James Warren

Jim's Easy Listening Album

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In 1995, James Warren decided to make his own Christmas presents. Demoing a group of "nice and pleasant" songs that had not made the cut for singles or albums, Warren presented the resulting Jim's Easy Listening Album, as gifts to friends and family. Inevitably, fans got wind of the record, bootlegs started trading around, and now the set has been given an official release.

However, it's not the same as the original Christmas album. A pair of that set's covers are gone, as is "It Must Be Time for Bed," which had since been included on Stackridge's album Sex and Flags. Six songs were deleted in all, but all were replaced by new numbers. Even so, the set is still precisely as advertised, an album of mostly easygoing, laid-back numbers. The bouncy, Latin-lite "Money Talks" is a rare exception, and with a bigger production could easily buy its way onto 45 and onto the charts. The chirpy "The First Kiss" has pop hopes as well, although the Beach Boys vocal arrangement would have to be jettisoned. The poignant "I Guess It Means We're Falling in Love," with some minor modifications (perhaps orchestral strings and a strong guitar solo), also has real potential. "The Love Isn't Good for Us" is already 95 percent there, a musing, emotive ballad, that just needs a bit more punch to put it over the top. In fact, Warren's dead wrong, it's not the songs themselves that aren't singles "or even exciting album tracks," but their arrangements. With a bit of work and a top-notch producer there's at least half a dozen hits within, as well as a breakout album straining to be released. And all it takes is one listen to the original demo to the Korgis own smash "Everybody's Got to Learn Sometime" to prove how it could be done.

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