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April 3, 2012

Paul Weller – Sonik Kicks

by gordonmichaelsutton

Me and Paul Weller go back a long way. All the way to 22nd November, 1977 to be precise, when I found myself walking alongside him and Bruce Foxton the night they played Cardiff’s Top Rank as The Jam.  It was fast establishing itself as the venue of choice for many of the emerging punk bands. I somehow managed to miss seeing The Stranglers, but I did catch  Ian Dury and the Blockheads there.

1977 was a curious year musically speaking. Around that time I was watching bands such as Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Elvis Costello and the Attractions, as well as Hot Chocolate (yes, Hot Chocolate – an excellent live act let me tell you!). Then there was Cher at Cardiff University Students’ Union, not forgetting The Ramones on my 21st birthday. What you need to know is that around the same time I was listening to Steely Dan and spending many a happy night in Cardiff’s nightclubs boogying the night away to Earth, Wind and Fire and the rich feast that was disco. Yet only two or three years previously I’d been testing my amp’s stamina with Roxy Music, David Bowie, King Crimson and Mike Oldfield’s Tubular Bells. Here’s the cover from In the Court of the Crimson King. They don’t design them like that anymore!

1977 was indeed a changing of the guard. Musical compasses were struggling to find their magnetic north. All we knew for certain was that there was a new energy in the air and a powerful and urgent pulse pounding our eardrums. Here’s the  late, great Ian Dury hitting us with his rhythm stick ..

Lots of water under the bridge since then. Most of the acts above have disbanded. Re-mastered special edition cd’s of classic albums abound. But some artists go from strength to strength. One of those is Paul Weller and the proof is his new album – Sonik Kicks.

Let me nail my colours to the mast – I think this is an excellent album from a great musician and songwriter. Yes, an artist with a great pedigree, but he’s facing forward with confidence not resting nostalgically on his laurels. It’s an album that’s both contemporary and classy. Sure, there’s a hint of his earlier work in the opening track – Green – albeit with a nod in the direction of electro. So, too, in some of the urgent vocals as in The Attic. There are some truly beautiful tracks on the album, too, with some neat arrangements – both strings and synths. I’m sure he’s heard it before, but while his vocal is very much his own, there’s a definite Bowie-like quality to the vocal on That Dangerous Age. This album’s good value, too – fourteen tracks in total. My own personal favourite is the last track – Be Happy Children –  with it’s warm soul vocal. See what you think. Ps – nice touch to dedicate the album to the memory of the late Amy Winehouse. Nice one, Paul, you’re a gent!


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