By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published Oct 01, 2008 at 8:25 AM

The advance hype on Paul Weller's "22 Dreams" was like nothing since, maybe, his (arguable) classic solo outing, "Wild Wood." So, when the disc arrived a couple months ago and failed to kick my butt on the first listen or two, I decided to wait to judge it.

Although I wrote a little about the record back in August, I spent a little time away from it and returned to it full-tilt recently and began to discover its many charms. When Radio Milwaukee DJ Scott Mullins, Italian singer Carmen Consoli and I chatted about Weller and especially the track, "Have You Made Up Your Mind," I thought the title was prescient.

So, I spent yesterday listening to the record again and again.

Let me interject here, I've been a Weller fan since probably late 1978 when as a 12-year-old, I discovered The Jam's "All Mod Cons." I've been there for the ups -- The Jam's "Sound Affects," The Style Council's "Our Favorite Shop" and the aforementioned "Wild Wood" -- and for the downs -- I bought all of the releases -- (some good, some bad, some awful) on Weller's 1980s labels Respond and Jamming! This is a roundabout way of telling you that I don't give a lot of artists this many chances.

Although I think the folky "Light Nights" -- with Kate Rusby's fiddling partner John McCusker -- is a risky opener for a Weller album, I don't find "22 Dreams" anywhere as wayfaring and oddball as the advance press had suggested. And it was likely that which kept me from immediately enjoying the record. I was primed for something really "out there."

And "22 Dreams," while rambling and intimately epic (if that's possible), is anything but "out there." We've heard most of this type of stuff from Weller before, although rarely all in the same place. (OK, I'll admit that "Song for Alice" -- a tribute to Alice Coltrane -- is like nothing he's done before!)

The more rockin' title track would have fit nicely on 1997's "Heavy Soul," for example, and the same can be said for "All I Wanna Do (Is Be With You)."

My two favorites follow. "Have You Made Up Your Mind" is the kind of gritty, melodic, bluesy R&B with which Weller has always excelled. Think of "I Didn't Mean to Hurt You," from his solo debut.

"Empty Ring" conjures the airy space of "Above the Clouds," but with an everything but the kitchen sink arrangement.

I hear "Invisible" and my mind shoots to The Style Council's "A Paris" EP and the melancholy piano instrumental "Le Depart."

I could go on like this, but I won't. I'll just tell you that over the course of 21 tracks, Weller dishes up gem after gem. Like me, it might take you some time to digest it all, but it's worth it. You won't feel like you've overeaten, instead you'll feel so satisfied that you'll want to do it all over again.

Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.

He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.

With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.

He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.

In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.

He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.