Wendy James – Queen High Straight
Review of her upcoming new album and we also have a chat with Wendy on the telephone about her new music
It’s over 30 years, yes THIRTY years since the pink and blonde bombshell Wendy James became an overnight sensation and blitzed her way onto our screens, on Top Of The Pops with her band Transvision Vamp, scoring a handful of top twenty hits along the way, before disappearing almost as quickly as she appeared. But now she’s back with an album containing not just new material, but bulging with all of the old inspiration that shaped her into the sensation she was.
‘Not much has changed, I still sit with a pile of lyrics, get my guitar, sit and strum away and the tunes come to me’ says Wendy on a recent interview. ‘Usually I have the lyrics first then get the tune later, lyrics come all the time, I’m constantly writing things down, but when you’re on a roll, the songs just seem to write themselves. It’s magical’. Belief in herself, confidence, and optimism are three things Wendy James has in abundance.
‘Queen High Straight’ opens with the self-titled lead track, which instantly transports you to a breezy summer’s day, in the middle of France, driving with the top down and with nothing but a scratchy mediumwave radio for company, with the easy listening, melodic tune taking over your sub-conscience. There is more than a touch of irony here, as this is where the songstress has confined herself to escape the epidemic currently sweeping towns and cities worldwide.
There are all sorts of influences coming through on the new record, and there’s a tune for all occasions, although Wendy remains inspired now by the same artists who got her going back in the day. ‘There are a few newer artists I like but mainly it’s still The Psychedelic Furs, Velvet Underground, The Pistols and Joe (Strummer from The Clash), they are the ones I will always listen to, they speak to me’.
Tracks like ‘Little Melvin’ have obvious soul influences and the use of the Hammond organ endorse this Motown feel, a cracking, catchy tune, as is ‘Here Comes The Beautiful One’ with its 60s psychedelic chorus.
‘Chicken Street’ has a floaty pop lyric on top of a heavy bass tune that could easily have been written by Ian Broudie and The Lightning Seeds, and ‘Bar Room Brawl & Benzedrine Blues’ keep the indie vibe going with a song that wouldn’t be out of place on an Oasis album from the 90s.
A standout on the album which takes influence from some of the best British songwriters of our generation, evidently Ray Davies and Lennon / McCartney is the track ‘Cancel It… I’ll See Him On Monday’. It could be The Beatles Getting Better, it could be Wings’ I’ve Had Enough, it could be Lennon on Instant Karma, it could be Sunny Afternoon by The Kinks, but it’s a cracking three and a half minute pop tune which led James to proclaim ‘I’ve nailed it!’ on its conclusion. She knew it was a winner, and a ‘eureka I’ve written a hit’ moment for her. She’s not far off in my reckoning.
So what lies in the immediate future for Wendy James and her band? ‘The plan was to take the music on the road, unfortunately we have already had to put the tour back due to the current climate, but hopefully September will see us hit the road and bring the new record to the fans, fingers crossed’.
And can we expect a dip into the back catalog of early hits? ‘Oh the old (Transvision Vamp) songs will all be there, they made me, the fans love them and we love playing them, we couldn’t not play them’. The venue is a new one for her but she remarks ‘I’m so looking forward to the iconic King Tuts in Glasgow, it should be special. Back in the day, the Barrowlands with the sprung floor was one of those unforgettable gigs with a sea of bouncing fans, I’m thrilled our tour poster still hangs on the walls!! And recently supporting The (Psychedelic) Furs at the O2 Academy, yeah the Glasgow crowd is something else’.
Wendy James is due to play King Tuts Wah Wah Hut in Glasgow on 26th September, and her new album Queen High Straight is available now.
Tell That Girl To Shut Up? Just try it!
QUEEN HIGH STRAIGTH TRACK LISTING
- Queen High Straight
- Perilous Beauty
- Free Man Walk
- Stomp Down, Snuck Up
- Little Melvin
- Marlene et Fleur
- A Heart Breaking Liar’s Promise
- Here Comes The Beautiful One
- Chicken Street
- Bar Room Brawl & Benzedrine Blues
- She Likes To Be (Underneath Somebody)
- Bliss Hotel
- Freak In
- The Impression Of Normalcy
- I’ll Be Here When The Morning Comes
- Cancel It… I’ll See Him On Monday
- Sugar Boy
- Kill Some Time Blues
All songs written, produced and mixed by Wendy James.
The album is available as a 20 track deluxe gatefold double vinyl, gatefold deluxe CD, regular CD and Digital Download / Streaming.
QUEEN HIGH STRAIGHT is available to preorder at https://thewendyjames.com/store and this store is the main driver for all of Wendy’s recordings and associated art, t-shirts, all things Wendy.
RESCHEDULED TOUR DATES
3RD SEPT – BRISTOL FLEECE
4TH SEPT – SWANSEA CINEMA & CO
5TH SEPT – CARDIFF CLWB IFOR BACH
6TH SEPT – BRIGHTON CONCORDE 2
9TH SEPT – CAMBRIDGE JUNCTION
10TH SEPT – BIRMINGHAM INSTITUTE 3
11TH SEPT – STOKE SUGARMILL
12TH SEPT – PORTSMOUTH WEDGEWOOD ROOMS
15TH SEPT – NOTTINGHAM BODEGA
16TH SEPT – MANCHESTER DEAF INSTITUTE
17TH SEPT – LEEDS BRUDENELL
18TH SEPT – BLACKPOOL WATERLOO MUSIC BAR
19TH SEPT – NEWCASTLE CLUNY
21ST SEPT – GUILDFORD BOILEROOM
22ND SEPT – TUNBRIDGE WELLS FORUM
23RD SEPT – LONDON ISLINGTON 02
26TH SEPT – GLASGOW KING TUTS
27TH SEPT – EDINBURGH BANNERMANS
29TH SEPT – NORWICH ARTS CENTRE
Tickets available via: https://thewendyjames.com/live/