Reason #322 Why The ’80’s Didn’t Suck: Cafe Bleu
Like many North Americans I was introduced to the music of The Jam via their excellent 2-LP compilation entitled SNAP! Track to track it was some of the best (punk? power pop? rock? mod?) I had ever heard. It was also fiercely English, way more than, say, The Clash, or even The Who (who by the mid/late ‘70’s had abandoned any English modisms for stadium bombast), and maybe even more so than The Kinks! They were also hard edged, and very political. And angry! Man, was Weller angry.
So The Jam broke up and Weller appeared with keyboardist Nick Talbot, with a new sound and, most disturbingly, a new haircut. If I remember correctly (4 TO ONE ODDS) I didn’t really fall over myself buying any Style Council records back when they were released. I thought the mixture of smooth jazz and soul was way too tame for me to really embrace. When I bought, and subsequently fell in love with, Paul Weller’s self titled solo debut album in the early ‘90’s it all clicked. Go back and listen to The Gift (The Jam’s swan song) and you’ll hear the prototype for Café Bleu. It really is a remarkable record and, bad haircuts aside, it was a good and necessary move for Weller to make. Even though he was trying to make something more “serious”, Weller being Weller you know, he just couldn’t help writing some amazing pop singles: The Paris Match, My Ever Changing Moods and especially You’re The Best Thing are some of the best songs in his entire cannon.