(National quarterly music magazine) – News story with audio stream of singles and photo.
Wendy James Meets Stooges & Bad Seeds
Covers both Sonic’s Rendezvous Band and Bob Dylan on new single.
Ex-Transvision Vamp belter Wendy James released a new double-single this week featuring the Stooges’ James Wililamson & The Bad Seeds’ Jim Sclavunos. Titled “You’re So Great” / “It’s Alright Ma”, you can listen to it below:
On her last solo album, 2010’s I Came Here To Blow Minds, Wendy James recorded with French indie musicians who shared her passion for NYC punk, Detroit garage and new wave, but now she’s gone straight to the source by working directly with The Stooges’ James Willliamson (guitar & bass) and The Bad Seeds’ Jim Sclavunos (drums & percussion) The A-Side is a version of Sonic’s Rendezvous Band’s “You’re So Great,” featuring Williamson’s signature search-and-destroy guitar riffs over a power pop arrangement, while the B-side is a rootsy, seductive take on Dylan. (It’s not the first time James has gone to the Dylan well, either: while with Transvision Vamp in the ‘90s she winningly covered “Can You Please Crawl Out Your Window.”) The single is available digitally already and will soon be out as a 10″ vinyl single.
Wendy James on the Sonic track:
“Sonic’s Rendezvous Band are one of my favorites. They wrote song after cool song, like ‘Keep On Hustlin,” “Do It Again,” “City Slang,” “Sweet Nothin” and of course, “You’re So Great.” I got my chops singing hard and fast pop songs with Transvision Vamp, and when I heard “You’re So Great,” it viscerally hit me that Fred ‘Sonic’ Smith had written the complete essence of what I was good at. I stored the song in the back of my mind, and waited for the right moment to record it. When I met James Williamson the dots connected and we decided instantly to go and do this together. For all the reasons above and of course, he is bandmates with Drummer Scott Asheton (Stooges and SRB) and he represents Detroit and Ann Arbor, no-one captures the guitar sound of Michigan like James Willliamson does. It’s obvious. It was just a question of who was going to shout ‘1,2,3,4…..'”
Wendy James on the Dylan track:
“I, like millions of others, begin and end with Bob Dylan. Since I can’t remember when, maybe 12 years old? Bob has been my touchstone. His songs are what I listen to when I need to calm my soul, find my peace, find my strength, affirm my wisdom. Bob Dylan has tracked my soul for all my life so far, and always will. There are of course, so many many perfect moments from him, it’s mind-blowing the simplicity, the complexity, the effortlessness, the timelessness of his words and his melodies. Blood On The Tracks, Bringing It All Back Home, Desire, Slow Train Coming… I mean, I’m just going to list you everything. But… when I was about 13 years old I heard “It’s Alright Ma, I’m Only Bleeding” and that was it for me. He knew everything. Job done. Life explained. So, now, 2012, when James and I had decided to do “You’re So Great” as a special Single Release, he asked me what my favorite Dylan number is and always, ultimately I go to “It’s Alright Ma.” Enthusiastically we decided to record both songs, and then… Let me tell you, there’s a big difference between listening to “Its Alright Ma” and singing it. I understand his rhythm, his intention, his breath, his humor, his message, to be clear: I understand his choice of words. It was heaven in the studio, losing myself on the microphone, telling the tale, singing the truth, having my few hours bathing in that High White Noise… and James in the control room watching on proudly…Yes. It was a good day… It was the kind of day that explains exactly, innately, why one does this in life.
(monthly A&E/fashion magazine) – Feature interview with photo.
Wendy James Is Back
The Former Transvision Vamp Front Woman Talks Her New Album
By David Hershkovits
At 16, Wendy James began a musical odyssey that brought her international stardom as the lead singer of Transvision Vamp, a pop-punk band that went on to record several top-10 hits in England in the late ’80s. Sexually charged, rebellious and hot, James became the poster child for the group that included her boyfriend, guitarist Nick Sayer. The band made it onto the music charts with their albums Pop Art and Velveteen in 1988 and 1989, respectively. And, as these things usually go, all went well until it didn’t. The touring, countless appearances and lack of a personal life getting the best of James and her band mates, Transvision Vamp broke up in 1992.
“I pulled the plug on the whole thing,” she says of that period. “I reached tipping point, really. I had my house in London. I had a private life I wanted to invest some time into. I needed to grow up as well, and read books, listen to music, write my own songs and make the transition from being a teenager to being in my twenties. I needed to come up with a revised, updated version of myself.”
Along the way, she teamed up with Elvis Costello on an album, Now Ain’t the Time for Your Tears (1992), a misfire that she calls “a big ticket item for me and Geffen Records. Lots of money, flying around, recorded in the South of France, mixed in L.A., everyone having a nice time.” After having only worked with musicians from her band, she was now “working with top-flight musicians from The Attractions or session musicians. But the way the album ended up didn’t live up to what I thought it would be when I embarked on it.”
