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CD Reviews: Review of As Is Now by Paul Weller
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Click here to buy yourself a copy from Amazon.com Paul Weller: As Is Now (Yep Roc 2005)

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As frontman for the Jam, Paul Weller was a political punk poet. As leader of the Style Council, he jazzed it up a little, generally without sacrificing pop hooks in the process. But as a solo artist...he’s just this guy, you know?

Perhaps that’s unfair. In fact, if you’re in the UK, it’s totally and utterly unfair, given that Weller is a full-blown legend who still regularly scales the charts (at least to some degree) with each and every release. But in the States, the Jam didn’t score a lick of success outside of the college charts, and the Style Council, if they’re remembered at all, are only recalled for their one top-40 hit: “My Ever Changing Moods.” (It hit #29 in 1984, if you’re searching your memory.) Weller’s solo efforts have been almost entirely ignored in the US, however; the guy’s gotten absolutely no love, commercially speaking...and we’re talking six studio albums, a live album, and a collection of covers worth of no love. (That last one didn’t even see release over here.) There’s no reason to think that his fortunes will change with his latest disc, As Is Now, but at the very least, Weller fans will be psyched to find that their hero is back in top form.

“Come On / Let’s Go,” the third song on As Is Now, really should’ve been the lead track to this disc, with its guitar just reminiscent enough of “That’s Entertainment” to announce Weller’s welcome return, and its lyrics, which find him spotting kids “hanging ‘round on corners / Shouting at the top of your voice / Sing, you little fuckers / Sing like you’ve got no choice.” From there, things then could’ve moved into the actual opener, “Blink,” which is powered by a killer guitar riff in its own right. In between these two songs, unfortunately, lies “Paper Smile,” which has an early ‘70s rock vibe that’s rather a snooze; thankfully, it’s more or less a rarity on the album. The only other outright bomb on the disc is “Bring Back The Funk (Pts. 1 and 2),” which serves to officially confirm that no white man from the UK can successfully pull off a song with the word “funk” in its title (Wild Cherry were from Cleveland), particularly if it consists of more than one part.

Much of As Is Now skirts about sounds Weller has explored throughout his career. “Here’s The Good News” may make you wonder if you slipped from Paul Weller into Paul McCartney, as it has somewhat of an Abbey Road vibe, while its successor, “The Start of Forever,” is a gentle song which starts solely with acoustic guitar then is gradually fleshed out with percussion and a delicately-used brass section, and “Pan” floats by on piano for just over two minutes until the vaguely folky “All On A Misty Morning” arrives. The highlight of the album, however, is “From the Floorboards Up,” which is, as been observed in many other forums, two minutes and twenty-seven seconds of an angry young man in the autumn of his years. The guitar, the growl...well, not to make short work of everything that come and gone in the last 20 years or so, but, really, it’s the best thing Weller’s done since the Jam.

If the proceedings come off as a bit schizophrenic at times, due to the myriad of musical styles, there’s still solid evidence to support As Is Now as the most consistent disc Paul Weller has produced since Stanley Road

~Will Harris 


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