Paul Weller - Hit Parade
With a career that spans over 30 years, this is the first full career retrospective of one of the greatest singer-songwriters the UK has produced. Paul Weller has seen been writing for three decades, beginning with The Jam back in the 70's through the polished pop of the 80's with The Style Council until his rebirth as the Modfather during the 90's. The bolshy-titled Modern Classics from '98 covered his solo career to then, but this collection takes in The Jam, Style Council and his recent return to form.
What makes this collection standout from the usual pre-Christmas cash-in is in its arrangement. Instead of going for a chronological walk through Weller's career, we have it sequenced for your aural pleasure. So you waltz through the thumping anthem of Going Underground straight into the strings and 80's synths of Shout To The Top and onto one of the more recent singles From The Floorboards Up. Whilst this is a breath of fresh air in terms of a Greatest Hits collection, it does show up The Style Council material for what it was - a product of its time. The music and production sounds dated even when compared to The Jam material and certainly to Weller's solo recordings. Though songs like You're The Best Thing and Shout To The Top are quality songs, their arrangements sound a little bland and when compared to the versions he's been playing live recently, they lack a little something on record.
The collection of material from his solo records is a little uneven, picking a lot from Stanley Road and ignoring anything from his self-title debut, which might not be his crowning glory, but contained a couple of cracking tunes like Into Tomorrow and Kosmos. It's also missing tracks from Illumination and Heliocentric... a little odd... plus there's also no tracks from the quite fantastic acoustic live album Days Of Speed which Weller himself credited with re-energising his interest in writing and performing.
This feels like a pre-Christmas cash-in but, to be fair, there's not many artists releasing Greatest Hits albums this Christmas that can pick from such an impressive back catalogue as this. So they've missed a few of his tunes, but it's got all your favourites from the spitting violence of Down In The Tube Station At Midnight to the Summer Of Love anthem Long Hot Summer and the thumping Peacock Suit. A chance missed then, but I can't think of many better artists that I'd like to spend some quality time with this Christmas than Mr. Weller.