Reviews of Attainable Hi-Fi & Home-Theater Equipment

Reviews of Attainable Hi-Fi & Home-Theater Equipment

  • SoundStage! InSight - Audio Research Reference 160M Amplifier (February 2019)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - Livio Cucuzza on Audio Research's Industrial Design (November 2018)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Audio Research Past, Present, and Future (October 2018)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - KEF's New R Series for 2018 (September 2018)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Simaudio Moon 390 Digital/Analog Preamplifier and Streamer (September 2018)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - EISA 2018-2019 Awards Introduction (August 2018)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Simaudio's $118,888 Moon 888 Mono Amplifiers (June 2018)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - Totem's Tribe Tower (May 2018)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Amphion's Three Newest Argon Loudspeakers (April 2018)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - Making the Hegel Mohican CD Player (March 2018)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Estelon Lynx Wireless Intelligent Loudspeaker (March 2018)
  • SoundStage! InSight - McIntosh's Five New Solid-State Integrated Amplifiers (January 2018)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - Amphion's Krypton Loudspeaker (January 2018)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Anthem STR Preamplifier and Power Amplifier (December 2017)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - McIntosh Laboratory MA252 Integrated Amplifier (November 2017)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Hegel H90 and H190 Integrated Amplifiers (October 2017)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - How Hegel's SoundEngine Works (October 2017)
  • SoundStage! InSight  - Estelon History and YB and Extreme Loudspeakers (September 2017)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - What Makes Hegel Different? (August 2017)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - Estelon Extreme Legacy Edition Loudspeaker (July 2017)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Amphion Overview and Technologies (July 2017)
  • SoundStage! Insight - Totem Acoustic Signature One Loudspeaker (June 2017)
  • SoundStage! Encore - The Cowboy Junkies'
  • SoundStage! Shorts -- Anthem's STR Integrated Amplifier (May 2017)
  • SoundStage! Shorts -- Paradigm's Perforated Phase Alignment (PPA) Lenses (March 2017)
  • SoundStage! InSight -- Paradigm's Persona 9H Loudspeaker (March 2017)
  • SoundStage! InSight -- Contrasts: Dynaudio's Contour and Focus XD Speaker Lines (February 2017)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - New Technologies in MartinLogan's Masterpiece Series
  • SoundStage! Shorts - Dynaudio/Volkswagen Car Audio (December 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Gryphon Philosophy and the Kodo and Mojo S Speakers (January 2017)
  • SoundStage! Shorts -- What's a Tonmeister? (November 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight - AxiomAir N3 Wireless Speaker System (December 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Bang & Olufsen BeoLab 90 (November 2016)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - Gryphon Diablo 120 Integrated Amplifier (October 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Dynaudio History and Driver Technology (October 2016)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - The Story How Gryphon Began (September 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Devialet History, ADH Technology, and Expert 1000 Pro (September 2016)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - Devialet's Phantom Loudspeakers (August 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight - McIntosh Home Theater and Streaming Audio (July 2016)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - McIntosh MC275 Stereo Amplifier (June 2016)

Parlophone/Warner Bros. 561025-2
Format: CD

Musical Performance

Sound Quality

Overall Enjoyment

Paul Weller’s consistency throughout his 13 studio recordings over the last 25 years is remarkable. He set high standards with the Jam, the band he fronted from 1972 to 1982, but his solo career embodies the restless experimentation and curiosity that marked his next band, the Style Council.

Though well established and hugely popular in the UK, Weller continues to try new things. Sonik Kicks (2012) added electronics to create fresh and interesting textures for his songs, and Saturns Pattern (2015) was an eclectic collection that took inspiration from a variety of sources. On his newest album, A Kind Revolution, he uses some electronic effects, but while Sonik Kicks felt at times as if Weller was trying to find something more current, here he seems more at ease, and the results sound more natural.

Paul Weller

“Woo Sé Mama” opens the album with a snarling guitar riff and solidly thumping drums courtesy Ben Gordelier, who’s played on Weller’s last few albums. Weller transitions to a sharp, trebly rhythm guitar that sounds like vintage Motown, and plays piano and Hammond organ to add to the soulful undercurrent. Madeline Bell and P.P. Arnold are among the singers who give Weller’s own voice a warm lift. As the track builds, more keyboards, from Andy Crofts and Jan “Stan” Kybert, build a tapestry of sound that grows in complexity. The song blends Motown, ’60s mod rock, and more into an effortless brew.

“Nova” is reminiscent of early David Bowie; behind Weller’s voice, a bright chord progression on guitar, and Crofts’s electronic keyboard lines looping around the other instruments, give the track a mid-’70s feel while remaining utterly current. Robert Wyatt, of Soft Machine and many solo recordings, sings with Weller in “She Moves with the Fayre,” a beguiling blend of ’60s soul, funk, and jazz to which Wyatt adds a brief but effective trumpet line. Boy George sings on “One Tear,” a wonderfully melodic slice of ’80s soul that brings back memories of the Style Council’s best work.

Weller has always shown an appreciation for many styles of music as well as an ability to play them, and A Kind Revolution mixes things up while flowing together easily. “One Tear” is followed by the hard-rocking “Satellite Kid,” but the effect isn’t jarring. “New York” includes a hint of Latin jazz to paint a picture of love in the city, and “The Impossible Idea” balances ringing, open-string chords and harder-edged bare chords in a beautifully developed mid-tempo ballad that includes a giddily fun passage for wordless voices.

Paul Weller

The disparate elements of A Kind Revolution come together because of Weller’s ease, his confidence, and his unique baritone voice. The recording is enriched by effects that strengthen the songs, such as Josh McClorey’s backward guitar solo in “Nova” and the electronic keyboards and programming in “The Cranes Are Back.” Weller has surrounded himself with great musicians who include Steve Pilgrim, Steve Craddock, and those already mentioned; the results are tunes that are layered and complex.

Weller recorded A Kind Revolution at Black Barn Studios, in Ripley, Surrey, in England. The sound is lively and full, with just enough compression to hit hard but enough room to let the instruments stretch out. The fact that a songwriter and musician this good has such a small following in the US is puzzling -- but when he tours the States this fall, I’ll get to see him in a small theater instead of the stadiums and arenas he fills at home.

. . . Joseph Taylor