She knew there was something fundamentally wrong. “When you’re on that merry go round of pop stardom, there’s literally no time to understand how you’re feeling about things. Flights all day long and touring six nights on one night off for a whole year. There was never any more time for me.”
She went back to basics and decided she would learn how to write a song and play her guitar. “My boyfriend at the time [Mick Jones] bought me a Portastudio and I set about reading the manuals. It was time for me to express myself in my own voice. You need to know what you’re about. You need to have your own vision. After about two years, I’d done my Wendy time and came out of my creative shell. I’d gone back to the stage of being a 14-year-old when you first get your guitar and start practicing and write your first song. So I’d done the who cycle of pop stardom and fame and gone back to the bedroom to start learning how to write a song.”
That’s when she realized that to reinvent herself like her idol Bob Dylan, she had to come to New York. “I always wanted to live in New York. I had freedom. No one particularly waiting for a new Wendy James album. I had enough money to make the move and had enough songs in my pocket, so I sold my house and moved in 2002. If I’d been born in America, I’d be one of those kids who took $10 and caught a Greyhound bus to the big city.”
An encounter with Peaches brought her to Cobraside who distributed two albums, Racine and I Came Here to Blow Minds, which were well-reviewed but not big sellers. “The albums raised my profile,” she says, “I wasn’t making tons of money, but I was getting a nice little reputation.”
And now James is back in the news with two singles from a forthcoming album recorded with Stooges guitarist James “Raw Power” Williamson and drummer James Sclavunos of the Bad Seeds. Of those tracks, Williams’ guitar wreaks havoc on her 7-minute cover of Dylan’s “It’s All Right Ma,” and while she’s a bit more restrained perhaps on Fred “Sonic” Smith’s “You’re So Great,” an obvious love for rock ‘n’ roll pushes through nonetheless.
Despite the two covers, James promises 11 original songs for the album when completed by the end of this year.
Photo by Ricardo Gomes
(UK monthly music magazine) – “You’re So Great” single featured in their “Wild Mercury: The 38th Uncut Playlist of 2012.”
(online music site) – Feature interview with streaming audio tracks, single cover art, Transvision Vamp video and related links.
Seven Question in Heaven with Wendy James
Former Transvision Vamp singer Wendy James recently released a double A-side single consisting of a cover of Sonic’s Rendezvous Band’s “You’re So Great” along with a cover of Bob Dylan’s “It’s Alright Ma (I’m Only Bleeding).” Joining her on the tracks are The Stooges’ James Williamson and The Bad Seeds’ Jim Sclavunos. Today, we’re spending Seven Three Questions In Heaven with Wendy James.
Can you ever see yourself getting Transvision Vamp or Racine back together?
I speak now and then with Nick Sayer. At the moment he is very excited about James (Williamson) and I working together; James is his favorite guitarist. Nick, I am happy to say, is very proud of me. We came kind of close to doing something in the middle of last year, getting in the studio together, but it didn’t happen. We both kind of didn’t show up! We dance around the idea sometimes. We get offered a lot of money to reform for live shows and I will not say never, especially as we never officially put out a press release to say we’d split up! So, maybe we’ve just been away for twenty years! But it would require, I think, a whole brand new album and then a tour to support that, rather than just a reformation tour for the money.
As for Racine, that was always my solo thing. I just didn’t call it Wendy James. I grew up in the culture of bands, of gangs, rather than solo players. I like the force of a band of brothers you know. But! My name is known and in the end, just be what you are, right? So… I am Wendy James, this is my band, and this is my music. The musicians I worked with on the Racine albums and I Came Here To Blow Minds are on repeat in my life, especially the two guitarists Henric Strahl and Jeremie Orsel. They both are truly gifted musicians and we speak the same musical language and I trust them implicitly with my music. So… everything is fluid. Whoever feels right, gets the gig.
What was the first album, tape, or CD you purchased with your own money?
Wow. I really am not sure! It could have been Eat To The Beat, Blondie. It could have been Never Mind The Bollocks, The Pistols. It could have been Supertramp, Breakfast In America!
I know the first 7″ I had when I was two years old was Mary Hopkins, “Those Were The Days,” on the Beatles Apple label. My parents put a little record player in my bedroom really, really young and they bought that 7″ for me. I was fascinated with it as it had an Apple for the label and I’d watch it go round and round and gurgle, dance, and giggle to it I suppose!
You’re in charge of a music festival. You can get any five artists, living or dead, to perform on the bill with you. Which five do you choose and what song do you all perform as the final jam?
