Paul Weller (born John William Weller 25 May 1958), is an English
Starting with the very successful punk-rock band The Jam (1976-
1982), Weller then went on to branch out musically to a more
soulful style with The Style Council (1983-1989). In 1991 he re-
established himself as a successful solo artist,and continues to
remain a respected singer, lyricist and guitarist, a fact
reaffirmed by his recent awarding of the 2009 BRIT award for
'Best Male Solo Artist'. He has remained essentially a national
rather than an international star, which may be unsurprising
considering much of his songwriting is rooted in British culture.
He is also the principal figure of the 1970s Mod revival and is
often referred to as the Modfather.
Although The Jam emerged at the same time as punk rock bands such
as the Sex Pistols and The Clash, The Jam better fit the mould of
the so-called 'new wave' bands who came later. Also, being from
just outside of London rather than in it, they were never really
part of the tightly-knit punk clique.
Nonetheless, The Clash emerged as one of the leading early
advocates of the band, and were sufficiently impressed by The Jam
to take them along as the support act on their White Riot tour of
1977. The Jam went on to be far more successful in the singles
charts than The Clash in the UK.
The Jam's first single "In the City" took them into the UK Top 40
for the first time in May 1977. Although every subsequent single
had a placing within the Top 40, it would not be until the band
released "The Eton Rifles", with Weller's politically-charged
lyrics that they broke into the Top 10, hitting the No. 3 spot in
At the beginning of 1983, Weller collaborated with keyboard
player Mick Talbot to form a new group called The Style Council.
Weller brought in Steve White, who was 17 at the time, to play
drums, as well as vocalist Dee C. Lee who had previously been a
backing singer with Wham!
Free of the limited musical styles he felt imposed by The Jam,
under the collective of The Style Council, Weller was able to
experiment with a wide range of music, from pop and jazz to
soul/R&B, house and folk-styled ballads. The band was at the
vanguard of a jazz/pop revival that would continue with the
emergence of bands like Matt Bianco, Sade, and Everything But The
Girl, whose members Tracey Thorn and Ben Watt contributed vocals
and guitar to the 1984 Style Council song, "Paris Match".
Though Weller noted that many of the early audiences they were
playing to consisted of bemused Jam fans, as the band's
popularity grew they began to attract a new fanbase, including
females, which was at stark contrast to the general audience of
Jam gigs. Many of the early singles performed well in the charts,
and Weller experienced his first success in North America with
both "My Ever Changing Moods" and "You're The Best Thing"
entering the US Billboard Hot 100. In Australia they were far
more successful than The Jam having a number one in 1984 with
"Shout To The Top" and many other top 40 singles.
In 1989, Weller found himself for the first time since he was 17
without a band and without a recording deal. After taking time
off throughout 1990 to reconsider his musical direction, he
returned to the road in 1991, touring as 'The Paul Weller
Movement' with long-term drummer and friend Steve White. After a
slow start playing intimate venues with a mixture of Jam/Style
Council classics as well as showcasing new material such as "Into
Tomorrow", by the time of the release of his 1992 LP, Paul Weller
he had begun to re-establish himself as a leading British
singer/songwriter once more. This self-titled album saw a return
to a more jazz-guitar-focused sound, featuring samples and a funk
influence with shades of The Style Council sound. The album also
featured a new producer, Brendan Lynch. As well as rediscovering
his passion for guitar, tracks such as "Here's a New Thing" and
"That Spiritual Feeling" were marketed among the emerging Acid
Heavy Soul, the follow up to the million-selling Stanley Road saw
Weller twist his sound again. The album was more raw than its
predecessor; Weller was now frequently playing live in the studio
in as few takes as possible. The album stalled at number 2 in the
official UK charts, mainly because a limited edition was deemed
to have too many 'freebies' included to be chart-eligible. The
issue was that the images featured in the booklet of the main
release were separate in the limited version. This would also
include a small but often unrecognised use of Gil Scott-Heron's
"Lady Day & John Coltrane" on the track "Science". The first
single, "Peacock Suit", which continued in this hard-rock vein,
was the most successful released from the album, reaching #5 in
the UK Singles Chart.