Friday, 15 October 2010

Weight of Morrissey's Expectation - Raymonde

There was a time when the smiths were at the height of their success when the music press desperate to discover the next smiths would fall on any Morrissey recommendation and proclaim them the second coming. He didn't have a high hit rate, James never really escaped cult status until they hitched a ride on madchester with sit down and who remembers Bradford?

Another band to get the Morrissey seal of approval were Raymonde built around singer James Maker and guitarist Phil Huish they released one lp and a handful of singles. I remember them getting loads of press with the lp getting a lot of pre release hype , helped by the fact that James Maker gave a good quote, getting a melody maker cover before a single had been released. In hindsight this was too much too soon and as a reaction to the melody maker piece, the nme took a more negative stand point.

The lp Bablelogue followed and a tour supporting the Smiths. This was followed by another slot supporting the long lost Bolshoi. The following is form James Maker's blog and describes this tour which is enough to make me think being a dad of 2 maybe better than being in band

Inexplicably, after supporting The Smiths we were attached to a bill with proto-Goth outfit The Bolshoi, which is akin to pairing Marlene Dietrich with Arthur Mullard. Interesting perhaps, but ludicrous. Transparently, we were playing to the wrong audience. I came on stage to a sea of Robert Smith doppelgangers. Revenge, obviously, at my earlier insult. There was a fashion for beer-throwing at these concerts and Phil began to carry a weapon on stage.

“Can we be optimistic and say that we shan’t be needing that?” “If any cunt throws anything –”“Yes, but you can’t take a small pick-axe on stage with you.”
The front sleeve of Stop Kicking My Heart Around is a photograph of him taken seconds before driving the sharp-end of his Fender Telecaster into a wearisome student’s face. On one occasion, at a concert given in London, a beer artist and heckler was set upon by two of Phil’s brothers who happened to be in the stalls. He was kicked until unconscious and the set had to be stopped whilst the paramedics were called to the scene. In Belfast what appeared to be a small bomb package was tossed onto the stage which I rather expertly kicked back into the dress circle with a black patent slipper. In Dublin I wandered too far downstage and suddenly disappeared from view, falling ten feet into a concrete pit. As no-one thought to rescue me I was obliged to deliver the concert whilst peeking over a barricade.

The accommodations became worse as the whole affair began to visibly disintegrate, reaching its nadir at a guest house in Dundee. You would not even have contemplated walking barefoot on the linoleum. The bedding was so highly flammable and soiled that one was obliged to sleep in an overcoat. Upon check-out, Phil removed the side drawer of a dressing table and went into the communal bathroom. After a few minutes he returned and neatly slid the drawer back into place. As we left I inched it open. He had left the next wretched guest a very personal souvenir, although I’m sure it would hardly have elicited shock given the surroundings. I think this comes under the classification of jape.
My 26th birthday fell at the next stop in Glasgow. Our tour manager who was of no fixed address since he needn’t need one - having been on the road since 1968 with the ubiquitous John Mayall (in every rehearsal studio in England you will see an instrument case with “John Mayall” stencilled on it) - decided to arrange a birthday present for me. While no doubt coming from a kind place, I do wish people would at least make a little investigation into one’s fancies before choreographing a surprise. A surprise when ill-conceived can come off as assault. There was a faint knock on my bedroom door and when I opened it there stood a teenaged girl with a shaven head and, I soon divined when she said “Hi”, a missing front tooth. I didn’t have the heart to close the door on her and so invited her in. We spent the next three hours discussing her alcohol abuse problem. Enough is too much. Unwilling to continue with this charade, I informed everybody that I was taking the next train back to London. Back to Peckham. And back to Mrs Minkin at the Unemployment Bureau.

Listening back to the lp now it is a bit of a mess with an ambition that outweighs the result. It also sounds nothing like the Smiths despite most of the negative reviews calling them copyists.

It does contain a couple of great singles and leaves you with a wonder how the band would have developed given more time to get the right producer and less time caught up in the music press wars
Having said that James Makers next band RPLA were more at home in the pages of Kerrang so maybe they did the right thing in quitting when they did

I'll end with a bit more from his blog

Geoff Travis visited the studio to check our progress on a couple of occasions – it being a little beyond reasonable tricycling distance – and, as I later learned, confided his misgivings to Morrissey.

Travis: “There’s a problem. James can’t sing.”Morrissey: “Geoff, you’re missing the point.”

(Two weeks later)

Travis: “There’s a problem. James has designed a not-very-attractive sleeve for the album.”Morrissey: “Geoff, you’re missing the point.”

(One week later)

Travis: “I love the Raymonde album! It’s very 1960s.”Morrissey: “Geoff, you’re missing the point.”

No one Can Hold a Candle to You - Raymonde

Solid State Soul - Raymonde


  1. James Makers autobiography is meant to be well worth a read . With Raymonde , I think people hoped they would be a kind of smiths mark 2 so to speak . ( I think gene sounded more like the smiths though ) .

    I like ' fool of fortune ' and I have a track somewhere by James Makers next band , that I like .

    at the moment I'm listening to Joe McElderry

  2. hi Jay

    funny you should mention Gene - I'm doing a part 2 of this post on them next week


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