A completist’s guide to the singles, and where to find them on CD…
Following the failure of Come To Milton Keynes, the band play Live Aid a week later and then return in the late Summer with another song from Our Favourite Shop for their 10th single.
THE LODGERS (September 16th, 1985. 3rd single from the LP, newly re-recorded).
Due to “public demand” (it says here), one of the tracks from the album that I hadn’t really paid much attention to was overhauled and spruced up for a pop at the charts.
Dee C. Lee really gets to shine on The Lodgers, and the new version is snappier and bouncier than the original. A perfect TSC 45, in fact. Or it would have been in 1983, you feel. Post Milton Keynes, there seemed to be less appetite for The Style Council amongst Top 40 record buyers, and in some ways it did well to make #13.
Of all the band’s singles, this has been the most elusive in terms of its actual 7″ version appearing anywhere on CD. A situation that has only just been rectified. Phew.
Long Hot Summers…The Story Of The Style Council.
HAVE YOU EVER HAD IT BLUE? (March 24th, 1986. Soundtrack single).
Paul Weller always had a thing for Absolute Beginners. The cult novel by Colin MacInnes, about star-crossed young lovers caught up in the racial tensions and cultural upheaval of late-50s London, was eventually turned into a film and ready for release in the Spring of 1986.
But as far back as 1981, The Jam’s song of the same title was a Top 5 single (and one of their first to embrace the “new wave” with its funkier rhythms and horn section, signalling the changes to come). Five years on, and Weller had composed a track especially for the Julian Temple-directed musical, entitled Have You Ever Had It Blue?
By the time the single/film finally emerged, the track would have sounded oddly familiar to listeners of Our Favourite Shop; the arrangement had been used pretty much wholesale, with an alternative set of lyrics, as With Everything To Lose. So, the first TSC single in a long while felt like “something we made earlier”, which possibly contributed to its underwhelming Top 40 peak of #14.
Which was a shame, because not only is Have You Ever Had It Blue? one of the better Style Council singles, it perfectly captured the vibe of the plot/era and deserved better than to play second fiddle to David Bowie’s imperious but not-really-part-of-the-film title song, which stole all the attention and the chart thunder. It also didn’t help that the Absolute Beginners cinematic experience proved a resounding damp squib.
This is another TSC single which turns up more often in longer, remixed forms on their compilations.
Greatest Hits, Hit Parade (4CD edition), Sweet Loving Ways.
IT DIDN’T MATTER (January 5th, 1987. 1st Single from forthcoming album).
TSC chose the opening week of 1987 to return after a gap of 9 months, by far the longest hiatus either of Weller’s bands had taken between releases.
1986 had seen soundtrack work, a Live album (Home & Abroad), plus a film of their own; JerUSAlem. Panned and ridiculed by the press, it seemed to be further evidence of The Style Council’s growing irrelevance within the pop mainstream, and a widening chasm between Weller’s agenda for the band, and what the fanbase still expected of him.
All of which made the manner of their comeback quite refreshing. Monochrome imagery and stylish photography, with the clobber to match…and the music was equally direct, shorn of fuss and frivolity. Some observers called it “doleful”, and while it’s no Long Hot Summer in the melody stakes, there’s a bite and groove that still sounds fresh even now.
Courtesy of the UK’s traditonal “post-Christmas lull”, It Didn’t Matter was able to sneak into the Top 10 at #9, the highest TSC had been on the charts since early 1985. Yet the speed of its decline thereafter was a warning of what would follow.
The Singluar Adventures Of The Style Council (Vol. 1).
WAITING (March 2nd, 1987. 2nd single from The Cost Of Loving LP).
What followed was a shock even to those who sensed the writing may have been on the wall when The Cost Of Loving tumbled down the album charts within weeks of its release. The LP arrived with some fanfare in the likes of Record Mirror magazine, and came housed in a striking orange gatefold sleeve. On vinyl it was a double affair, with the 8 songs spread evenly across the 4 sides, pressed at 45rpm. This was apparently to show that each track was potentially good enough to be a single (the elongated lengths of said tracks also reflected their suitability for 12″ release…or something).
However, no one liked the album much (except, predictably, Yours truly), and somewhere along the line Weller and co. appeared to lose faith (or interest, or both). A second 45 from the album, Waiting, was rushed out with a will-this-do sleeve (that had already been utilised for the cassette and CD formats of The Cost Of Loving), a brief song from the JerUSAlem project on the B-side, while the promotional effort was effectively just a slot on C4’s alternative comedy show, whereupon they played the album’s title track instead (much to the embarassment of host, Ben Elton).
No wonder the single, their 13th, bombed. Never before had a Paul Weller single fallen short of the Top 40; even The Jam’s debut In The City scraped into the main chart. Waiting shuffled in at #52, mumbled its apologies, and exited again.
(Curiously for such a blot on TSC’s chart history, Waiting is often featured on collections of their work…which, on merit alone, is fully deserved. I picked the track out as an early favourite of mine from The Cost Of Loving, although I’m not sure it was necessarily single material).
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).
WANTED (October 19th, 1987. Non-album single).
Time to lighten the mood. A brand new, non-album 45, that sounded like classic TSC (albeit more like a B-side from their heyday). A jokey sub-title, a straightforward uptempo pop song that didn’t try to put the world (or British Politics) to rights inside 3 minutes.
The Style Council were, briefly, back in the UK Top 20 (just!), and back on Top Of The Pops. Where it has to be said, Weller looked more enthused than he had done at the start of the year when It Didn’t Matter was in the Top 10.
Maybe, just maybe, there was still a future for The Style Council…
The Singular Adventures Of The Style Council (Vol. 1), Greatest Hits, Long Hot Summers…The Story Of The Style Council, Hit Parade (4CD edition), Sweet Loving Ways.