First Appeared in The Music Box, December 2004, Volume 11, #12
Written by John Metzger
Paul Weller has never been shy about turning material that was penned by other artists into fodder for his albums as well as his concerts. With The Jam, he covered songs by The Kinks, Otis Redding, and Sam Cooke; on his own he has tackled tracks by The Who and Dr. John. In other words, although Studio 150, his latest outing, is his first full-length endeavor to be comprised entirely of cover tunes, it also is a natural extension of his existing canon.
For the record, Studio 150 isn’t an essential endeavor. Nevertheless, it is quite fascinating to hear how Weller builds something new from a diverse slate of songs. By fusing together tracks such as Neil Young’s Birds, Allen Toussaint’s Hercules, and Nile Rodgers’ Thinking of You, Weller constructs a fully cohesive musical suite that successfully pays tribute to both his influences and his career.
Throughout Studio 150, Weller's missteps — the merely minor alterations to Kris Kristofferson’s gentle folk tune Early Morning Rain; the gospel-bathed swirl of Bob Dylan's All Along the Watchtower; and the string-drenched smoothness of Wishing on a Star — are slight. Although they’re solidly performed and thoroughly enjoyable, they’re also minor curiosities. At his best, however — the furious, horn- and flute-colored, funk-fueled blast of The Bottle; the slinky R&B groove of Don’t Make Promises; the strangely compelling soul-soaked breeziness of Close to You; and the Traffic-tinged stateliness that graces his reworking of the traditional Scottish folk tune Black Is the Colour — Weller concocts some truly magnificent moments that frequently conjure images of the finest outings from Joe Cocker.
Studio 150 is available from Barnes & Noble.
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2004 The Music Box