Friday, July 09, 2004

AS YOU'LL HAVE SEEN ON POPBITCH: Wendy James is back. For some reason, she's working under the name Racine. Why? Erm...

She needed a name … Racine. The drag in Chicago where Al Capone had run his prohibition business from … Wendy had walked down Racine on her first trip to Chicago … mmm.
A few days later at Notting Hill Gate she was window gazing in a second hand bookstore and one of her favourite authors’ books was on display... ‘The Racing World of Damon Runyon’… she got the book. At home a few days later, she misread the sleeve as ‘The Racine World’ and there it was … Racine … firmly in the front of her mind … the name for all of it … the sound, the style, the look. … all of it. Then a friend told her in the French it meant ‘roots’… fabulous.


So, because she had trouble reading the name of a book about Damon Runyon, it seems. And she's putting the record out on her own label? Why? Not because everyone has purchased long bargepoles and so she can't get a foot in a proper record company office, oh no:

"If you want to make the music you believe in and not have to go through twenty phone calls’ to get one thing done … you start your own label. So Pia-K recordings began … as an idea."

We know what you're wondering: does she wear clothes nowadays. See for yourself:



We don't know what look she's going for there, but the cattaract glasses and the cardie suggests its 'Debbie Harry goes to the bingo.'

Actually, we're quite pleased to see her back - we'll always join in victory dances as, once again, experience is trounced by hope, and you can't fault her way her with a catchphrase. As for the music, though... it sounds exactly like Transvision Vamp would have done if they'd spent a few years yellowing on the back shelf of a Mini Metro parked in St Albans town centre. You can still make out what used to be there, but you have to strain a lot.


16 comments:

Paul said...

No matter what, she'll always have a place im my heart from the time she appeared on Top of the Pops when I was about 9. Suddenly girls seemed to be something that i didn't want to run away from quite so quickly...

Anonymous said...

Simon,
I really am struggling to see your point.
Your comments are a mere excercise in sarcasm and it seems you want to be among the first to diss Wendy James just like they did "in the good old days".
You did, after the un-necessary waffle, get round to mentioning music, thats big of you, i'm sure.

But from what i have heard from the album (and i have heard things) it sounds nothing like Transvision Vamp, only in fact the record has the bands singer on it.
Did you expect her to sound totally different ?? A voice transplant or something ???
And for a woman in her mid to late 30's she looks stunning, though with the width of mind your not portraying i suggest what ever she wore would not suit.

Seems the art of prententious music writing is alive and kicking, and yourliving proof.

xena said...

Quite frankly i get sick of the bashing that Wendy gets... shes back better than ever some might say.... and instead of being given the benefit to strutt her stuff she gets attacked by some idiot who's more than likely a has been in the industry.....

Shes got more talent than some of these other younger artists put together.... and i agree.... what the hell was u expecting with how Wendy would sound? She was and still is the voice of Transvision Vamp and that will always be so.... and its her voice that we wont to hear... whether u like it or not... dont listen if u dont like it or her but at least have the decency to shut up and keep ya hateful comments to yaself and give a review that is proper and unbias.

When we will see proper journalism when it comes to them keeping there personal views to themself and giving a review thats not based on hatred.

She sounds good.... she looks good... she is good.

Xena.

simon h b said...

Just to clarify, I don't hate Wendy: in a world as screwed up and twisted as this one, wouldn't it be odd to waste my time hating someone I've never met? Unless it's Robbie Williams.

I'm afraid your point falls down on one simple fact, Xena: I loved Transvision Vamp. Obviously, not as much as Jayne Bond and The Communists, but enough so that the Jennifer Ellison cover felt like some defectaing in my grave. Okay, to be honest, I never much cared for the albums, but they were a great-ish singles band.

That doesn't alter the fact that the comeback stuff is pretentious twaddle-flaps. She's not back better than ever - she's back slightly better than the Elvis Costello collaboration, if we're feeling generous.

You seem to have missed the point of my capsule review, though, which isn't that Racine sounds like Transvision Vamp: it sounds like a watered-down, piss-poor, faded TVV.

But I take your point, though: when will people stop putting opinions in reviews, and just give us a list of song titles and lengths, eh?

You're not going to like this, but Wendy James right now is less important than Lulu.

Anonymous said...

