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Racine 2

Wendy James

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Album Review

In 1993, former Transvision Vamp singer Wendy James released Now Ain't the Time for Your Tears, an album's worth of bespoken songs by Elvis Costello (supposedly written for James over the course of a manic weekend) that received almost universally scathing reviews, most of which were based on the apparently incorrect assumption that on songs like "Puppet Girl" and "We Despise You," James was the unwitting butt of a mean-spirited joke on Costello's part. In fact, the album sounded like a knowing meditation on the costs of pop stardom, as well as a fine collection of scrappy punk-influenced songs hampered quite a bit by Chris Thomas' excessively clean production. (Had the album sounded more like Costello's 2008 rough-and-ready release Momofuku, it might have been treated more kindly, but given how universally hated Transvision Vamp had been by pop critics of the time — and not entirely without reason — it's likely that it could have been as good as Armed Forces and it would have still been panned.) Following the failure of that album, James dropped out of music for over a decade before returning to the business as the leader of an indie rock quartet called Racine. Following the obscure 2005 release of Number One under the band's own name, Racine, Vol. 2 was released as a Wendy James solo record, although her bandmates remain the same. Racine, Vol. 2 still has all the winking braggadocio that's been a hallmark of James' act from the beginning — the tongue-in-cheek faux-blues grind of "You're a Good Man, Sister" includes the lines "On a scale of one to ten, I rate a hundred" and "Got a voice and a body/Put the lights on me" — but musically, it's far removed from both the Primitives-like C86-derived sound of Transvision Vamp and the polished alternative rock of Now Ain't the Time for Your Tears. Instead, Racine, Vol. 2 is a varied but accessible indie pop album ranging from the vaguely Dylanesque "Stoned, Ripped and Twisted" (powered by an Al Kooper-like organ part) to the country-tinged ballad "There Ain't No Way" to the unexpectedly pretty (given the title) twee pop harmonies of "Those Leg M**********rs." Racine, Vol. 2 continues the flaws that have dogged Wendy James' career from the outset — she's not much of a lyricist, and though her voice has lashings of personality, it's not what one would call conventionally pretty — but at a point when most of James' contemporaries on the late-'80s Brit indie scene have long since hung it up, this is an unexpectedly solid return. (The CD release contains an extra disc of stripped-down demo versions not available on the digital download versions of the album.)

Customer Reviews

BUY IT!!

Wendy James is one of the few leading ladies of Rock'n'Roll and there aren't so many around that still have the bleached ambition and talent. Wendy has a beautiful voice, only excentuated alongside melodic rifts filled with sweetness and new wave sounds. This is a really good album!! All round! N

Buy IT!!

Finally something that makes sense, something that is actually good to listen at. Wendy James, has put together an unsung masterpiece, the lyrics are elaborate and smart, the music out of any cliche'. This is one of the best albums in the past 12 months, BUY IT!!

The Champion...

The Best album of 2007- Pure Rock n Roll...

Biography

Born: 21 January 1966 in London, England

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '90s

After being the lead singer for Transvision Vamp, Wendy James decided to pursue a solo career. She wrote a letter to Elvis Costello about her situation and was surprised when Costello wrote an entire album for her. Now Ain't the Time for Your Tears was recorded with guitarist...
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Racine 2, Wendy James
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