Review: ANDY GILL ON ALBUMS: `This may be Hiatt's most approachable record yet'

Paul Weller

Heavy Soul

Island ICT 8058

Rather heavier than it is soulful, 's latest slab of dull retro-rock riffing carries on where Stanley Road left off. Paltry of melody, surly of tone, this music seems to exist simply to give its players something to do. Haven't they got a street corner they could be hanging around instead?

Listening to the drably portentous Heavy Soul, you have to wonder if they had much fun making it. Certainly, it's hard to think of an artist whose music smiles as infrequently as Weller's. Even classic miserabilists such as Nick Cave and Leonard Cohen occasionally engage a laconic smirk at their own expense. There isn't really much soul here anyway, the R&B influences to which he once paid lip-service having been almost expunged from this aanchronistic love affair between white boys and their guitars.

TAJ MAHAL

Senor Blues

Private Music 01005 82151 2

Like his one-time musical partner Ry Cooder, Taj Mahal serves as a living museum of American styles that is always worth a visit. With his continued curatorship of country blues now bearing tasty new fruit through a younger generation of steel-pickers such as Corey Harris, Eric Bibb and Keb' Mo, Taj broadens his outlook here to range across the spectrum of black musical modes from jazz to gospel, finding new accents for old classics and adding a few new classics of his own. His take on "Think" is a light, rolling funk groove, gently persuasive rather than urgent, like Aretha's version.

There is no colour division in operation, either. Hank Williams' "Mind Your Own Business" provides proof of the close connection between blues and its white counterpart - country. It's educational stuff, sure, but few lessons have this element of fun.

EN VOGUE

EV3

Eastwest 7559-62097-2

Five years is a long time between albums for rock acts; for soul acts, it's a virtual eternity, but that's how long it has taken for this follow- up to the hugely successful Funky Divas to appear. It shows, too: the interim has seen a couple of solo albums and a departure from the EV ranks, leaving the remaining trio looking disconcertingly like the Three Degrees on the cover.

The music, too, lacks the unity of purpose of previous releases, being a hotch-potch of straightforward swingbeat and plodding, overwrought soul anthems which, by the time they reach the appalling "Eyes of a Child", have degenerated into witless invocations to save the world, by, yes, looking through the eyes of a child. The material is largely drab, and all the divas' best efforts can't disguise the fact that, alas, they're no longer the spiciest item on the sassy girl-group menu.

News
peoplePaper attempts to defend itself
Voices
voicesWe desperately need men to be feminists too
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
film
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Account Executive/Sales Consultant – Permanent – Hertfordshire - £16-£20k

£16500 - £20000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: We are currently r...

IT Application Support Engineer - Immediate Start

£28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Software Application Support Analyst - Imm...

Senior Management Accountant

£40000 - £46000 per annum: Sauce Recruitment: Global publishing and digital bu...

Semi Senior Accountant - Music

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Sauce Recruitment: A successful, Central London bas...

Day In a Page

Syria air strikes: ‘Peace President’ Obama had to take stronger action against Isis after beheadings

Robert Fisk on Syria air strikes

‘Peace President’ Obama had to take stronger action against Isis after beheadings
Will Lindsay Lohan's West End debut be a turnaround moment for her career?

Lindsay Lohan's West End debut

Will this be a turnaround moment for her career?
'The Crocodile Under the Bed': Judith Kerr's follow-up to 'The Tiger Who Came to Tea'

The follow-up to 'The Tiger Who Came to Tea'

Judith Kerr on what inspired her latest animal intruder - 'The Crocodile Under the Bed' - which has taken 46 years to get into print
BBC Television Centre: A nostalgic wander through the sets, studios and ghosts of programmes past

BBC Television Centre

A nostalgic wander through the sets, studios and ghosts of programmes past
Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum