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THE STYLE COUNCIL SINGLES (18 & 19)

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R-789761-1241507545.jpegR-537616-1294627425.jpegI don’t own any of the final two TSC singles that were released in 1989. What I have done is fish around other sites for various tracks and convert them to mp3s to wrap things up. But I can’t make the claim that they are from the 7″, 12″ or CD singles. What I can provide is factual info and a wee bit of commentary.

It was February 1989 when the 18th single was released.

It was a cover.

 

 

Not only was it a cover, but it was a cover of a house tune and The Style Council sounded like they’d never sounded before, especially on the extended mixes.

Promised Land was the work of Joe Smooth, a Chicago-based songwriter. It had been a minor hit under his name (although the vocal was delivered by Anthony Thomas, another member of the Chicago house scene) but had made such an impact on Paul Weller that he wanted to issue his own version.

mp3 : The Style Council – Promised Land (7″ version)

It was a hit in the clubs and of course there were still TSC fans who would buy the records, all of which helped it reach #27 in the singles chart and an appearance on Top of The Pops. The b-side and the alternative mixes are totally different from anything else that has appeared beforehand in this series:-

mp3 : The Style Council – Promised Land (12″ mix)
mp3 : The Style Council – Promised Land (Joe Smooth’s Alternate Club Mix)
mp3 : The Style Council – Can You Still Love Me (Club Vocal)
mp3 : The Style Council – Can You Still Love Me? (12 O’Clock Dub)

And here’s the original:-

mp3 : Joe Smooth – Promised Land

Promised Land is hugely popular among many fans of the band and I can see why given just how different it is from anything else they ever did.  It also introduced them to a new and more diverse audience, those from the dance/club scene.  And there’s no denying that the tunes provide an uplifting and very happy few minutes, akin at times to New Order, especially via the 12″ version and club versions.

The following month saw the release of The Singular Adventures Of The Style Council (Volume 1) which, as these things invariably do, became a bit of a success story with a Top 3 appearance in the album charts. In order to maintain the momentum, the label re-released the best known song in a re-mixed format, together with a new b-side. Given that it was only a few years after the original (and that it’s a far inferior version), it’s no surprise that it didn’t light up the charts, stalling at #48.  What’s an ever bigger insult however to fans, is that the mix is identical to that which had been made available less than a year earlier on the 1234 EP

The b-side, was another house tune and was rumoured to be typical of the material that the band, thoroughly determined to quash those break-up rumours of late 1988, were working up for a new album.

mp3 : The Style Council – Everybody’s On The Run

In July 1989, on the back of the success of the greatest hits chart success, the band announced a one-off gig at the Royal Albert Hall in London. Fans snapped up tickets eager to hear all the old classics linked in with maybe a few new songs – what they got was a 21-song set, much of which was not yet released, with just one single and even that was Promised Land.  There were loads of guest vocalists used on the night which only added the confusion. The band was booed off the stage. This was the set list:-

1. Can You Still Love Me?
2. Move (Dance All Night)
3. Promised Land
4. Sure Is Sure
5. Everybody’s On The Run
6. Tender Love
7. It’s A Very Deep Sea
8. I Can’t Deny Myself
9. Fine
10. Little Boy In A Castle
11. Mick’s Blessings
12. A Woman’s Song
13. Now You’re Gone
14. Mick’s Company
15. Cost Of Loving
16. Waiting On A Connection
17. Depth Charge
18. Like A Gun
19. Changing Of The Guard
20. You’ll Find Love
21. That Spiritual Feeling

I’m still not sure if was deliberate sabotage or a total misjudgment on the part of Paul Weller. The record label felt the signals were that the fan base would not buy into the new sound and when the band presented the fruits of their labours – entitled ModernismPolydor Records rejected it.

This was a mere 12 years after In The City and it was unthinkable that things had completely broken down. Paul Weller was upset and angry…he was proved to be right in respect of house music soon becoming part of mainstream radio and moving out of the clubs. He genuinely felt he could make good house music and that it was a natural progression for him and his band and this act was the final straw. The Style Council broke up before the end of the year. The Royal Albert Hall had been the last gig.

