Paul Weller (born John William Weller) found his voice early, bellowing rock ‘n’ roll covers in working men’s clubs as a teenager during The Jam‘s nascent years.
By the time he was in his 20’s his husky bark was arguably the most recognisable voice of the post-punk era.
Following the demise of The Jam, Weller remodelled himself as a silky soul chanteur with The Style Council, but only as he hit his 40s did he proclaim he was happy with his voice – by then textured enough to convey tenderness and rage in the same phrase.
Having failed to disband The Style Council on time (a mistake, by his own admission), Paul Weller seemed to be at a point where his greatest songs were in the far distance, tangled up in The Jam and the politicised rush of Our Favourite Shop.
He seemed to have become an anachronism, a man in a silver suit grumbling about “making music for people my own age”.
After three years without a record deal following the demise of The Style Council, his eponymous 1992 solo debut album marked the relocation of his missing mojo.
He seemed to have crash-landed back in the six months following The Jam’s Tales From The Riverbank – folkier, wiser and desperate to re-establish himself as a songwriter.
Wild Wood (1993) saw it fine-tuned to reconnect with a mass audience. The album contributed toward a general reawakening of interest in Sixties ideology, helping to inspire Britpop and earning Weller the nickname “Modfather”.
The album won the Ivor Novello award for Outstanding Contemporary Song Collection and re-established Weller as one of Britain’s most gifted songwriters.
Then 1995’s hugely successful Stanley Road – released at the peak of the Britpop heatwave – marked the point where he ceased to be just a peculiarly prolific pop star and became nothing short of a pan-generational guru.