The Style Council

The Complete Adventures of the Style Council

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Given the blockbuster success of the Jam's exhaustive box set Direction Reaction Creation, perhaps it was inevitable that Polydor would give the Style Council a similar treatment, but the 1998 release of the five-disc box set The Complete Adventures of the Style Council was still a bit of surprise -- there never was much interest in their catalog following their 1990 disbandment. Fortunately, Polydor took a chance and assembled The Complete Adventures, a lavish box set containing all of the group's singles and albums, minus the live Home & Abroad but including the notorious unreleased 1989 record A Decade of Modernism, which the label allegedly rejected because it found Weller turning toward house music. As it turns out, A Decade of Modernism wasn't that far afield from what the Style Council was exploring from their inception, as the chronological running order of the set makes clear. The sequencing is a blessed occurrence, since it's easy to trace their development over the years. Instead of an aberration, the Style Council seems like a natural extension of the Jam's final record, The Gift, and every one of their subsequent records makes more sense than before. That doesn't mean the music is always compelling. No matter how interesting some of Weller's ideas were, they didn't always work, and he wrote way too many pompous, directionless songs to have The Complete Adventures rank with Direction Reaction Creation. (There are also too many Mick Talbot instrumentals, but that's another story.) For most listeners, including some serious Weller fans, the Style Council is best appreciated as a singles band, but for the dedicated, The Complete Adventures reveals that the Style Council, no matter how maddening they could be, were a group that continually reinvented themselves, occasionally making some remarkable music along the way.

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