So you loved a band, but never cared for the albums and as a singles band they were great-ish ????
Sounds like your clutching a bit at straws really doesn't it Simon.
No, your points are vague and shallow and like any form of insight into forming an opinion because it's firmly set in stone exactly how much time and effort you are prepared to give Wendy James from the very first line.

"Wendy James is back. For some reason, she's working under the name Racine. Why? Erm... "

Is that an opinion or are you setting the tone for the rest of your "review". Then you in a reply have the gaul to patronise a knowledgable fan by proclaiming your "love" for the band.
Oh,please.

I am a Vamp fan, and yes i still do love their albums and as i fan i would declare openly not for one second would i expect Wendy James to try and resurrect what Transvision Vamp had and were all about. For gods sake that was .........what........??...13, 14, 15 years ago??
Would you expect Weller to ressurect The Jam ??
If he did, would it sound "watered down" ?? Or would it sound like a musician that (like all human beings do) changed and re-developed.

Thats the difference see, the likes of Paul Weller will always be "in" and will always "fit in", but Wendy James will always have that edge to her that people like you will never be able to answer to.

Unlucky Simon, you almost broke the mould ~ a wannabe music writer that almost admited to liking Wendy James. Instead you'll be filed under "less important than the artist who was less impoertant than Lulu".

Grease Monkey said...

Simon,

Its you who's missing point! Kindly extricate yourself from Lulu arse you pretentious misfit. Capsule review, ummh, no Simon your review wasn't watered down it was just bollocks.

Simon I guess you should put your woolly hat back on, and disappear into the ether, and come back when your mummy lets you, you naughty boy.

Just an opinion mind

Grease Monkey TRW

xena said...

I say again.... when will we see journalism that is not base on hatred.... u say u liked Transvision Vamp.... Where, i dont see it... and obviously no one else does either.

We could go back and fourth with this for ever and a day and the result will still be the same.... bashing Wendy cos for some reason shes rubs u the wrong way.... well heres a something for u.... Robby Williams rubs me the wrong way... but i appreciate the songs he brings out.... the words... the music... and the meaning in them. I may not like the guy and ill never go see him in concert... but i can tell ya now id give him a more honest review of his talent than u ever will of Wendy.

Take ya pen and shove it where the sun dont shine at least it will be put to some good use....AMEN

simon h b said...

Blimey, not since the closure of Number One magazine has such a debate raged, has it?

Let's see what we have here, then:

===quote
So you loved a band, but never cared for the albums and as a singles band they were great-ish ????
Sounds like your clutching a bit at straws really doesn't it Simon.
===unquote

Only if you believe that to enjoy a band you have to embrace every single thing they've done - I don't think there's a single act that's never put a foot wrong, is there? TVV put out some great, of-their-time singles, which made me happy and dancey. Back then. They were great in their context, to be honest I don't think they've worn as well. I'm not sure why that's proving difficult to understand.

==quote
No, your points are vague and shallow and like any form of insight into forming an opinion because it's firmly set in stone exactly how much time and effort you are prepared to give Wendy James from the very first line.
"Wendy James is back. For some reason, she's working under the name Racine. Why? Erm... "
Is that an opinion or are you setting the tone for the rest of your "review."
==unquote

strictly speaking, I'm not sure which part of the sentence you've chosen there isn't actually factually accurate, but, well done, you have spotted that, generally, the opening remarks in any piece of writing do set the tone for what's going to come next. And, to be honest, I don't think I've made any secret of the fact that I find the whole Racine schtick to be a bit puffed-up and pompous (charges, I'm sure, which No Rock would have trouble defending ourselves against at time).

==quote
Then you in a reply have the gaul to patronise a knowledgable fan by proclaiming your "love" for the band.
Oh,please.
==unquote

Of course, you can't claim to love a band until you have scratched their name onto your arm, or at the very least a pencilcase. Why do you feel so threatened by someone saying they also loved some singles by a band you like?

