perfect representation – the ever-changing moods, if you will (ahem) – of one of the cheekiest, grooviest and, yes, stylish, outfits of the eighties.

Long Hot Summers: The Story of the Style Council is released today via UMC/Polydor. A new documentary of the same name will be shown at 9pm in the UK tomorrow evening on Sky Arts (this channel is now available on Freeview).

Compare prices and pre-order

The Style Council

Long Hot Summers - 3LP vinyl

Currency:

Compare prices and pre-order

The Style Council

Long Hot Summers - 2CD edition

Currency:

Long Hot Summers: The Story of The Style Council 2CD set

1. Headstart for Happiness
2. Long Hot Summer
3. My Ever-Changing Moods
4. Walls Come Tumbling Down!
5. Party Chambers
6. Wanted (or Waiter, There’s…)
7. Shout to the Top!
8. It Just Came to Pieces in My Hands
9. Come to Milton Keynes
10. Why I Went Missing
11. Waiting
12. Ghosts Of Dachau
13. Down in the Seine
14. The Paris Match
15. Boy Who Cried Wolf
16. Life at a Top People’s Health Farm
17. Homebreakers
18. Dropping Bombs On The Whitehouse (Extended version) *

CD 2
1. Speak Like a Child
2. The Lodgers (Or She Was Only…)
3. Money Go Round
4. You’re the Best Thing
5. How She Threw It All Away
6. A Man of Great Promise
7. The Piccadilly Trail
8. A Solid Bond in Your Heart
9. All Gone Away
10. Sweet Loving Ways
11. Promised Land
12. Have You Ever Had It Blue
13. It Didn’t Matter
14. Spin & Drifting
15. Here’s One That Got Away
16. A Woman’s Song
17. Changing of the Guard
18. My Ever-Changing Moods (Demo) *
19. Shout To The Top (Instrumental)

Long Hot Summers: The Story of The Style Council 3LP vinyl

LP 1
A1. Headstart for Happiness
A2. Long Hot Summer
A3. My Ever-Changing Moods
A4. Walls Come Tumbling Down!
A5. Party Chambers

B1. Wanted (or Waiter, There’s…)
B2. Shout to the Top!
B3. It Just Came to Pieces in My Hands
B4. Come to Milton Keynes
B5. Why I Went Missing
B6. Waiting

LP 2
A1. Ghosts Of Dachau
A2. Down in the Seine
A3. The Paris Match
A4. Life at a Top People’s Health Farm
A5. Dropping Bombs On The Whitehouse (Extended version)*

B1. Speak Like a Child
B2. The Lodgers (Or She Was Only…)
B3. Money Go Round
B4. You’re the Best Thing
B5. How She Threw It All Away

LP 3
A1. A Man of Great Promise
A2. The Piccadilly Trail
A3. A Solid Bond in Your Heart
A4. Sweet Loving Ways
A5. Promised Land
A6. It Didn’t Matter

B1. Have You Ever Had It Blue
B2. Spin’ Drifting
B3. Here’s One That Got Away
B4. Changing of the Guard
B5. My Ever-Changing Moods (Demo)*

46 responses to Long Hot Summers: The Story of the Style Council

  1. Mark Almond says:

    Thanks to the guys here who revealed the final track they sang on the documentary. I’ve just order the CD “Confessions..” just for that track. What a fantastic song. Always loved the music of TSC, enjoyed the documentary, and was so good to see all of them still get on. Just order the CD that goes with the docu and a few other CDs I missed when originally released.

