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Brian James - The Guitar That Dripped Blood

  by Tom Fogarty

published: 25 / 11 / 2015

Brian James - The Guitar That Dripped Blood
Label: Easy Action
Format: LP


Exuberant latest studio album from punk pioneer and former Damned member, Brian James.

With a career spanning nearly fifty years, what can we expect from elder statesman of punk, Brian James? He has made some notable achievements during his lengthy career; as the founding member of British punk pioneers the Damned in 1976, and as part of the super group the Lords of The New Church alongside Stiv Bators of the Dead Boys fame. He has also recorded with seminal artists such as Iggy Pop, as well as being a member of the London SS and guesting on the Saints’ 1982 album, 'Out in the Jungle', all if which which has kept him incredibly busy through the passing years – if often somewhat under the radar of popular culture. Indeed, James has been quoted prior to release as saying, “I didn’t do this to be rich and famous. I started off because it’s the only thing I wanted to do in life, and it still is.” Luckily for us, this is no idle boast that disguises an overblown or deliberately obscure effort. His latest album 'The Guitar That Dripped Blood' is a very strong body of work and has far more impact than his last effort, 2013's 'Damned… If I Do'. The music harks back to the early days of the Damned (James wrote the majority of the band's first two albums, 1977's 'Damned Damned Damned' and 'Music for Pleasure'). It could also be compared to a young Motorhead or maybe the Stooges. Despite the length of his music career it is clear that this longevity has not dampened his enthusiasm in any way; the guitar playing is raw and sounds completely fresh. Another Dead Boys stalwart – Cheetah Chrome – helps proceedings on the album's opener, 'Becoming a Nuisance', which is a raucous and raunchy number that sets the tone for what is to follow. 'Regulator' continues this energy, while 'Walkin’ Round Naked' takes a slightly slower, grungy approach. There's a change of pace during 'Till The Rains Come', which is the album's only disappointing tune - and is the weakest link in the songs on offer here, breaking the momentum of the album somewhat. James' 2012 album, 'Chateau Brian', was an acoustic collection of self-reflective ditties in a similar vein to this, but fortunately the other tunes from 'The Guitar That Dripped Blood' do not follow suit and the rhythm picks up again after this interlude. The last three songs ('Baby She Crazy', 'Hail Mary' and 'Mean Streak') are reminiscent of Detroit-style American rock and are less edgy but more polished as a result. Despite the apparent course, frenzied energy of this album, real care has been taken with the production values; the album's title references an old horror film from Amicus studios, while the album artwork is a tongue-in-cheek parody of the lurid film posters of the same era, courtesy of Graham Humphreys (who also painted the original Lords of The New Church covers as well). I've not yet seen 'Don't You Wish That We Were Dead', the recent documentary about the Damned, but listening to this album has certainly made me want to find out more and rediscover the band who owe so much of their success to Brian James. It has not been announced yet if James will be taking part in the 40th anniversary reunion shows at the Royal Albert Hall in 2016, but the Damned will certainly be a much-strengthened force if he is.

Track Listing:-
1 Becoming A Nuisance
2 The Regulator
3 Walkin' Round Naked
4 Not Invited
5 Till The Rains Come
6 Hindsight
7 Insaning
8 Baby She Crazy
9 Hail Mary
10 Mean Streak

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