SATURDAY’S SCOTTISH SONG : #151 & #152 : JAMES KING (AND THE LONEWOLVES)

I am in the debt of the fine people at Stereogram Recordings, an Edinburgh-based indie label, for the following words:-

In the early 80’s, I was fascinated by how extreme bands were in the Post-Punk scenario. Particularly The Birthday Party, The Pop Group and Einsturzende Neubauten, even The Gun Club with their take on Voodoo Blues. I should have been looking closer to home! Some bunch of misfits in Glasgow were kicking up a hornet’s nest accompanied by the soundtrack of the darker sounds of the USA. Hank Williams, The Stooges and Johnny Thunders’ Heartbreakers, come to mind, but James King and the Lonewolves may have been using archetypical elements, yet they made them sound eloquent – there was classic songwriting here, although it may have been ‘cursed, poisoned and condemned’. James King had most definitely sold his soul to the devil at the same crossroads as Robert Johnson.

I remember writing a review in Cut magazine, stating I found them more sinister than The Violent Femmes, which was saying a lot, as they had just written Country Death Song – all about a father murdering, and disposing of his own daughter down a well. In the early 80’s, while Scottish pop was getting brighter and shinier, James King and the Lonewolves were the dark side, and they made no bones about it.

While ex-Fall guitarist, Martin Brammah’s band The Blue Orchids did the honours in Edinburgh, as fallen Velvet Underground chanteuse Nico’s backing band, The Lonewolves did the same in Glasgow.

They signed to Alan Horne’s Swamplands label in 1984 alongside Davy Henderson’s WIN! and Steven Daly’s Memphis, but after an Old Grey Whistle Test performance, featuring multiple profanities, which received countless complaints from viewers, Swamplands washed their hands of this unmanageable collection of individuals in 1985. An album recorded with John Cale at the height of his madness would never see the light of day.

JC interupts……..

Here is said OGWT clip

There is a very audible profanity towards the end of what was a stellar performance which has presenter David Hepworth racing in to make an apology to any distressed viewers!

I’ve three singles in the collection in which James King features. The first is under his own name and dates from 1981; this is the lead track:-

mp3 : James King – Back From The Dead

There’s two under the moniker James King and The Lonewolves, one from 1983 on Thrush Records and one from 1985 on Swamplands. This is the lead from the latter:-

mp3 : James King & The Lonewolves – The Angels Know

Both still sound superb all these years later. Oh, and that album recorded with John Cale? Back to the fine folk at Stereogram:-

An album recorded with John Cale at the height of his madness would never see the light of day. Until now that is – Sterogram Recordings are about to set the record straight, through the bands main protagonists burying the hatchet.

Fast forward to the future – James King and Jake McKechan make it up in 2011 after 25 years of not speaking and play a memorial show for former agent, Alan Mawn. It is nothing, if not fantastic. In light of all the complacency we are currently experiencing in modern music, hearing the sounds of James King and the Lonewolves again is a joy. This is Rock’n’Roll as it should be and you can tell they mean it maaan!

Ken McCluskey (The Bluebells) in 1996 at height of Britpop, ‘You guys were 10 years too early’

The first recorded fruits of the revamped Lonewolves in May 2013 was a revelation. Pretty Blue Eyes sounded like it should have been a double-sided 7” on Ork Records from 1975, as cool as Little Johnny Jewel by Television, you kinda wanted it to be longer. Fun Patrol kicked in like The Smiths’ How Soon is Now, then morphed into The Glitter band meets The Stooges – need I say more, and James still has a vicious tongue. James King and the Lonewolves – as stated on their very first single, were indeed Back from the Dead!

Now, having hooked up with Edinburgh’s Stereogram Recordings (home to The Cathode Ray and Roy Moller), that fantastic, long-lost album, Lost Songs of the Confederacy, has finally seen the light of day – obviously re-recorded, re-mastered and brought up to scratch with new recordings to supplement the buried ones resulting in James saying ‘ there was unfinished business to be done’. I’m sure there are many other buried treasures out there, meanwhile, this is as good a place as any to re-acquaint yourself with the Lonewolves’ particular brand of classic rock through the ages.

ENDS

 

4 thoughts on “SATURDAY’S SCOTTISH SONG : #151 & #152 : JAMES KING (AND THE LONEWOLVES)

  1. There is a bus company in Galloway called James King.Whenever I see one of their coaches I feel obliged to shout out “and the Lone Wolves”

  2. I could gush here. I could gush for quite some time. I’ll attempt to be brief.

    James King and the Lone Wolves is a post-punk delight. On first hearing them on radio – late Tuesday night/morning – many years ago I was smitten.

    The DJ, as was often the case with his “I predict” mantra, was wrong. The band just didn’t seem to capture the public imagination and did not, in fact, become huge as predicted. After the magnificence of the Old Grey Whistle Test performance (swearing aside) I thought this is it, this will propel them. It didn’t.

    Lost (from the sublime Texas Lullaby 12”) is every bit as important to me as Joy Division’s Atmosphere. It’s yet another classic (Scottish, if you will) song that is deserving of significantly more praise than it receives.

    I’m not aware of a song released by the band that shouldn’t take it’s rightful place at the top of any indie / post-punk chart.

    James King. James King and the Lone Wolves. Fun Patrol. Take your pick. I ‘predict’ you will not be disappointed.*

    *this does not constitute a guarantee

  3. It’s interesting to me when bands can generate such passion on top of super-basic song structures. Both tunes posted by JC have 2-chord progressions without bridges. The OGWT song repeats 3 chords, also with no changes. But the band whack them out with such intensity that they’re infectious and memorable. Shows how much you can do with insistence and dynamics. Many comparisons in the Stereogram text with other artists, but to me the band come off like a scary version of the Commotions which is, of course, brilliant. Off to find the rest of the catalog!

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