Brian James –  Brian James (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

CS677322-01A-BIGBy the time this album originally came blinking into the daylight from the depths of a small Brussels studio in 1990, James already had a pretty impressive CV to his name. Having almost exclusively penned the material that made up the first two Damned albums, including New Rose, the first ever punk single, and spending much of the 80’s steering Lords of the New Church to international success, the latter’s demise gave him the time  to put his first solo album out. Long out of circulation, this re-issue offers the perfect opportunity to get reacquainted with the man away from the bands he was known for.

Considering this album comes out straight off of the back of his time with The Lords, this collection eschews their lush dance-goth textures…they never really were the “punk supergroup” that they were tagged… for the incendiary rock and roll riff-a-rama that The Damned were based on. But neither is this out and out punk, but again, The Damned were smarter and more interesting than that anyway, and opening salvo The Twist seems more in keeping with the savage R&B chops of the pub rock circuit that helped pave the way in the first place. Another Time, Another Crime is a boisterous bluesy work out, Ain’t That A Shame is a gentler re-working of his own debut single and You Try is a brilliant, retro-infused, groover that in an alternate musical time-line was Roy Orbison’s biggest hit.

It’s an album which reminds you that despite punk claiming a year zero status, its movers and shakers were heavily influenced by the rock and roll of the sixties and early seventies and in this wonderful collection you can hear the echoes of times past and just about catch the fleeting ghosts of its main musical perpetrators. It walks in the shoes of the likes of The Stooges, The MC5 and The Seeds, blues heroes, garage rock idols and rock and roll rebels and it links arms with fellow travellers such as Nikki Sudden and Johnny Thunders. But more than anything it is a look into the musical psyche of one of the main players responsible for defining the sound of punk.

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