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On Screen – Long Hot Summers: The Story of The Style Council

In 1982, at the age of 24, vocalist/guitarist Paul Weller broke up the successful mod punk band The Jam. The group were huge in the UK, but failed to achieve much more than cult status in the States. Weller next formed The Style Council, which is the subject of an engrossing new documentary Long Hot Summers: The Story of The Style Council. During their seven-year run, the group released five LPs and a bunch of stellar singles. [Click here to check out our list of their 10 best.]

While The Style Council was not much like The Jam, they also weren’t much like anything else on the charts in the ‘80s. Poppy but politically charged, the group was heavily influenced by classic soul and jazz. The documentary features clips of music videos and Top of the Pops performances, as well as new interviews with Weller, keyboardist and co-founder Mick Talbot, drummer Steve White and vocalist Dee C. Lee.

Weller and Talbot talk about how they wore their influences on their sleeves, including Blue Note jazz records inspiring their cover art.

“We weren’t the stereotypical sort of ‘80s band,” Talbot said.

Actor and superfan Martin Freeman provides some insightful remarks throughout. (Freeman even penned the liner notes to the great new 2-CD compilation of the same name). He said of the group: “It was and remains one of the best combinations of music and look in a pop group ever.”

Said Boy George: “It was in the soul pocket but using a bit of humor. Still a little bit of a punky spirit in there.”

Also providing commentary is Billy Bragg, who along with Weller and other liberal British musicians made up Red Wedge, a collective with the goal of boosting youth political engagement and ousting Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

The ending of the doc is quite special. I don’t want to spoil it, so you’ll have to see for yourself. At just 75 minutes, Long Hot Summers: The Story of the Style Council is a quick watch. Highly recommended for fans and anyone who enjoys a good rock doc.

Long Hot Summers: The Story of the Style Council is available to stream on Showtime.

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