  2. Stephen E Cohen says:

    It has been a very long time since I have posted anything here… But, when I saw this excellent review of the The Style Council, I had to break my silence. Very few artists mean as much to me as this band. To be honest, I was too young to be familiar with The Jam, so my TRUE introduction to Paul Weller was him cycling with Mick Talbot in the “My Ever Changing Moods” video. I bought the 45″ and found the instrumental b-side “Mick’s Company” just intriguing enough to buy the cassette, which was titled “My Ever Changing Moods” in North America. Geffen Records attempted to capitalize on TSC’s one and only Top 30 US single by replacing that beautiful French album title! In fact, the second full length album was titled “Internationalists” in North America, so I did not even realize that the track listings were different in Europe. I had never even heard the instrumental track “Our Favourite Shop” until bought the cd several years later. Living in a small town in Texas, The Style Council was my private little band that nobody knew. I learned about left-wing British politics with this band, even if I did not always understand or even agree with it. I was taught that racists are the weakest people of all – and I saw quite a bit of them in Texas. Hell, Paul Weller even taught me where Milton Keynes was! To me, TSC was not only about the music, but the lyrics that made me feel a just a little smarter for the first time in my life. While I adored and still do love the new wave bands that broke in the US, such as Culture Club, Duran Duran, and Spandau Ballet, no other band (with such a soft touch) was able to provide me with such a learning experience with every album and every song. “Come To Milton Keynes” remains one of my all-time favorite songs by any artist. When the state of world or my country gets me down, I still find “Head Start For Happiness” quite inspiring. I even found the album “Home and Abroad” fascinating – especially with the brilliant “Big Boss Groove” – and I usually hate live albums! Sadly, Geffen did not stick with TSC all the way, and most North American TSC supporters had to be patient, and wait a little while for “The Cost Of Loving” and the very underrated “Confessions of A Pop Group”. “Modernism: A New Decade” was not available for years here! However, when you are a fan of The Style Council living in America, you had to learn how to be patient. I am quite far along in life now, and I still got excited last year when I saw a MOJO magazine with Paul Weller on the cover in a gift shop at Manchester Airport. Maybe in that magazine there was yet another fact about TSC that I did not know? One would think that I would have followed the solo career of Paul Weller with the same passion, but I did not. He has had some beautiful solo songs, but I suppose I just wanted to remember the era of my teenage years (13-19), which coincided with almost the exact years of The Style Council’s existence. …and, of course, those great songs!

    • Electric Sydney says:

      Thank you Stephen for that most excellent synopsis. As an American also, the band helped me in my dreams of visiting Paris and London. They were a pretty cool band that no one knew about except me and my friend.

  3. Craig says:

    What was the song at the end of the documentary and what album is it from cheers

    • Shaun Lee Harris says:

      It’s A Very Deep Sea from Confessions of A Pop Group.

    • Simon Kelly says:

      ‘It’s a very deep sea’, from the Very Good ‘Confessions of a Pop Group’… a lot of good songs which are quite mixed up in ‘style’… some Classical ‘Piano Pieces’ from Mick which are ace! Worth checking out!

    • Rowly75 says:

      Nice little bonus of an underated classic at the end of a great documentary! Must have been weird for him to be signing with his ex missus after all these years though?!

  4. Kevin O says:

    My copies (I ordered both vinyl and CD editions) will be arriving mid-week, but now that I’ve seen scans online, I notice that, with exceptions, the LP track listing gives only the song titles, whereas the CD also includes information about the versions included. For example, the LP lists “Long Hot Summer”, while the CD lists “Long Hot Summer (Extended Version)”.

    Somewhat related to this, the LP lists “Dropping Bombs On The Whitehouse”, while the CD lists “Dropping Bombs On The Whitehouse (Extended Version)”—which is technically incorrect, since it’s not an extended version at all, but a completely different take.

    Oddly, both editions indicate that “Promised Land” is a “single edit”. There were 12-inch mixes issued (the “longer version”—designated “club mix” in the US—and “Joe Smooth’s Alternate Club Mix”), but no album version.

    And, technically, the CD edition incorrectly labels “Party Chambers” as “Early Version”. The first version to be issued was the vocal version on the B-side of “Speak Like a Child”; the instrumental version featured here was released two singles later, on the à Paris EP.

