I could write an entire series of blogs about how great Paul Weller is, and how under-rated he is in the UK (despite the fact that he recently won the Lifetime Achievement award at the Brit Awards). But you’d probably get bored. So I won’t. Suffice to say that he has done more in his 30-year odd career than pretty much any other British artist, and enjoyed more sustained success than anyone other than a few select groups or singers to boot. The quality of his work has been more sustained than David Bowie, he’s never given into corporate sponsorship like the Rolling Stones and he still looks pretty f***ing cool as he pushes 50.
Part of my love for Paul Weller’s work has been his willingness to experiment with other genres. After splitting up The Jam, the most successful of the bands that followed punk, at the height of their popularity he moved into jazz-lite territory with The Style Council. They were eventually dropped by their record label for recording a house album – in 1989. And since then he has experimented with soul, rock, acoustic and cover albums and lots of stuff in between.
This particular collaboration came to me by chance in-so-much as I hadn’t planned on buying anything by Paul Weller that week back in 1994 but it just so happened that the NME were kind enough to put a 7″ single on their cover which had two remixed Paul Weller songs on it (and one live one), one of which was this amazing remix of Wild Wood by Portishead, the band who would win the Mercury Music Prize the next year for their debut album Dummy (thanks to All Mod Cons for finding this ‘video’ of it).
The original track was from Weller’s most recent album, also called Wild Wood, which detailed his recent return to his Surrey roots and his renewed love for the area. With little more than his fantastic voice and some strumming of his acoustic guitar, the song builds slowly to a climax that never truly comes and is all the more satisfying for it.
By comparison, this remix of Wild Wood includes some typical Portishead style clashing drums and some other lovely effects. It has to have been the best 70p I ever spent (the price of the NME back in those days) and I played it almost to destruction. Well, in fact I did play it to destruction. Somehow, after moving between houses whilst at University I took it out of its sleeve to find a large hunk missing out of the vinyl. Gutted? You bet.
Several years passed and for some reason I never threw it away. For some bizarre, almost masochistic, reason, I used to take it out of its sleeve every so often as if hoping that it would have magically mended. It hadn’t. But don’t worry – there is a happy ending.
One day God invented the internet, and not long after he invented eBay. Having dabbled with the auction site for things that I didn’t really need, it occurred to me to look for this masterful mix of Portishead’s trip-hop and Paul Weller’s acoustic majesty. And guess what? Well – you can see the picture at the top can’t you!
Anyway – I have yet to find it as a download, although it seems to have appeared on a few compliation CDs, but last time I looked eBay still had copies of the Portishead remix of Wild Wood by Paul Weller for a ridiculously small amount of money. Barely more than that copy of NME cost me more than 10 years ago in fact.
Check out an amazing liver version of Paul Weller’s Wild Wood below (as the grumpy bugger’s had the original video removed from YouTube):
You can now listen to this amazing remix of Wild Wood here (cheers Napster!)