In the late 1980s, Wendy James was the goddess of choice for many a teenager’s bedroom. She was sexy, beautiful and her band Transvision Vamp dominated the UK charts with their post-punk pop. Wendy was everywhere, a teenage wet dream, which kinda overlooked the singer’s real talent and incredible energy.
It was her unacknowledged talent (and a fan letter from Wendy) that led Elvis Costello to write the pop princess her first solo album, Now Ain’t the Time for Your Tears in 1993. It was a bloody impressive recording, which kicked even her harshest critics into touch. But let’s not forget, the pop world is fickle, and riddled with jealousies, which means, sadly, there are always those who will not think about Wendy beyond the pull-out posters that once decorated their bedroom walls.
Now, this should be about to change, as Wendy James has released the best album of her career so far, I Came Here To Blow Minds, which she has written and produced herself. I spoke to Wendy over the ‘phone last week and asked her about the process of writing the album.
Wendy James: ‘I wrote it in summertime in New York. I went up onto the roof of my apartment, with my guitar and worked on my songs up there. I write all the time, and have notebooks full of writing and songs all around. Then one day it just starts, and I have an outpouring of these songs and ideas, for about two months. And when I write I have to lock myself away. I just can’t enjoy other things. It’s kind of like a pressure cooker, and you put a lid on to stop it boiling over, but then you can’t stop it boiling over.
‘For me, it’s a very solo outpouring. It takes everything you’ve got for that moment in time. But it’s the ultimate thing for being an artist.’
It’s a cathartic process, and writing the last song, is like ‘waiting to exhale.’ On I Came Here To Blow Minds, Wendy’s songs range form the punky “New Wave Flowered Up Main Street Acid Baby”, through “Municipal Blues” and the jangly indie pop of “One Evening in a Small Cafe” and “You Tell Me” to the sixties’ Marianne Faithfull-like “Where Have You Been, So Long?”. The musical references are all there, and have developed over Wendy’s twenty-plus year career, from teenage pop star to older, wiser solo artist.
It started in her teens, when Wendy saw Joe Strummer of The Clash in concert and thought “I want his job.” Her wish soon came true, when she formed Transvision Vamp with Nick Christian Sayer in 1986. Sayer wrote the songs and James supplied the image. Three albums and a slew of hit singles were released, including “I Want Your Love” and “Baby, I Don’t Care”.
Wendy James: ‘Without really knowing, I was in Transvision Vamp. I didn’t really know what I was doing. But you learn really quickly, it was a fast track, you learn how to rehearse, how to deliver. It all came together so quickly. On the first album, I was just singing. By the second I wanted more.’
Their second album, Velveteen was a massive hit, but Wendy was growing up.
Wendy James: ‘Something in my soul was telling me I had to live in my own world. I had to do my own thing. Something was going on inside, and by the third album, it wasn’t enough.’
Then Elvis Costello wrote an album for her.
Wendy James: ‘But still there was this inner voice, you know, these were Elvis Costello’s songs, and not mine.’
It took time. In 2004, James returned as Racine - ‘...the name I called myself for two albums…’ - and then began writing the songs for I Came Here To Blow Minds, which she recorded in Paris. Now, Wendy has plans to tour the UK, Europe and the US later this year. She is also working on songs for her next album.
An initial pink vinyl pressing of ‘I Came Here To Blow Minds’ is now available
Wendy James: “New Wave Flowered Up Main Street Acid Baby”
Edited by Jeff Yorkes.
This should be interesting. Ken Russell is Aleister Crowley in a new short (which is currently in the edit) from Imperium Pictures.
Previously on DM:
Dangerous Minds is sending good vibrations in Gerard Smith’s direction. TV On The Radio’s bass player has been diagnosed with lung cancer.
The band released the following message:
Gerard has been undergoing treatment and will be unable to participate in the upcoming tour. Gerard is fortunate enough to have health insurance and is receiving excellent medical care. Already we have seen dramatic results. Combine that with Gerard’s legendarily willful disposition and it might just be cancer that has the problem. We appreciate your concern and support for Gerard and his family.”
TV On The Radio will be at SXSW on March 19 at the Mog party, sadly without Gerard, and we will be there to give our support to one of the greatest bands on the planet.
