The Rolling Stones are an embarrassment. Sure, baby boomer hacks — fondly recalling the soundtrack to their young party days, maaaan — are currently falling over themselves to laud 1972’s Exile On Main Street as “the best album of all time” to help flog copies of the newly released remastered version.
Exile may be great, but really, The Stones should have given it away years ago. This isn’t an ageism call. They haven’t released a decent song — never mind, album — for two decades now. Unlike 52-year-old Paul Weller who — strike a light, guv’nor — has only just gone and unleashed a cracker of a genuinely new album in Wake Up The Nation.
Early signs aren’t promising. It’s rather quaint to hear ex-The Jam and Style Council main man Weller claim he’s going to “wake up the nation” on the title track when some his age find it tough enough to rouse themselves out of bed first thing in the morning. And his lyrical command to “get your face off the Facebook and turn off your phone” would be cringe-worthy (The Facebook?! Oh dear, granddad. Hasn’t anyone told you it’s all about The Twitter nowadays?) if it wasn’t welded to what those of a certain vintage call a proper tune. A proper tune that doesn’t overstay its welcome since most of Wake Up The Nation‘s 16 tracks clock in under the three-minute mark with several only hanging around for two minutes or so. It’s rather refreshing.
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From the honky tonk piano stomp of opener Moonshine to throwaway closing romp Two Fat Ladies via the My Bloody Valentine‘s guitar squall guru Kevin Shields assisted experimental blast of 7 & 3 Is The Striker’s Name, Motown-tinged No Tears To Cry and life-affirming Find The Torch, Burn The Plans this may not be the sound of the underground but it’s the sound of an ageing rocker whose best days should be behind him spectacularly regaining his mojo.
This, Mick Jagger, is how to grow old(er) and retain some credibility.
One of the albums of the year. Already.
The details: Paul Weller’s Wake Up The Nation album is available at all good record stores (remember them?) and online from iTunes, etc. The Modfather tours Australia in October.