Thursday, August 13, 2009

The Style Council - Speak Like A Child 7"

01. Speak Like A Child
02. Party Chambers

1983 Polydor Records | TSC1

The most divisive 45 of 80s mod music? It was a couple of years before I would get into mod sounds, but I can only imagine the reaction when this bounded out of peoples speakers, like a spoiled child in new trainers, in the spring of 1983. For some, it was a betrayal. For others it showed a bright, new future. It pretty much set the agenda for the endless "that's not mod" arguments throughout the decade, not least because the group were actually successful. Like The Jam, The Style Council had appeal beyond the confines of mod listeners and as a mod, you couldn't be listening to the same sounds as the commoners, could you? In fairness to Weller, it was no mean feat to have survived the '79 backlash and still be the biggest band in the UK when the Jam split in '82. Or to be in a commercially successful mod band (though they mightn't have admitted it at the time) in the decade that mod forgot. It could be argued that The Style Council were more mod than The Jam, drawing on jazz and soul as opposed to punk.
It was really the first time that someone offered a new take on the original mod template while trying to reconcile itself with its bright, new 80s surroundings, rather than retreating into 60s revisionism or filtering it through punk's angry fire (as The Jam had already done). The problem for many (and for much 80s mod music) was that these new surroundings, all synths and bright, shiny surfaces, didn't sit well with the classic, gritty rumble of the mod sounds of old. In its wake were left the factions of '79 revivalists, the purist "elitist" mods and the "modern" mods at each others throats for the rest of the decade. Did I like it? Of course. But I mightn't have told you.

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