James' self-titled solo album is a fair though ordinary blend of punk and hard rock sensibilities, as one would expect from an ex-member of the Damned and the Lords of the New Church. He does keep the histrionics out of the music to a larger extent than many others who think along the same lines do, sounding rather more bemused than threatening on songs like "Cut Throat," even if the lyrics seem to speak a more vicious attitude. The sultry vocals and accomplished, buzzing (though not grinding or metallic) guitar riffs could do with some more melody and hooks, with bits like the anthemic chorus of "Another Time Another Crime" almost but not quite getting there. It's one for fans of his bands, keeping in mind that it doesn't have the extremes in approach that could make the Damned and the Lords of the New Church both more annoying and more distinctive. The cover of Eddie Cochran's "Cut Across Shorty" sounds a bit out of place in the middle of this sullen, slightly subdued effort. The 2002 reissue on Pilot expands the volume of material dramatically into a two-CD set, one disc containing Brian James and the other the 1998 Ready to Crack? album by the Dripping Lips, whose sole album featured James. That record was harder rocking and punkier than Brian James, and as it wasn't a solo effort, it's a bit of an odd match to what's nominally a Brian James solo reissue, taking up fully half of the two-CD package. At any rate, taken together the two discs in the expanded Brian James reissue document a lot of what James did in the studio in the 1990s. James contributed some liner notes too, though these are frustratingly free of songwriting credits.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Richie Unterberger
Track Listing - Disc 1
Track Listing - Disc 2