The Style Council

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The Style Council
The Style Council.jpg
Mick Talbot and Paul Weller, 1988
Background information
OriginWoking, England, United Kingdom
Genres
Years active1983–1989
Labels
Past membersPaul Weller
Mick Talbot
Dee C. Lee
Steve White

The Style Council were a British band formed in late 1982 by Paul Weller, the former singer, songwriter and guitarist with the punk rock/new wave/mod revival band the Jam, and keyboardist Mick Talbot, previously a member of Dexys Midnight Runners, the Bureau and the Merton Parkas.[5] The band enabled Weller to take his music in a more soulful direction.[6]

The permanent line-up grew to include drummer Steve White and Weller's then-girlfriend, vocalist Dee C. Lee.[7] Other artists such as Tracie Young, Tracey Thorn (Everything but the Girl), and drummer/percussionist Steve Sidelnyk[8][9] (who has played for Madonna, Seal, Richard Ashcroft[10]) also performed and collaborated with the group. As with Weller's previous band, most of the London-based group's hits were in their homeland, where they scored seven top 10 hits.[7] The band also had hit singles and albums in Australia and New Zealand during the 1980s.[11]

History[edit]

Formation and early releases[edit]

The band was founded in late 1982 by Paul Weller and initially consisted only of himself and Mick Talbot, who Weller said he chose because "he shares my hatred of the rock myth and the rock culture".[12] The band showed a diversity of musical styles. Singles "Speak Like a Child" (with its loud soul-influenced style), the extended funk of "Money-Go-Round", and the synth-ballad "Long Hot Summer" all featured Talbot on keyboards and organ, and reached number 4, number 11 and number 3 respectively on the UK Singles Chart.[13] Near the end of 1983, these songs were compiled on Introducing The Style Council, a mini-album initially released in Japan, the Netherlands, Canada and the US only. The Dutch version was heavily imported to the United Kingdom. In November 1983 the single "A Solid Bond in Your Heart" reached number 11 on the UK singles chart.[13]

Café Bleu[edit]

In February 1984 the single "My Ever Changing Moods" became their third Top 10 hit on the UK Singles Chart, peaking at number 5. The debut album Café Bleu, released a month later, entered the UK Albums Chart at number 2. A mixture of many styles including jazz, soul, pop and funk, featuring guest vocalists and not including any of the previous singles (except a different version of "My Ever Changing Moods") it left some fans confused and critics divided.[14] Still, the album spent 36 weeks on the chart and was followed by two further Top 10 singles, "You're the Best Thing" in May and "Shout to the Top" in October.[13]

In 1984, the band undertook a brief tour of the United States, during which they played two gigs at the Savoy in New York at the beginning of May.[15][16] This led to modest chart success with the single "My Ever Changing Moods",[a] which reached No. 29 on the Billboard Hot 100 the following month. The song remains Weller's greatest success in the US, including his period with the Jam and also as a solo artist.

Our Favourite Shop[edit]

In the UK, the group reached the height of its popularity with the release of Our Favourite Shop, which entered the UK album chart at number 1 immediately following its release in June 1985 (only to be supplanted by Bryan Ferry's Boys and Girls a week later).[18][19] It notched up a total of 13 weeks in the top 40 (including a re-entry in October), of which three weeks were spent in the top 10.[20] The preceding single "Walls Come Tumbling Down" reached number 6 on the singles chart, while "Come to Milton Keynes" and "The Lodgers" reached number 23 and 13 respectively.[13] A fourth single "Boy Who Cried Wolf" was released in the US and was a chart hit in New Zealand.[21] In 2015, Our Favourite Shop was included in a list of 50 albums released in 1985 which, according to the NME, "still sound great today".[22]

Together with "You're the Best Thing" (from Café Bleu) and "The Big Boss Groove", two songs from the album – "Internationalists" and "Walls Come Tumbling Down" – were played by the band at the UK Live Aid concert,[23] where they appeared second in the running order at Wembley Stadium between Status Quo and the Boomtown Rats.[24] The international exposure, however, did little to boost the group's career, and future commercial success was largely confined to their home country.[25]

Further albums[edit]

Following the live album Home and Abroad in 1986 the band released the album The Cost of Loving to mixed reviews in 1987. It reached number 2 on the albums chart. The single from the album, "It Didn't Matter" reached number 9 on the singles chart.[13]

