The Style Council

The Best of Style Council

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Polydor has released a number of Style Council retrospectives over the years, but this one is actually one of the most interesting, as it paints a relatively complete musical portrait of the band. Paul Weller's 1980s group was known as a singles outfit, but many of their best songs were actually album tracks and B-sides. Weller viewed the band as a platform to explore non-rock-based pop music and this collection shows off the Style Council's strengths and weaknesses. Such limp-wristed tracks as the whining "Angel" and the somnambulistic "Waiting" (their worst single) show that the negative press that the band received was sometimes merited while the rest of this retrospective shows that the majority of their tunes were full of enthusiasm, invention, and melody. "Long Hot Summer" and "My Ever Changing Moods" remain two of the defining hits of the 1980s, while album tracks such as "Headstart for Happiness," "Here's One That Got Away," and the strikingly beautiful "Changing of the Guard" show that Weller's music during this period was full of a real joy for life and its attendant disappointments and sorrows. The collection also illustrates how successful Weller was at pioneering the (admittedly odd) genre of "political protest/lounge revival" with such vitriolic but easy-on-the-ears tracks as "All Gone Away" and "Come to Milton Keynes." Toss in the retro-beatnik jazz instrumental "Café Bleu" and rocking 1960s-style pop numbers ("How She Threw It All Away" and "Walls Come Tumbling Down!") and you have a strong portrait of a band who succeeded at much more than they were given credit for. And while this collection unfortunately doesn't include any of the surprisingly large number of guitar-driven folk-pop songs Weller penned while with the Style Council, it also spares listeners from hearing any of the band's egregiously horrid rap numbers. What's most surprising is how many of these tracks don't seem rooted in the stereotypes of 1980s pop at all, but have a timeless quality. This collection shows that while the Style Council made plenty of missteps, they also recorded a number of Paul Weller's very best songs.

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