Ha! The Wrecking Crew and Brian Wilson, Terry Reid at Glastonbury Fayre, James Lavelle/UNKLE doing “Money And Run,” The Ikettes! Definitely the Ikettes! The Band and Bob Dylan and George Harrison and all of the Last Waltz! The Velvets of course, The Stones… Jay-Z doing “99 Problems.” Too many, too many. An impossible question!
Thanks for taking the time to talk with us today!
You’re so welcome! Single out on iTunes now! Buy it!
More Wendy James: Facebook | Tumblr | Twitter
WRAT RADIO “THE ELECTRIC BALLROOM” SHOW
(NJ Rock Radio) – Host Keith Roth to interview Wendy with spins of the two new tracks and classic Wendy tunes to air Sun. Oct. 14 at 10 pm (est)
(UK online music site) – Feature with photo.
You’re So Great / It’s Alright Ma by Wendy James (Review)
Review of Wendy James “You’re So Great / It’s Alright Ma” Double-Single
Anyone remember the 80′s band Transvision Vamp? Wendy James the sultry lead singer of the band and poster girl of that decade is releasing a double A sided single of two covers ‘You’re So Great’ and ‘Its Alright Ma’.
Review of You’re So Great / It’s Alright Ma by Wendy James
Transvision Vamp were one of the ‘designer punk’ bands of the 80′s. A splash of The Ramones, a dab of T’Pau, a sprinkle of Cyndi Lauper (probably taking too far now!) – they were very commercial and had some big hits such as ‘I Want Your Love’ and ‘Baby I Don’t Care’. They were not really for me at the time as I felt that despite some good solid fast guitar work they watered down a lot of the punk essence of their roots.
After the band split in the early 90′s Wendy embarked on a solo career with the help of some song writing support from Elvis Costello. However, the music produced was not commercially successful. In the early naughties Wendy then set up her own band and produced some very middle-of-the- road music. The turnaround for me came in 2010 in her last solo album, 2010′s critically acclaimed ‘I Came Here To Blow Minds’, Wendy James recorded with French indie musicians who shared her passion for NYC punk, Detroit garage and new wave. This was music that I can enjoy and much more what I would have liked Transvision to have originally sounded like. Wendy has moved up a notch since then by working directly with The Stooges’ James Williamson (guitar & bass) and The Bad Seeds’ Jim Sclavunos (drums & percussion) and has created her new double-single that capture the urgency and spirit of not only early punk but rock’n’roll in general. More edgy and vibrant than before.
Both tracks have great guitar work with pounding fast played riffs reminiscent of The Ramones and you can really see Williamson’s influence throughout.
So let’s look at each in turn:
WENDY JAMES ON ‘YOU’RE SO GREAT’: “Sonic’s Rendezvous Band are one of my favourites. They wrote song after cool song, like ‘Keep On Hustlin,” “Do It Again,” “City Slang,” “Sweet Nothin” and of course, “You’re So Great.” I got my chops singing hard and fast pop songs with Transvision Vamp, and when I heard “You’re So Great,” it viscerally hit me that Fred ‘Sonic’ Smith had written the complete essence of what I was good at. I stored the song in the back of my mind, and waited for the right moment to record it. When I met James Williamson the dots connected and we decided instantly to go and do this together. For all the reasons above and of course, he is bandmates with Drummer Scott Asheton (Stooges and SRB) and he represents Detroit and Ann Arbor, no-one captures the guitar sound of Michigan like James Williamson does. It’s obvious. It was just a question of who was going to shout ’1,2,3,4…..’ “
MUSICEYZ ON ‘YOU’RE SO GREAT’:
Thumping beat and a great listen although the vocals do appear a little dated and stuck in the 80′s.
WENDY ON ‘IT’S ALRIGHT MA’: “I, like millions of others, begin and end with Bob Dylan. Since I can’t remember when, maybe 12 years old? Bob has been my touchstone. His songs are what I listen to when I need to calm my soul, find my peace, find my strength, affirm my wisdom. Bob Dylan has tracked my soul for all my life so far, and always will. There are of course, so many many perfect moments from him, it’s mind- blowing the simplicity, the complexity, the effortlessness, the timelessness of his words and his melodies. Blood On The Tracks,Bringing It All Back Home, Desire, Slow Train Coming… I mean, I’m just going to list you everything. But… when I was about 13 years old I heard “It’s Alright Ma, I’m Only Bleeding” and that was it for me. He knew everything. Job done. Life explained.
So, now, 2012, when James and I had decided to do ‘You’re So Great’ as a special Single Release, he asked me what my favorite Dylan number is and always, ultimately I go to ‘It’s Alright Ma’. Enthusiastically we decided to record both songs, and then… Let me tell you, there’s a big difference between listening to ‘Its Alright Ma’ and singing it. I understand his rhythm, his intention, his breath, his humor, his message, to be clear: I understand his choice of words.
