James Stevenson has had a long and distinguished career, predominately in the late punk and post-punk era. While still at school, in 1977 he was playing with Chelsea before moving to Gen X. He also spent some time with Glen Matlock in Hot Club, then was recruited into the ranks of Gene Loves Jezebel, and served time in the Cult and the Alarm. He’s been a producer, a session musician, Jimmy Nail and the Hothouse Flowers amongst many others. In 2011, Stevenson again worked with ex-Pistol Matlock and formed The International Swingers. He also released a solo EP in 2013 and a full-length album Everything’s Getting Closer To Being Over in 2014. Stevenson has also been playing in the band Holy Holy, performing the music of David Bowie. He also finds time to collect vintage guitars and motorcycles!
Now though, Stevenson has put together a double CD collection called 40 Years In The Rock ‘n’ Roll Wilderness (A Selective Retrospective). Having played on hundreds of tracks, this is his own selection of some of his favourites. “It was hard choosing, but I didn’t want it to run to more than two CDs,” says James. There are 32 tracks on the two discs, although the review copy has only 16. Some were hits: ‘Water On Glass’ by Kim Wilde and ‘Brand New You’re Retro’ by Tricky. Others are more obscure such as a rare live performance of Bowie’s ‘Andy Warhol’ by Gen X. There’s also the previously unreleased ‘Big Tears’. Although not my normal listening fodder, this is a really enjoyable journey through Stevenson’s career – the added bonus of memory jogging songs like ‘Water on Glass’ and ‘Tell Him’. The Gary Holton track, ‘Big Tear’, is a pleasure to hear again reminding me of his band, the talented Heavy Metal Kids.
If you know all of the bands listed above, you will know what to expect… high-quality punk, post-punk, punk-pop and rock. It also has the benefit of a rose-tinted trip down memory lane. Great stuff.