published: 20 /
Stunning return-to-form from the increasinglly erratic Paul Weller, back with his best album since 'Stanley Road'
That Paul Weller produced what is probably going to be his best ever work with the Jam is something that he (and those of us who still rate him as one of our best songwriters) is going to have to realise and live with. It’s been 10 years now since Weller released ‘Stanley Road’ and that album still stands as his best solo album. During the 10 years since that album and ‘As Is Now’ Weller has had more than his fair share of moments. He has written and released a good number of brilliant songs, but the sad thing is that there were spread over a number of albums. Every album Weller has released has had at least a few absolutely classic songs buried in there but it looked like a certain bet that he would never again come up with an album where every song was as good as those on ‘Stanley Road’.
But one thing Weller never lost track of was how important the single was. That’s was and not is; singles have lost much of their importance over the last 10 years or so. Although he has released some less than inspired albums Weller has hardly put a foot wrong since day one when it came to releasing singles, which is why when ‘From The Floor Boards Up’ was released as a single and a taster for this album it was no surprise; it was another Weller classic although it was infused with a passion and edge not shown by the Woking Wonder for some time. Short, edgy and sharp it came and did the job before leaving you wanting more. Just as it should be, just like the old days. Just like a single, in fact which made one think that maybe Weller had given his best shot away as the first preview for the album yet again.
Thankfully he hadn’t. ‘As Is Now’ is not only the best Weller album since ‘Stanley Road’ but it quite probably, given time, will stand as the best solo Weller album ever. To prove that ‘Floor Boards’ was no fluke we were hit with ‘Come On/Let’s Go’ as the next single. Even sharper than it’s predecessor it had Weller throwing down the gauntlet to all the new pretenders. “Sing you little fuckers, sing like you have no choice” was Weller reclaiming his ground. On top of that it is one of the best songs ever to grace the Weller songbook, his work with the Jam included.
The biggest fault with Weller’s albums was that when he got into his jazz or funk thing it rarely worked, for the listener at least. So it was with some trepidation that ‘Bring Back The Funk (Pts 1 and 2)' was approached. But this time it worked, maybe it’s because the album as a whole is strong or maybe it’s because Weller finally found his groove and managed to pull it off this time; his vocals on this track are really outstanding. Weller has finally released a funk track that is immediately accessible.
The other factor was if Weller, now with the spark back in his songs and that old passion back, could carry that through to his slower songs. Not since ‘I Should Have Been There To Inspire You’ from ‘Heavy Soul’ (surely one of his most underrated songs) had Weller managed to convey that passion through in his ballads. But ‘The Start Of Forever’ and ‘All On A Misty Morning’ show that the folk/rock Weller is alive and kicking even when he takes a more laid back approach.
With echoes of the best of ‘Wildwood’, ‘Stanley Road’ and his first solo album running through these songs but with that old spark back Weller is once again on top form. Weller has proven, once again, that yep, he’s still got it.
Blink And You'll Miss It
Come On/Let's Go
Here's The Good News
To The Start Of Forever
All On A Misty Morning
From The Floorboards Up
I Wanna Make It Alright
Fly Little Bird
Roll Along Summer
Bring Back The Funk (Pt 1 And 2)
The Pebble And The Boy
Have a Listen:-