I hope you’ve enjoyed the journey; as I mentioned at the start of the series, it made sense to have if follow on immediately after the The Jam singles given how short a gap there was between the end of the old band and the beginning of the new one.

Addendum…….

The comment from Neil after the previous posting in this series about how he was hoping I would be featuring a single called Like A Gun intrigued me as it wasn’t one I knew anything about.  So it was research time and this is what I found….

In February 1989, the Acid Jazz label pressed up copies of a single called Like A Gun  by an act called King Truman.  It was a 12″ single with four versions of the title track.  It soon became clear that the band were The Style Council masquerading under a different name and before too long the bigwigs at Polydor were threatening all sorts of action against the indie label.  The single was very hastily withdrawn with only a few hundred copies making it into shops.  If you want a copy nowadays, then there’s currently nine for sale on Discogs, none of which are from UK sellers, and the lowest asking price is approx £50 plus shipping.  Needless to say, I didn’t pursue things further.  But I have managed to track down an mp3:-

mp3 : King Truman – Like A Gun

And with that. I’ll sign off by saying that next up in the Singles series will not be Paul’s solo stuff. I haven’t liked anything other than Wild Wood…..

Stay tuned.

THE STYLE COUNCIL SINGLES (17)

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One month after the release of Confessions Of A Pop Group, a second single was lifted from it. It was in fact a four-track EP, with the songs made available in 7″,12″ and CD format, albeit the versions on each of them were identical.

It was known as the 1234 EP and consisted of a rather forgettable track from the new album, an even more forgettable* piece of latino jazz for a new b-side, a just about bearable remix of what many were now fondly recalling as being the career highlight and a Mick Talbot instrumental which on the record is attributed to an imaginary group called The Mixed Companions. It’s saying a lot about the quality of the EP that the instrumental is the highlight….always thought it would make a great theme tune for some sort of daytime telly show….

mp3 : The Style Council – How She Threw It All Away
mp3 : The Style Council – Love The First Time
mp3 : The Style Council – Long Hot Summer (Tom Mix)
mp3 : The Style Council – I Do Like To Be B-Side The A-Side

It didn’t bother the higher echelons of the charts, hitting #41. And that, for many people, was expected to be the end of The Style Council.

Dee C Lee had just had a baby and there was no prospect of them touring. The record label were far from happy having been delivered two sub-par and poor selling LPs in a row. The media were totally against Paul Weller with the word pretentious now being applied more and more.  Indeed in late 1988 there were press reports that the band had broken up but these were vehemently denied.  But that wasn’t quite the case and the two singles from 1989 will wrap up the series in one sitting next week..

*personal opinion!!  There are many fine people with excellent taste in music who swear by this particular period in the history of TSC….

THE STYLE COUNCIL SINGLES (16)

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This is part of my ‘lost’ period when it comes to The Style Council.  As mentioned in the last posting, I hadn’t bought Wanted at the time of release and nor did I seek out any of the three EPs that came out in late 1987/early 1988:-

EP1 : Cafe Bleu : Headstart For Happiness; Here’s One That Got Away; Blue Café; Strength Of Your Nature

EP2 : The Birds and The Bees : Piccadilly Trail; It Just Came To Pieces In My Hands; Spin’ Drifting; Spring, Summer, Autumn

EP3 : Mick Talbot Is Agent 88 : Mick’s Up; Party Chambers; Mick’s Blessings; Mick’s Company

In May 1988, a new single was released, followed by the fourth studio LP the following month. I will be honest and say that up until a couple of years back, I had never heard Life At A Top People’s Health Farm as I’ve never been tempted to own a copy of the parent album, Confessions Of A Pop Group. The reviews were savage and this time I decided, having been bitten once by the contents of The Cost Of Loving, it was a case of twice shy. I’ve now got a 7″ copy, courtesy of a charity shop, and given I paid 25p for it I can’t grumble about there being a slight jump near the end, nor the fact that it is rather nondescript:-

mp3 : The Style Council – Life At A Top People’s Health Farm
mp3 : The Style Council – Sweet Loving Ways

The b-side is decent enough as a b-side but only for the jazzy guitar sound that was used to great effect on the debut album as the vocal delivery/arrangement is just soppy and clichéd.