Commercial and critical decline[edit]

From this point the band however had started to experience a critical and commercial decline. In 1988 Confessions of a Pop Group became the first of their albums that failed to reach the top 10. It entered the albums chart at number 15 and dropped out of the chart a few weeks later. The singles "Life at a Top People's Health Farm" and "How She Threw It All Away" also made brief chart appearances, peaking at number 28 and 41 respectively.[13]

In 1989, members of The Style Council went under the name of King Truman to release a single on Acid Jazz titled "Like a Gun". This was unknown to Polydor, and the single was pulled from the shops three days prior to release. Acid Jazz founder Eddie Piller said: "The pair offered to make a single for my new label, which I'd just started with Radio 1 DJ Gilles Peterson as a side project. Talbot and Weller took pseudonyms Truman King and Elliott Arnold."[26]

The Style Council split in 1989. About the break-up, Paul Weller said (in 1990):

It's something we should have done two or three years ago. We created some great music in our time, the effects of which won't be appreciated for some time.[27]

The cover version of "Promised Land" (originally by Joe Smooth) was the only release which surfaced from the Modernism sessions at the time; however, the entire album was released in 1998, both independently and in a 5-CD box set, The Complete Adventures of The Style Council. After the split, Weller embarked on a successful solo career (which featured Steve White on drums, who had left the Style Council by the time Confessions of a Pop Group was released, having only played on a few[vague] of its tracks). Talbot and White released two albums as Talbot/White—United States of Mind (1995) and Off the Beaten Track (1996). Talbot and White then formed the Players with Damon Minchella and Aziz Ibrahim. White and Minchella went on to form Trio Valore whilst Talbot went touring with Candi Staton in 2009.

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

In 1990, the band reunited (without Lee) for a one-off performance on Japanese TV.[28]

2019 reunion[edit]

Weller, Talbot, Lee and White met for a recording session of "It's a Very Deep Sea" in August 2019. The session was featured in the 2020 Sky Arts documentary Long Hot Summers: The Story of the Style Council, and a career-spanning audio compilation of the same name was released.

Politics[edit]

In December 1984, Weller put together an ensemble called The Council Collective to make a charity record, "Soul Deep", initially to raise money for striking miners during a long-running industrial dispute, and subsequently also for the family of David Wilkie. The track featured the Style Council and a number of other performers, notably Jimmy Ruffin[29] and Junior Giscombe. In spite of, or perhaps due to, the song's political content, it received airplay on BBC Radio 1 and was performed by the group on Top of the Pops,[30] as well as (live) on Channel 4's The Tube.[31]

In their lyrics, the Style Council took a more overtly political approach than the Jam, with tracks such as "Walls Come Tumbling Down!", "The Lodgers" and "Come to Milton Keynes" being deliberate attacks on 'middle England' and the Thatcherite policies of the UK government during the 1980s. In 1985, Weller was persuaded by Billy Bragg to let the Style Council play a leading role in Red Wedge, a youth-orientated political campaign associated with the British Labour Party. Although his views at the time have since been described as those of a "traditional British socialist", in 2014 Weller admitted the experience had left him feeling "exploited" by politicians, noting further that: "Before the Wedge, the Style Council had done a lot independently, raised a lot of money in benefits. But after the Wedge we were so disillusioned it all stopped. We were totally cynical about all of it."[32] In a previous interview, whilst asserting that there was still "a place for outspokenness" in popular music, Weller had pointed out he was "first and foremost" a musician, and stated: "In the '80s, in the Style Council, 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."[33]

