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Review: 'JAMES, BRIAN'
'Brian James'   

-  Label: 'Easy Action'
-  Genre: 'Punk/New Wave' -  Release Date: '27th April 2018'-  Catalogue No: 'EARS135LP'

Our Rating:
Brian James' debut solo album from 1990 is being re-issued by the good folks at Easy Action Records. It was originally released on New Rose Records, the label Patrick Mathe named after one of Brian's best known songs having sought to get Brian's permission to use the name during the production of The Saints' album Brian guested on in the early 80's.

This album sounds like it was swimming against the early 90's prevailing musical winds. Really, it's much more late 70's garage punk than anything else. It opens with The Twist (no, it's not That Twist) but a James original that sounds an awful lot like The London Cowboys style of garage punk with some great guitar and some cool lyrics about love gone suicidal.

Cut Throat is pirate-esque punk with some super nifty guitar work coolly punctuating the lyrics. Slow It Down does nothing of the sort as it careens across the speakers while Brian asks a woman to slow it down as - yep - she's moving way too fast and consuming way too much for a cool garage punk song like this.

Another Time, Another Crime is a slightly sardonic list song of some of the other things Brian could have been, although the guitar solo reinforces why we should all be glad that he became a guitarist.

I Said No sees Brian letting her down less than easily as he'd rather not be involved in what she wants to get up to. It plays out over some pretty great guitar-centric garage punk. Bibbly Bubbly Crisis opens like it's a cod reggae song before the guitar comes in to rock us like a sort of Punk Ventures tune.

The first bonus track not featured the original album, Pretty Lil' Girl, closes side one with a slow neo-garage rock ballad about a girl who's making his life a misery by her not really needing him or anyone else really.

The B-side opens with Ain't that A Shame. No it's not a cover but a re-working of Brian's first single with some nice squiggly guitar underneath a tale of falling for the wrong woman who doesn't want to play ball.

Prime Time Blues is a proper punk blues shouter until it all breaks down to allow the guitars to explode back in a very cool tune. You Try opens with a cool bass riff, ideal for a bruised song of failure and not quite despondency that allows Brian's guitar to practically cry through the solo.

Cut Across Shorty re-works the old Eddie Cochran classic with the first obvious appearance of an acoustic guitar on the album as he sings about stealing Shorty's girl out from under him in a way that makes it seem like a bastard love child to the old Cousin Joe song Boxcar Shorty And Peter Blue. Except that this isn't about gambling, even if the end result is similar but less murderous.

Polka Dot Shot is a spiky sort of back room brag as you wonder exactly what that Polka Dot Shot does to you. The album closes with the other bonus tune a reworking of The Shadows' classic F.B.I, turning it into a sort of desert blues. A very cool and interesting take on the song.

Find out more at Easy Action Records online

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  author: simonovitch

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JAMES, BRIAN - Brian James