The Style Council

Modernism: A New Decade

Tuesday 4th December 2018

It shouldn't be surprising that an affirmed modernist such as Paul Weller, would be an enthusiastic advocate of a newly celebrated genre of music. In 1989 this was the ethos behind the aptly titled 'Modernism: A New Decade', the final chapter in the Style Council's discography.

In 1988 house music swept across the UK, overflowing from its backwater breeding grounds into the mainstream. Never one to rest on the laurels of The Jam's success or the intervening hits and acclaim that The Style Council achieved, Paul Weller was keen to get involved with what he saw as the latest development of soul and jazz. As a result of Weller's progressive steer, the fifth and final album by The Style Council showed very distinct Chicago and acid house influences at the forefront of their sound.

While Paul Weller was reportedly happy with the album's progressive and contemporary stance, it seems that it put the tin hat on the declining relationship that Polydor and The Style Council had. The duo had flaunted Polydor's wrath with antics such as their unsanctioned 1989 single released via Eddie Piller's Acid Jazz under the pseudonym King Truman.

An album that would stretch the loyalty of some sections of The Jam and Style Council's established fanbase was too risky for the label who were struggling to keep up with the times, and so, the decision was taken to drop The Style Council and drop plans to release 'Modernism: A New Decade' with them. It all added up to the end of the band, and Paul Weller and Mick Talbot went their own ways.

Complete with drum machines, synths, jazzy brass and samples, there's no mistaking Paul Weller and Mick Talbot's intent on 'A New Decade'. While the record company viewed an album of house songs as an expensive folly, ever the modernist, Paul Weller was keen to tap into the gospel-inflected house coming from America's East coast.  

The album remained unreleased although one of the tracks 'Can You Still Love Me?' made it onto the B-side of The Style Council's 1989 non-album single 'Promised Land', a cover of the 1987 house track by Joe Smooth. The rest of the album would remain unheard until it was released in 1998 and included in 'The Complete Adventures of The Style Council' box set.

In a pleasing carry over into Paul Weller's solo career, one of the songs from the rejected album 'That Spiritual Feeling' was re-recorded to become the B-side to his first solo single 'Into Tomorrow' in 1992. 

Paul Weller's career headed in a more soulful guitar-based direction, riding the wave of indie guitar-based music that came into play in the early 1990s. Among other credits, Mick Talbot recorded with Acid Jazz bands Galiano and Young Disciples as well as playing with Paul Weller from time to time, including contributions on Stone Foundation's 'Everybody, Anyone' earlier in 2018 which also featured Style Council drummer Steve White.

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