2022 has been one of Paul Weller’s leaner years in terms of new releases with the focus being more on touring after the back-to-back Number One studio albums – On Sunset and Fat Pop (Vol 1).
However, us fans have enjoyed a few tasty collaborations this year with plenty more to come.
A Summer single delight with Suggs called OOH DO U FINK U R
Paul on backing vocals and piano for the new Stone Foundation album Outside Looking In
And what would have been many peoples first introduction to the band Sundowners with Paul on acoustic guitar, bass, piano and backing vocals on their delightful new LP called Pulling Back The Night.
At the time of writing, we’re also close to the release of a new album from Steve Pilgrim.
Beautiful Blue has 5 co-writes with Paul (who also produces the album and plays throughout).
Here’s a date for your diary though.
Friday 18th November 2022 sees the release of a new Monks Road Social album called Rise Up Singing.
You can order the album at wonderfulsound.bandcamp.com/album/rise-up-singing and having had a sneak preview – I can tell you that it is a very special album.
MRS is an ever-changing collective of artists (some well-known, some just starting out) all with one thing in common – a love of making music.
The trio of album releases to date have featured Weller alumni aplenty – from mainstay of the band Dr. Robert to The Style Council’s Mick Talbot and Steve White, to former & current solo band members, Matt Deighton, Jacko Peake, Ernie Mckone, Damon Minchella, Honorary Councillor, Steve Sidelnyk along with the likes of Neil Jones from Stone Foundation and Kathryn Williams (another podcast favourite).
It always felt inevitable to me that Paul Weller would feature at some point – and his appearance on album opener & title track Rise Up Singing doesn’t disappoint. It’s a soaring thing of beauty.
The new album also loans one of his most recent releases – the gorgeous bonus track Serafina that you’ll find tucked away on the deluxe edition of Fat Pop. Here it is sung by Romy Deighton (former Weller band mate & podcast guest Matt Deighton’s daughter). Leah Weller also features on album closer Easy Pickings.
So what do we know about the album?
Well, this time around Richard Clarke turned to WONDERFULSOUND head honcho Miles Copeland to navigate the vibe alongside mainstay of the band, the inimitable Dr Robert.
Miles first showed up on MRS debut album Down The Willows with the dreamy ‘Golden Day’ ( a favourite of Gary Crowley) featuring Isle Of White favourite Angelina (who features on a stunning track called Borderline this time around.)
A great friend of Paul’s for over 35 years, Dr. Robert is probably technically speaking also an Honorary Councillor? owing to his performances on the final tour dates.
You’ll know him best however as the front-man with Blow Monkeys and as a successful solo artist (including the epic Realms of Gold album in 1994 which featured Paul).
The new album Rise Up Singing! features Paul Weller with Dr Robert & Miles Copeland, along with a whole host of former podcast guests including Mick Talbot from The Style Council, Matt Deighton, Stone Foundation frontman Neil Jones, Ernie McKone, Jacko Peake.
We’re also treated to percussion from Honorary Councillor Steve Sidelnyk and drums from Crispin Taylor (who recorded with Paul Weller under the guise of Mather ´Indian Vibes´) – fingers crossed for both of them for a future podcast appearance by the way!.
For this 4th album, demos were written remotely through the lockdown and finally bought to RAK Studios in London over a 5 day period in December 2021 – featuring Mick Talbot on keys, Matt Deighton (acoustic), Orphy Robinson (vibes), Jacko Peake (Sax/ flute) Ernie Mcone (Bass) Crispin Taylor (Drums) and Vocal appearances from Paul Weller and his daughter Leah, Brazil’s Arthur Melo, WONDERFULSOUND’s Angelina, Romy Deighton and of course Miles Copeland (Omnichord) and Dr Robert Guitar/Vocals. It’s a proper friends and family record!
The lead track Rise Up Singing! featuring Paul Weller, is a spiritual call to arms coming out of this period of lockdowns “Miles had this demo which I worked on a bit, added a guide and sent it to Paul who instantly got the vibe, it’s great to be working with him again.” says Dr Robert and this sets the tone for the rest of the LP…
Sketches, samples, grooves in a style of Miles’s old band The Superimposers bounced around to the Monks Road family. Miles Continues…”when we were doing The Superimposers we always wrote using samples, so this is how I write. With the calibre of musicians involved in Monks Road we can make these initial demos our own.”
The resulting album is a timeless, mellow, soulful cinematic classic that rewards repeated listening and pops up with some wonderfulsounding surprises along the way.
It’s also worth me giving some more information on some of the less well-known stars of this record, and one absolute legend that features for the first time on a Monks Road Social ).
Romy Deighton sings on a lovely co-write with Dr. Robert called Spirit Level that also features Jazz Legend, Orphy Robinson popping up on vibraphone. Romy also sings an absolutely stunning version of Paul Weller’s Serafina later in the track listing too. Just beautiful!.
Romy made her debut live performance at the Karamel Club in 2012, aged just 16, accompanied by dad Matt on guitar. You’ll find many performances from Romy on previous MRS albums – including a stunning version of Mother Earth’s Jesse on Out of Bounds LP.
Orphy Robinson is one of the major figures in the UK Jazz scene, but is also regarded as an important figure across a wide range of musics, not only as a master musician but also as a mentor and educator.