==quote
I am a Vamp fan, and yes i still do love their albums and as i fan i would declare openly not for one second would i expect Wendy James to try and resurrect what Transvision Vamp had and were all about. For gods sake that was .........what........??...13, 14, 15 years ago??
Would you expect Weller to ressurect The Jam ??
If he did, would it sound "watered down" ?? Or would it sound like a musician that (like all human beings do) changed and re-developed.
==unquote

To be honest, I've pencilled in a Jam reunion for 2009 on my predict-o-meter; and, yes, it certainly will sound rubbish. Though not a poor as Weller's solo material does. And to clarify: it doesn't sound like Wendy has developed, just trod water for a long time and doesn't quite have the conviction to do it anymore. That's my opinion. You know, you don't have to worry if it's not the same as yours. If we all liked the same music in the same way, we'd be living in a world perpetually like Century FM.

==quote
Thats the difference see, the likes of Paul Weller will always be "in" and will always "fit in", but Wendy James will always have that edge to her that people like you will never be able to answer to.
==unquote

Weller has been a figure of fun for most people since the end of The Jam, or certainly since he started hanging out with the Gallaghers and taking his shirt off. Have you seen his endorsement of the Ordinary Boys? Jeez.

I've never really noticed much 'edge' to Wendy James. Whacking 'em out for anyone with a camera isn't edgy. I don't hate Wendy, but I certainly ain't scared of her.

==quote
Unlucky Simon, you almost broke the mould ~ a wannabe music writer that almost admited to liking Wendy James. Instead you'll be filed under "less important than the artist who was less impoertant than Lulu".
==unquote

I almost admitted to liking Wendy? Would that be in the bit where I, er, said I liked TVV? ("Admitted" is a curious choice of word - why would anyone want to admit to liking a band, like it was a dirty secret? Unless it's Dido. Admissions are for the guilty, surely?)

And, yes, I'm less important than Wendy James. But, baby, I don't care. See you in the Top of the Pops studio!

Next...

Grease Monkey:

==quote
Its you who's missing point! Kindly extricate yourself from Lulu arse you pretentious misfit. Capsule review, ummh, no Simon your review wasn't watered down it was just bollocks.

Simon I guess you should put your woolly hat back on, and disappear into the ether, and come back when your mummy lets you, you naughty boy.

Just an opinion mind
==unquote

and a perfectly valid one at that. I should point out that I didn't mean the review was watered down, I meant the music was. Unless you knew that, and were suggesting that the music was bollocks? Probably not, I'm guessing.

And, finally, I turn to Xena:

==quote
I say again.... when will we see journalism that is not base on hatred.... u say u liked Transvision Vamp.... Where, i dont see it... and obviously no one else does either.
==unquote

It might be in the bit that I said "they were a great-ish singles band", something that I'd also say about a lot of bands - The Stone Roses, mid-period Morrissey, A-Ha - and so on. Producing a half-decent single is no mean feat. Unless you want me to somehow dig out CCTV footage of me dancing to I Want Your Love fifteen years ago, I'm not sure how I'm meant to "prove" this. If you're looking for me to say "Wendy James has never done a bad recording session" before I'm allowed to say that I loved them, well, that ain't going to happen - "London's brilliant when it's raining" more or less scuppered any chance of a kindly reassessment.

==quote
We could go back and fourth with this for ever and a day and the result will still be the same.... bashing Wendy cos for some reason shes rubs u the wrong way....
==unquote

That wasn't 'wendy-bashing'. It was a playfull pricking of the balloon of pomposity around the whole project Racine thing, a project underwritten by some very, very ordinary music. I'd mark it down as fair criticism, but clearly, anyone who doesn't have a small Wendy shrine in the corner of their bedroom is never going to say anything about Wendy that you approve of. It's a different opinion to yours. That's all.

==quote
well heres a something for u.... Robby Williams rubs me the wrong way... but i appreciate the songs he brings out.... the words... the music... and the meaning in them. I may not like the guy and ill never go see him in concert... but i can tell ya now id give him a more honest review of his talent than u ever will of Wendy.
==unquote

Really? Good for you. I'm not sure how you manage to appreciate all those things about him and not like him, it's like saying that you enjoy Renoir's brush-strokes, his composition, his use of colour and his subjects but don't really care for his paintings. You seem to be obsessed with idea that I hate Wendy James and have set out to demolish her. In fact, I spent a quarter of an hour playing on her new website, didn't care for the music much, and said so. Not because I feared that people might point at me in the street if I said I did, but because it's a little bit rubbishy. Clearly you disagree with my conclusion, but I'm not sure on what basis you can claim that I'm being "dishonest" - frankly, I don't say I like or dislike bands in a bid to make people like or dislike me. I'm quite secure like that.

