Interviews by Dave Simpson The Guardian, Mon 12 Nov 2012 17.33 GMT Thanx to Carlos!
Paul Weller, singer-songwriter: In 1981, I was going through a few changes. I was taking note of what was going on in our country. When you're touring, you're often in your own bubble, but we were going around the country seeing firsthand what was happening. It was the start of the hardline Margaret Thatcher years, and places – up north, especially – were being decimated. I was a young man taking it all in and thinking about it.
At the same time, I was getting into black American soul music. I'd heard a lot of Motown and Stax when I was a kid, but the more well-known end of it. On Jamtours, we had a DJ called Ady Croasdell, who ran a 60s club. He turned me on to underground stuff and what people call northern soul. It just blew my mind. We'd already moved on from punk very quickly, and by [fifth album] Sound Affects there were a lot of disparate influences. We'd been a three-piece for years, and there are only so many variations on the guitar/drums format. So, rightly or wrongly, I was getting into brass sections and female vocals and keyboards and trying to expand our sound.
I'd never read the Nevil Shute novel, A Town Like Alice, but I must have seen the title. The music came from us jamming, which we were always doing. I remember us first hitting that groove and being fired up by it. Then I added the middle eight and sorted the song out, adding the organ. It was all done pretty quickly. I remember feeling good about it, and when we played it to friends in the studio, everyone went "wow". The song's a strange contradiction. It's got an uplifting feel, almost like a gospel song, but it's also got a very hard realism about it. TBC Here.