I enjoyed the Weller article (RC 374) which had me digging out his older recordings. I was an avid fan back in the 90s; indeed, my car was prematurely dispatched to the knackers yard, due to the excessive mileage accrued in the cause of driving to venues near and far to catch the great man giving it some. For my money his first solo album, Paul Weller, finds him at his best, with his most consistent batch of songs. Usually dismissed – not least by the man himself – as a transitional album, it captures a perfect blend of soul, jazz, 60s pop and rock, allied to wonderfully soulful singing, rhythmic variety and an airy but detailed production: elements that were largely jettisoned over the course of subsequent albums.
From a collectors’ point of view there are three promos from the early days that didn’t get listed but are worth a mention. Two CD singles issued by Polgram in the USA: Into Tomorrow (Go! Discs/London CDP 824) from 1992 which has five songs – all available elsewhere except for a version of Neil Young’s Ohio – a rendition superior to the Royal Albert Hall one that was subsequently released on other CDs. This one comes from a Paris concert recorded 16 October 1992, part of which was broadcast on Bernard Lenoir’s French radio show at the time (it also included a fine version of Jimmy Cliff’s Waiting In Limbo, which ought to have been issued officially). This version of Ohio features Jacko Peake’s flute more to the fore and better fidelity, having more of a studio ambience than the cavernous Royal Albert Hall version.
The second US promo (pictured) is Bull-Rush (edit) (CDP 874) issued in 1993, which is a 3:47 edit of the take found on the debut solo LP (if memory serves, Go! Discs originally planned this as single, before going with Above The Clouds). The edit basically lops off the Magic Bus instrumental coda from the LP version. Of greater interest are the remaining two songs on the promo: Amongst Butterflies (Acoustic) and Bitterness Rising (Acoustic). The version of Butterflies finds Weller solo, accompanying himself in the studio on electric guitar (so not actually “acoustic”). Bitterness Rising, meanwhile, was recorded in a field in Woking. Both performances were filmed for the Highlights & Hangups 1994 VHS documentary but only appeared in brief excerpts. To my knowledge, these two tracks have only ever been issued in full, and on CD, in this promo release.
Lastly, there was a 1995 NME cassette given away with the 28 January issue called Brat Pack 95 which featured one Weller track; This Is No Time, recorded at the Royal Albert Hall in November 1994. It’s not the perfunctory version issued on the Live Wood CD, but one boasting an irresistably funky bassline courtesy of the good Dr Robert, making for the definitive account of this often-overlooked song.
I would attest that no self-respecting mod should be without any of the aforementioned items. But such minutiae probably proves that my parka was an anorak all along!
by Mark Tovey
<< Back to Issue 376
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