==quote
Take ya pen and shove it where the sun dont shine at least it will be put to some good use....AMEN
==unquote

It's all bottoms with you TVV fans, isn't it? I've never been quite sure why telling a man to put things up his arse is meant to be such a crushing insult. Naturally, you won't get much anal pleasure from a pen if it's a biro but something substantial, like a Sharpie or maybe even a Berol Handwriting Pen could certainly give a little stimulation. Something to think about on those long winter evenings, perhaps.

Boy, am I ever going to look stupid when the Racine album goes in at number one?

Anonymous said...

Simon strutted his stuff with,
strictly speaking, I'm not sure which part of the sentence you've chosen there isn't actually factually accurate, but, well done, you have spotted that, generally, the opening remarks in any piece of writing do set the tone for what's going to come next

Was a cut and pasted quote so, all those words are yours.
Quite interesting grammar in your reply though, don't think i've read a negative double negative before, oh well.
Perhaps thats the reason for your negative review, based on a whole what ??? 15 minutes, on a web site with a minutes worth of mp3 to each song??

Heck, i'm surprised anything pleases you,

simon h b said...

I'm sorry if it's confusing you, but the bit about 'Is that an opinion or are you setting the tone for the rest of your "review."' wasn't a direct quote from me at all; that part was your words, anonymous, and that was the piece my slightly sarcastic reference to opening remarks referred to; the piece you quoted from the original bit I left in because you seemed to think there was something inaccurate in it, and that was the part that my reference to inaccuracy was about. I didn't think it was that confusing, but it seems that it was.

I'm sorry if I used a double negative - or a treble negative? I can't quite see it there myself, but there you go... nobody's perfect, are they?

And, yes, oddly enough, my review was based on the music that's been made available. Have I missed something here? Are we meant to hold back reviews until we've heard ten tracks? Twenty? If Wendy doesn't want people to comment on her music, might I suggest she chooses not to post it on a public forum. Perhaps she could invite her fans around and play it to them in private?

And you really, really think that not liking Racine means that nothing pleases me? How utterly absurd.

Grease Monkey said...

Simon, " sounds like a watered-down, piss-poor, faded TVV."

Thanks, I'll think i'll go out to the supermarket and by myself some Metallica concentrated juice, which of course i'll dilute to taste. I'd better not dilute it too much in case I end up drinking something that tastes like Keane, or heaven forbid i really over do it and end up with the Corrs taste in my mouth. Because if I wanted to taste the flavour of the Corrs i chould have gone and bought a Corrs concentrated juice shouldn't I!

Now I would go back to the supermarket and complain that my Metallica juice tastes too much like the Corrs juice when watered down, but the staff there may think I'm a bit of a tit.

In the same way that if I read a review comparing cars, i dont want to compare a 4X4 to a sports coupe, ( well a 2 seater sports coupe is like a watered down 4x4) I want similar types of cars compared and to be reviewed.

Now do I want Racine compared to a great late 80's pop rock band? Not really.

TRW

simon h b said...

I see what you're saying, but really the big question anyone - by which I mean your non-Wendy obsessive - is going to ask is: How much does she still sound like she's in Transvision Vamp?

And my answer is: a little bit.

Maybe it's because it's in the voice?

Anonymous said...

full of shit

Anonymous said...

having said that, how about this;
Were it not for the presence of the unwashed and the half educated, the formless, queer and incomplete, the unreasonable and absurd, the infinate shapes of the delightful human tadpole, the horizon would noy wear so wide a grin
-Frank Moore Colby,
Imaginary Obligations

Anonymous said...

Dope Forever
Forever Loaded

Honest officer, had i known my
....health stood in jeprody I
....would never had lit one.

simon h b said...

so... to respond to the latest flurry of commentage:

anonymous

==quote

full of shit

==unquote

that's a little harsh, I just suspect she's a bit over-excited.

==quote

having said that, how about this;
Were it not for the presence of the unwashed and the half educated, the formless, queer and incomplete, the unreasonable and absurd, the infinate shapes of the delightful human tadpole, the horizon would noy wear so wide a grin
-Frank Moore Colby,
Imaginary Obligations

== unquote

... which would be exactly what I meant when I said we're quite pleased to see her back... Wendy certainly adds to the gaiety of nations.

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