Yes, as a longtime Style Council obsessive, I have to admit I found Ian Munn's highly touted book on the Style Council disappointing. Now, before you start fuming and angrily click "no" under "was this review helpful," let me explain that Munn's attention to detail goes over and above the average music biography, listing every last detail throughout the band's career. One could argue that Munn even goes too far in some cases (do we really need to know about all of Paul and Mick's photo shoots, much less what they wore to them?). The problem is that this is more or less *all* Munn does.
The book is laid out chronologically, almost like a timeline, listing any significant (and not so significant) events on a year-to-year, month-to-month, even day-to-day basis. Sure, this is accompanied by many enlightening and interesting quotes, primarily by honorary councilors and people close to the band, which do help to flesh out the history (even though there are precious few quotes from Weller and Talbot, and most of them are taken from period interviews). But what I'm getting at is that there's very little actual writing here, as the book reads more like an outline of the band's daily schedule (concerts, tours, TV appearances, studio dates, etc.). The problem is that Munn makes no attempt to connect these events and put them into context. There's no narrative ark. As a result, Munn's book is not really a biography, because it doesn't weave these events and details into a story. Munn simply dumps all the data and leaves it to the reader to stitch together a narrative trajectory. And that's not what I want with a book written about one of my favorite bands. I want the author to actually relay the story and put his or her interpretation of the band's history out there, so that I can agree or disagree with it. That Munn chose not to go the extra few miles and actually transform all of this information into a readable and engaging biography is what makes his book so disappointing. While the research Munn clearly did on his subject is admirable, the result is at times an unengaging, page-skimming snore, and it fails to convey why the Style Council was such an exciting and fascinating period in Paul Weller's career, and what made the band so special to so many people. I can think of many band biographies that achieve just that, like Johnny Rogan's "Morrissey & Marr: The Severed Alliance," or David Nichols' 2nd edition of "The Go-Betweens," to name just a few. Both books are engrossing, fun, and even thought-provoking reads. Even James Nice's thorough history of Factory records, a book bursting at the seams with well-researched data and minute details, manages to be a fascinating and readable page-turner. The Style Council's story absolutely deserves this kind of treatment.
Adding insult to injury, the book is in desperate need of an editor. Munn's writing is riddled with punctuation errors (a noticeable lack of apostrophes and commas), occasional inconsistencies with verb tenses, and apparent confusion at times over when to use "there" versus "their". The writing itself is simplistic and uninspired. His attempts to connect events or segue into a quote often prove awkward. Furthermore, in more than one instance, Munn admits he was not able to confirm some piece of info for this current edition, but claims he will certainly get Weller or Talbot to confirm it in time for the next edition. A lot of good that does the reader now!!! It would have been ideal if Munn had merely played the role of tireless and passionate researcher, and then worked with someone who can actually write in order to transform this book into a readable biography. While I admire Munn's obvious passion, and while his handle on even the minutest details is commendable, I honestly feel like the Style Council's rich and colorful history deserves more than what he has presented here.