It reached #28 in the charts which is evidence that I wasn’t alone in being a long-time fan who’d fallen out of love in a big way. The picture used on the sleeve however, would indicate that neither Paul or Mick really cared about any of that.

Enjoy.

THE STYLE COUNCIL SINGLES (15)

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So we come to the first single that I made no effort to buy at the time of its release in November 1987.

To be fair, this was a period in my life when I wasn’t listening to much music at all. I was going through a bit of an upheaval trying to sort myself out in some ways that involved a bit of a change in lifestyle including looking to get married and settle down. The Style Council didn’t seem important anymore. And judging from what I was able to pick up from the media I wasn’t missing much as Wanted received a bit of a pasting. Paul Weller had come in for bit of stick and times over the previous ten years but the extent to which this was now prolonged and indeed the venom involved was unprecedented.

So I didn’t help Wanted on its way to #20 in the singles chart. It was a song that neither moved nor annoyed me. It was something I heard occasionally on the radio or caught via a TV appearance as the band worked hard to give it some exposure. It did better than the unlamented Waiting but it was still one of the poorest performing singles thus far, which in a sense is a back-handed compliment given we are dealing here with a Top 20 single – the twelfth to achieve that feat…….and as it turned out, the last:-

mp3 : The Style Council – Wanted

It’s not awful.  But it’s not great.  It just doesn’t seem to be worthy of the great stuff Paul Weller had been churning out in what had seemed that an effortless way the previous ten years.

Two tracks were on the b-side of the 7″ single – the same song but one with a vocal.

Indeed, it was a re-tread of the title song from The Cost Of Loving album released some nine months earlier, but where the original had been lumpy and uninspiring, the new version harked back to the sort of music that the band had made in and around the era of the debut album some three years back. Having said that, I only discovered this when I picked up a second-hand copy as recently as 2013…..

mp3 : The Style Council – The Cost
mp3 : The Style Council – The Cost Of Loving

It was a pleasant surprise to hear something this decent on the b-side more than quarter of a century on.

I’ve since learned that The Cost was a piece of music composed as the theme tune to a film entitled Business As Usual that had been released in 1987. I’ve no recollection of the film despite it being described as an anti-Thatcher film with high-profile stars in John Thaw, Glenda Jackson and Cathy Tyson.

Enjoy.

THE STYLE COUNCIL SINGLES (14)

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The band’s popularity at the beginning of 1987 was such that their third studio LP, The Cost Of Loving would hit #2 in the charts on the first week of its release, despite it being almost universally panned by critics in the music press.

I’m guessing that many fans were like me, thinking that the criticism was over the top and unjustified, and was in fact only being levelled at Paul Weller and The Style Council as some felt he needed taken down a peg or two.  Sadly, it turned out that the album was indeed a stinker, full of bland, occasionally clunky and instantly forgettable songs.

The proof of the pudding came four weeks after the album had been released when the second single lifted from it entered the charts at #52…..and dropped down a place the following week before disappearing altogether. This was unprecedented for a TSC single but in all honesty it was exactly what it deserved:-

mp3 : The Style Council – Waiting

I picked up the 7″ of the single for 20p in a bargain bin not long after its release, more for the sake of completeness than anything else but hoping I’d find a gem of a b-side.  Instead it was a strange and rather pretentious sounding strings-laden ballad that I think I played once and hadn’t listened to in nearly 30 years until resurrecting it for this series:-

mp3 : The Style Council – Francoise

Maybe I was a bit harsh or maybe my tastes have broadened a bit but it’s not quite as awful as I remember at the time.  But that is damning something with very faint praise.

