|~~Many thanks to our own Justin Whyte for this rare gem!~~|
Now Aint The Time
For Your Tears
Now Aint The Time For Your Tears is the first solo outing for Wendy James. The voice is hers, the words and lyrics are that of Elvis Costello -- which make for an inspiring playing out of the theory that opposites attract -- and that the result can work.
The story starts in the summer of 1991. Wendy's band, Transvision Vamp are on tour, but despite the glamour and excitement of four years in one of Britains most happening bands she is beginning to feel not only miscast, but trapped in the roll of rock-minx-by-appointment, and every night in her hotel room she listens to Marianne Faithfuls biting rendition of John Lennons 'Working Class Hero' for solace. At length the itinerary takes them to a festival in Ireland, where they share the bill with Elvis Costello. Just watching him crystallizes Wendy's dissatisfaction with the present, but also her hopes for the future.
"I could see that everything he was saying and feeling and doing were in my heart and mind as well," she says. "He felt like a kindred spirit. People might take at face value the music of Transvision Vamp and the way I had behaved in the past and the way Costello had conducted himself, and think we were poles apart. But actually we're not. Also," she laughs, "he'd seen me play that day and I know we did a seriously rocking set and nobody could help being impressed by 70,000 people going mad for us. It was him, Bob Dylan, Van Morrison and The Waterboys, that were the backbone of the music which I was looking at, thinking, that's where I feel comfortable -- why can't I get from A to B?
Little did she realize that the answer lay at hand when, arriving in advance of the rest of the band to do press for their date in Washington D.C., she sat down in a cafe, and, although she had not met Elvis in the flesh, wrote him a letter -- "about my general dissatisfaction with everything going on in my life, the mistakes I had learned from, the need for my image to catch up with my growing up, and the need to be somewhere else. And the belief, "she stresses", that if there was one person who had faith in me, I could carry forth that challenge. I was asking for help, but nothing specific. There was no record company people involved ; this was not a palsy, snorting-coke-down-the-nightclub-idea -- this was totally between me and Elvis. I then let it pass out of my head.. The letter was an exorcism in itself -- sometimes you have to talk to somebody."
Out of the blue two weeks later Wendy got a phone call telling her that Elvis had not just written her a single, but an entire album ; the demos would be waiting for her in London by the time she returned from the tour. And if you like the album, concluded the message, you can have it. " I was overjoyed. They're beautifully written, melodious songs that will last forever, and here they were in my living room. I knew I'd be alright"
"Some songs are directly about me ; others are more ironic," Wendy continues. "All he knew was what anybody could who had read the fairly inaccurate press about me. There are some things about my personality that he has understood without it ever being something he could pick up in print, and all that must come from the letter." Intriguing highlights include "Do You Know What I'm Saying?" (attacking "self important pop stars or anybody who's had overnight success to stardom. I enjoy a certain amount of self depreciation -- that's part of growing up", The Nameless One, "It appeals to my sense of fatalism -- the heroes that come a cropper are the ones that appeal to me", and Stand Forever,"a pastiche of an Andrew Lloyd Webber finale, taking another poke at yourself. The whole album is checking that your ego doesn't surpass your reality," Wendy explains, "It's an album to give your face a quick slap, to keep your feet on the ground."
Meeting Elvis just once, briefly and coincidentally backstage at U2's Earl's Court show, Wendy thanked him, he wished her good luck, and the following day she went to Toulouse for five weeks to cut five songs live in the studio. "Recording the album is the best experience I have had to date. For the first time I did not have the boundaries of peoples expectations. I was working with top class musicians who looked at me as the leader." These included bassist Cass Lewis, (ex Terence Trent D'arby ), guitarist Neil Taylor ( ex Dylan and Van Morrison ), and ex Attraction drummer Pete Thomas. The strings were arranged by John Astley, and producing the whole shebang was Stones veteran Chris Kimsey.
Titling the album Now Aint The Time For Your Tears ( "I came up with that line," she laughs), Wendy James has opened a brilliant new chapter in her life. " Freedom -- that is the one word to encapsulate this last year. I've got my freedom now and it's a sigh of relief. I'm happy now."