Discography[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ The B-side comprised "Mick's Company", an instrumental from Café Bleu featuring Mick Talbot playing a Hammond organ.[17]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Dye, David (13 February 2007). "Paul Weller: A Britpop Titan Lives On". NPR. Retrieved 29 August 2020.
  2. ^ "Sophisti-Pop Music Genre Overview". AllMusic. Retrieved 13 October 2021.
  3. ^ Gaudiosi, Jeff (12 June 2020). "Paul Weller Discusses 'On Sunset' and the Post-Pandemic World". PopMatters. Retrieved 29 August 2020.
  4. ^ Biography by Stephen Thomas Erlewine. "The Style Council | Biography & History "...'80s soul and new wave pop"". AllMusic. Retrieved 21 October 2016.
  5. ^ "The Style Council". discogs. Retrieved 12 December 2012.
  6. ^ Naughton, Pete (5 December 2015). "Paul Weller, Eventim Apollo: 'the modfather remains a dynamic force'". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 6 February 2016.
  7. ^ a b Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 537. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
  8. ^ "The Style Council - The Cost of Loving". Discogs. Retrieved 15 September 2017.
  9. ^ Manu Guinarte (3 May 2014), THE STYLE COUNCIL LIVE - Far East & Far Out (VHS), retrieved 15 September 2017[dead YouTube link]
  10. ^ "Steve Sidelnyk | Credits | AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 15 September 2017.
  11. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992. St Ives, NSW: Australian Chart Book. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  12. ^ "Paul Weller Returns with Style Council". Record. 2 (8): 1. June 1983.
  13. ^ a b c d e f Style Council Official Charts
  14. ^ Steve Malins Paul Weller. The unauthorised biography Virgin Books 1997, p. 127–128
  15. ^ Palmer, Robert (16 May 1984). "The Pop Life – Style Council's Rhythm-and-Blues". The New York Times. p. C22. Archived from the original on 24 May 2015. Retrieved 31 March 2020.
  16. ^ "The Style Council Setlist at The Savoy, New York – 11 May 1984". setlist.fm. Archived from the original on 1 April 2020. Retrieved 1 April 2020.
  17. ^ "The Style Council – My Ever Changing Moods (US Version)". Discogs. Retrieved 1 April 2020.
  18. ^ "Official Albums Chart Top 100, 02 June 1985 – 08 June 1985". UK Official Charts. Archived from the original on 17 February 2018. Retrieved 3 April 2020.
  19. ^ "Official Albums Chart Top 100, 09 June 1985 – 15 June 1985". UK Official Charts. Archived from the original on 17 February 2018. Retrieved 3 April 2020.
  20. ^ "Our Favourite Shop". UK Official Charts. Archived from the original on 10 November 2019. Retrieved 31 March 2020.
  21. ^ Steffen Hung. "New Zealand charts portal". charts.nz.
  22. ^ Barker, Emily (13 February 2015). "50 Albums Released In 1985 That Still Sound Great Today". NME. Archived from the original on 27 October 2016. Retrieved 31 March 2020.
  23. ^ "The Style Council Setlist at Wembley Stadium, London – 13 July 1985". setlist.fm. Archived from the original on 3 April 2020. Retrieved 3 April 2020.
  24. ^ "LIVE AID 1985: How it all happened". BBC. Archived from the original on 1 June 2015. Retrieved 31 March 2020.
  25. ^ "Five other Live Aid stories". The Telegraph. 9 February 2011. Archived from the original on 13 February 2011. Retrieved 31 March 2020.
  26. ^ Paulwellerbook.com Archived 18 December 2014 at the Wayback Machine
  27. ^ Tobler, John (1992). NME Rock 'N' Roll Years. London: Hamlyn. p. 468. ISBN 0600576027.
  28. ^ "The Style Council - Sure is Sure". Youtube. Retrieved 21 January 2022.
  29. ^ Sweeting, Adam (20 November 2014). "Jimmy Ruffin Obituary". The Guardian. London. Archived from the original on 21 November 2014. Retrieved 2 April 2020.
  30. ^ "20/12/1984". Top of the Pops. 20 December 1984. BBC One. Retrieved 2 April 2020.
  31. ^ "Paul Weller: A Life in Photographs". The Guardian. London. 27 March 2010. Archived from the original on 2 April 2020. Retrieved 2 April 2020.
  32. ^ Snow, Mat (16 April 2014). "Paul Weller: 'Most people dislike me anyway … it can only get better'". The Guardian. London. Archived from the original on 8 January 2015. Retrieved 2 April 2020.
  33. ^ Dickie, Mary (15 February 2003). "Illuminating Weller". Jam!. Archived from the original on 15 January 2013. Retrieved 2 April 2020.
General
  • Munn, Iain (2006). Mr. Cool's Dream. The Complete History of the Style Council. Wholepoint Publications. ISBN 0-9551443-0-2.

External links[edit]