It was at this point I turned my back on TSC, and indeed the remainder of the singles that will feature in this series have only been picked up over the past few years since I started up the blog and re-kindled an interest in vinyl.  As such, they will be viewed from a 21st century perspective rather than from the late 80s.

 

 

THE STYLE COUNCIL SINGLES (13)

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The music press had reported in Autumn 1986 that the band had been busy in the studio writing and recording what would be their third studio album with plans in place for everything to appear in early 87.  Indeed, it was the second week of January that saw the release of a new 45 which, given that Have You Ever Had It Blue? was a re-recording of an old song, meant it was the first new material in almost two years – almost unheard of with Paul Weller given how prolific he’d been his entire career.

It Didn’t Matter was a catchy enough pop single to merit attention from fans and critics alike, not to mention radio DJs desperate for something other than Christmas song after Christmas song.  Maybe not the greatest Weller single thus far but not the worst. It entered the charts at #15 and then climbed up to #9, giving the band their seventh Top Ten success.  Little did any of us know it would be their last:-

mp3 : The Style Council – It Didn’t Matter

Slightly concerning was the lack of material for b-sides, which as you’ll have seen from most of the previous singles featured in the series wasn’t ever a problem.  The 12″ had an instrumental version of the a-side together with this which was also common to the 7″:-

mp3 : The Style Council – All Year Round

A tune that bore than a passing resemblance to The Big Boss Groove, the song that had been the double-A release with You’re The Best Thing.  Maybe the great man was running out of ideas…..

THE STYLE COUNCIL SINGLES (12)

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There was a great deal of hype and expectation around the film adaptation of Absolute Beginners. The first piece of music to be released was the title track, courtesy of David Bowie, which was a #2 hit in April 1986. The film makers said this was just the first of many great bits of music that would make up the soundtrack, pointing out that there were to be new and original compositions by various singers and bands, including The Style Council.

Being a fanatic, I bought the soundtrack on its release as I thought it would be the only way to get my hands on this new TSC song. I was disappointed to find that it was just a new version of the track Everything To Lose that had been on the LP Our Favourite Shop and I felt as if I’d been ripped off as the album was quite expensive at the time of its release with no discounts on offer from any of the chain stores.

I was even more disappointed when two weeks later the track was released as a 45, in both 7″ and 12″ form with a new track available on the b-side. I didn’t buy it at the time but have since picked up a decent enough second-hand copy of the 12″ from which these are taken:-

mp3 : The Style Council – Have You Ever Had It Blue (uncut version)
mp3 : The Style Council – Gave You Ever Had It Blue (cut version)
mp3 : The Style Council – Mr Cool’s Dream

Thankfully, the new song turned out to be a bog standard Mick Talbot instrumental, so I didn’t really miss out on much.

The single reached #14 in the singles chart which was, at that point, the poorest showing by any 45 attributed to The Style Council.

Incidentally, the version which appears on the LP soundtrack is longer still than either of the versions on the single:-

mp3 : The Style Council – Have You Ever Had It Blue (soundtrack version)

While here’s the original from which the single was adapted:-

mp3 : The Style Council – With Everything To Lose

EXCEPT………………

it isn’t as proved by a great bit of detection work by Craig McAllister the blogger behind Plain Or Pan? (and author of the PJ Harvey ICA on these pages just 72 hours ago)

In a posting last December entitled The Steal Council, our Craig demonstrated that debut single Speak Like A Child was awfully similar to a track called Surrender To The Rhythm by 70s pop/rock band Brinsley Schwarz.

mp3 : Brinsley Schwarz – Surrender To The Rhythm

He then pointed out that Have You Ever Had It Blue had an awful lot in common with this…..

mp3 : Harper & Rowe – The Dweller

This dates back to 1967 and is, to quote Craig, a more obscure part of sunshine pop.

His full rather playful piece over at Plain or Pan? can be read here.

Enjoy.

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