Wednesday, 25 July 2018
Paul Weller - Studio 150 (2004)
Released May 2004
Recorded in Studio 150, Amsterdam
The thing to do when listening to these albums of cover versions is not to compare them to the originals, which are invariably better. This is definitely the case here, as most of Paul Weller’s takes, from 2004, on some of his favourite songs do not pass muster in comparison with the versions that made them famous. That doesn’t mean they are bad versions, though. They are not. It is an easy target to criticise such albums as the work of an artist struggling for anything else to write and release so he has to murder some classics. As I said, easy to level that accusation.
I prefer to just listen to Weller’s album and take it for what it is, Paul Weller singing some of his favourite songs in his style. Some of them come off well, some not so much. It has to be said at this point that the sound quality is excellent throughout this album.
1. If I Could Only Be Sure
2. Wishing On A Star
3. Don't Make Promises
4. The Bottle
5. Black Is The Colour
6. Close To You
7. Early Morning Rain
8. One Way Road
10. Thinking Of You
11. All Along The Watchtower
His version of Nolan Porter’s Northern Soul song, “If I Could Only Be Sure” is excellent, with an addictive bass line and soulful groove. Gil Scott-Heron’s funky “The Bottle” is also well performed, as too is Gordon Lightfoot’s appealing country ballad, “Early Morning Rain” and Pete Seeger’s folk tune, “Black Is The Colour”. Other competent showings are Tim Hardin’s upbeat, horn-driven country jazz of “Don’t Make Promises”, Aaron Neville’s funky, potent “Hercules” and Oasis’s “One Way Road” (which cold have been written for Weller, it sounds so perfect for him). Neil Young’s “Birds” is solidly dealt with in Weller’s hands, while Sister Sledge’s “Thinking Of You” is far better than I thought it would be.
Rose Royce’s “Wishing On A Star” or Bob Dylan’s “All Along The Watchtower” are perfectly listenable, but they don’t come too close to getting anywhere near the original. With the latter, of course, it is actually with Jimi Hendrix’s version that everyone compares it with. Weller’s one actually stands acceptable next to Dylan’s, in retrospect. The Carpenters' "Close To You" should, however, have been left on the cutting room floor.
Just enjoy the album as the work of a master craftsman just enjoying himself. His musicianship and vocal delivery can never really be questioned.