English singer songwriter Wendy James, probably best known as the front woman of chart topping alt-rock phenomenon, Transvision Vamp, is set to release her new album, ‘Queen High Staight’ on May 1. She has also announced tour dates throughout May in support of the album.
Following the disbanding of Transvision Vamp, James, who celebrated her birthday this week, went on to collaborate with a galaxy of fellow music stars, including Elvis Costello, James Williamson (Iggy & The Stooges), Lenny Kaye (The Patti Smith Group), and James Sclavunos (Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds), the latter of whom joins Wendy on the new album playing drums and percussion. Additionally she enlisted the services of James Sedwards (lead guitar), Harry Bohay (bass), Alex J. Ward & Terry Edwards (horn section) and Louis Vause (accordion).
Wendy began writing ‘Queen High Straight’ after a long period of writing, recording, delivering, and touring her previous album, ‘The Price Of The Ticket’, which charted at number 14 in the UK. Speaking of the title track, James said,
“I gravitated toward some jazzy type of chords which lent a gentle lilt to the song, it sounded smooth and it reminded me of when I was a young child listening to Sergio Mendes ‘Brazil ’66’! Some of those lovely chord progressions, some of that lovely harmonizing the singers did and of course Bacharach and David.”
“Overall, my taste and style have not changed with time,” Wendy says. “The music that excites me now, ultimately, is the same as when I was starting out songwriting and back through my days in Transvision Vamp. I continue to marvel at Lou Reed and The Velvet Underground, I continue to be blown away by The Stooges, I continue to be everlastingly enthralled by Bob Dylan, but of course, the older one gets the more one discovers and I am now informed more cohesively and fully by all the music, new and old, which settles into my consciousness.
“My track listings are never altered from the order in which I write the songs, maybe it’s because it’s too tangential for me to try to shuffle songs around but really I think, in some kind of holistic way, the order in which the songs are written must surely be the very most natural order for them to be listed in. Around about song 14 ‘Bliss Hotel’ I hit a wall. I did not know where the inspiration was going to come from! But then somehow, miraculously, it comes again and one pushes on through, as it turned out, to some of my favourite songs on the entire album. My perfect moment? song 18 ‘Cancel It… I’ll See Him On Monday’; it was a ‘Eureka’ moment. I ran out into the garden and started dancing, “I’ve got it! I’ve got it!!!””
Other tracks on the album see Wendy embrace Motown, ‘Here Comes The Beautiful One’ and ‘Little Melvin’, while for ‘Period Beauty’, she returns, once again, to her favourite guitar guttural filth and sex. ‘Chicken Street’ is an unlikely sounding love song, and there’s some 90s pop groove in ‘Ratfcking’, melancholia in ‘Testimonial’, and Django Reinhardt whimsy in ‘I’ll Be Here When The Morning Comes’. On ‘The Impression Of Normalcy’, Wendy says,
“Thanks to James Sclavunos, who told me to “speed the fucking song up”, I have a proper speed punk song.”
Finally, track 20, ‘Kill Some Time Blues’ is the ultimate 60s girl group number. All 20 songs on the album have been written, produced, and mixed by Wendy James.
Recently touring the UK with her permanent band, The Wendy James Band, she opened for The Psychedelic Furs, to stunning success.
Wendy James will be playing 19 dates around the UK in May. See below for dates.
5TH MAY TUNBRIDGE WELLS FORUM
6TH MAY SWANSEA CINEMA & CO
7TH MAY BRISTOL FLEECE
8TH MAY NORWICH ARTS CENTRE
9TH MAY STOKE ON TRENT THE SUGARMILL
11TH MAY NOTTINGHAM RESCUE ROOMS
12TH MAY MANCHESTER DEAF INSTITUTE
13TH MAY BRIGHTON CONCORDE 2
14TH MAY LONDON ISLINGTON O2
15TH MAY CARDIFF CLWB IFOR BACH
16TH MAY PORTSMOUTH WEDGEWOOD ROOMS
17TH MAY GUILDFORD BOILEROOM
19TH MAY LEEDS BRUDENELL SOCIAL CLUB
20TH MAY NEWCASTLE CLUNY
21ST MAY GLASGOW GIG TUTS
22ND MAY BIRMINGHAM INSTITUTE3
23RD MAY CAMBRIDGE JUNCTION
24TH MAY BLACKPOOL WATERLOO MUSIC BAR
25TH MAY EDINBURGH BANNERMANS
‘Queen High Straight’ will be available as a 20 track deluxe gatefold double vinyl, gatefold deluxe CD, regular CD and Digital Download / Streaming. It’s available to pre-order on Wendy James’ online store, where you can also buy the rest of Wendy’s recordings, associated art, T-shirts, and all things Wendy James.