Monday, 4 June 2018

The Style Council - Confessions Of A Pop Group (1988)

It's a very deep sea....


Released June 1988


1. It's A Very Deep Sea
2. The Story Of Someone's Shoe
3. Changing Of The Guard
4. The Little Boy In A Castle/A Dove Flew Down From The Elephant
5. The Gardener Of Eden
6. Life At A Top People's Health Farm
7. Why I Went Missing
8. How She Threw It All Away
9. Iwasadoledadstoyboy
10. Confessions 1, 2 & 3
11. Confessions Of A Pop Group                    

Released in 1988, for many, this was the death knell for The Style Council - an apparently preposterous, pretentious, indulgent piece of work with a couple of elongated “medley” style tracks where one leads into another. The rambling ten-minute “The Garden Of Eden: A Three Piece Suite” and “The Little Boy In A Castle/A Dove Flew Down From The Elephant”. Just a look at the titles is enough to start one doubting this product. Classical piano (albeit beautiful at times), some lovely strings and occasional impressive vocals but a general feeling of going nowhere in particular. “Little Boy”, in fact, was just a piano instrumental, why the need for the extended double title? This was a brave experiment, and I have to admit I enjoy it occasionally, and admire Weller for doing it, but even when writing this review, I find myself being a bit confused by it all.

However, despite these clearly “experimental” outings that admittedly meander around without really getting anywhere, there are two absolutely copper-bottomed classic Style Council singles on here in the amusing “Life At A Top People’s Health Farm” and the soulful pop of “How She Threw It All Away”. The album is immaculately played and performed and the sound quality on this remaster is full and warm, beneath the sometimes over-orchestration on many tracks.

There are other highlights too. The album’s piano-driven opener “It’s A Very Deep Sea” is beautiful. There is also another soulful feel in “Confessions 1, 2 and 3” . The acapella harmonies of “The Story Of Someone’s Shoe”, while impressive, are a bit twee, to be honest, however. “Changing The Guard” is a gently appealing little song, though, Weller duetting well with his wife at the time, Dee C. Lee.It was clear to see, despite the good points on here, however, that Paul Weller, although clearly wanting to diversify and offer up different sounds and creations, was in the midst of something of a creative quandary. As much of the vacuous feelings of the 1980s were fading away and that decade’s pretentions being cast away as indulgent and vain, similarly, it was probably time to call and end to The Style Council’s brave, but ultimately fruitless journey.

You could imagine NME journalists back in 1988 shaking their heads and composing their “poor old Paul Weller” invective after listening to this.

Time for Weller to change direction.


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