The Guitar That Dripped Blood - Brian James (Easy Action)
Brian James hasn’t done a lot of looking back since parting ways with The Damned after writing and playing on their first two albums.
Sure, there’s been the odd reunion tour with Vanian and Co and he’s reprised some of his own songs from back then, but it’s his spells with The Lords of the New Church and a string of other projects - including separate bands with the MC5’s Wayne Kramer, Iggy Pop and Rat Scabies, plus his own Brian James Gang - that have kept him busy. This solo album continues the trend.
This album’s title is apt. Its 10 tracks reek of stinging, searing guitar. As a member of the stillborn-in-rehearsals London SS, James took his lead from the MC5 and the “Raw Power” Stooges and it shows. You can still make a case for him as playing one of the angriest guitars since James Williamson.
If you cocked an ear to the supergroup project James participated in with Brother Wayne, Duff McKagan and that bloke from The Police back in 2004 (that'd be Mad For The Racket) you’ll know Brian James ain’t no choirboy. His voice isn’t a finely tuned machine as much as a blunt instrument. Perhaps that’s why James cedes lead vocals on his own album to latter day Lords bandmate Adam Bevcare on four tracks. No matter; most of the best albums come from vocalists with Guitar Player Voices anyway.
And be in no doubt that along with some stellar playing there are some strong songs here. The strutting “Baby She Crazy”, “The Regulator”, the lewd blues stroll “Walkin’ Around Naked” and the emphatic “Becoming a Nuisance” (with guest guitar from Cheetah Chrome) all resonate like aural blowtorches.
“Hail Mary” sounds like it fell out of the front door of CBGB after being eighty-sixed (which would have been some feat, back in the day.) “Mean Streak” locks into a loping groove while James’ vocal sounds uncannily like Dee Dee.
“Till The Rains Come” sounds like an oddly mutated blues and drags despite some attempts to use guitar to pump life into it. The nagging “Hindsight” follows and makes up for it. “Insaning” is another keeper.
The production (by the man himself) is uncluttered and to the point, even if some of the vocals are (ha!) sometimes buried. Sick of bloodless music posing as rock and roll? This guitar transfusion is much recommended.