It was heaven in the studio, losing myself on the microphone, telling the tale, singing the truth, having my few hours bathing in that High White Noise… and James in the control room watching on proudly…Yes. It was a good day… It was the kind of day that explains exactly, innately, why one does this in life.”
MUSICEYZ ON ‘IT’S ALRIGHT MA’: Wow! Where did this come from? A fantastic cover that beats hands down the Dylan version! Loved it and very much the stronger of the two tracks for me. I also liked the way that James did not skimp on this track by shortening it or trying to make it too commercial. It tells a story and does it really well.
Overall a great return for Wendy James and a double single worth buying and adding to the collection. For me – a much better and likely successful direction for James to be taking.
Wendy‘s new ‘You’re So Great / It’s Alright Ma’ Double-Single is out now digitally and available through iTunes, with a special limited edition 10″ vinyl pressing to be released in the near future.
LONG GONE LOSER MAGAZINE
(online music magazine) – News story with audio stream of singles, photo and Transvision Vamp video.
TRANSVISION VAMP’s WENDY JAMES covers Dylan and the Sonic’s Rendezvous Band on new single!
Back in 1988, it would be fair to say that if you liked music videos, then the image of Wendy James in that tight little outfit complete with poodle pom pom balls attached to it screaming out the lyrics to I Want Your Love as she fronted the rock band, Transvision Vamp, has no doubt embedded itself firmly in your mind. And why not? In the late 80′s, Transvision Vamp were certainly looking to sit themselves on top of the world. Over the course of their career, they dished out anthemic tunes like Baby I Don’t Care, Revolution Baby and a memorable and a perfect cover of Holly and the Italians classic Tell That Girl To Shut Up. For five years Transvision Vamp were together and then like a flash, nothing.
For years I was always wondering “where are they now?” or more importantly, where was Wendy now? Well, thanks to the wonders of the internet, and more importantly, that old haunt, Myspace, I managed to track Miss James down for an interview which I featured in issue 11 of Long Gone Loser. To say I was most pleased with the results would be an understatement. Wendy was honest and a good sport about the whole thing. Hell, she even got her label to send me some promos of stuff that she had released since her Transvision Vamp days AND she sent me a signed photo. What a gal!
Before I move onto the news though, take this trip down memory lane…
So, now to the exciting stuff… how surprised was I when I woke up to find that she has been busy working on new music with none other than Iggy and the Stooges axeman, James Williamson? That sounded like something I needed to hear… STAT!
The press releases reads:
On her last solo album, 2010′s critically acclaimed I Came Here To Blow Minds, Wendy James recorded with French indie musicians who shared her passion for NYC punk, Detroit garage and new wave, but now she’s going straight to the source. Working directly with The Stooges’ James Williamson (guitar & bass) and The Bad Seeds’ Jim Sclavunos (drums & percussion) the former Transvision Vamp lead singer has created two stunning tracks on her new double-single that capture the urgency and spirit of not only early punk but rock’n’roll in general.
The A-Side is a version of Sonic’s Rendezvous Band’s “You’re So Great,” where Wiliamson’s signature search-and-destroy guitar riffs retain the gasoline-soaked essence of Fred ‘Sonic’ Smith’s original, yet the song is transformed into a high-energy slice of modern power-pop with Wendy’s boyant and soaring vocals throughout the track. The B-Side finds the trio digging deep into Bob Dylan’s vast canon with their own snaky and seductive take on “It’s Alright Ma.”
These two tracks are but an early sneak peek at Wendy’s forthcoming solo album.
Release date for Wendy’s new “You’re So Great / It’s Alright Ma” Double-Single to be announced imminently.
Excited yet? You should be! You’re So Great, is a garage great turned power pop gem while the flip is a kickass version of It’s Alright Ma. The sound on both of these songs show a great direction for Miss James and her future endeavours cos seriously, that DJ funky stuff she was doing just wasn’t really her style. But after hearing these two new tracks though, even though they’re both covers, I am eagerly awaiting the arrival of her new album.
Now to the exciting stuff cos no doubt you’re just itching to hear it all, right? Well, you can. She has posted both songs from this single on Soundcloud and you can stream them both right here, right now!
(online music site) – News posting on the new single featured with Wendy photo.
ALAN CROSS – A JOURNAL OF MUSICAL THINGS
(online music site) – Positive post with “It’s Alright Ma” stream and single art
Artist: Wendy James, “It’s Alright Ma”
This is a kick-ass rendition of Dylan’s “It’s Alright Ma.” James brings new life to that rockin 60’s guitar sound that will forever endure, and nails Dylan’s talk-sing style.
Sounds like: Lady Dylan.
