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heliocentric

The drummer Steve White is fast approaching a milestone in his life as a professional musician.

Next month marks 30 years since he started hitting the skins for a living.

And he’s been celebrating that event with a daily tweet showcasing a performance from his career.

Many of them have been with Paul Weller, first with the Style Council and then during PW’s ‘solo’ years.

Steve’s just reached the 2000 album ‘Heliocentric’ (Island), which I had the privilege of attending sessions for.

Nick Drake’s friend and arranger Robert Kirby had mentioned to me that he was working with Paul.

So I approached John Weller, Paul’s manager, and asked if I could make a radio documentary about the making of the album.

What became ‘Heliocentric’ was recorded over several months during the summer and autumn of 1999.

And true to our agreement, the Wellers let me sit in on sessions, warts and all, and interview those involved in the album’s making.

Recording can be a drawn-out business, and I remember one long (and no doubt expensive) day in Studio 2 at Abbey Road, which yielded nothing that made the final album.

Coming as it did after the commercial and critical success enjoyed by ‘Wildwood,’ ‘Stanley Road’ and ‘Heavy Soul,’ ‘Heliocentric’ is inevitably overlooked as a Paul Weller album.

But perhaps because of my involvement with its creation, I have a soft spot for several of the songs.

Steve White picked out ‘Frightened’ as a personal highlight in his #celebrating30years tweet the other day.

He’s right. It’s a classic Weller ballad.

Here are a three of mine, two showcased in a gig at London’s Royal Albert Hall.

Steve performs a fantastic drum solo mid-song in ‘Picking Up Sticks,’ and the late Robert Kirby demonstrates his arranging and conducting skills in ‘Love-Less.

And then there’s the song inspired by his then 8 year-old daughter Leah, who’s the cover girl on the March issue of Tatler magazine.

How time flies!

Leah Weller

And if you fancy seeing Steve celebrate those 30 years, there are two gigs on 9th and 10th April at the Islington in north London for which I think tickets are still available for the 2nd night.

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Paul Weller – Picking Up Sticks – live

Paul Weller – Love-Less – live

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Paul Weller – Sweet Pea, My Sweet Pea

Steve White – official website

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