    Sadly, this lack of attention to detail is typical of TSC compilations. The closest Universal have gotten to getting it right is the Our Favourite Shop Deluxe Edition, which was marred only by the inclusion of the so-called “USA remix” of “Shout to the Top!”—the US edition, Internationalists, did not contain that mix, and neither did the Vision Quest soundtrack or the original CD edition of Our Favourite Shop. It first appeared on the 2000 reissue of Our Favourite Shop.

    On the other hand, for this compilation, they have included the proper version of “Shout to the Top!”

  5. NabobOfDub says:

    What a balanced and reasoned assessment which will truly jar with the purists. A fan viewpoint certainly, but no fanboying about it. And that’s why this is one of the few blogs and sites worth following and engaging with.

  6. kid992 says:

    I’d disagree on a few things what would have happened to The Jam can’t be described as facts, that’s a fact! All three tours in 1982 were brilliant they were far from done. I don’t think there has ever been a more overtly political number one than Going Underground(“you’ll see kidney machines replaced with rocket and guns”) and of course Eton Rifles that only David Cameron could not understand. I don’t think the Style Council were more political than The Jam they were forced to be more so(as a lot of people were) by Thatcher and then the Miners Strike and good on Weller for that. His place in the Pantheon of Pop is assured and I’ll forgive him the odd jazz doodling since. I think the advantage that the SC had over the Jam was they were evidently not punk so they could get on the likes of Wogan and play “Walls Come Tumbling Down”. They were the second best 80’s political soul band after The Redskins!

  7. Alan says:

    As Tears For Fears memorably sang, “Kick out The Style, bring back The Jam”, but fair enough, that was never going to happen and it’s probably best that it didn’t. I had no idea that “The Style” had seven UK top 10 hits over a space of five years and still reached the top 30 in 1989, the year they split. Presumably that was why Roland Orzabal felt safe singing that line as “The Style” had already kicked themselves out!

  8. Andrea says:

    I love Mr. Weller to bits, but I always found rather amusing that while he fancies himself as a rather smart, dapper dresser, as an Italian and by every canon of Italian fashion I can assure you that those white socks, with the calf-high short hem trousers are just something you don’t do, ever, under any circumstance, even under torture :)

  9. Kevin O says:

    (The Cappuccino Kid was Paolo Hewitt, though.)

  10. Phil says:

    I believe this is the first ever CD issue of the instrumental ‘Party Chambers’ : Great mews.

  11. Deanery says:

    I wouldn’t mind seeing what the vinyl/cd and packaging arrangement is with this. I’ve already got it all/whether I purchase will depend on the sound quality.

    I was oblivious to The Jam until after I discovered Style Council…..Speak Like a Child was cool but when I heard/saw Money-Go-Round I was floored/it was SO FUNKY! bought it all, I was hooked. Café Bleu seemed just alright but Internationalists/Favourite Shop also blew my mind….Boy Who Cried Wolf is now just a wear mark….It Didn’t Matter with it’s tinkling keyboard flourishes and great heavy bass….there are just so many great songs from these guys…..jazz/pop forever.

  12. Kevin O says:

    I was lukewarm on The Jam (probably because their second LP was my first exposure to them), but I was hugely into The Style Council. I was at Tower Records one afternoon in late 1983 while they were playing Introducing The Style Council; I don’t normally buy music I hear playing in the store, but this time I did. I bought all the album and all the 12-inch singles (until CD singles appeared), and saw them live twice (once in Osaka three weeks after Live Aid, and once in Tokyo on their final tour). Once they were history, I bought all the compilations and the box set. (I eventually had to scale back because of economics; nowadays I have just the core albums on CD, Singular Adventures…, Here’s Some That Got Away, and The Style Council Collection.

    Long Hot Summers appears to be a decent TSC compilation. Although it includes the single version of “The Lodgers” (I always preferred the LP version), the 7-inch version of “Money-Go-Round” (the 12-inch is essential), the single version of “Why I Went Missing” (the album version has a proper ending—why the fade out?), and the obligatory inclusion of “Waiting” (not a bad song, but it should never have been picked as a single over “Fairy Tales” or “Heavens Above” (which was a single in the US)), it DOES have the original versions of “Headstart for Happiness” and “The Paris Match”, a good choice of album tracks (e.g., “Homebreakers”, “Here’s One That Got Away”, and (finally!) decent cover art that doesn’t reference The Cost of Loving/JerUSAlem era. And, of course, Paul Weller himself was involved in this project.

