I had an opportunity to meet one of English Pop music's finest craftsmen- Paul Weller. With The Jam he reached the top of the pop charts, the biggest thing England had since The Beatles. His ability in adopting pre-existing modes of musical expression, adapting them to his own ideas, and then creating somewhat of a post modern hybrid from this, has become one of the great pop stories of the last part of the 20th century. His influence on further generations of musicians- be it Morrissey or Oasis- unquestionable, and even his detractors will come around to admitting he has a way with a lyric and a melody.
After disbanding The Jam in 1983, he formed a pure 80s pop group called The Style Council, who produced a gaggle of wonderful songs, dance party new wave soul, up to the trends, with a look and sound befitting the band's name. Though the man lost some hardcore fans of The Jam, who wished Paul would go back to playing brash guitar, he gained a new audience of stylish synth kids bent on something colder, more synthetic, yet no less soulful. And they got it.
But the guitar came back out when Weller broke up The Style Council, going solo, bringing back the Modfather persona, and rocking out once more. This time the influences were more varied and wide reaching, with jazz and folk and psychedelia and African music informing much of his output. His latest LP, Sonik Kicks, still has that old Weller imprint, but ratchets up some of the action with electronic samples to hold.
The man himself was lovely. Polite, curious, generous, one fo the best experiences I have had with meeting a musician. Unpretentious, a down to earth bloke all the way. I really wanted to sit down and have a pint of lager with him, he was so personable and friendly and excited to be talking about music with so many of us who love music. I spoke with him about Dinah Washington, Matt convinced him to come back and do an in store performance, Patrick talked to him about the latest Tame Impala record. He bought lots of jazz. And some Ethiopian funk. This truly was a wonderful day.