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Sunday, 9 February 2014

James Stevenson - Everything's Getting Closer To Being Over (10th March 2014)

Mention the name James Stevenson to a few people and you are more than likely to get a similar answer, "Oh, isn't he that bloke who played guitar for...?" and at that point you could insert a truck load of bands and artists that James has played with and contributed to down through the years dating all the way back to 1977! 

Here's a few those starting with:
A-Side: Right to Work
B-Side: The Loner

James is currently still playing with Chelsea among his many projects.

Generation X (or Gen X) 

 Members Mark Laff and Derwood left the band and in their place Idol and James recruited Terry Chimes (formerly of The Clash and Cowboys International) and James Stevenson (formerly of Chelsea). His tenure with the band would be brief, the band folded in 1981 and Idol would relaunch himself as a Solo artist in the USA.

Kim Wilde

Gene Loves Jezebel.
To date James still plays with Gene Loves Jezebel (the Jay Aston Version - there are two versions of the band one in the USA and one here in the UK, yep, don't ask it's all too confusing!).

Jimmy Nail

Scott Walker

The Alarm/Mike Peters

Willie Nile.

The Cult
James played 2nd guitar alongside Billy Duffy for the tour. 
Glen Matlock and the Philistines.

The International Swingers.

James is still playing with both Glen Matlock and The International Swingers as well as performing guitar duty for The Alarm.

So, after all that you can add Solo artist to his CV as well. Last year we got a 3 Track EP ('The Shape of Things To Come') release that was a taster for the album and it's understandable that it's taken such a long time for the album to finally see the light of day when you consider just how busy he has been in the past year alone!

'Everything's Getting Closer To Being Over' will be out in March, though a few fortunate souls were able to obtain a copy at The Gathering (The Alarm's annual event). As I wasn't there this year I asked a friend to pick up a copy for me which they kindly did.

The first thing that strikes me when I first listen to the album is that James is doing lead vocals! I've been so used to only hearing him do backing vocals that it's still a bit of a shock hearing him sing all the ten tracks that make up the album. Four of the tracks James has written on his own whilst writers on the other six tracks range from Jessica Blake (JS played on her 2001 album 'Electric Rain'), Jay Aston, Craig Adams and Mark Taylor (both from The Alarm) and Peter Walsh. 

James plays all the guitars on the album and brings together a fine bunch of rogues including Glen Matlock, Craig Adams, Mark Taylor, Steve Norman (Spandau Ballet) and The Sexpistilletoes (Maggi Ronson, Elizabeth Westwood and Tracie Hunter) on backing vocals.

When I reviewed the EP back in January 2013, I said in opening that piece, "Be prepared to be surprised because it's nothing like what you are thinking it's going to be like. It's not Punk so push that thought away, it's rock music of the highest order. Don't let that scare you though...", and the same stands for the album.

The guitar work on the album of course is pristine (you'd expect no less from a man whose very own guitar hero is Mick Ronson - to whom the album is dedicated alongside Steve New of The Rich Kids) and the big surprise is actually the diversity of styles that appear from song to song. It's not like every track is a barn-burning rocker ('Why Am I Still Waiting For You?' is a clear example of this, it's very laid back giving off an after-midnight cool vibe. 'It's Been A Long Time Now' is another quieter laid back chill out tune). The rockers are the opening 'Suzi's Problem', 'Go Mister!', 'Twilight Riders', and 'Naturally Wired'. 'Give It Up' has a touch of funk that was most unexpected. 

The last track on the album I think is going to be one I come back to many a time, 'I'll Know Where I'm Going When I Get There'. It opens so sweetly with an acoustic guitar and the sound of James' vocals singing about finding direction on the road before the band kicks in for the last minute and a half of the song with Mark Taylor adding some beautiful little runs on the keyboards. There's a line in the song that made me smile a lot, "When Johnny Guitar's playing/You'll love the words he's saying/It aint Rock and Roll but he sure knows what sounds cool." I think James Stevenson knows what sounds cool as well because it's a very worthy debut that has been long in the making and a worthy addition to my collection I think.

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