Friday May 1, 2020
Today, now… May 1, this morning! QUEEN HIGH STRAIGHT is out. It’s released. It is delivered.
– Where should I begin?
– I’ll begin with THANK YOU.
You, who have been with me throughout the making of my album, including the 1 year, 2 months you stayed connected with me while I wrote it and then proceeding through the next 2 years it took to record and complete this epic piece of work!
Most often it’s your responses to the bits of news I share on social media that sustain and propel me forward. Not for nothing are you the very best of people!
For some, life on social media comes naturally… for me, I tend toward a more private inclination and especially so when I’m working, I simply don’t have time, or desire, to break off and do a selfie or this and that, but I’ve adapted and now I look forward to engaging and I find the reward of interacting with you all has been so very worth it. These platforms we communicate on bring us all closer and enable us to feel like a community.
Some of you visited the recording studio and observed the labor we all put in – me, the musicians, the engineers: the detail and precision and obsessive quest for perfection we are all driven by. At the same time, we shared so many laughs, between ourselves and with you! What joyful memories to always have. Up in Lincolnshire when the band went residential through to the various studios around London when I did my vocal sessions and the musicians came in for their overdub sessions.
Thank you all so much for sharing some of these moments.
Thank you for the preorders you made, which have helped deliver Queen High Straight. All the records I’ve done since Racine No.1, Racine 2, I Came Here To Blow Minds, The Price Of The Ticket and now Queen High Straight have been self funded. I have to work to earn to record to work to earn to record and so on…
Philosophically and retrospectively I think this has played to my advantage because, tricky as it’s been at times, the breaks I’ve been forced to take to earn money to continue on have provided me with the artistic headspace and the clarity with which to make right decisions. I do think my music has benefited from this circumstance and none more so than Queen High Straight.
Queen High Straight is so complex in its arrangements and musicality that to attempt to do all of this in one go would have been reckless and foolish. One would have blundered into muddled decisions and with no overview. Overview which is essential to hear the ‘finish’ in ones head, to know what it is one is attempting to achieve.
Moments I’m most proud of?
There were quite a lot of Eureka moments when I was writing the album. Let’s be real! There were 20 Eureka moments each time a song completed. I have so many memories attached to each song, vividly recalling sitting on the bed, staring out of the window, noodling my guitar, looking at my lyrics, imagining the sentiment of where I was headed and searching out the chords to express that. Queen High Straight was the first song I wrote and it took me by surprise, I stumbled upon inversions of chords that suggested a more jazzy type of sound and immediately my mind was drawn to childhood when Bacharach and David and Sergio Mendes ‘Brazil ’66’ were in the background. Osmosis is everything! I love the content of the lyric and the way the song builds and arcs. The feeling when I’d finished writing and recording the demo for Queen High Straight was “Ok, I have begun…” Very exciting and very confident in the face of now having to commit to writing 19 more perfect songs!
I could repeat this story out for all the songs as they completed, I remember ‘Perilous Beauty’ (it’s on Facebook and Instagram, a little video of me playing the demo in the basement of the house in the South of France where I was staying), I remember ‘Little Melvin’, dancing and jubilant and playing it back on my phone. I remember them all… I remember being thrilled by ‘I’ll Be Here When The Morning Comes’ because it evoked a favorite, funny scene in a Steve Martin movie called ‘The Jerk’ where he sings a lonesome, tender ditty with his true love in the movie, Bernadette Peters. ‘Cancel It… I’ll see him on Monday’ – when I finished this song (and I love the title by the way) I flew down the stairs and outside shouting “I’ve written a hit, I’ve written a hit” (I filmed and posted me dancing along to that demo too!). At the end of last year I played it on Soho Radio and as the sound went around the foyer of the building and into peoples ears I was in wonderment, it sounds so damn good!
The whole album is a resounding success for me. I know, for myself, I’ve reached great musical and lyrical heights with Queen High Straight and what makes it all the sweeter are the myriad memories infused in each note, each arrangement, each edit, each session with the musicians. I’m so proud of the way we, the musicians, came together and made this music. We all have that indefatigable drive to push for performances which are exquisite and we succeeded.