(online music blog) – Positive post with “It’s Alright Ma” audio stream.
“It’s All Right Ma (I’m Only Bleeding)” (Bob Dylan cover)
from “You’re So Great” b/w “It’s All Right Ma”
out now on Cobraside
I think most folks agree that the best Dylan cover is Hendrix’s All Around the Watchtower. I believeylan is quoted as saying that he unwittingly wrote it for Hendrix or something like that. Anyway, I dig this cover. It tries a little hard to be cool, but it’s got a great groove. It benefits from a very good backing band.
CIRCLE KJ’S BLOG
(online music blog) – Wendy James: Re-Vamp!
KROQ RADIO / “RODNEY ON THE ROQ”
(Los Angeles Rock Radio)- “You’re So Great” and ” It’s Alright Ma” aired on Rodney Bingenheimer’s show Oct. 8th and posted online.
(online music blog) – Second news posting with photos and audio streams.
WMSE / “ZERO HOUR”
(Milwaukee, WI college radio) – “You’re So Great” aired on 10.05.
LOUDER THAN WAR
(online music site) – Feature/interview with Wendy.
The return of Wendy James- new album with help from the Stooges! an interview
by john robb
Wendy James used to front Transvision Vamp who made some great stomping rock n roll pop single and then Racine who made a darker introspective noise.
Now she is back with an album she made with great Jim Sclavunos from the Bad Seeds and James Williamson the legendary guitar player from the Stooges.
You can listen to the upcoming single here. (it’s out on ITUNES WORLDWIDE TUESDAY 9TH.)
The A-Side is a version of Sonic’s Rendezvous Band’s “You’re So Great,” where Williamson’s signature search-and-destroy guitar riffs retain the gasoline-soaked essence of Fred ‘Sonic’ Smith’s original, yet the song is transformed into a high-energy slice of modern power-pop with Wendy’s buoyant and soaring vocals throughout the track. The B-Side finds the trio digging deep into Bob Dylan’s vast canon with their own snaky and seductive take on “It’s Alright Ma.”
These two tracks are but an early sneak peek at Wendy’s forthcoming solo album. Release date for Wendy’s new “You’re So Great / It’s Alright Ma” Double-Single.
Frankly we are rather excited by this…so we interviewed her…
How did you manage to get such a great band together!
Wendy James : I never have a real plan in my head, except to write songs all the time and over the earlier part of this year I had sat down and written 13 more songs or so for my next album and gradually started to think who I might invite to be the band for the recording of it.
I have two great recent experiences now to pull from: The ‘RACINE’ sessions and also the ‘I CAME HERE TO BLOW MINDS’ sessions. On both of these I used guitarists I would use again in a heartbeat. Henric Strahl from ‘Racine 2′ and Jeremie Orsel from ‘I Came Here To Blow Minds’. For touring, I would love to have both of them on stage with me!
Always, since TVV, I find my guitarist first and work out from there: Bass, Drums Keyboards and whoever else I might need… So I was noodling this question at the same time as playing, playing, playing at home and really feeling out the new songs. I knew I’d done well with ‘I Came Here To Blow Minds’ and I felt pretty much in the groove of things. On this new bunch of songs I had also decided to include a cover version of Sonic’s Rendezvous Band cut ‘You’re So Great’. I’d heard this song some time ago and it always was in my head that I should record it and play it live. Fred ‘Sonic’ Smith really turned out some great songs in that band, along side Scott Morgan, Scott Asheton and Gary Rasmussen and ‘You’re So Great’ really spoke to me as an instant Pop Rock n Roll 3.5 minute classic.
As I was going through these stages I had also met James Williamson around the end of 2011. He and I had been talking quite often, sharing links of videos and generally going back and forth about our musical tastes and so on, and I asked him if he’d heard ‘You’re So Great’ and then about two sentences later I just blurted out “Well, you’d be perfect to play this!” You know: Detroit, Ann Arbor etc and especially as Scott (Asheton) was in SRB and of course is the drummer with James in the Stooges.
He took a listen and dug it and then we evolved the conversation a little more, he looked at his gigging schedule with the Stooges and very quickly it became obvious that the original idea for me to make a whole album and him be part of it at that time was not possible from this schedule, a single session was, however, do-able.
