10 Best Paul Weller Songs
Long before there was an animal called "Britpop," there was Paul Weller. From his first kinetic blasts of punk energy with the Jam through his soul/jazz explorations in the Style Council, the so-called Modfather proved himself a fantastic bandleader. Once he stepped out of his own shadow and into the solo spotlight, things got even more interesting. To date, Weller has made 11 solo albums, each different from the previous. Choosing his finest work is no easy task, but these are our picks for the 10 Best Paul Weller Songs.
One of Weller's strongest love songs, 'You Do Something to Me' has all the makings of a perfect ballad, and Weller delivers the sincere lyrics and inviting melody in pure soul mode. Though the electric version found on the 'Stanley Road' album is wonderful, the bare-bones acoustic version takes the prize. Accompanied only by his own guitar, Weller sells the song better than any full-band arrangement could ever hope to do.
His self-titled solo debut was a bit of a disjointed affair, but by the time of his second outing, 'Wild Wood,' Paul Weller had started to find his direction as a solo artist. 'Sunflower' set the template for the next few years of Paul's recordings, introducing a soulful rock 'n' roll sound with nods to folk, pop and funk. There are elements of everything from Traffic to the Beatles at work here, but Weller fashions each influence in his own image. The album made it to No. 2, while 'Sunflower' hit the top 20.
A real gem from his 'Heavy Soul' album, No. 8 on our list of the Best Paul Weller Songs is certainly one of his finest moments. The understated rhythm edges forward as the song rolls on, and as the band cooks, the always-solid drumming of Steve White shines. "I can walk through the world like I'm not really here / Oh I really don't care," he sings in this tale of self-awareness. Another in a long string of hit U.K. singles, this one climbed to No. 21.
Driving acoustic guitars kick this one off, but no sooner than they settle in, electric guitars move in for the kill. This is textbook Paul Weller, the kind of thing he could toss off in his sleep, but it never sounds tired or played out. He's still able to summon the spirit and drive to push this one. Peaking at No. 15 in the U.K., this three-minute gem was one of the highlights from his 'As Is Now' LP.
With his 2011 album, 'Sonik Kicks,' Weller took a major leap away from his stock-in-trade style, referencing things not usually found in his playbook. For years, Weller dismissed David Bowie (for a variety of vague reasons), but here, the influence of the Thin White Duke creeps into Paul's subconscious. There are elements of late-'70s, 'Low'-era Bowie running throughout the album, and nowhere is that more evident than on this sonik blast of electronic-tinged energy. Classic stuff!
Weller has long immersed himself in the pop, rock and soul music of the 1960s, but on 'No Tears To Cry,' he ventures into a room he hadn't previously occupied. This is the "big-beat pop" sound of artists like the Walker Brothers and even Petula Clark, filtered through the Weller machine. The end result is near perfection. You can hear that Tony Hatch-style production techniques at work, and with its accented drums, swelling strings and overall triumphant vibe, this would have been a massive hit for someone in 1965.
Hitting No. 5 in the U.K. in the summer of 1996, 'Peacock Suit' is a self-assured kick of soulful rock 'n' roll delivered as only Mr. Paul Weller could do. A rock-solid groove and consistently sharp guitar attack sell this one. Weller's emphatic and soulful vocal tips an always tip-able hat to his idol, Steve Marriott of the Small Faces.
Weller has often pushed himself out of his comfort zone, sometimes stumbling, sometimes shining. On the opening track from his 2008 album '22 Dreams,' he shines brighter than a thousand suns. With perhaps a slight nod to Fairport Convention, this is one of Paul's most beautiful songs. The acoustic guitar, vocals, violin and cello are enough to land this one on our list of the 10 Best Paul Weller Songs, but the lovely harmony vocals of Hannah Andrews add welcome flavor.
Arguably one of Weller purest pop songs, this one kicks in with the vocal melody, and once the guitars come in, it's pure magic. 'Mermaids' wrapped up his 1997 'Heavy Soul' album and also made the Top 40 in his homeland. The insanely catchy "sha-la-la-la-la" sing-along refrain seals the deal. Short and sweet, this is a beauty.
With a riff on loan from Electric Light Orchestra's '10538 Overture,' Paul Weller kicks off his 1995 LP 'Stanley Road' in first class style. "Is happiness real, or am I so jaded," he asks in the opening line, questioning his world. Weller delivers a typically brilliant and soulful vocal atop the grooving rhythm. Throw in some nice guitar work, and you've got a winner -- the chart-topper on our 10 Best Paul Weller Songs list.