Stanley Road at 25, Weller’s finest hour ?
Record Label: Go! Discs.
Paul Weller has one of the most varied outputs in British rock over the past 40 years, first coming to fame as the vocalist and guitarist for mod revival legends the Jam and following this up with the successful fusion group the Style Council, who incorporated Jazz, Soul and pop in the 80s with several acclaimed albums. From the 90s onwards he has been enjoying a successful and varied solo career incorporating a range of influences and styles. With his 3rd and most critically and commercially successful solo record Stanley Road celebrating 25 years next month, it seems a good time to give the record a reappraisal.
It really is a fantastic record without a misstep, following hot on the heels of the successful “Wild Wood”. “The Changingman” still sounds fantastic and showed that Weller could still produce the goods after nearly 20 years in the business, it’s a top quality driving track. Arguably this record tapped into the Britpop movement of the era and perhaps explains why it found more success than some of Weller’s other solo records. The blues tinged “porcelain gods”is a great showcase for Weller’s versatility as a guitarist something he perhaps does not get enough recognition for.
“I walk on gilded splinters” carries on in a similar vein with a focus on Weller’s guitar prowess and features Noel Gallagher on acoustic guitar, Weller himself famously contributes the guitar solo on “Champagne Supernova”. “You do something to me” is one of the most beautiful tracks Weller has ever recorded and finds him in fantastic voice, it contains a mesmerising solo and some great lyrics. “Woodcutters son” takes us back to more Jam territory mixed in with some Britpop lyricism with a guest contribution from Steve Winwood (Traffic, Spencer Davis Group)
“Time passes” and “Stanley Road” are both more stripped back affairs, the latter of the two reminiscent of Weller’s work with The Style Council as he mulls over his childhood in Woking, with its almost jazz piano intro. It is also one of the poppiest tracks on the record, showing the array of talents at Weller’s disposal and the number of styles he has incorporated into his music over the years.
“Broken Stones” has groove aplenty with its funky intro and remains one of the most recognisable tracks from the record for good reason it’s a fantastic song again with Wellers vocals front and centre.
Weller himself considers this one of his finest releases commenting that all the stars aligned on the making of this record and while has enjoyed considerable success as a solo act since, he has never scaled quite the same heights he did in the 90s peaking with this 95 masterpiece.
Words by Chris Connor.