Paul Weller Fly On The Wall Review

Released 2003.  

BBC Review

Weller's wide-ranging (but comprehensively mod) tastes have seen him shift musical...

Greg Boraman 2003

With a back catalogue as long as Weller's, its surprising that a collection of rare cuts, cover versions and re-mixes hasn't been seen before. What may surprise some are the varied styles and eras of music Paul Weller has explored since the start of his solo career. This showcase of funky soul, pastoral folk, full on trad-rock and plaintive singer songwriter material all just goes to confirm that despite the accusations of a luddite approach in recent years, Weller's wide-ranging (but comprehensively mod) tastes have seen him shift musical emphasis far more than a cursory glance might suggest.

This 3 CD collection kicks off with an acid jazz era, mildly funky ''Here's A New Thing'' that isn't too much of a jump forward from some Style Council offerings, travels through the trendy re-mix template of Noonday Underground's re-working of ''There's No Drinking When You're Dead'', a very Portishead-heavy ''Wild Wood'' and the Pshychonought's take on Weller's most Jam-like solo offering, ''Science''. All these remixed tracks are a curious blend of Weller's traditional approach, filtered through the somewhat unlikely medium of samplers and drum machines. They work but in a mildly superfluous manner.

What is most telling is the selection of cover versions included here and the choices are not too much of a surprise. The Beatles' ''Sexy Sadie'' gets Wellered without many surprises included, however ''Don't Let Me Down'' makes a most suitable vehicle for Paul's throaty bark with ex-wife DC Lee & Carleen Anderson's backing vocals adding the required soul credentials. Weller drops his mod prejudices to include a rabble rousing live version of perennial hippy-rock idol Neil Young's ''Ohio'', and a version of Tim Harding's ''Black Sheep Boy''. A cursory walk through ''I Would Rather Go Blind'' doesn't add too much to the proceedings, whilst Weller's reading of Lennon's ''Instant Karma''(complete with echoing effects) may be a little unimaginative but its a good-natured nod and a wink towards some life long influences.

Paul Weller, at this stage of his career seems to divide audiences a dour, backward looking puritan to some, a passionate champion of a simple musical integrity to others, his most creative work may be behind him now, but this collection offers a fascinating glimpse into the influences, sounds and attitudes that reverberate around inside the head of one of Britain's most longstanding, successful and acclaimed songwriters.

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