Paul Weller Wild Wood: Deluxe Version Review

Released 2007.  

BBC Review

With an engaging storyteller such as Weller at the helm, who needs more?

Sonja D'Cruze 2007

Paul Weller AKA the Modfather has delivered a library's worth of quality music, style and sharp haircuts in his 30-year career that has made him somewhat of a national institution. Following the double whammies of The Jam and the Style Council, Weller truly established himself with his second solo outing, Wild Wood. This deluxe, digitally-remastered collector’s edition from the original master tapes, features the classic hit singles "Wild Wood", "Sunflower", "Hung Up" and "The Weaver", which allude to a plethora of classic influences, where songwriting really is an art in the vein of the pastoral folk/pop heroes such as; Nick Drake, Van Morrison and Crosby, Stills and Nash.

Wild Wood was Weller making a record for himself and no-one else sounding like an album that could have been made in the 70s. The whole project, personally overseen by Weller and producer Brendan Lynch, has a real live quality to it. They even left in a lot of the mistakes during recording, which makes this a one-off, built on the foundations of Weller’s acoustic guitar and huskily soulful timbre. Layered with organ, piano, flute and Moog synthesizer there is always space in the songs, interspersed by instrumentals. Whether singing about how life gets you down ("Wild Wood") or broken relationships, ("All The Pictures On The Wall"), there’s always counterbalancing hope as in the acoustic folk soul of "Country" ('I know a place not far from here/ Where life’s sweet perfume fills the air/ And if you want I’ll take you there').

The CD also includes no less than 28 bonus tracks, demos, b-sides, mixes, alternative versions, BBC tracks and unreleased songs from the period which stand-up and would be sought after by any self respecting songwriter today. Perhaps the only less successful track is Weller’s take on The Small Faces' "I’m Only Dreaming", but we see a gospel influence on the previously unreleased "Oh Happy Day" and even a fantastic demo version of Neil Young’s agit-pop, "Ohio". With an engaging storyteller such as Weller at the helm, who needs more?

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