So we pinned down some calendar dates and this of course prompted the next question, if we were going to do ‘You’re So Great’ for one side of the single, then what would go on the other side? Well, James and I are both Bob Dylan freaks and he simply asked me “What’s your favorite Dylan song?” And I replied “It’s Alright Ma, I’m Only Bleeding” And James said, “Well let’s do that then” And I said “Cool!” So… much like anything else has happened in my life it all kind of just happens spontaneously and then you know, you follow through…
We needed a drummer and Scott Asheton was my choice originally, of course. He’d played the original and he and James are band-mates, so why not?! But he was incapacitated at the time from a back injury, so James said he’d ask Mike Watt, the Bass player in the Stooges who else might be good and available and local to our time frame and location in Berkeley, California, and I said “Hold on! I know someone who might be perfect for this!” Jim Sclavunos from the Bad Seeds…
Jim and I know each other from London and New York socially and we’d gone as far as having quite a few meetings to discuss working together. I liked not only his skills as a drummer, but also his encyclopedic knowledge of music, references and so on, the kind of little details that just make musicians excited. Tech stuff, trivia stuff, you know, we’re all fans!
I knew Jim went back and forth very regularly between West London and Brooklyn and it was hit or miss whether he would even be in NY at the same time, so I rolled the dice and sure enough he was here that exact week or so. That is literally how it happened. James knew the studio in Berkeley: Fantasy Studios, he said the engineer there Jesse Nichols was superb and indeed he was not wrong! So we booked Fantasy, booked out flights, learned our parts. James and I even had a couple of Skype rehearsals upfront! And then… on whatever day it was, we all turned up! Jim and I flew into Berkeley, James drove in, and we met at the motel we had booked to stay in, which was perfect American drive-by motel, and we got to work!
Great to have you back but where have you been for last few years…
Wendy James : I think it’s fair to say I’ve been here! Building my music. I released in 2010 ‘I Came Here To Blow Minds’, which got great reviews and sold enough copies to keep me going! I had the best time recording that album, in Paris, with French Indie players, I loved the whole thing.
We had a very limited budget but we worked our arses off and we used every second available to us to come up with music that was perfect for the songs I’d written and it sounds like it! I think between both ‘RACINE 2′ and ‘I Came Here To Blow Minds’ I have a real handful of strong songs to my name now, plus ‘Racine No.1′ which although is very, very Lo-Fi, still contains some of my favorite songs and means a lot to me as it was demo’d when I still lived in London and speaks to me directly with memories of my place in Ladbroke Grove, W.10 and everything that was going on in my life at that time…
So, you know, basically, I’ve made 3 Solo albums and now the 4th and it seems to me I am growing and improving with each one. My trajectory, I gently suggest, is perhaps going in the opposite direction to most artists who decline as the years go by, I seem to be getting better! I have not scored big radio hits or huge front covers but that is no fault of the songs or myself, it is literally the harsh reality of whether anyone can afford to hire large promo campaigns, radio pluggers, the machine. To have hits you need the machine, now more than ever. And whilst I’ve had the music, I have not had the machine.
Q3. Tell us about the new album – what does it sound like? Were you going for a darker sounding record?
Wendy James : I don’t know ever how to answer these questions! Ok… Rock-a-Billy, Rolling Stones in the late 70′s and No-Wave!! I am a ‘guitar girl’… so from one album to the next I indulge myself in different styles that turn me on and influence me continuously. Whether it’s Country, or Blues, or Garage, Heavy New York or German Noise/Disco, New Wave or even sometimes Heavy Rock…
And this time, perhaps a little bit more Slap-Back echo and Rock-a-Billy thing, and deep dark guitar noise too… Honestly, if the Melody is strong, then usually the song can handle a little rough treatment. And I remember always in the back of my head, the limited technology that the majority of my favorite albums and acts were recorded under. You had to layer and bounce and make distortions and percussions and reverbs in a very basic way, basically you had to ‘Play it’, rather than rely on post production.
James Williamson introduced me to the Funk Brothers and also the Wrecking Crew and man, you know the Beach Boys and Phil Spector and Motown sounds are second to none and they were doing this live and all in one morning session… So I always remember that when I’m writing the songs I have the feel and the intention in the songs rather than in the technology.
Q4. What’s going on lyrically?
Wendy James : Urgh… I started off looking at heartache but it felt too heavy, to introverted, not universal, too self-indulgent. So I pulled back out and tried to have a more worldly view of life you know, rather than myopic.
Make it fun sometimes, keep a light heart, not immerse yourself in your own troubles, picking at old wounds. Just like listening to a friend go on repeatedly about heartbreak, at some point you have to say ‘So do something about it’. So, I backed away from 2 dimensional personal indulgences and kept it more poetic, more something I would like to relate to if I were the listener rather than just exploring my own pain or whatever.
In the vain of great observational humorists and historians like Hunter S. Thompson who are able, miraculously to tell the brutal truth but have it be entertaining too. I’m not claiming by any means to have achieved such a feat! But generally I like writers who are dry, merciless, brutal and clear with their intentions. Whether it’s Shakespeare or H.L. Mencken.
Ha! You learn a lot from the the great satirists, the great writers, they had to have a very removed overview of their writing, in order, somehow to then re-claim it as deeply personal. I was in Paris and a girlfriend recommended me the writing of Guy de Maupassant and so….