Here’s a terrific track, “Caffeinated Consciousness,” off their new album Nine Types Of Light which will be released on April 12.
360 Cities and photographer Laurent Egli have made it possible to take a virtual tour of the Large Hadron Collider in Geneva, Switzerland. Using a Roundshot D3 camera fitted with a special fisheye lens, Egli was able to capture these magnificent panoramas of the LCH and staff at work. It’s pretty incredible.
360 Cities (Jan): Can you share with our readers how a mortal man can manage to get an invitation to get inside?
Laurent: Taking of these image has been made possible through a meeting with Maximillien Brice. Max is the head photographer for CERN and has become a personal friend of mine. So when he called me to tell me that the LHC was being stopped for some maintenance and that we had a small window of opportunity to go down on monday the 7 th of ferbruary I couldn’t not jump on the occasion.
Democrats in Wisconsin got out of the gate with a very strong start for the race to gain the necessary signatures needed for a recall election in the “Forward” state. This can’t come as good news to the Republicans and Gov. Walker (nicknamed “Dead Man Walker” by no less of a representative of mainstream American opinion than TIME magazine).
Greg Sargent writes in the Washington Post:
Dems have now collected over 56,000 signatures supporting the recall drives, according to party spokesman Graeme Zielinski, after another surge in organizing activity over the weekend. That’s up from rougly 14,000 after last weekend. This means Dems are well ahead of schedule: In each targeted district, Dems need to amass the required signatures — 25 percent of the number who voted in the last gubernatorial election — by a deadline of 60 days after first filing for recalls, which happened nearly two weeks ago.
In other words, Dems are reporting they are nearly halfway to the finish line, with roughly three-fourths of the alloted time remaining.
Though the national media has largely treated the Wisconsin story as resolved, now that Republicans used a procedural maneuver to pass Scott Walker’s measure, the new signature numbers suggest the GOP’s maneuver may only be giving more momentum to the recall drives. The recall fight has drawn the attention of national Dems, who are keeping attention on the battle in hopes that it will have ramifications in the 2012 Congressional and presidential elections, by galvanizing the Dem base, persuading independents that the GOP has overreached, and reawakening the affection of blue collar whites for unions.
Some will insist that these numbers are unreliable, because they are coming from Dems. But if they did cook the numbers, such exaggerations would quickly become apparent if they fell well short of their goals by the deadline. (Republicans are refusing to reveal the amount of signatures they’ve collected to recall Dems.) What’s more, these signatures numbers claimed by Dems mirror other indicators of enthusiasm: Dems and labor continue to raise money for the recall drives at a dizzying clip, and a huge rally amassed in Madison over the weekend.
According to Wisconsin Dem spokesman Zielinski, Dems are ahead of pace in signature gathering in every single one of the eight districts being targteted, and in three of the districts, Dems have well over 50 percent of the number required.
And in a related note, popular Wisconsin resident, Jeff Skiles, who was co-pilot of the “Miracle on the Hudson” plane, told WISC-TV that he will be closing his accounts (totaling over $400,000) at M&I Bank today. M&I’s executives were amongst the largest donors to embattled Gov. Scott Walker’s election campaign. Below, Skiles speaks to pro-labor protesters in Madison on Feb. 26, 2011.
Here’s an amazing 70s TV commercial of Edd Kalehoff performing his rendition of the Schaefer Beer jingle on a Moog synthesizer. It doesn’t get more spectacular than this. Edd Kalehoff was also the man responsible for the catchy theme song and cues used on The Price is Right in the 70s. From Edd’s son, Max Kalehoff:
Put aside the fact that Edd’s ability to jam on the Moog was sought by many (including Quincy Jones for his theme from “The Anderson Tapes” ). And DO consider the 1973 Schaefer beer commercial featuring Edd playing the Moog, which follows in the clip I linked to above. He really jams out! I’m proud to say that’s my dad in the most obnoxious polyester shirt ever made; it’s better than the spandex bicycle shorts he fell in love with in the 1980s! If Schaefer had any sense, they’d put this commercial back on the air in its original form. It defines cool. It could help them become the number-one selling beer again.
