Paul Weller - Studio 150

"

Just stamp ‘for fans only' on the front and be done with it.


"


 


There's something about an album of cover versions that just turns me off. I can't count the amount of times that I have skimmed through the back catalogues of m favourite artists in a record shop and noticed something new. "Hey, what's this? A tribute to....(insert artist of choice here) Oh. Nah, I'll leave it." You see, cover versions are ok, but a full album's worth of them is infuriating. Infuriating because you can guarantee that for every 12 cover versions you hear, 10 of them will be utter bollocks. It's bad enough when you get one of those tribute collections with different bands adding a track each but when an artist decides to release a whole album of them, then there are only two words that spring to mind. Vanity and project. And those are nasty words indeed.


 


Paul Weller holed himself (and a few bandmates) up in Amsterdam for a few months and celebrated his label change by paying 'tribute' to the songs that have influenced him as an artist. The result? Studio 150. What's it like? To be honest, exactly how you'd expect it to sound. Weller's taken some great songs and MODified them.


 


I suppose the best thing I can say about this album is that it does sound like a Weller album. He's obviously chosen the songs that he could manipulate into something "Weller-like" and for the most part, it's not that bad. His versions of Wishing On A Star (Rose Royce) and The Bottle (Gil Scott Heron) are actually pretty good. The Carpenters' Close To You is made loungier and less twee and holds up rather well too. As does the version of Gordon Lightfoot's Early Morning Rain, which is given the respect it deserves and is probably the best song on the album. Elsewhere it gets a bit dodgy and on If Only I Could Be Sure (Nolan Porter) and All Along The Watchtower (do I need to tell you?) it gets very dodgy indeed. It sounds like he doesn't even understand the words to Neil Young's "Birds" and he completely ruins Sister Sledge's Thinking Of You but they sound great compared to his version of the traditional folk song, Black is the Colour, which is just horrible.


 


It's not a bad album. Hell, it's not even the worst Paul Weller album. It's just nothing to get excited about. Then again, it is an album of cover versions so what did we expect? Just stamp 'for fans only' on the front and be done with it.


 


 


Words : Damian Leslie