Wednesday, 25 July 2018

Paul Weller - Heavy Soul (1997)


Released June 1997

Recorded at Woolhall Studios, Bath

After the jazzy, folk rock of his 1993 debut album, the rusticity of “Wild Wood” and the solid, rocking “Stanley Road”, Paul Weller went even heavier, to coin a phrase, with this 1997 album. The title summed it up perfectly, it was indeed “Heavy Soul”. It is, in fact, one of my favourite Weller albums.


1. Heavy Soul Part 1
2. Peacock Suit
3. Up In Suze's Room
4. Brushed
5. Driving Nowhere
6. I Should Have Been There To Inspire You
7. Heavy Soul Part 2
8. Friday Street
9. Science
10. Golden Sands
11. As You Lean Into The Light
12. Mermaids

Guitars are to the fore on the clunky, powerful opener, “Heavy Soul, Pt.1” and “Peacock Suit” has an absolutely killer riffy opening and a catchy, upbeat feel throughout. Drummer Steve White is impressive throughout the album - confident, inventive and powerful.

The acoustically-driven, psychedelic “Up In Suze’s Room” is a chilled out, soulful number with some appealing reverberating sounds behind the chorus handsome lovely bass lines. “Brushed” is an intense, dense, grungy rocker, while “Driving Nowhere” again features some lilting bass sounds and another instant refrain. “I Should have Been There To Inspire You” is soully and uplifting at the same time. It utilises some melodica at the end, an instrument usually used in dub reggae. Weller’s vocals on this album are as good as they have ever been here and there is a real power to the sound, mixed with a rich warmth. It is one of the finest sounding Weller albums, for me. For some, however, it was seen as an album the didn’t really go anywhere and it did not have the broader appeal that ”Stanley Road” did, which was a shame, because I think it is excellent from beginning to end. Indeed, I prefer it to its predecessor.

The instrumental jam of “Heavy Soul, Pt.2” leads into the vibrant “Friday Street”, while “Science” brings the pace down with its rhythmic, Gil Scott-Heron-influenced bassy groove and tuneful appeal. The lovely, jazzy and funky groover, “Golden Sands”, has airs of “Stanley Road”’s rock tunes about it, and the gorgeous “As You Lean Into The Light” harks back to the wistful and bucolic “Wild Wood”. The commercial-ish “Mermaids” was a single and garnered quite a lot of radio play, but this was not a commercial album. It was soulful but intense. Not to messed with.


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