    Really, though, the ideal compilation for me would contain all the singles, A sides AND B sides, in chronological sequence. It would also favor the 12-inch versions over the 7-inch versions, except in those instances where they were only available on 7-inch (“A Solid Bond in Your Heart”, “Who Will Buy”). It would also include the complete writings of The Cappuccino Kid, as those sleeve notes were an essential part of the TSC experience.

    And maybe for the hardcore TSC fan, Weller could finally answer the question, “Why are you called ‘The Style Council’?”

    • Kevin O. says:

      Argh. I have mixed up “Why I Went Missing” with “How She Threw It All Away”. Wouldn’t be the first time…

  13. John Barleycorn says:

    The omission of ‘Whole Point Of No Return’ from the compilation is a jarring one for me, simply wonderful.
    I will watch the documentary for sure.

  14. AndreasL says:

    Nearly went for the vinyl, but dropping Lodgers & Homebreakers, 2 of my favs, changed my mind.

  15. Derosa says:

    At the time of the Style Council project in the 80s, I was in high school and also exploring other types of music, and has just discovered Jazz. I was a fan of The Jam, but Paul’s decision to move on was right in line with my own musical journey as a fan. I bought everything The Style Council released on vinyl, just ignored the critics.

  16. Paul Kent says:

    Was that a cheeky nod to the late, lamented cornerstone of yoof TV, “Nozin’ Aroun'”, I spotted in your review, Ian?

    Plus, for the record, “Confessions Of A Pop Group” is one of the greatest albums ever made. Fact!

  17. Timm Davison says:

    Great review! In the last couple years I’ve been lucky enough to come across UK versions of ‘our favourite shop’ and various 12″ singles that went unreleased in the US. I’ll likely be picking this up for the random assortment of tunes I don’t already have on vinyl.

  18. Trash says:

    Excellent piece Ian.

    As someone who got into Weller via Our Favourite Shop, I rate The Style Council very highly.

    I met Weller at a exhibition at the Barbican just after the Style Council’s first single and being young (and stupid) while getting his autograph I mentioned that I never really liked the Jam that much to which he almost smiled (!!) and said “Yeah I was a bit serious in those days”.
    That really endeared me to him.
    A week later, when repeating the story to a friend, I got thumped by a mod who happened to be standing behind me and couldn’t believe that his beloved Weller could say such a thing about his Jam days.

    Favourite Style council album: Confessions – always loved the mix of pop, electronics, classical piano and strings. Just beautiful!

    Modernism isn’t as bad as some people think – he has definitely done worse albums (admittedly maybe only a couple).

  19. Michael McA says:

    I was head waiter at the Albany Hotel in Guernsey in 1982 and The Jam stayed at our hotel – think they must have had a gig there – and I remember very clearly Paul Weller asking for a separate breakfast table to Bruce and Rick. Remember too having great fun at lunchtime in the bar winding them up by turning the chart show (on the radio) off as they waited to hear what position their single (Bitterest Pill?) was at.
    Think it was by then dropping down the chart.
    Things were not good between them by then.

  20. Danny says:

    excellent – can’t help thinking a release at the start of the summer would’ve been more on the nail though..

    • Joe Smooth says:

      The long hot summer has passed us by.

    • Kevin O says:

      I was thinking that earlier today. That was one of the flaws with The Cost of Loving—it came out in February 1987 (or maybe January—I bought my copy of the CD in February here on the US West Coast). A mid-spring release, perhaps with “Fairy Tales” or “Heavens Above” as the lead single, might have been better. Unfortunately (although I like the song), they went with “It Didn’t Matter”—which had to have been what Q magazine had in mind when they used “Droney” as the headline for their review (which, of course, is the first thing I think of whenever that album title comes up).

