Once again, Paul Weller doesn’t rest on his laurels or accolades of his 40-plus year career; no sooner than he releases one of the finest albums of his solo run (the incredible True Meanings), he recorded and has now released Other Aspects, a live set taken from two of his October 2018 concerts at the prestigious Royal Festival Hall, complete with band AND orchestra – another one of those “what else can he do?” moments from this remarkable songwriting talent.

This is Mr. Weller’s sixth live album since he began his solo journey in 1991; that he’s able to bring into the set not only the songs from True Meanings, which certainly fit the scheme of orchestral arrangements (all you need to do is take one listen to the album to immediately understand why and agree), he re-works several of his classics from The Jam and The Style Council to work seamlessly into the program.

Having said that, the haunting “A Man Of Great Promise”, from The Style Council’s 2nd studio album, 1985’s Our Favourite Shop is one of the standouts. A powerful, emotional and heartfelt track, it was written by Mr. Weller about his friend, poet (and one-time early Jam member) Dave Waller, who died from a heroin overdose in 1982. Even after all these years, the lyrics can easily and quickly bring a tear and here, the song’s meaning is truly felt, especially in the ensemble’s performance. From the more personal point of view, seeing and hearing these new arrangements for The Jam’s “Private Hell” and “Tales From The Riverbank” were simply an exquisite joy. Especially “Private Hell”, which is powerful in its original version, recorded by the trio of Mr. Weller, Bruce Foxton and Rick Buckler – The Jam were one of the most explosive trios to ever grace a stage/be captured on vinyl and yet, “Private Hell” as a separate entity is even more haunting now after 40 years since its first appearance – time makes the mood even darker and the orchestrated version gives it a greater sense of cinematic drama. The show ends with Mr. Weller’s solo hit from 1995, “You Do Something To Me”, side by side with the heart-rending “May Love Travel With You”, True Meanings‘ penultimate track – thoroughly appropriate and moving.

So yes, once again, Paul Weller has managed to amaze and outdo himself – this time with the power of a full orchestra and a cache of songs that make you think and feel – and live, you’re more likely to feel the message he’s trying to convey. A glorious moment and a mesmerizing gathering of songs.


Other Aspects – Live At The Royal Festival Hall is currently available


By Rob Ross

Rob Ross has been involved in the music industry for over 30 years - as guitarist/singer/songwriter with The Punch Line, freelance journalist, producer, manager and working for independent and major record labels. He resides in Staten Island, New York with his wife and cats; he works out a lot, reads voraciously, loves Big Star, traveling down South and his orange Gretsch. He's pretty groovy!