The Style Council were an English band formed in 1983 by Paul Weller, the former singer, songwriter, and guitarist with the punk rock/new wave/mod revival band The Jam, and keyboardist Mick Talbot, previously a member of Dexys Midnight Runners, The Bureau and The Merton Parkas. The band enabled Weller to take a more soulful direction with his music.
The permanent line-up grew to include drummer Steve White and Weller’s then girlfriend, vocalist Dee C. Lee. Other artists such as Tracie Young, Tracey Thorn (Everything but the Girl), and drummer/percussionist Steve Sidelnyk (Madonna, SEAL, Richard Ashcroft ) also performed and collaborated with the group. As with Weller’s previous band, most of the London-based group’s hits were in their homeland, where they scored seven Top 10 hits. The band also had hit singles and albums in Australia and New Zealand during the 1980s.
The band was founded in early 1983 by Paul Weller and initially consisted only of himself and Mick Talbot, who Weller said he chose because “he shares my hatred of the rock myth and the rock culture”. The band showed a diversity of musical styles. Singles “Speak Like a Child” (with its loud soul-influenced style), the extended funk of “Money-Go-Round”, and the synth–ballad “Long Hot Summer” all featured Talbot on keyboards and organ. Near the end of 1983, these songs were compiled on Introducing The Style Council, a mini-album initially released in Japan, the Netherlands, Canada, and the US only. The Dutch version was heavily imported to the United Kingdom.
In 1984, the single “My Ever Changing Moods“, backed with the Hammond organ instrumental “Mick’s Company”, reached No. 29 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the US. The song remains Weller’s greatest success in the US (including his efforts in The Jam and as a solo artist), while the group reached the peak of its success in the UK with the 1985 album Our Favourite Shop. The band played in New York City in May, 1984.
In December 1984, Weller put together a charity ensemble called the Council Collective to make a record, “Soul Deep”, initially to raise money for striking miners and subsequently also for the family of David Wilkie. The record featured The Style Council and a number of other performers, notably Jimmy Ruffin and Junior Giscombe. In spite of the song’s political content, it picked up BBC Radio 1 airplay and was performed on Top of the Pops.
The Style Council took a more overtly political approach than The Jam in their lyrics, with tracks such as “Walls Come Tumbling Down!“, “The Lodgers”, and “Come To Milton Keynes” being deliberate attacks on ‘middle England’ and Thatcherite principles prevalent in the 1980s. During this period, Weller was also instrumental in the formation of Red Wedge with Billy Bragg. He later said that this began to detract from the music: “We were involved with a lot of political things going on at that time. I think after a while that overshadowed the music a bit”.
In 1986, the band released a live album, Home and Abroad, and in 1987 launched The Cost of Loving, followed later in the year by the non-album single “Wanted”, which reached No. 20 in the UK Singles Chart. However, Confessions of a Pop Group, released a year later, sold poorly. This led to the band’s record label Polydor rejecting their final album (Modernism: A New Decade), which was influenced by the house scene. A greatest hits album called The Singular Adventures of The Style Council was released internationally in 1989; it included the non-album single “Promised Land“, which had reached No. 27 in the UK earlier that year.
In 1989, members of The Style Council went under the name of ‘King Truman’ to release a single on Acid Jazz titled “Like a Gun”. This was unknown to Polydor, and the single was pulled from the shops three days prior to release. Acid Jazz founder Eddie Piller said “The pair offered to make a single for my new label, which I’d just started with Radio 1 DJ Gilles Peterson as a side project. Talbot and Weller took pseudonyms Truman King and Elliott Arnold.”
The Style Council broke up in 1989. About the breakup, Paul Weller said (in 1990):
It’s something we should have done two or three years ago. We created some great music in our time, the effects of which won’t be appreciated for some time.
The cover version of “Promised Land” (originally by Joe Smooth) was the only release which surfaced from the Modernism sessions at the time; however, the entire album was released in 1998, both independently and in a 5-CD box set, The Complete Adventures of The Style Council. After the split, Weller embarked on a successful solo career (which featured Steve White on drums, who had left The Style Council by the time Confessions of a Pop Group was released, having only played on a few of its tracks). Talbot and White released two albums as Talbot/White—United States of Mind (1995) and Off The Beaten Track (1996). Talbot and White then formed The Players with Damon Minchella and Aziz Ibrahim. White and Minchella went on to form Trio Valore whilst Talbot went touring with Candi Staton in 2009.
All of The Style Council’s UK releases (including singles, 12″ maxis, albums, compact discs and re-issues thereof) featured the work of graphic designer Simon Halfon, who often collaborated with Weller to hone his ideas into a graphic form. Weller and Halfon began working together at the end of The Jam’s career, and continue to work together on Weller’s solo material.
80s Studio Albums
- 1983 Introducing The Style Council
- 1984 Café Bleu (US title: My Ever Changing Moods)
- 1985 Our Favourite Shop (US title: Internationalists)
- 1987 The Cost of Loving
- 1988 Confessions of a Pop Group