Studio 150 - The Reviews


Studio 150, V2, £14.99

Weller has always worn his influences on the sleeves of his Ben Sherman shirts. The Modfather has been open in his affection for 1960s soul, the Beatles, the Who and the Kinks since his reign with  the Jam.

An undercurrent of funk and a pastoral folk element occasionally rises to the surface of his solo work. Those interested in his musical roots might be better served by his excellent Under The Influence compilation than this collection of eclectic cover versions, apparently assembled as a stop-gap while he restokes the fires of his songwriting muse.

Although rarely awful, Weller bafflingly avoids the artists who have most inspired him in favour of the sentimental nostalgia of reinterpreting disco hits (his gruff versions of Wishing on a Star and Thinking of You lack the oxygen of the female-sung originals) and MOR favourites (Close to You and Early Morning Rain might be lovely tunes but they have a saccharine banality at odds with the rough integrity of Weller's voice).

Only his gloomy reading of the English folk standard Black Is the Colour offers something truly transcendent. Neil McCormick

From: Manchester Online

WELLER has never been a stranger to the cover version, after all in The Jam’s heyday the band put their own slant on such classics as The Kinks’ David Watts and Curtis Mayfield’s Movin’ On Up.

While in his next incarnation The Style Council, amongst the Bluenote Jazz could be found versions of the lesser-known Angel by Anita Baker and Joe Smooth’s Promised Land.

So it comes as no surprise that Woking’s favourite son has finally gotten around to putting together an album of them.

Recorded at Amsterdam’s Studio 150, fulfilling the 46-year-old’s long held desire to make an album overseas, it is in the main an extremely enjoyable and accomplished too.

Wisely avoiding any of the artists like The Kinks and The Beatles which have been done to death already, he has picked out twelve genre-spanning tracks and proved capable along with his trusty band of mastering the majority of them.

A handful does stand out head and shoulders above the rest though, as is usually the case when attempting a clutch of covers.

New single and Rose Royce original Wishing On A Star is expertly handled with a understated sprinkling of piano and strings, while his delicate version of the melancholic, Scottish lament Black Is The Colour is a real treat.

This is followed by the perfect pick me up in Burt Bacharach’s Close To You, given the full Style Council jazz makeover. Perhaps the LP’s most enjoyable moment comes on Gordon Lightfoot’s Early Morning Rain, where he combines with folk singer Eliza Carthy for gorgeous, undulating, summer’s evening ballad.

Predictably the tracks that sit too close to home work less well, like Oasis’ One Way Road, which is one the band’s weakest B-sides anyway.

While no mountain mover, the album provides further proof of Weller’s ownership of the best white soul voice of his and generation’s since.

Lawrence Poole 3/5


Rev up the Lambretta, The Modfather is back! This trawl through some of the songs he's loved before is varied (Chic, Oasis, The Carpenters, Tim Hardin), and features suitably impassioned singing. Just don't go on a victory parade quite yet. The odd wonky arrangement and a creeping listlessness suggest there's a way to go before PW breaks his writer's block. 2/5

From: Guardian Online

Paul Weller and his mates (including Steve Cradock of Ocean Colour Scene) decamped to Amsterdam to record this collection of a dozen cover versions but it has done little to alter his penchant for Seventies blues-rock. At times, this is a good thing, as with the opener 'If I Could Only Be Sure', where a clean, close Gibson riff and organ underpin Weller's vocals, or in the fizzing, funky drumbeat and heavy piano on Aaron Neville's 'Hercules'. At times, it doesn't work however; the cover of Sister Sledge's 'Thinking of You' just sounds strange - and what was the point of adding a choir to 'All Along the Watchtower'? That said, there's a lovely string section and harp on the single, 'Wishing on a Star', and Weller's voice really stands out on 'Black Is the Colour' with Eliza Carthy.

Molloy Woodcraft

From: The Sunday Herald

Ah, the covers album. Paul Weller’s song choices might be beyond reproach but many of his inter pretensions are not – Ocean Cover Scene might have been a better title than Studio 150. The flyaway sweetness of Sister Sledge’s Thinking Of You becomes leaden bar-room boogie, The Carpenters’ Close To You is reimagined as leaden bar-room boogie, Hendrix’s All Along The Watchtower is transmuted into leaden … you get the picture.

Graeme Virtue 1/5

From: Scotland On Sunday

Bowie did it. Ferry did it. Now Weller does it with equal aplomb, investing a diverse selection of cover versions with his gritty charms and impressively imaginative arrangements. The fact he has another 30 years of music from which to choose since David and Bryan respectively recorded Pin Ups and Another Time, Another Place does no harm.

The record’s strength is in the songs and his ability to make them his own, especially when adding a twist of soul that is one part Wigan and two parts Alan Toussaint.

Gil Scott Heron’s ‘The Bottle’ is transformed from a shimmying urban social protest song to a full-on funk confrontation, Rose Royce’s perfect slab of wistful pop, ‘Wishing on a Star’, is given new life as a rhythm and blues ballad complete with a distorted guitar middle eight and swirling strings.

The take on the Carpenters’ ‘Close To You’ is out of the same top drawer, but strangely Weller comes slightly unstuck on Aaron Neville’s early soul classic ‘Hercules’, the one occasion when he sounds an idea short on how to improve the original.

Nor does he quite carry the traditional beauty of ‘Black is The Colour’, but he rejuvenates Dylan’s ‘All Along The Watchtower’ and ends with a robustly bittersweet version of Neil Young’s ‘Birds’, quite possibly the best and most effective thing here. Weller’s third-favourite soul singer of all time, Steve Marriott, would have been very proud.