He’s released records on the Blue Note record label and played with top US artists Don Cherry, David Murray, Henry Threadgill, and in the UK with Courtney Pine, The Jazz Warriors, and Andy Sheppard, among many, many, others. In 2018 Orphy was made an M.B.E for his services to music, in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List.
Paul Weller’s eldest daughter, Leah Weller duets with Arthur Melo on album closer Easy Pickings.
I was lucky enough to see Leah at 100 Club recently, and not surprisingly with her singer parents, she is in possession of an absolute powerhouse vocal range. Simply stunning. The release of her debut album has just been announced with more live dates on the way over the next 6 months or so.
Arthur Melo was born and raised in Belo Horizonte in Brazil and has been on the Brazilian music scene since 2016 when he was just 18 years old. He has released an EP and three albums since then. In January 2020, Arthur locked the doors and isolated himself for 3 months to write, record, mix & produce his 3rd LP, Adeus. Self isolation just before the forced isolation that preceeded the following months! He has a new album coming soon and is involved on forthcoming MRS music!
Angelina AKA Angelina Grimshaw AKA Grimshaw is another huge talent and it’s lovely to hear her play with MRS again.
Her most recent album Last Cigarette earned rave reviews from the music press including The Observer, Mojo, Uncut, Q and was Rough Trade Album of the Month upon it’s release in September 2019.
That album also featured another former podcast guest, Barrie ‘Little Barrie’ Cadogan on electric and slide guitar.
1. Rise Up Singing ( feat Paul Weller) – written by Dr. Robert and Miles Copeland with Paul Weller.
The track was released as a 7” vinyl release – initially available via The Singles Club – Check the club out here .
2. I’ll Keep On Searching ( feat Dr Robert) – written by Dr. Robert and Miles Copeland.
The first single, featuring Dr. Robert on vocals, is a lilting soulful slice of summer pop combining sweet melancholy and wistful chord changes. Robert explains “The song came from a piece of music Miles presented to me. It put me in mind of “Friends” era Beach Boys or early Smokey so the song came very quickly. Lyrically its informed by a kind of yearning. A desire for change, growth and connection. The things we’ve all been missing so much that give life meaning”
“The idea for this single came about from these 2 loops sampled from some charity shop record creating this infectious lazy, jazzy groove but I knew the music needed to change and become its own thing… so when the Monks Road Social posse came knocking I knew the calibre of musicians involved would be able to flip it around, and that’s how a majority of the LP was written”.
3. By The Waters Edge ( feat Neil Jones) – written by Dr. Robert, Miles Copeland and Neil Jones from Stone Foundation. Sharing notes with me from his holidays, Neil Jones says “Miles sent me over a sample idea he’d been working on & after a few conversations with Rob, mainly talking about Tim Hardin records we love, I set about working on some melody & lyric ideas. In my mind I was transporting myself to the Cornish coast, a place filled with majesty & wonder and somewhere really dear to me. The recording process was so easy, the band & vocals were laid down at RAK studios and the vocal take you hear on the record was numero uno and literally the first run through we had. When records are that natural and easy to make you know you’re onto a good thing usually.”
4. Spirit Level ( feat Romy Deighton & Orphy Robinson) – writtten by Dr. Robert and Romy Deighton.
5. Let Love Prevail ( feat Matt Deighton ) – written by Dr. Robert, Miles Copeland and Matt Deighton.
6. Borderline ( feat Angelina ) Written by Miles Copeland, Angelina Grimshaw and Lee Skelly. Lee has released music on WONDERFULSOUND as Discodor and Brother Lee. He has deep connections with The Bees and I understand is going to have a bigger role on forthcoming MRS music. An earlier version of Borderline originally came out on a 7” – find it here.
7. Lizabethan ( feat Matt Deighton) – Written by Matt Deighton
8. Smoke & Mirrors ( feat Dr Robert ) – written by Dr. Robert and Miles Copeland
Robert told me “This came from a loop that Miles sent me… I just ‘reacted’ to it and hey presto… a song way born. Sometimes you get lucky.
9. Serafina ( feat Romy Deighton ) – written by Paul Weller. (You’ll find Paul’s version on the deluxe version of Fat Pop (Volume 1).
10. Easy Pickings ( feat Arthur Malo & Leah Weller ) – written by Dr. Robert and Miles Copeland.
Miles notes… “Arthur Melo added his tropical flavour to this punky Velvets groove reminiscent of Special aka/ Dammers vibes. Leah Weller stepped in to add BVs / Chorus.”
Dr Robert : Vocals, Acoustic & Electric Gtrs, Bass, Synths
Paul Weller : Vocals , Piano , Electric Gtr
Mick Talbot ; Piano, Organ. Synths
Jacko Peake; Baritone and Tenor Sax, Flute, Whistling
Ernie McKone ; Bass
Crispin Taylor : Drums , Percussion
Orphy Robinson; Vibraphone
Miles Copeland, Omnichord
Matt Deighton; Vocals, Electric & Acoustic Gtrs
Steve Sidelnyk ; Percussion
Leah Weller : Vocals
Marco Rees: Wah Wah Gtr
Horns on “Rise Up Singing” , arrangement by Steve Trigg (who also plays Trumpet) with Dave Boraston, Trumpet, Anthony Gaylard on Tenor Sax, Paul Speare on Baritone Sax and Andy Gilliams on Trombone.