CHARLY’S ROCK COLUMN: PAUL WELLER – A Kind Revolution (2017)

Review by: Charly Saenz

It’s 2017 and we have Paul Weller’s new album? Come on, Let’s hear it for the Modfather!

This is a cool launch: “Woo Se Mama” is the great single and album opener, soulful, explosive. P.P. Arnold and Madeline Bell collaborate in the effervescent backing vocals, no less!

“Nova” continues on a rocking note, adding some quality horns here and there. And the guitar! Paul is playing some nice licks all over the album. But the echoey, dreamy voices are the best here. Subtle Psychedelia touches galore, brushes of Bowie, a refreshing adventure thru and thru.

“Long Long Road” is a masterful, classic ballad. Man, it’s been a long time since I heard a great ballad like this. There’s not much to say about it, you just gotta listen to it.

“She Moves With The Fayre” is more jazzy, but the guitar sound sticks around and leads. I like this approach. Paul’s playing is melodic and engaging, and thus we avoid the choon to become a Style Council leftover. Also, Robert Wyatt collaborate here with trumpets (including a solo) and vocals! Cool!.

“The Cranes Are Back” is led by a buzzing bass, nice backing vocals, and a softer, loungy atmosphere, reminding us of past Weller albums like Wild Wood. “Hopper” has a magnificent melody (the main hook is irresistible), some nice organ work, more “big band” horns and acoustic guitars.. And that laid back feeling of Paul finally coming to terms with life:

“I’m sat in a corner
I’ve merged with the wall
Become part of the painting
No point fighting it all
I’m quite relaxed
It’s fine with me…”

“New York” has a great Hair style! (No. Not a hairdo, but Hair, the movie). A fantastic love song (a Life Love Song too). The organ work is once more impressive but that rocking guitar never disappears, even crunching in the background at the end.

“One Tear”, once more started by a serious bass.. is an electronic, funky affair, to remind us that Weller will never stop trying “something else” and trying new toys and ideas. After the brief introduction there’s a clean, strong beat. You can’t help but dance to it, young kid. Get on your feet and do it.. The electronic pulse is in the background but it merges with a more classic structure. Paul’s gruffy voice is put to test, but God it delivers. An infectious dancing number. Guess who’s the guest here? Boy George on vocals!

“Satellite Kid” is another rocking number which functions as Weller’s statement as he approaches his 60 years on earth:

“Don’t count me out
Don’t you dismiss me
My medicines strong
Whatcha gonna do without me”

“The Impossible Idea” is a sort of waltz that manages to end up the album in a singalong mode. I can picture myself singing, love-drunk or just wine-drunk:

“I like hanging around
Til I switch on
The impossible idea
That Love might
Change the world
Maybe I’ll come to the conclusion
Until I can change myself
And there I’ll fall”

There’s a pretty accordion somewhere that paints a nice detail.. A beautiful ending to my favourite album.. in a long time. This is Paul Weller finding his old best self, stepping out of unlimited innovation and using his melodic wits for the best cause. A solid 9 but just because. It could easily be a 10.

 

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CHARLY’S ROCK COLUMN: KISS – Rock and Roll Over (1976)

Review by: Charly Saenz

“I Want You” is one of those classic Kiss stadium pleasers. And it pleases me to no end, the slow part, the fast part. It works, it’s pure Stanley. “Take Me” is direct crunching hard rock, with that hiccup chorus and echo voices. Another Stanley rocker, this time with a quite involved solo by Ace.

Gene brings his super classic “Callin’ Dr Love” to the party. The key though, are the background vocals, most surely Paul & Ace but also some wicked “hidden” vocals, which I bet are provided by Gene. Ace really shines here, boy. “Ladies Room” is one of those pure rock and roll Kiss songs, not much to say, but it’s a good one. “Baby Driver”, composed and sung by Peter Criss, in his usual funky style, it’s a nice different touch to close Side A. Did I tell you I’m listening to this on cassette? As it should be!

Well, Side B is a different affair for me. “Love’em, Leave’em” is the quintessential repetitive hard rock song with a nasty chorus; only Ace does something to save this mess, fortunately it ain’t too long. “Mr Speed” is even more forgettable. “See You In Your Dreams” is insufferable, Gene, please don’t dream about me. And I won’t even mention “Makin’ Love”. Oh I did: Hell’s Bloody Bells. Well, to be honest, Ace shines in the solo, but listening to Paul’s continuous plea for sex gives me a headache. What an irony.

But you get “Hard Luck Woman” too! a precious ballad by Paul, sung by Peter’s raspy voice (heck it was meant to be sung by Rod Stewart. That makes sense). In my heart it’s a much better song than “Beth”. It made it to the Top 20 but didn’t get that much love out of the circle except in old rusty Classic Rock radios.

I guess this is a usually forgotten album – but Side A and that classic in Side B are quite good! And the Argentina bloody cover is cool! Well – You make the best of what’s still around, you know.