The Never Ending John Hellier's Interview, INside INsight #1

Well, I have so many captivating discussions with John Hellier, I suggested him the idea of a never ending interview about Paul Weller's and everything revolving around our so dear mod thing! Of course, Gentleman John accepted and it's the first issue of an imaginary never ending interview, this is called "INside INsight" because of John's relations in the music world (you can't imagine it....). Imagine something else, every time you have a question about Mod, you can dial John's number and ask. The Answer is always interesting, complete, and John's Knowledge is amazing. He's an original mod and not like me a second hand one! :) Hats off to the master! :) Let's start the Inside Insight first issue with a very important question for any mod, hair cut! In the sixties, the french hairdresser Fernand Gautier, member of the syndicate de la haute coiffure masculine and of the comité artistique de la coiffure française told mods how to cut the new french line (Richard Barnes' book Mods). So here's my first question. Three, two, one... INside INsight, Clap! I've added as links as possible, Enjoy! :)

Yann: You know it, John, there’s much discussions about Paul’s hair cut and hair cuts are very important in the Mod Mod world, so what? What’s the inside insight? Also 22 Dreams is number one and critically acclaimed, so what’s on Paul’s stereo? New influences? Please John, can’t wait, the truth.

John: The two separate questions, the hair cut and the music, are very closely related actually. Paul is very much on an early 1970’s trip at the moment and he’s re-listening to albums that he bought when he was at school. Stuff like Stevie Wonder’s “Talking Book”, early Rod “Gasoline Alley” in particular, early Faces, Bowie (particularly “Hunky Dory” and “Ziggy”), Fairport Convention, Free, Richie Havens, Crosby Stills and Nash (and Young!), Gram Parsons, Cat Stevens, Nick Drake, Spooky Tooth’s first two albums and Elton’s (would you believe) “Tumbleweed Connection”. Long before he became the thing he is today Elton’s early albums with Bernie Taupin were critically acclaimed. He was among the first of those singer/songwriters that lost there way after a few good uns! Paul and I share love of all things Beach Boys and Paul has been re-discovering some of their lesser known 70’s albums things like “Holland” and “Carl And The Passions”.

Another big favourite is Beach Boy Dennis Wilson’s solo effort from 1977 “Pacific Ocean Blue”. For what it’s worth we also share our favourite album of all time “Pet Sounds” (McCartney also), which is the only album that I know of that can best be described as, not funky or soulful (although it is in it’s own way), but beautiful, yeah all too beautiful!. 22 Dreams, which really is Paul’s equivalent of the Fabs White Album, certainly carries influences from Paul’s past but he’s always got an eye on the contemporary scene and often raves about some obscure act that I’ve never even heard of. And, of course, from the early 1970’s comes the feather cut hair style, best displayed by Rod circa 1971, Woody and possibly Mick Ronson. Even Bowie’s at the time wasn’t a million miles away ('London Boys, your flashy clothes are your pride and joy...'). Paul is taking a bit of stick, from his die hard fans, at the moment (even Jonathan Ross had a go) for the barnet and perhaps, only perhaps, it’s a bit flimsy to carry the style off. Anyway, Paul at 50 is Paul!

He’ll do what he wants and won’t be swayed by public opinion. The bottoms of his trousers are getting wider as well! Of course, he still loves Soul, Lee Dorsey, Small Faces and The Beatles but his musical taste is getting ever wider and why not? D’ya know one of the most recent gigs he attended was Andy Williams at the Royal Albert Hall! (that’s quite surprising but there again Andy W. is a cool sort of guy himself!).
John Hellier.

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