So what’s happened to that old Moog synthesizer in the Schaefer beer commercial? My father’s 5,000 square-foot recording studio in Manhattan (where the Moog lived) closed last year, to be replaced by a home studio in my old childhood bedroom in New Rochelle, New York. (Jeff Jarvis really is on to something with his Small Is the New Big. But alongside the new miniature digital sound-mixing board and synthesizers lies that relic, the Moog, still in working condition. And the live musicians who travel out to Westchester County to play for Edd’s recording sessions are awed by it more than ever before.
Read more about Edd’s life on Max Kalehoff’s website: Edd Kalehoff Makes Love To The Moog Synthesizer.
Mafia -style politics in Madison? This is the text of the email that went out yesterday to Wisconsin Republicans from their Majority Leader, Scott Fitzgerald. Stunning, isn’t it? It’s as if these people have no clue what is about to hit them.
Sent: Monday, March 14, 2011 3:52 PM
To: *Legislative Senate Republicans
Subject: Senate Democrat voting privileges in standing committees
With the return of the Senate Democrats this weekend, questions have arisen regarding Democrat members’ participation in Senate standing committee public hearings and executive sessions.
Please note that all 14 Democrat senators are still in contempt of the Senate. Therefore, when taking roll call votes on amendments and bills during executive sessions, Senate Democrats’ votes will not be reflected in the Records of Committee Proceedings or the Senate Journal. They are free to attend hearings, listen to testimony, debate legislation, introduce amendments, and cast votes to signal their support/opposition, but those votes will not count, and will not be recorded.
If you have any questions, feel free to contact my office.
Senate Majority Leader
13th Senate District
Below, Wisconsin Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald discusses his version of democracy(!!), but look what happened when the Wisconsin 14 actually did return. Fitzgerald thinks he can have it both ways. He’s wrong. What an appalling hypocritical scumbag this man is. I will look forward to his recall and hope it’s chock full of juicy Republican schadenfreude, because Republican schadenfreude is the best kind of schadenfreude there is. (And how fucking dumb—and politically tone-deaf—would you have to be to make a statement like this with THAT racket in the background? Fitzgerald only appears slightly less stupid than Sarah Palin did when she pardoned the turkey... and that’s nothin’ to be proud of, pal.)
Eighties Reggae star, DJ Smiley Culture has died during a police drugs raid at his home, in Surrey, England. A report on Sky News reads:
The musician, real name David Emmanuel, 48, apparently died from self-inflicted wounds.
The Independent Police Complaints Commission has launched an investigation, after the incident was voluntarily reported to it by Scotland Yard.
Officers from the Metropolitan Police had called at his home in Warlingham, Surrey, as part of a series of raids during a drugs investigation.
It is believed he died in the kitchen of the house after police tried to resuscitate him.
Surrey police were called to the house during the incident. It is understood other suspects were arrested at other addresses during the series of raids.
Smiley Culture had a short burst of fame in the 1980s with singles “Cockney Translation” and “Police Officer” which both reached the singles charts and led to appearances on BBC’s Top of the Pops.
As his pop career diminished he turned to acting, with a cameo appearance in the film Absolute Beginners.
In September last year he was charged with conspiracy to supply cocaine and appeared at Croydon Magistrates Court.
Coroner’s Officer Carole Hall told Woking Coroner’s Court on Friday 18 March that singer, DJ Smiley Culture, real name David Emmanuel, aged 48, had died from a self-inflicted stab wound to the chest. His death occurred at the scene despite attempts at resuscitation.
The report raised serious questions about the death: firstly, why Mr. Emmanuel had been allowed, while in police custody, to enter another room (the kitchen) “to make a cup of tea”.
Secondly, it was reported Emmanuel was “calm” at the time of the raid, which goes counter to the violent force necessary for Emmanuel to kill himself, as the knife entered his chest, and pierced the other side.
At a press conference in Brixton, London, held after the coroner’s report, the singer’s nephew, Merlin Emmanuel said:
We haven’t had a clear, coherent, official explanation as to what happened to Smiley.
‘The police have a lot to answer to. Until our questions, queries and suspicions have been fully and competently answered to dispel any notion of foul play, we will not rest.
‘Fact – Smiley Culture died at his home from a single stab wound whilst in police custody, while they let him go and make a cup of tea.’