Last week on our radio show (Music Therapy on Tameside Radio, I may have mentioned it) our opening two tracks were Désolé by Gorillaz and Headstart For Happiness by The Style Council. Both the work of important British musical figures who have made a significant and broad body of work.
Paul Weller keeps knocking it out. Maybe it's because he keeps having kids into his 60s, but he just can't seem to stop, and I admire massively how he keeps trying new things all the time. I'd watched the new Style Council documentary on Sky Arts, Long Hot Summers the week before and loved it (trailer above). I mean, really loved hearing those songs again, and seeing how happy Paul Weller was making music again. As he says in the clip at the start, "it was the freedom I was looking for coming out of The Jam". Certainly, Cafe Bleu managed to lose a hell of a lot of Jam fans; those instrumentals and free form jazz with guest vocals from Tracey Thorn weren't what the all the Saturdays Kids wanted. Personally, at the time, I lapped it all up. I remember standing in the street with my copy of Our Favourite Shop and showing it to one Boy About Town and Jam fan who was stunned at the direction Weller had gone in.
It's a really good music documentary. Most of the talking heads work, I won't say which ones grated. And the contributions by the core members of the band - Weller, Mick Talbot, Dee C Lee and Steve White - all add different blocks to the story and our understanding of what they were creating then, and how they view it now. I loved the piece with film director Tim Pope who directed the Long Hot Summer punt on the river in Cambridge, which was so bold at the time.
But it got me thinking since the show how disappointed I was that some aspects of the Style Council appreciation seem to have been quite dismissive of The Jam. I gave the 1980 album Sound Affects a spin from soup to nuts. It is a remarkable record, probably my favourite Jam album, and apparently Weller's too. As this Quietus review explains, for a 22 year old to create something so rich in its influences was incredibly bold, to package it all up into something that sounds this good all these years later, and stands proud alongside its biggest influence, The Beatles' Revolver, is maybe worthy of more respect.
It's the same with Gorillaz. Damon Albarn has done amazing things since Blur, but he also made some great Blur records too.