The Royal Mile has now unfortunately become the Scottish equivalent of Times Square, in all its crowded, annoying commercialism run amok glory. No topless women with the Union Jack or Saltire painted across their breasts yet, but give it time.
I swear I did not plan it, and it wasn’t obvious on the Google maps I pored over before we left but the back door of the fabulous Soho Hotel spilled right out onto Wardour Street, which was a block from Berwick Street, famous for its cluster, or more like the best cluster of independent record shops in London.
Call me a hopeless romantic but I could not get “Penny Lane” out of my head as I sat in the back of a black cab whizzing across a remarkably deserted London early one morning a couple weeks ago. “On the corner is a banker with a motorcar…” I was on a pilgrimage. More like THE pilgrimage. The one every serious fan of twentieth century music needs to make at least once. Out to St. John’s Wood and Abbey Road Studios.
Perhaps the greatest strength left in the music business these days, and the major labels in particular, is their catalogs of recordings and on the reissue side of the business, no one has been better at exploiting a catalog and actually creating new releases of older unreleased music than Sony Legacy.
His screams, rapid fire delivery, and end-of-line trills in tracks like “Lucille,” “Jenny Jenny” and of course, “Tutti Frutti,” every one recorded with an overloaded microphone, are impassioned in the extreme.
What keeps Waterfall, the band’s seventh album and the first in four years, from sinking into a kind of earnest, overly precious, 1970s lite rock muck is that James’s many influences are a mist and not a downpour.