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Pocketmags Digital Magazines

Interview with the vamp

AS THE SINGER WITH TRANSVISION VAMP, WENDY JAMES WAS THE ENFANT TERRIBLE OF LATE-80s GLAM-POP, AN INTOXICATING BLEND OF PEROXIDE SWAGGER AND TABLOID-BAITING PRONOUNCEMENTS. THREE DECADES ON AND SHE’S LOST NONE OF HER VERVE, TELLING OLIVER HURLEY HOW HER NEW DOUBLE ALBUM IS INSPIRED BY THE STOOGES, THE SHANGRI-LAS AND, ER, STEVE MARTIN…
Wendy James is returning with an ambitious double album, Queen High Straight

Wendy James doesn’t mess about. For her last solo album, The Price Of The Ticket, she recruited a backing band comprising a starry line-up of alt-rock royalty: Patti Smith guitarist Lenny Kaye, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds’ drummer Jim Sclavunos, Sex Pistols’ bassist Glen Matlock, and so on. For its forthcoming follow-up, she decided to put together a 20-track album that, through crowd-funding support, will be released on double vinyl, when anyone else might have simply figured that doing a 10-track CD would have been an awful lot easier. “If you decide to do 20 songs, you’re going to have to go in deep,” says James. “You can’t just show up, you actually have to commit.”

Incredibly, it’s more than 30 years since James crashed into the public consciousness fronting Transvision Vamp, wherein her role seemed to be fairly evenly split between singer, pin-up and somewhat unpredictable, self-aggrandising mouthpiece. To wit, “I will be more famous than Madonna,” or the bafflingly brilliant, “We’re just doing to Warhol what he would do to bananas.”

INSIDE THE SOUND CLASH

Reassuringly, she still remains an unstoppable force of nature, all optimism, energy and slightly unnerving focus. A gentle enquiry about her forthcoming album, Queen High Straight (her sixth post-Vamp solo project), results in a four-and-a-half-minute monologue on audio formats that encompasses how much music you can fit on one side of an LP before you begin to lose fidelity, her love of flexi discs, the minor revival of cassettes, and Sandinista! by The Clash. Ask her about the musical influences on her new album and you’re given a potted history of popular music that takes in African-American spirituals, Robert Johnson, Chuck Berry and skiffle.

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About Classic Pop

This month, we have a world exclusive with Adam Ant as he prepares for a full-album tour of his experimental solo debut Friend Or Foe. It’s a must-read interview packed full of surprises. The pop mavericks keep on coming elsewhere, too – our classic album is The KLF’s seminal LP, The White Room, and we catch up with the inimitable Wendy James as she unveils new double album Queen High Straight. We meet the people behind Pet Shop Boys’ dazzling new stage show Musik, a return to the world of Billie Trix; playwright Jonathan Harvey and star Frances Barber fill us in on what to expect. Peter Hook tells us the story behind Joy Division’s Unknown Pleasures – 40 years on, the band’s debut is still a work of staggering genius. In our album-by-album feature, we take an in-depth look at the recording career of Eurythmics and we meet Will Young to find out how he’s beaten his anxiety issues to create new studio album, Lexicon. Legendary producer Stephen Street talks us through his life in vinyl and we take a peek inside a new book on Soft Cell to uncover unseen photos of the synth-pop duo. Our packed new album reviews section includes Gary Daly, Shura, Friendly Fires, Mabel and more. On the reissues front, we serve up a selection including The Lightning Seeds, Belinda Carlisle, Big Country and Bonnie Tyler. In our live reviews section, we round up our Glastonbury Festival best bits plus check out gigs by Spice Girls, Elton John, Tears For Fears, Pink and more.