Wendy James The Price Of The Ticket Album Review


Available 19 February

I have to admit that Wendy James completely fell off my music radar about a quarter of a century ago. So when I heard that she was about to release a new album, her fith since Transvision Vamp split in’92, I was extremely intrigued. Apart from anything else, it also gave me an excuse to go back and listen to some of Transvision Vamp’s hits from way back when.

And the more I read about the album, the more promising it sounded. Exciting, even.  And that was mainly because James had brought together musicians from an impressive array of punk and new wave bands to record it. When I say impressive, I actually meant properly impressive: Lenny Kaye (The Patti Smith Group), Glen Matlock (The Sex Pistols), James Sclavunos (Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds) and Steve Mackay (Iggy & The Stooges).

The first thing that strikes you about The Price Of The Ticket is it’s stripped back, analogue, retro feel. It’s a nice counterpoint to albums that sound like they have been produced to within an inch of their lives. It’s also apparent that this is an album that needs more than just one listen to appreciate. Transvision Vamp it aint.

From my first listen, there were two standout tracks. ‘You’re A Dirtbomb Lester’ and ‘Bad Intentions And A Bit Of Cruelty’ are full of post punk energy, attitude and driving guitars. Coincidentally they are also the two fastest songs on the record. Others which jumped out were ‘King Rat’ which has a really cool groove and grungy hook, and then there’s  a rather good reworking of Bob Dylan’s ‘It’s Alright Ma’ which rounds out the album. On my next listen, I began to hook into other songs which I impatiently skipped past after a couple of minutes the first time around. And on my third listen, began to like others. It’s THAT kind of album.

James’ vocals are as good as they ever were, and she displays quite a range – and range of styles – on The Price Of The Ticket. Sure, we all know she can do very girly vocals, as she does here on ‘Indigent Blues’.  But she also cuts loose with some properly in yer face shouting on the aforementioned ‘You’re A Dirtbomb Lester’, and goes all Lou Reed during ‘Paloma’s Downs’.

I get the feeling though, that this album won’t be for everyone, simply because it requires patience. And while there are undoubtably some pretty good tracks in there, it has to be said that there are a few others which sound a little too arty and self-indulged. For what it’s worth however, I reckon the good outweighs the bad and The Price Of The Ticket is worth recommending.

Wendy James is currently on tour in the UK and you can catch her live at the following venues and dates:

Saturday 13 February Kilmarnock, Bellfield Tavern
Monday 15 February London, Rough Trade East – Album Launch gig
Monday 15 February London Old Blue Last – Album Launch gig
Wed 17 February Ramsgate, Music Hall