weller at the bbc

Music made by people of your own age strikes, if you’ll pardon the terrible pun, a special chord.

In the case of Paul Weller, that means a musical life I’ve followed since I was 18 and the Jam first made the UK charts with ‘In The City.’

So for people in their mid-50s, the new BBC Four compilation of performances from his various incarnations was like watching your life flash before your eyes.

The featured Jam performances are perhaps less powerful now because of their over-familiarity.

But as anyone who’s seen Paul perform live down the years, you know when he’s really on song and there are a few performances in this latest tv compilation that I would single out.

‘Walls Come Tumbling Down’ is a tremendous song that the Style Council performed at Live Aid in 1985, and the rendition captured here (around 24’30”) is full of energy and anger.

His reinvention as a solo artist really kicked in on ‘Wildwood’ in 1993, and you can feel that new musical lease of life in the mesmerising performance of ‘Sunflower’ (31’15”) – long-time collaborator Steve White on drums is key here, but also listen out for Yolanda Charles on bass and Helen Turner on Hammond organ.

That set up a great run for Weller through ‘Stanley Road’ and ‘Heavy Soul,’ but it wasn’t really till 2005 that his muse reappeared.

‘From The Floorboards Up’ (50’00”) was the song that did it, and gave him the confidence to really go on musical safari, culminating in ’22 Dreams,’ ‘Wake Up The Nation’ and Sonik Kicks.’

Towards the end of ‘Paul Weller at the BBC,’ the appearance with Amy Winehouse at the Electric Proms in 2006 covering an Etta James song is also proof of PW’s skill as a collaborator.

I wonder where he’ll take us next?

Paul Weller at the BBC – BBC iPlayer

And if you’re looking for a little pub quiz-style entertainment, have a go at Steve White’s Twitter challenge of naming the 8 bass players featured in the programme.

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