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This Album Stands Out in the Musical Universe
Illumination - Paul Weller
Member Name: mikeb2102
Illumination - Paul Weller
Advantages: A good mixture of mellow tunes with a couple of rocky numbers thrown into the mix
Disadvantages: None, apart from the instrumental is just a little too long
Illumination was Wellers first studio album on the Independiente Records label and his first number 1 in the UK Album Charts since Stanley Road back in 1995. The album also spurned two singles; The first, "It's Written In the Stars" scoring his first UK top ten hit since "Peacock Suit" from 1996, and the second "Leafy Mysteries" reaching number 23.
The album opens with "Going Places", a nice acoustic number that takes you on a nice whimsical journey, Weller might have aged but his voice has matured tenfold.
This next song surprised me, as I thought the angry young Weller had gone forever, I mean, I knew he still had strong opinions on current affairs but he hadn't sung about them for years....until now. "A Bullet for Everyone" is about how governments can't help out third world countries but can provide bombs and bullets to invade countries such as Afghanistan and Iraq, as that was happening when the song was written "And they say there's no provisions, there's not enough to go round, but when it comes to the gun there's a bullet for everyone!". The track is an upbeat rocky number with plenty of feedback, in parts of the track you can hear a harmonica and the thumping bass played by Damon Minchella of Ocean Colour Scene fame. The drums played brilliantly once again by Steve White, who has been a staple of Paul Wellers rhythm section since The Style Council days carry the song through.
From the politically charged "A Bullet for Everyone", we have another whimsical track up next, in the shape of "Leafy Mysteries"; another acoustic number, with lots of imagery about drifting away in your thoughts with that special someone only to realise there is no need to drift away when you are in love as it's right in front of you.
Next up is a great experimental track, when I say experimental I mean this track is unlike anything I have heard Paul Weller do. It starts off with a horns playing, then the drum beat kicks in, along with Wellers vocal and gradually the other instruments are introduced. The song just keeps building up before going back to the way the song started for the final verse. The song doesn't have a chorus, in its place is a mini jam session and this is how the song ends also, before abruptly stopping, reminiscent of The Beatles "I Want You(She's so Heavy)" from the Abbey Road album.
Moving along we have "Who Brings Joy", which I can only assume is a song professing his love for someone or the birth of a child(I'm not quite sure, maybe I'm reading too much into it) "In your voice sweet caress, it is you who takes over, whose gentle arms i rest, you who brings joy into the world makes me swirl of such love".
"Now the Night is Here" has a celtic folky feel to it with some nice finger picking guitar work and a great melody, "Let's cast the wind that brought us here, 'til we know not when. Now the night is here, to tell us...to be in love".
Next we have a 2.28 musical interlude; "Spring (At Last)", composed by Simon Dine and Paul Weller is a little too long in my opinion, although it fits in really well with the rest of the songs on the album and gives the listener a nice break in between.
For "One X One" Weller drafted in a couple of his friends in the shape of Noel Gallagher(Oasis) - bass, drums and percussion and Gem Archer(Oasis) - acoustic guitar. The song has a haunting lyric in "don't fear not, not where you tread, fear only- the lies you're fed". A great track with a great electric guitar solo during the fade out.
Next up is a song about a homeless man; "Bag Man", with the lyric written from the point of view of the homeless man as he goes about his daily business. "You may find me in the street somewhere, I may be floatin' round the bins". This song is done with a nice finger picking style and Wellers very morose vocal.
"All Good Books" seems to be a religious song condeming the violence that goes with most religions, especially with the war on terror going on. In this song he mentions Jesus; "If Jesus could hear us now bending all his words of which he's proud" and Mohammed "If Mohammed could see us now shaking down the walls but not as prayer".
Next up is a duet with Kelly Jones(Stereophonics). "Call Me No.5" is a rocky uptempo number, that despite it being lyrically poor, it is a great track to break up the solemn mood a little.
The penultimate track on the album; "Standing Out in the Universe" is a nod to "Something in the Air" by Thunderclap Newman. It starts off quite slow, builds up into a crescendo of noise then just when you think the song is over and you hear silence, it kick starts back up again before fading out for the final time.
For the final track it's back to the nice mellow acoustic sound that has been familiar throughout the whole album with the title track "Illumination" and this concludes the album.
All songs written by Paul Weller unless otherwise stated.
1) Going Places
2) A Bullet for Everyone
3) Leafy Mysteries
4) It's Written in the Stars
5) Who Brings Joy
6) Now the Night Is Here (Simon Dine, Paul Weller)
7) Spring (At Last)
8) One X One
9) Bag Man
10) All Good Books
11) Call Me No.5 (Kelly Jones, Paul Weller)
12) Standing Out in the Universe
When I first got this album it got played to death, I loved every single track on it, the standouts being "Going Places", "Bullet for Everyone", "Leafy Mysteries...what am I talking about?? Every song on this album stood out for me in it's own special way, from the first chords to the last. This was the album that got me listening to Pauls solo stuff again and appreciating it a lot more, even the stuff I hadn't listened to for seven years. This album came with a nice cardboard picture sleeve and a lyric booklet, you can now purchase this album from amazon.co.uk for £3.62 including delivery, fantastic album for a fantastic price!
Summary: Wellers finest album since Stanley Road