To those involved:
The Musicians on this album are incredible, versatile, supremely gifted people, they also are nice! They are so nice to be around. The perfect blend of total dedication and pursuit of the ultimate performance and humble, funny, generous, caring people. I thank James Sclavunos, James Sedwards, Harry Bohay, Alex Ward, Terry Edwards and Louis Vause. Friends for life!
The Engineers… it’s funny, whenever I go to initial meetings with engineers, I always warn them that I work long hours and I cannot let anything go or settle for anything other than that which I need or want. They always say “sure, they are used to working in intense situations of long hours of focus and sometimes obsessive demands”, but even they have lost it with me on occasion, when we get into the weeds and struggle with an edit or the workload ahead of us, but, I am happy to say we come out the other side and, to a man, they have heard the record and are proud of it. I am so grateful to Ian Dowling, Joe Sage, Pieter Riekerk, Al Lawson, Tim Morris and Fred Kevorkian. They are my conduit from imagination and vision to reality.
The Photographer David Leigh Dodd. What a terrific story that turned out to be. Originally David was meant to come on a studio visit and he hoped to get some photos of me there, working, but the schedule never panned out, so instead, during the summer of 2019 I jumped on a plane to Rome, where he lives, and stayed for a long weekend. On the back of his moped we drove out to the area of Rome designed by Mussolini called EUR (Esposizione Universale Roma). It is deeply impressive with its enormous, conforming buildings, originally meant to celebrate Mussolini’s Fascism, very imposing, a great setting for some photos (and a tourist spot!). We got up the next day and took the metro (which broke down and we had to change to a bus, all in Italian on the outskirts of Rome!), destination Cinecittà, the iconic Italian movie studios and home to the great Frederico Fellini. We paid our money and joined the tour and while the guide was lecturing the party, we snuck off and took all the cinematic stills we could! In 100 degrees! We spotted a (typical) fountain and square in central Rome, near the hotel I was staying in, not a big important square or fountain but beautiful and a bit shabby too. We shot there and then finally wandering the backstreets of old Rome at night. What a haul of photos we got, and so much tomato, buffalo mozzarella and basil along the way! David has taken some of the finest photos of me ever taken, I give my everlasting thanks to him, and I must say I would not have looked so fine had it not been for The Make-Up Artist Domitilla Coni who made perfect cat-eyes for me and used make up which miraculously didn’t melt off in the extreme heat! So, Thank you to her too.
The Graphic Artist Stuart Preston. Poor Stuart… I worked him hard. You cannot even begin to get your head around how labor intensive the layout has been for 4 different formats of music, poster, t-shirts, tour flyers, vip pass and banners. The Deluxe CD alone comes with a 16 page booklet containing all the lyrics, technical aspects, liner notes, credits and 16 pages worth of photographic layout too! So many words for him to check, double check, line up, triple check, space out and on and on. It took us 6 months to make all this artwork. He freaked out only twice! What a star. My thanks and friendship to Stuart for ever. The presentation of this album is exceptional. It is precision engineering! He is a marvel.
The Website Manager Pete. Peter and his team built my website and they keep it running with great efficiency. Goodness knows the coding they had to do to add all the items into the store, create the Queen High Straight page and embed carousels for showing all of the artwork.The website is completely integral for me to get my music and items to you. Thank you Pete.
So what now? Well… please buy Queen High Straight and all it’s lovely trimmings!!
The T-Shirt is so cool, The Poster is so beautiful, The Lyric Sheets and Mix Notes are lovely things to own and I dedicate them to you, on the song/s of your choice. There are limited edition Artwork Proofs of the Deluxe CD and Standard CD, once again I personalize them to you and, for 3 lucky people – 3 sets of Double Vinyl Test Pressings.
Enjoy the album! I love it. It’s going to take you a good while to choose your favorites. 20 songs. Which ones will be your favorites?
I hope you find the finished album rewarding for the wait of three years. I think you will.
The tour for Queen High Straight, originally scheduled for May, has had to be delayed, as you know, but we are on for September, by which time, I hope, you will all know the lyrics and have your favorites! On the live page of the website there are all the direct ticket links per venue and of course the associated VIP pass per gig.
I have done it.
We have done it.
Stay well out there! And Enjoy QUEEN HIGH STRAIGHT
With all my love
TO BUY: https://thewendyjames.com/store