What the 18-year-old Paul Weller would have said about his 30-something reinvention as purveyor of whiskery 70s rock probably doesn’t bear repeating. For diehard fans, however, the albums reissued here (in a no-fuss, slipcase format) represent a mid-90s purple patch to rival anything by his previous band.
If his 1992 solo debut remains a touchstone for obsessives and 2000’s Heliocentric has its moments (notably overlooked gem Frightened and the frankly bonkers There’s No Drinking, After You’re Dead) it’s 1993’s Wild Wood that grabs the attention.
Wracked by self-doubt – he questions his own relevance directly on Has My Fire Really Gone Out?, it’s the sound of Weller with his guard down just as his rekindled muse is providing him a way out of the wilderness. Elevated to the status of a Mod Don Corleone following the success of 1995’s million-selling Stanley Road, 1997’s Heavy Soul is – whisper it – better still.
Firing on all cylinders, he delivers snarling Mod putdowns (Peacock Suit), squalling acid rock (Brushed, Heavy Soul Pt 1) and frazzled blue-eyed soul (Up In Suze’s Room) with a manic, end-of-the-millennium urgency mirrored by Brendan Lynch’s bleep-heavy production. Those swayed by his recent sonic experiments will tell you different, but for sheer vein-bulging intensity, he hasn’t matched it since.