A completist’s guide to the singles, and where to find them on CD…
We’re into a new year, the dawn of Frankie Goes To Hollywood. Into The Gap by the Thompson Twins is about to be released. TSC return with a lighter sound, reminiscent of The Isley Brothers at their most soulful and laid back.
MY EVER CHANGING MOODS (February 6th, 1984. 1st single ahead of debut LP).
Deceptively slight on first hearing, the fifth TSC single was the one to finally launch an album, the eclectic sprawl of Cafe Bleu.
It became Weller’s highest-charting single in America (reaching #29), and went Top 5 in Britain to provide the perfect launchpad for its parent LP.
True to form, the exquisite 7″ mix of the song wasn’t included on Cafe Bleu; a pared-down acoustic version was nice enough but probably frustrated a lot of people expecting to hear the one being played on the radio.
Greatest Hits, Hit Parade (4CD edition), Collection, The Collection.
YOU’RE THE BEST THING (May 14th, 1984. Part of the Groovin’ EP).
Half-a-dozen singles in, and still none of them were available in 7″ form on any Style Council long-player!
You’re The Best Thing was quickly heralded as a highlight from Cafe Bleu; another delicate, soulful meditation. Weller tightened up the arrangement, made everything more commercial and focused, and gave the track a real sense of being a modern classic. Arguably an even better song than Long Hot Summer the year before, and deservedly a Top 5 hit.
The presence of a corking new number, The Big Boss Groove, on the flip just made the AA-sided package even more alluring. It’s not easy or straightforward to find the exact 7″ mix of You’re The Best Thing among the many TSC collections, however; the original Cafe Bleu album version is significantly different (and longer), while many releases use variants of the 12″ mix, or alternate extended mixes, or simply fade them out earlier.
Hit Parade (4CD edition).
SHOUT TO THE TOP (October 1st, 1984. Non-album single).
When your life’s a flop, there’s nothing else but to shout to the top! Little chance of floppage in the world of TSC in 1984, as the Top 10 hits kept on coming. Its #7 peak was lower than the previous two, but far from a disaster.
Another brand new recording, when lesser acts would still be mining the album from 6 months ago. And therefore another single which had no album to call home.
Rather oddly, the UK 7″ mix isn’t easy to source on CD. Most collections plump for the longer (12″) version, or the US Remix which has a very different arrangement that, to my ears, lacks the urgency and punch of the original. One presumes Mr. Weller must prefer them…
The Singular Adventures Of The Style Council (Vol. 1).
WALLS COME TUMBLING DOWN (April 29th, 1985. 1st single from upcoming 2nd LP).
Ah, at last! Single #8 finally brings us a Style Council 45 that is not only from an album, but appears on said album in the same form as its single version.
And, for that matter, the track which only ever features on TSC collections in its 7″ version. No demos, alternate takes, extended mixes or assorted tweaking for Walls Come Tumbling Down. “We don’t have to take this crap!”
Given the propensity for constant variety and unpredictability which characterised early TSC, to follow the stomping Shout To The Top with another barnstorming call to arms (“Governments crack and systems fall ‘cos unity is powerful!”) came as something of a surprise. Yet normal service continued, with a swift climb to #6 on the UK chart.
The album it successfully trailed, Our Favourite Shop, displayed a dizzying but masterful range of styles and genres, and did so more winningly than on Cafe Bleu. It might have been intriguing to see how a mellower track such as The Boy Who Cried Wolf (chosen as the single in America) would have fared.
The Singular Adventures Of The Style Council (Vol.1), Greatest Hits, The Sound Of The Style Council, Long Hot Summers…The Story Of The Style Council, Hit Parade (4CD edition), Sweet Loving Ways.
COME TO MILTON KEYNES (June 24th, 1985. 2nd single from Our Favourite Shop).
Genius or folly? The worst Style Council single, or a misunderstood masterpiece ahead of its time?
You’ll find me in the former camp on both counts (this was my highest charting TSC hit at the time, coming within a whisker of #1 on my Top 40). Yet there’s no getting around the fact that it was a commercial dud; an unbroken run of Top 11 hits was rudely halted, with …Milton Keynes coming in at a lowly #23. This, on the back of Our Favourite Shop recently debuting at #1 as well.
It’s easy (and tempting) to wonder what might have happened to the group’s career in the long term had this track not been released at arguably the height of their powers and popularity. Was Weller running out of puff anyway? There wouldn’t be any more non-album 45s streaming out in quick succession, and the peaks of each subsequent single began to indicate a terminal decline.
Would all of that occurred regardless of the identity of Our Favourite Shop‘s second ill-starred single?
Greatest Hits, Long Hot Summers…The Story Of The Style Council, Hit Parade (4CD edition).