THE STYLE COUNCIL Our Favourite Shop
All Gone Away 2:13
Come To Milton Keynes 3:02 (UK single, #23)
A Stones Throw Away 2:15
The Stand Up Comic’s Instructions 1:28
Boy Who Cried Wolf 5:04
A Man Of Great Promise 2:30
Down In The Seine 2:41
The Lodgers (Or She Was Only A Shopkeeper’s Daughter) 3:54 (UK single, #13)
With Everything To Lose 3:45
Our Favourite Shop 2:52
Walls Come Tumbling Down! 3:11 (UK single, #6)
Three years into Paul Weller’s “Cappuccino Kid” phase, we got the second Style Council long-player. It was their most successful, debuting at #1 in the UK and getting generally positive reviews. More positive than those afforded their next opus (1987’s Cost of Loving), at any rate. Ever the contrary soul, Weller put the album’s only real hit single right at the end, but in a way that allows the rest of a varied, idiosyncratic record to breathe.
I love The Style Council, always have done and no apologies will be made. From the moment they debuted on Top Of The Pops with Speak Like A Child, through the Long Hot Summer of 1983, to the gorgeous You’re The Best Thing and storming Shout To The Top, they’d marked themselves as a top singles act.
Yet album-wise, it was a stuttering affair; no full LP would emerge until they were half a dozen singles down the road in 1984, just an import mini-compilation (Introducing…) was released before that. And, although I eventually bought that LP (Cafe Bleu) some years later, its release was at a time when I was hooked on Howard Jones, Nik Kershaw and Thompson Twins.
Our Favourite Shop, on the other hand, arrived during a half-term week at the end of May 1985, so I had extra Birthday money to splurge. I’d been intruiged by the album cuts I’d heard on Radio 1 the week before (Homebreakers and Come To Milton Keynes were the songs they’d played). So, into Our Price I went, brought the album home, opened up the fantastic gatefold sleeve and gave it a few spins before the European Cup Final kicked off that evening (yes, the one at the Heysel Stadium).
Visual presentation was always a strong suit with TSC, and it reaches its apex on this album. The sleeve concept is, quite literally, a “shop” filled with Paul and Mick’s favourite things. On the inside panel you had the full lyrics, which are the finest Weller has ever written, fuelled by his hatred of what Thatcher was doing to Britain at the time. It’s very much a “state of the nation” address, without any sloganeering or unwelcome aggression.