  21. JayeCee77 says:

    Sky Arts are also showing the 2015 Jam documentary ‘About The Young Idea’ this weekend and highlights of Weller’s 2018 Royal Festival Hall gig tomorrow night; this evening (Fri 30th Oct) you can also catch The Jam Live at Rockpalast from 1980. Sky Arts is a great channel and well retuning your Freeview box for!

  22. phantomengineer says:

    Excellent piece Paul, which does a pretty good job of explaining the raison d’etre behind Mr Weller’s transition, as well as highlighting the nature of some his ‘current’ audience. The Jam were the first band who ‘spoke to me’, along with The Clash; the first band I saw, at age 16 on the All Mod Cons tour (still one of the best gis I’ve been to); and, despite my initial disappointment at the time of the break up of The Jam, the excitement for me of the advent of The Style Council, with their regular singles, and radio appearances, was almost another life changer. I followed TSC through to the end, and loved the ‘Promised Land’ single, but it was sort of inevitable they would come to an end. Saw Mr Weller last year, and had tickets for the 2020 tour, obviously now cancelled, and you’re right, there’s a proportion of his audience who don’t want to hear Saturns Patterns tracks, and are just there to sing-along to The Jam hits. At 62, he’s still putting out great stuff. The last 6 or 7 albums, after a minor dip by his own admission, have all been crackers, and he’s still putting out one-off, non-album singles regularly. Another essential purchase here then!!!

  23. Tom Walsh says:

    Quality piece Ian.Loved The Jam but also loved The Style Council. Life at a Top People’s Health Farm and Come To Milton Keynes are two singles that you never hear on the radio but which I’ve been playing a lot recently. They could have been prime Blur singles during the Britpop era.

  24. Kevin says:

    Very well written review of Paul’s first part of his solo years. Thank you Ian.

    I really enjoyed TSC’s albums although ‘The Cost of Loving’ was far from great.

    Their heyday was definitely 1983 – 1985. Although ‘Confessions of a Pop Group’ was a good last burst on the banjo.

    I am mightily pleased not to see any tracks from the excrement that was ‘Modernism – A New Decade’. The worst album that Weller ever out his name to. Decade? More like Dickhead. WTF was he thinking? No wonder fans at the last TSC gig tore their programmes up in disgust. Thankfully the Solo Years Part 2 was just around the corner.

    • Nigel Armitage says:

      I was at that Albert Hall gig. “Get yer guitar on!” people were shouting at Weller between the songs he wanted to play but few seemingly wanted to hear. He charts his own course, always has. He was wearing Bermuda shorts that night FFS!

  25. Quante says:

    Nice one Ian.

    I liked the story Ben Watt told of Pul Weller tracking him down on the phone at his student house in Hull. Imagine a life of yellow pages and phone directories as the only means to find businesses or peoples telephone numbers! I remember going through the phone book ringing many families called X (I can’t remember who, but thankfully not Smith) trying to find a friend.

    For a teenager, The Style Council were full of optimism and well….style. Chart music was full of great music that had nothing to do with the pop fodder of the day – Aztec Camera, Lloyd Cole and the Commotions, Prefab Sprout etc. I mention those three bands as they were on the last episode of Guy Garvey’s music from the vaults on Sky Arts. Paddy MacAloon busking at Grey’s Monument in Newcastle was great. An earlier episode had unseen footage of The Style Council on The Tube. What a good time it was to grow up enjoying music.

  26. andrew r says:

    Very perceptive article on a man who deserves to be up there with lennon mccartney and ray davies in terms of songwriting and on a par with bowie for restless reinvention.
    Cool in every sense and has never sold out his values or his class. Ordered!

  27. Fady says:

    What a fantastic review. Agree that Our Favourite Shop is a superb album with Boy Who Cried Wolf up there with one of the greatest songs ever written.

  28. Auntie Sabrina says:

    Sky Arts is on Freeview Channel 11.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *