Weller's happy to be moving on


Published: 19 Oct 2007

PAUL WELLER - Wild Wood (Deluxe Edition)

Rating *****

FOLLOWING a few years in the wilderness, 1993’s Wild Wood marked Paul Weller’s resurrection.

His second solo album, a year after his No8 self-titled solo debut, allowed the British public to rediscover an icon, at a time which saw a resurgence in national pride all . . . summed up by Brit pop.

After fronting mod rock legends The Jam in the Seventies and The Style Council in the Eighties, Wild Wood allowed Weller

Content ... Paul Weller

to make his mark in the Nineties

Now, 14 years after its release, a special deluxe edition — backed with demos, radio sessions, and remixes — is out on October 29.

Still sounding as relevant and as good as the first time around, it’s an album that warrants the term “masterpiece”.

And an upbeat Paul tells me: “Without blowing my own trumpet it’s a mark of a good song if it stands the test of time. And I think the songs on Wild Wood do. I think it caught the mood of the time for a lot of people.”


As I talk to The Mod-father at his Surrey studio where he is making his ninth solo album, he is caught between excitement for his new songs and immense pride in the album that set his solo career on the right track.

“It was just the right time for Wild Wood. Everything was on the up. I was going through a really creative time and most of the tunes and demos are on the deluxe edition.

“We had just finished the first solo album when we started demo-ing for the second — Wild Wood. It was a real purple patch.

“I felt really positive — songs were flowing, the vibe was good between the musicians, me and Brendan Lynch, the producer.”

The end of The Style Council had marked the most difficult period in Paul’s career. But returning with his self-titled first solo album and then Wild Wood was crucial for him.


He explains: “It had been a pretty s**t time for me. Wild Wood was so important because I was just finding my confidence again. I’d rediscovered my love of the guitar and tracks like Shadow Of The Sun were really free and jamming.

the jam

 “It was quick to record because all the songs were in place — it was a pivotal moment for me. You could tell there was a new excitement in the air. It was like, ‘OK we’re back and we’re going to have it again’.”

Listening to the demo versions on the deluxe version takes Paul right back to the time they were recorded.

He says: “They sound really fresh and I can’t believe how much time has elapsed — it could have been yesterday. It doesn’t feel like 14 years. The demos are from 1992 and 93 — it’s f*****g mental, it’s so long ago. A good song will last, no matter when it was written.”

Paul is proud of every track on Wild Wood but there are a few that are really special to him.

“Shadows Of The Sun will always mean something to me. When we played that at Glastonbury in 1994, it was pretty amazing — a really transcendental moment.

“Sunflower is always great and Wild Wood, the title track, is definitely another one. Whenever we play that one, it drops for everyone.” Paul found himself the darling of the music world again when Wild Wood was released in September 1993. It went straight to No2 in the charts and he was back playing sold-out shows at huge venues.

Paul says: “I found it amusing that I suddenly was ‘in’ again. The music press was writing nice things about me and I felt a mixture of bemusement and, well, an ego boost.

“I’m not particularly cynical but I hadn’t made this album for anyone but myself.

“We had all been buzzing off it but we didn’t know if there was an audience for it.” There certainly was — and Paul was on a roll. His next album release, Stanley Road in May 1995, shot in at No1. Has Paul ever felt pressure to live up to the acclaim of Wild Wood and Stanley Road with the albums that followed?

He tells me: “Every album is important to me — good or bad.

“My songs are my children and sometimes you make a record and it connects with people like Wild Wood really did.”

The deluxe version includes original album tracks and B-sides.

“It also has unreleased tracks and covers, some of which Paul never intended to go on any album including his cover of I’m Only Dreaming by Small Faces and Black Sheep Boy by Tim Hardin.

He says: “I’m Only Dreaming is just a demo really. It’s just us getting pissed in the studio and having fun — now it’s on the album for all the world to hear! I don’t mind though. It captures the mood in which the album was made.

“With Tim Hardin, he was someone I got into in the early Nineties. I really opened up to different music and stopped being so blinkered.”

paul weller

Paul says he is a big fan of other singer-songwriters these days. “I like James Morrison, I love his voice and Paolo Nutini, I think he’s great.

“I just did a single with Gabrielle who I’ve worked with before. She’s such a lovely person. I’m up for working with anyone. If they’ve got something to say or anything positive to put forward then I’m up for working with them.

“I sang with Amy Winehouse a while back. She’s top. I’d love to work with her again.”

Despite the recent trend for reunions, a return for The Jam, or performing with bassist Bruce Foxton and drummer Rick Buckler, is not on the cards.

Paul’s former bandmates have just started touring together for the first time in 25 years under the name From The Jam.

In his statement when the band split in 1982, Paul, then aged 24, said: “I’d hate us to end up old and embarrassing like so many other groups.”

And he stands by those words today. He says: “I just think certain things are best left as they are so you have a sweet taste in your mouth and a good memory.

“If you’re a good musician you have to move along and do something else.


“I’m not into this revival thing at all. Why is everyone reforming? I’m not talking about anyone in particular but they should just move on.

“I don’t want to get caught up in a war with anyone but some things are best left.”

For now Paul is just looking to the future.

He recently had a book called Suburban 100 published. It contains Paul’s lyrics and notes, with the cover artwork done by legendary pop artist Peter Blake, who did the cover art for Stanley Road.

He says: “I was encouraged do it by John Wilson who edited it. It’s like a book of poetry and it’s there if you want it — just a little thing out in the world.”

After suffering with writer’s block four years ago, he is in one of his most creative periods and has written and recorded 18 tracks for his new album, which he hopes will be out in Spring 2008.

the jam

“I want it to be a double album and we’re writing and recording as much as we can. I want to make it the best album I’ve ever done.

“I’m really proud of what we’ve done so far — it’s really different. Do you want a listen? I’ll play you a track. It’s f*****g top!”

And as he plays me Light Nights, an amazing, pyschedelic, folky guitar track, powered by his trademark impassioned vocals, there’s no doubt that his genius shows no sign of diminishing.

While this retrospective release may add some colour to the past, there’s no doubt there are masterpieces to come in the future.


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