Yup, in my continuing quest to keep things fresh and not stick with one standard formula, I’m reviewing two singles of choice today. Both have made an impression in my playlist lately and I just fancy talking about them. One is from an artist I’ve long been an admirer of, and the other I once thought wouldn’t be worth hearing. Let’s start with the Modfather shall we?
Paul Weller – Brand New Start (1998)
My first taste of Paul Weller came when I was about three-ish years old, through the 1998 singles compilation Modern Classics – The Greatest Hits. Several songs made an impression on me; Sunflower, The Changingman, Wild Wood, Peacock Suit, Broken Stones and so on. It’s Paul Weller, you can’t go wrong with him. As I say it’s a compilation of a chunk of the singles he had released up to that point across his first four solo albums. Except for one track.
Brand New Start.
A standalone single you can only hear on compilation albums, Brand New Start is a song that I don’t have a lot of memories of so I decided that it might be a good idea to revisit it and see if it’s a song that just doesn’t stand out against the diamonds of the first decade of Paul’s solo career, or if it’s a hidden gem that I really should give more attention.
The answer is, of course, the latter.
The first thing that struck me about this song is that it sounds similar to the title track from Paul’s most recent album On Sunset (Which I love), setting the tone for this song being both gentle and uplifting. I don’t need to tell you that Paul himself sounds great here aswell, turning in a heartfelt performance. If you’re in a rough spot this song is one that can give you the urge to never let go of hope and stay on the right path toward that Brand New Start. It really hits home when you look into the context of the song; apparently it was written as a song for a charity concert for the homeless. Who else would be wishing for a Brand New Start?
While I’ll always prefer the aforementioned songs, Brand New Start more than deserves to be a part of that list and I’m glad it was included on the Modern Classics album. It’s a sweet, inspiring and easy-to-listen-to song, perfect if you’re having a downer period in your life and you need a boost. Anthem for 2021, perhaps?
Beady Eye – The Roller (2011)
I had no intention of listening to Beady Eye at all. When I’d had my share of Oasis, I jumped straight into Liam’s solo career which I’d been introduced to by playing Shockwave on the radio, a fairly decent effort from the man of a thousand and four parkas. But I knew of the existence of Beady Eye, the Noel-lite sequel to Oasis and a band who I was under the impression had just ridden off the coattails of their legend before falling apart.
But I had to relent at some point. You won’t know unless you try, so try I did. That’s how I found The Roller, the third single released by the band. It’s a song that encompasses the sound of Beady Eye and their debut Different Gear, Still Speeding; minimalist, retro-sounding rock with acoustic guitars, drums and the piano blaring away while Liam does what he does best. But it’s that last part that had driven me away from Beady Eye. See, I’d been under the impression that Liam was vocally shot at this point in time and if you listen to his efforts on Dig Out Your Soul he doesn’t sound that motivated. Here? He seems reinvigorated, almost excited to be making music his way, closer to the Beatles/Rolling Stones vibes that had inspired him across his career.
That’s not to say that this is a great song though. It’s not. Compared to half of the Oasis catalogue (Which it was almost part of; this song was first demoed during the Heathen Chemistry era, which speaks for itself) it isn’t great, and there are definitely some of Liam’s solo songs like Wall of Glass that I prefer over this. Plus, there’s those ‘oh’s’ that Liam lets out during the chorus, which at first really annoyed me. It took time but The Roller had to grow on me, and now I listen to it because it’s pretty catchy and you can tell the band are having a good time with it. I enjoy it, don’t get me wrong, and it’s not a bad way to kill a few minutes, but there are better songs to listen to. Good but not great.