excerpted from ‘Paul Weller – The Changing Man’ (Paolo Hewitt, 2011)
This quote just caught my eye on Google Books.
Of course, there were many in the mainstream press who were not at all impressed by Paul’s talent. For them, Paul was, and always will be, a dull boy, his music horrifically conservative, an affront to rock’s principles of rebellion and sonic expansion. In later years, Everett True at Melody Maker would regularly review Paul’s records with just one word: wanker. (Paul always asked me to point Everett out to him if we were ever in the same public space. Thankfully, for Everett, that occasion never arose.)
In the early 90s, Paolo (a former fellow NME writer) interviewed me for a video documentary around Paul Weller on the basis of one of the ‘reviews’. (I think it might have been for his big comeback single, which might have contributed to the problem. I can recall seeing Weller play at Bay 63 or somewhere similarly small around that time, so his star was definitely yet to rise again.) He asked me why I’d been so dismissive of the man. In an impassioned outburst, I explained to Paolo that I was a major Jam fan, liked The Style Council just fine, but felt uncontrollably betrayed by this wooden endeavour, the comeback. I told Paolo I”d actually written a five-paragraph review explaining all this, but – it being on a Singles Page – space was tight, and I though that space was better given over to praising records, not slagging them. So I reduced it to one word for, I reasoned, at least that way his fans would know a new single was out. My explanation of this took quite some time. I don’t think it was what Paolo was expecting.
In the event, my interview ended up on the cutting room floor. The video came out, minus me.
P.S. I actually prefer the festival review of Weller wherein I stated, “That last guitar solo went on so long, I grew a beard waiting for it to finish”. That might have been the year where I ended up reviewing most all of the festivals for Melody Maker – a dangerous game, because it meant that all the bands I slagged off one weekend would be playing the next, and I was very visible. Memorably, I was talking to MM writer Ian Gittins at one, when a drunken girl came over and attempted to pour a beer over my head. I was sober, it being only 12.30, so I ducked and the beer went all over Geoff Travis, Rough Trade supremo and Smiths/Cranberries (etc) manager, who was sitting next to me. Ian, not missing a beat, turned to me and said, “Everett, why do you have to be so rude to everyone?”
Turned out the drunken girl was the singer with Dubstar, a band I wasn’t that fond of. I’m not going to reprint what I said about here. I’m not proud of it.
Anyway, it wasn’t as good as Sarah Cracknell from St. Etienne’s response, who on hearing that I’d written that, “She sings as if she needs a good slap across the face”, phoned up the MM offices and said, “Any time he wants to try it I’ll be waiting”. I was being metaphorical, not advocating violence against women but … um … actually, I’m with Sarah on this one now.
Oddly, I still LOVE The Jam, a band who were immeasurably influential on awkward teenage me – as evinced by their inclusion in this list – even though Weller probably still hates the fuck out of me.