If I mention the name Wendy James to any hot blooded male of a certain age the reaction ranges from Cor to Phwoar!!! Usually with a reference to the iconic video for I Want Your Love by Transvision Vamp. Wendy did indeed have the good looks to rival Marilyn Monroe or Brigitte Bardot and nearly 30 years on she still looks just as amazing. Wendy was in the band Transvision Vamp for five years from 1986, after the band split she did some solo work before forming the band Racine in 2004. When Racine split in 2008 she concentrated on solo projects and her new solo LP The Price Of The Ticket sees her joined by some big names from the Punk and New Wave scene. Lenny Kaye (The Patti Smith Group) on lead & rhythm guitar, Glen Matlock (Sex Pistols) on bass, James Sclavunos (Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds) on drums, James Williamson (Iggy &The Stooges on lead guitar, rhythm guitar and bass Guitar and Steve Mackay (Iggy &The Stooges) on baritone saxophone. Wendy herself, isn’t just a pretty face, as well as vocals she plays rhythm guitar and keys. The Price Of The Ticket was recorded in New York, mixed in Berkeley, California and released last Friday (19th February 2016) following a pledge music campaign.
The album starts off on a mellow note with Paloma’s Downs, with Wendy’s voice having a very seductive but girlish quality. Some strong keyboards and chugging riffs give it a flavour of Roger Daltrey’s Free Me in places. Whilst there were a lot of mellow and gentle tracks the album isn’t depressing per se but I did pick up a lot of anger and angst in the lyrics with titles like Why Oh Why Do You Hurt Me Still? and Farewell To Love and lines such as ‘Maybe it would be better if we just leave each other’ in Love From the 9th and ‘I’m never going to see you again’ in Screamin’ Back Washington’. King Rat with it’s staccato rhythm reminded me of Human Fly by The Cramps meets Rock Lobster by The B52’s and Why Oh Why Do You Hurt Me Still? had a bit of similar vibe but with a bit of a Hawaiin beat thrown in. Farewell To Love had me thinking of Cathy’s Clown by The Everly Brothers. In Cowboy Rhythm I picked up a Beat Surrender by The Jam flavour albeit a little slower. A couple of more upbeat tracks came in the last two songs which were covers of Fred ‘Sonic’ Smith and Bob Dylan songs.
My favourite track was Bad Intentions and a Bit of Cruelty which with it’s (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction by The Rolling Stones (originally by Otis Redding) meets Ever Fallen in Love by The Buzzcocks which made me want to get up and strut my stuff. As I said it’s not depressing per se but I did think there were too many mellow tracks and not enough tracks like Bad Intentions and a Bit of Cruelty or the two covers. Maybe I was expecting Wendy James The Price of The Ticket to be more like her earlier work with Tranvision Vamp and alas it wasn’t but there’s undoubtably some expert musicianship and Wendy’s voice has a very seductive quality. I would put it on as background music, if I had people round who were not as heavily into rock music as me. I, personally, would have liked the album to have a few more of the more upbeat tracks.
Highlight Track: Bad Intentions and a Bit of Cruelty
1: Paloma’s Downs
2: Indigent Blues
3: King Rat
4: Love From the 9th
5: Bad Intentions and a Bit of Cruelty
6: You’re a Dirtbomb, Lester
7: Screamin’ Back Washington
8: Why Oh Why Do You Hurt Me Still?
9: Farewell To Love
10: Cowboy Rhythm
11: Situation Normal at Surfider
12: You’re So Great (Fred ‘Sonic’ Smith cover)
13 It’S Alright Ma (Bob Dylan cover)
Wendy James – Vocals, Rhythm guitars and Keys
Lenny Kaye – Lead & Rhythm Guitar
Glen Matlock – Bass
James Sclavunos – Drums
James Williamson – Lead & Rhythm Guitar, Bass Guitar
Steve Mackay -Baritone Sax
Artwork: Kym Ellery and Roze Hooij.