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Modfather Paul Weller's influences since the Jam, the Style Council, and his solo output have been eclectic in taste but consistent in quality -- from the Who to the Modern Jazz Quartet to Steve Winwood. No one could've predicted that for his ninth solo album he'd come off sounding like ’70s Bowie!

Opening track "Moonshine" could be the flipside of "Suffragette City." Next is the title track, a foot-stomping rocker that slams into the modern world -- "Get your face off of facebook and turn off your phone." New single "No Tears to Cry" leans toward the blue-eyed ballad soul of the Walker Bothers. "Fast Car/Slow Traffic" sounds like Bowie doing the Clash. "In Amsterdam" is a waltzy fairground-organ-driven instrumental.

Some notable guests contribute to the record: Bev Bevan (the Move/E.L.O.) picks up the sticks for "Moonshine" and My Bloody Valentine's Kevin Shields sprinkles his magic guitar dust all over "7&3 Is the Striker's Name." Most surprising is Weller's former bandmate from the Jam, Bruce Foxton. After the Jam split, the two had a falling out that lasted a quarter century. The duo reunites here for "Fast Car/Slow Traffic" and "She Speaks."

I can't think of anyone who came of age during the '77 punk campaign who is still making records as fresh and vital as this.

Album: Wake Up the Nation (2010)
Artist: Paul Weller
Label: Yep Roc
Songs: (1) Moonshine (2) Wake Up the Nation (3) No Tears To Cry (4) Fast Car/Slow Traffic (5) Andromeda (6) In Amsterdam (7) She Speaks (8) Find the Torch, Burn the Plans (9) Aim High (10) Trees (11) Grasp & Still Connect (12) Whatever Next (13) 7&3 Is the Striker's Name (14) Up the Dosage (15) Pieces of Dream (16) Two Fat Ladies

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