Archive for the ‘Style Council’ Category
MTV came to our town early, in 1981, just as I was teetering on the brink of adolescence. It played videos by all manner of new wave bands, even the most fly-by-night operations, so it seems likely that they would have shown this promo clip from Paul Weller’s post-Jam project, which came out late in 1983, when I was a junior in high school. The Style Council were a relatively big deal among American new wavers—later, when I was introduced to the group in college, everyone seemed to know about it already. But I never happened to tune in while “Long Hot Summer” was being broadcast, and I’m not sure if I would have been able to handle it if I had.
MTV was by no means a hotbed of homoeroticism, but I took what I could get. There were little moments of three or four seconds each that I waited patiently for—Sting stripping down at the end of the “Don’t Stand So Close To Me” video, a surprising flash of bare bum in Billy Joel’s “Allentown,” anything with Adam Ant. But the “Long Hot Summer” video—which I only saw for the first time a couple of years ago—is practically gay porn. Paul Weller was in his mid-twenties when this was filmed, and beautiful in a newt-like way. He knew it too: He can’t wait to get his clothes off and stroke his belly on the banks of the Cam. Those two singing silhouettes at the end—every time I see this video, I think, are they gonna kiss? (There’s also an “uncut” version—sorry, I promise not to work blue too often—in which Weller and his bandmate Mick Talbot, lying on their picnic blanket with their heads close and their bodies pointing in opposite directions, fondle each other’s earlobes. It used to reside somewhere on YouTube—now all I can find is the video’s “official” version, though I don’t know at what point the editing out of that scene happened, back then or recently.)
I went back home for the break between my freshman and sophomore years, and I determined that “Long Hot Summer” was going to be the season’s “theme song.” I must have gotten this idea from sentimental movies like Summer of ’42, in which a young person came of age and gained wisdom to the accompaniment of a leitmotif that he heard repeatedly in passing, flowing out of open windows. I imagined that when I was older and looked back to that summer—that is, the summer that lay ahead—I would remember how “Long Hot Summer” was always playing on my car tape deck as I drove around learning life lessons. When it was time to go back to school the following September, I would think, “The long hot summer’s just passed me by!” The trouble was that when that summer actually came, I kept forgetting to play the song. I put it on a few times, but it got on my nerves before long.