I really take pleasure in language and it’s ability to convey a message. I like William Faulkner, I like Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Mark Twain. They take you to the place they are describing, it is journalistic in may ways. They are reporting a thing, that may be something you, the reader, have never experienced first hand, but somehow you understand exactly what the subject is going through. So… Blah Blah… or you know, just make sure it rhymes! I learned that from the Stones! Get your phonetics down!
Q5. Are there any plans to tour the album?
Wendy James : Of course… For the first time, in I dare not say how many years, I think a US tour is brewing and if my hand is lucky enough this time and things flow, I will be able to be on the road for 2013 and deliver performances that of course communicate these songs of mine in the first person. Nothing can ever replace the experience of seeing someone perform. That is when it flies or it doesn’t. I’m a good live performer, I should do it more… And in the end: Musicians play. And I have not not gigged a tour properly for a few years now, and it’s time I do. My only reason for not doing it all the time, is simply having not had the money to pay everyone… But, when you get on a roll, then these issues get taken care of! So, my answer is YES.
Q6. Have these songs been piling up for a few years or was there a sudden moment of inspiration?
Wendy James : It seems I am the kind of writer that writes in a huge outpouring in regular increments. So I purge myself every few months, rather than write everyday. Some people have said I should write everyday, like an author sits down and goes through the motion for a few hours every morning, even if only one line gets written. But there is something in my head that clears space and all these songs come out, and I kind of instinctually know when I have to just sit down and do it…
And it comes out, and it’s ferocious and it goes on for a few weeks and I simply cannot do anything else apart from sleep and eat and then it’s done and I am clear again. It’s weird. I can’t make it happen. But I am going to push myself harder, I am going to try sitting down everyday and actually working like an exercise to improve myself and you know, make my ‘song-writing muscle’ fit! Rather than wait for my moments of outpouring… I am going to structure my life more and have discipline!! I think I need to push myself harder, I need to work even harder and it needs to be a discipline rather than an emotional instinct. It could be interesting to see what comes up when you are just exploring ideas and following a train of thought and pushing beyond a comfort zone. Great and unexpected discoveries might be made! I can’t describe it… I’m just going to do it.
(online music site) – News post with single art and two audio streams.
(online Bob Dylan news site) – Link to listen to “It’s Alright Ma” from When You Motor Away site (Mon. Sep. 24 news post).
(online music blog) – “You’re So Great ” featured SONG OF WEEK.
(online music blog) – “You’re So Great ” featured SONG OF THE DAY.
WHEN YOU MOTOR AWAY
(online music blog) – Positive news post and “You’re So Great / It’s Alright Ma” featured with Wendy photo.
New Detroit Hard Rock Discovery: Wendy James with James Williamson and Jim Sclavunos – “You’re So Great/It’s Alright Ma”
Wendy James, former lead singer of Transvision Vamp is now working with The Stooges’ James Williamson (guitar & bass) and The Bad Seeds’ Jim Sclavunos (drums & percussion) on an album and in advance of that, has plans to release a double single consisting of covers of The Rendezvous Band’s “You’re So Great” and Dylan’s “It’s Alright Ma (I’m Only Bleeding)”. I’ll do a little more research on her solo career, which I will admit I was not aware of, but for now, holy cow! Check out these songs:
“You’re So Great”
Here’s the stream of “It’s Alright Ma”, a really provocative take:
Apparently it was Williamson’s idea for Wendy to pick her favorite Dylan song, and she’s done it right. A good Dylan cover is a great thing
NO ROCK AND ROLL FUN
(online music blog) – Positive news post and “You’re So Great / It’s Alright Ma” featured.
Wendy James: Back, back, back
I know that we shouldn’t be surprised at anyone who has ever released a record, ever, returning by now. But who ever foresaw a Wendy James comeback, much less one partnered by a Stooge (James Williamson) and a Bad Seed (Jim Sclavunos)?
Can you even imagine what it’s going to sound like?
Actually, you don’t have to imagine, as both tracks of the single are available to share through Soundcloud.
Here’s one song, then, You’re So Great:
That’s a cover of Sonic’s Rendezvous Band, although it carries a none-more-Wendy-James title.
This is the other side of the double-a sided single, It’s Alright, Ma:
Yes, that’s a Dylan cover in there.
You know, back during the pomp of Transvision Vamp I’d probably not have put money on being so pleased to see Wendy James turn up with a couple of covers in 2012.
89.X RADIO “HANG THE DJ
(Detroit 89.X Radio’s Music blog)
Positive news post and “You’re So Great / It’s Alright Ma” featured.
