Paul Weller’s 10 Best Collaborations

Thick as thieves: MOJO’s pick of The Modfather’s greatest musical team ups

Paul Weller 2024

by Lois Wilson |
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Released earlier this month, Paul Weller’s latest album 66 find The Modfather embracing a raft of co-writers and collaborators, including Noel Gallagher, Suggs and Primal Scream’s Bobby Gillespie.

You can read about the making of the record, where Weller’s head is at creatively and what music’s he’s currently grooving to only in the latest issue of MOJO, on sale now. Here, one of MOJO’s top Wellerologists Lois Wilson picks out ten more of Weller’s best musical tag-teams from over the years...

THE SMOKIN’ MOJO FILTERS

Come Together

(7-inch, Go! Discs, 1995)

Inter-generational Britpop luminaries gather at Abbey Road to take on John Lennon’s countercultural mumbo-jumbo for the War Child charity album Help. Funky, bluesy, upping the Dr. John Gris Gris quotient, Weller gives his all. Drummer Steve White and guitarist Steve Cradock anchor the whole thing with M.G.’s-like precision.

ROBERT WYATT

Blues In Bob Minor

(from Shleep, Hannibal, 1997)

Wyatt told this writer that he particularly enjoyed Weller’s “inventive” guitar flourishes on this playful tribute to Bob Dylan’s Subterranean Homesick Blues. The pair even gave it a live airing with Danny Thompson at 2016’s People Powered Concerts For Corbyn show at Brighton Dome.

TERRY CALLIER WITH PAUL WELLER

Brother To Brother

(7-inch, Mr Bongo, 2002)

Tapping into the understated beauty of Terry Callier’s 1965 cult classic The New Folk Sound Of…, Weller and the Chicago troubadour record this epic acoustic soul protest, with Callier’s hushed baritone vocals and Weller’s gruffer tones calling for racial reconciliation accompanied by Weller’s gentle strum.

PAUL WELLER AND AMY WINEHOUSE

Don’t Go To Strangers

(from Amy Winehouse –At The BBC, UMC/Island, 2021)

Paul Weller and Amy Winehouse's duet on the Etta Jones torch standard provided the highpoint of Weller’s set at the 2006 BBC Electric Proms, and the pair revisited the song again for that year’s Jools Annual Hootenanny, where joined by Holland’s big band, Weller at the piano gives one of his most intense vocal performances.

ANDY LEWIS & PAUL WELLER

Are You Trying To Be Lonely?

(7-inch, Acid Jazz, 2007)

After As Is Now and before 22 Dreams came two one-off collaborative singles – This Old Town (see below) and this, with Weller’s then bassist and cellist Andy Lewis, which placed the singer in an authentic sounding Northern soul setting. This time Cradock plays drums; Jacko Peake blows sax.

PAUL WELLER & GRAHAM COXON

This Old Town

(7-inch, Regal, 2007)

Reluctant guitar heroes make heart-swelling three-minute Mod anthem which sounds a bit like The Jam and a bit like Blur with Graham Coxon quavering the verses and the pair duetting the chorus. “But there’s no turning back/Just forward now,” they sing. Next stop, 22 Dreams.

GABRIELLE

Why

(CD single, The Universal Music Record Label, 2007)

A genuine buried treasure, this classic break-up ballad should have been a chart-topper. Weller definitely thought so. On hearing the original – built around a sample of Wild Wood – he asked to contribute to it, his soulful backing vocals providing the release to Gabrielle’s rasping tension.

MICHAEL HOROVITZ ACCOMPANIED BY DAMON ALBARN, GRAHAM COXON AND PAUL WELLER

Ballade Of The Nocturnal Commune

(7-inch, Gearbox, 2013)

Forming an improv alliance with half of Blur, Weller scores the beat poet’s spoken-word salute to the Notting Hill Carnival with his Optigan organ (a ’70s instrument which played sounds off a pre-recorded optical disc); a confluence of strange lo-fi burbles and glitches and nerve fraying dissonance courtesy of Coxon and Albarn.

PAUL WELLER VS STONE FOUNDATION

Mother Ethiopia

(12-inch, Parlophone, 2017)

Absorbed by the Éthiopiques series, Weller summoned the Addis Ababa spirit in Black Barn with the Midlands soul rebels and a Juno analogue synth. With guard down he goes with the flow, lost in the easy-going, mesmeric instrumental groove as guitars circle and trumpets and sax snake.

SUGGS AND WELLER

Ooh Do U Fink U R

(7-inch, BMG, 2022)

Pre-66, Weller and Suggs unite after the former guests on the latter’s Love Letters To London Radio 4 show, and together they take a pop at class inequity in the state school system and wrap it in Motown/Trojan-styled sounds as tribute to their shared '70s youth club experiences.

“If Eton Rifles and Going Underground came to me easily now, I would definitely put them out…” Get the latest issue of MOJO to read our exclusive cover interview with Paul Weller in full. More info and to order a copy HERE.

MOJO 368

Image: Kevin Westernberg/Edwin Ingram

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