Shout To The Top By Dennis Munday

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Dennis Munday’s Paul Weller biography is reminiscent of a Jam seven-inch single. A new song by The Jam was not just another record from the hit parade. It was an event, kids would bunk off school, and workers would phone in sick, just to purchase the newest release from Woking’s finest.

Across the UK in thousands of homes, fans would play the A side, then the B side, followed by the A side again. It became single of the week for many households, not leaving the turntable for seven days, much to the annoyance of the neighbours. The opening chapters of the book rekindle those fond memories.

None of the fans cared about the politics that went on with the record company, Polydor. As long as they could hear Paul Weller, Rick Buckler, and Bruce Foxton ply their trade, nothing else mattered.

During the rise of Paul Weller’s success with The Jam and The Style Council. There was one man who had one foot in the bands’ camp and the other in Polydor’s. That man was Dennis Munday.

Working his way up through the ranks of Polydor, he became a sought after product manager within the label. He became a natural choice to oversee The Jam's output.

Dennis Munday was an original mod from the sixties. He identified with Weller’s agenda of the mod culture. A partnership that benefited both parties. Weller had someone in the industry that understood him, whilst Munday had an artist that gave him a chance to be a teenager again. If there is one person who can give us an insight into Paul Weller, then Dennis is the man.

One of the strengths of Shout to The Top is that Munday does not paint a rosy picture. Nor does he state that Weller had the Midas touch. Throughout the book, there is much praise for Weller’s song writing and charming personality. Moreover, we learn about Weller’s ruthless and at times, naive ways. The pop idol is stripped bare. We are presented with an honest and frank account of Paul Weller.

In addition, collaborators such as Rick Buckler, Bruce Foxton, Mick Talbot, Steve White, Pete Wilson, Vic Coppersmith-Heaven, Kenny Wheeler, John Weller and many more, are all given credit for the roles they played in Weller's success.

Shout to The Top could act as a perfect handbook for up and coming bands, and their managers. Thinking that you've got it made once you've signed that record deal. How wrong you are. It's just a new unrelenting chapter opening. Playing to one man and his dog in a pub will seem like paradise by comparison. Now you must produce the goods, sell the records, and keep the hits coming. A situation Weller was in, at the tender age of 18.

Munday does not give a rose tinted portrayal of Weller, because to millions of kids being a pop star or a footballer is a dream job. Munday offers no compassion; he just tells is as it is. One bad choice in this game and you’re out.

Shout to The Top is a well written, worthwhile read offering a no nonsense account of what went on behind closed doors. The book is a rollercoaster ride of emotions, echoing the subject of the book himself. This gives us a better understanding of Weller and his talents.

After reading several chapters, you feel inclined to dig out and stick some Jam, Style Council, or Weller’s solo albums on the stereo and thrash the air guitar in your front room. Just like The Jam fans of yesteryear. Keep the flame burning.

© Matteo Sedazzari / ZANI
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Read 3530 times Last modified on Friday, 08 May 2015 15:53
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