Wendy James – You’re So Great/It’s Alright Ma double single
Wendy James, ex-vocalist for Transvision Vamp, has recorded a double single with the Stooges’ James Williamson and the Bad Seeds’ Jim Sclavunos. The A-side is a cover of “You’re So Great” (originally by Sonic’s Rendezvous Band) and is backed with a cover of Bob Dylan’s “It’s Alright Ma.” The songs are a taste of what’s to come from James’ new solo album, which is currently in the works.
James decided to cover Sonic’s Rendezvous Band because she’s been a big fan of the Stooges and Fred ‘Sonic’ Smith for years:
“I got my chops singing hard and fast pop songs with Transvision Vamp, and when I heard “You’re So Great,” it viscerally hit me that Fred ‘Sonic’ Smith had written the complete essence of what I was good at. I stored the song in the back of my mind, and waited for the right moment to record it. When I met James Williamson the dots connected and we decided instantly to go and do this together… he represents Detroit and Ann Arbor, no-one captures the guitar sound of Michigan like James Williamson does. It’s obvious. It was just a question of who was going to shout ‘1,2,3,4…..'”
A release date for the double single will be announced shortly. In the meantime, both songs are available to stream – “You’re So Great” is posted here and “It’s Alright Ma” is streaming here.
The original version of “You’re So Great” by Sonic’s Rendezvous Band is posted below:
(online music blog) – Positive news post with audio links and photo.
Once again Wendy James has come up trumps by collaborating with legendary Stooges guitarist James Williamson and Bad Seeds drummer Jim Sclavunos. She has a brand new Double A-Sided single due out called ‘You’re So Great’ and a stunning cover version of Bob Dylan’s ‘It’s All Right Ma’.
(online music blog) – News posting (from press announcement) with photos and audio streams.
STRANGE THINGS ARE HAPPENING
(UK music site) – Positive news post with photos and audio stream.
WENDY JAMES TEAMS WITH STOOGE AND BAD SEED FOR NEW SINGLE
As anyone who has visited Strange Things HQ can attest, we love Wendy James here and have done for more years that we can to remember, so news of her latest recordings was always going to make us sit up and pay attention. And when that news reveals she’s been working with members of The Stooges and The Bad Seeds… well, that just makes it all the more exciting. This new single features a couple of cover versions – Sonic’s Rendezvous Band’s You’re So Great and Bob Dylan’s It’s Alright Ma, and both have The Stooges’ James Williamson on guitar and The Bad Seeds’ Jim Sclavunos on drums. These are a preview of Wendy’s forthcoming album, the follow-up to the acclaimed I Came Here to Blow Minds. You wanna know how good they are? You can listen for yourself here: You’re So Great It’s Alright Ma
(online music blog) – News posting on the new single featured.
Wendy James – You’re So Great / It’s Alright Ma
So that’s Wendy James (from Transmission Vamp) working with James Williamson (from The Stooges) and Jim Sclavunos (from The Bad Seeds and Grinderman), to cover tracks by Sonic’s Rendezvous Band and Bob Dylan.
That is quite a lot of information to take in. But we’ll tell you something for nothing: Dylan has never sounded snottier. There’s something life affirming about what they do to It’s Alright Ma. It’s like someone scrawling a great big moustache on the Mona Lisa.
The change to You’re So Great isn’t quite so enormous, being happy enough in sugar-coating the original to something slightly more poppy without losing the live-fast, die-free, fuck-you sense of nihilistic authenticity.
(online music blog) – News posting on the new single featured with Wendy photo.
Wendy James & Street Cred Galore
IGGY & THE STOOGES
(official band website) – News posting on the new single featured.
James Williamson Collaborates With Wendy James On New Double-SingleCheck out James Williamson’s new collaboration with Wendy James — a cover of Sonic’s Rendezvous Band’s “You’re So Great,” where his signature search-and-destroy guitar riffs retain the gasoline-soaked essence of Fred ‘Sonic’ Smith’s original, yet the song is transformed into a high-energy slice of modern power-pop with Wendy’s boyant and soaring vocals throughout the track. The song is Side A of a new double-single. On Side B, both Williamson and James collaborated with The Bad Seeds’ Jim Sclavunos for a version of Bob Dylan’s “It’s Alright Ma.”Have a listen, have a look – all here: http://ymlp.com/zkkp2R
FROM THE BURRO
(weekly podcast show) – “You’re So Great” single featured in their “Episode 168 – Intentionally, explicitly, and Comprehensively” podcast. Links to Wendy’s Facebook page.
(UK online music site) – News posting with photo.
(online music blog) – News posting with photos and audio streams.
(Alexander Laurence’s online music blog) – News posting with photos and audio streams.
MUSIC INDUSTRY NETWORK
(online music industry site) – News posting with photos and audio streams. (ALSO POSTED AS THEIR HOMEPAGE NEWS FEATURE STORY ON 9/22)