Saturday, 12 September 2009

new music week part 5

The final cd in my bulk buy is "Strange Flowers" By James Grant.

He is one of those musicians that i pretty much like everything he has done. Starting out as guitarist in Friends Again whose influence far outweighed their sales. Their one lp "Trapped and Unwrapped" set the tone for loads of Scottish bands over the next few years. When they split James Grant formed Love and Money. I remember the music press raving about them with the first lp "All you need is ...." but I found it a bit patchy preferring the more mellow stuff to the rockier tracks. The next album saw them work with Gary Katz (producer of Steely Dan). Strange Kind of Love just looked and felt like the record company had spent a shed load of money on it. It was very polished , had some great tracks but also a few so so ones. Needless to say as with a lot of my favourite bands the lp didn't do that well. The next 2 "Dogs in the Traffic" and "Little Death" are a lot more consistent and Dogs in particular is a great lp (although by all accounts it was a nightmare to record with the record company continually sending the band back to record more songs. If you buy one Love and Money lp (and everyone should have 1) then "Dogs in Traffic" is the one I'd go for.

The band broke up and over the last 10 years James Grant has released a series of excellent low key solo lps. The sound is much more mellow and melancholic. The last release was 5 years ago until this years "Strange Flowers" (named after a track that was apparently recorded for a Swedish vampire film that never saw the light of day)

You can find out all about the solo lps at James Grant website. It is worth visiting if only to read his on line diary which in places is really funny and sheds light on life as a jobbing singer songwriter as well as responses to some of his more dedicated fans views (included one on how he should be working harder to be more successful!)
The new cd is more varied in tone and pace, I still prefer the more mellow ones. The track I've posted is the lps opener
The centre piece is a 9 mins song "My Father's Coat" not sure if autobiographical or not but feels like a very personal lyric (James Grant on his website mentions a few times how he keeps the lyrics of his songs ambiguous)

Someone had drawn a swastika on his stone
I stood in the rain/radiation
I heard a feral moan
I thought must be a fox
But on the way back to the bus
I saw two drunk goths fucking on a sarcophagus
Broken things
Bum notes

Walking home in my fathers coat

The day had started well, I got up at twelve
And I felt like making money
Ah, but and heres the rub;
From the bookies to the pub
In a stall in the marketsquare
I saw his old threadbare mohair
And I choked out the oath in my throat

Stood staring at my fathers coat

Above the specs and the hearing aids
Old porn and razor blades
A ghost hanging over the detritus of a nation
I felt the freight of the past
Rise up and hit me
The woman said, "Try it on."
I said, "Its alright, I'll take it I know that it fits me."
She said, "Son, whatever floats your boat.."

I walked away in my fathers coat

The one thing that he taught me I confess ;

What a day
What a day
But a day like any other
I thought I'd seen the back of him
And I smell like some bad joke
That the rains invoked
Some wall-eyed dream of brilliantine and whisky and nicotine
In the culverts and the crags run both
The disease and the antidote
As I turn the key in my fathers coat

You can buy James Grants solo cds (including Strange Flowers) here


  1. I have to agree with you that Love and Moneys best album is 'Dogs in the Traffic'. It would be in my top 10 albums of all time.Of his solo outings I love 2002's 'My Thrawn Glory', but I'm really enjoying 'Strange Flowers',especially the albums opener that you've of the best songs he's ever penned.
    Tel Aviv
    Currently listening to the new Sprouts album....Album of the decade?

  2. Hi Phil

    the track i really like is the title track - strange flowers
    not heard the sprouts cd yet - I pre-ordered it and yet to arrive!!! The joys of internet shopping


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