Monday, 4 June 2018

The Style Council - Cafe Bleu (1984)

The whole point of no return....

  

Released March 1984

Recorded at Solid Bond Studios, London

Formed in early 1983 by ex-Jam frontman Paul Weller and keyboardist Mick Talbot, The Style Council were a strange phenomenon. Often derided by the cognoscenti, in many ways they were an experiment gone wrong. In many other ways, they were an excellent group that produced some great albums with a soulful, often adventurous sound and some biting, socially conscious lyrics.

TRACK LISTING

1. Mick's Blessings

2. The Whole Point Of No Return
3. Me Ship Came In
4. Blue Cafe
5. The Paris Match
6. My Ever Changing Moods
7. Dropping Bombs On The White House
8. A Gospel
9. The Strength Of Your Nature
10. You're The Best Thing
11. Here's One That Got Away
12. Headstart For Happiness
13. Council Meetin'                                       

As far away from The Jam as it was possible to get, really. This album was a brave mixture of soul stylings, contemporary jazz and a bit of rap influence thrown in. Some of the tracks are jazzy, piano-driven instrumentals like “Me Ship Came In” or smoky jazz like “Cafe Bleu”. Others feature guest artists like Tracey Thorn on the lovely, late night jazz of “The Paris Match” and various guest instrumentalists on the rap-influenced “A Gospel” and “The Strength Of Your Nature”.

The hit single “My Ever Changing Moods” is stripped down to a soulful piano-only version, while the other hit, “You’re The Best Thing” features a different mix, with saxophone to the fore. “Headstart For Happiness” is a jaunty, upbeat poppy number which again shows this material is just nothing like anything The Jam put out, and all released just a few short months later. The sea change was really quite remarkable.

Where the Style Council had a problem was in the image they carefully created, swanning around in Paris in gaberdines, pictured sitting at cafes pretending to read “Le Monde” and drinking cappuccino, wearing dark glasses and so on. After Paul Weller’s gruff “man of the people/no bull” persona in The Jam, it all seemed very pretentious, contrived and just a little silly. It garnered a lot of ridicule, which was a shame, because the music was good. A brave experiment that deserved more credit.


B+

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