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May 17 2005

Nice review of James Marsters gig in Bristol. Link to a really good review of James on his Live In Five Tour.

Nice review indeed but you don't need to have half the article in the extended description thingy, so I've edited it. And it was nice of Tony Head to turn up to see him play.

Out of interest, and I only ask this because I got an iPod mini recently, is any of James' material available via legal download?
oops sorry! should have been just the first couple of lines I hit "post" before checking that my cut and paste had worked

mea culpa!

There used to be a few downloads of James from 14 Below on his official site they may still be there . Not sure about his new stuff
For those who tried out the GotR stuff and found it not quite as impressive as you'd hoped it'd be, check out James' solo album. He *gasp* gets to sing in the correct range and all in all sounds much more confident and relaxed. As much as I did enjoy GotR, I always wondered why he was singing in that register. Much better vocals this time around, as well as good production and, in general, a nicer flow in spite of the stylistic range.
I've been so skeptical of ordering his new cd. I heard one song from the album(kinda bluesy) and winced all the way through, so I'm afraid it will feel like a waste of money if I do order it. I'm so torn. I wish he'd do an LA gig so I could decide if I like his new style. I know I didn't really like his old stuff, but I know it's not fair to judge this new project on GotR. Decisions, decisions.
Well I loved "For What I Need" ( though the new blues number he debuted on tour was even better) so I'm not the best person to advise you

All I can say is that the album has been on my car stereo ever since I got it and all of my passengers have commented that they like it ... one or two have even ordered a copy.

[ edited by debw on 2005-05-17 00:03 ]
Simon - the only JM on the iTunes Music Store site is from the Buffy Musical album, although I’ve put in a request for any and all of his music. His CD, Civilized Man, is an amazing mix - apparently similar to the range of styles he explored while on tour. Although twice the cost of an iTunes album, it was very much worth the price. Like debw, it’s been on my car stereo entertaining me and my passengers since mid April and everyone has loved it!
Nice review ! "Eclectic Mix" is a good description of the set that James played on tour - it worked wonderfully well.
@rogue slayer, "I heard one song from the album(kinda bluesy) and winced all the way through..."
Just curious what you found cringe worthy..NOT judging ANYway, just wondering since I enjoyed the bluesy stuff, but then I wouldn't call myself a blues aficionado or anything. I've actually been wondering what people with firmer roots in any given genre think of the "eclectic mix." Keep in mind that only a couple are "bluesy" while there's a couple "country'ish," "pop'ish", "rock'ish"etc. if it's simply a matter of taste in styles. I personally like the mix but could just as easily see it turn someone off who definitely doesn't like certains styles of music. I agree with the reviewer that a couple of songs wouldn't seem weird to see a Stetson on his head while he's singing them.

"...the definitive songs of the night were Poor Robyn where he sounded uncannily like James Taylor; the slightly naughty Bad a mix between Elvis Costello and The Boo Radleys...'
I like when a reviewer can actually name a name to help make comparisons besides just comparing his cheekbones to cheekbones of a Greek God (or whatever). Tells me they actually listened to the music.

[ edited by Grace on 2005-05-17 01:20 ]
Just curious what you found cringe worthy..

Basically what I found with some other covers of his that I've heard like Chocolate Jesus or Fire...he just tries too hard to pull a voice he doesn't have(or maybe tries too hard to be the original singer that he isn't). He *wants* to be a black man singing the blues, but he's just not. And that's what surprised me, because he is so good with different voices when he speaks. He's got such a sexy, rich speaking voice when he wants to, but I just don't feel it in the songs. I think I would like other types of music better from him-which does give a vote for me buying the cd since there are other styles, but Johnny Lee Hooker, he's not! But ya know, just my opinion. I know his blues song has gotten rave reviews elsewhere, so I think it's all just a matter of preference.
Yep, it' a matter of preference . And if you didn't like James singing "Fire" and " Chocolate Jesus" then your preferences are obviously very diferent to mine but such is life. On tour James introduced his new song " Birth Of The Blues"
(not on the album) by talking about the blues tradition and how he knew that, as a white man, he was treading on dodgy ground .. he then proceeded to knock the audience's collective socks off. By the way he doesn't need to be John Lee Hooker , he's James Marsters and when he's singing he doesn't need to use any ones voice but his own .
By the way he doesn't need to be John Lee Hooker , he's James Marsters and when he's singing he doesn't need to use any ones voice but his own

I never said he needed to be anyone he's not-as a matter of fact, that's my main complaint, to me he sounds like he's trying to be someone he's not. And as for Johnny Lee Hooker, I just happen to prefer his 'brand' of blues to other folks. For my preferences, he's kind of a benchmark. I think I should have said 'He's not as good as JLH' instead of implying he should sound like him. Because, obviously, he really shouldn't try to sound like anyone else. His natural voice is good enough for me, in most cases.
Oh, I think it can be safely said that James found his own blues voice (at at least a couple of gigs) on the tour. I've been listening to the blues all my life. I didn't know he had it in him, it was stunning when he let rip.

Good acoustics (apparently unknown in con settings) didn't hurt, either.
Civilized Man is a good solo debut album and I would reccommend it to anyone - except heavy metal fans perhaps.

I love 'This Town' and 'Everyman' - I'd just wish I had caught one of the gigs on his tour here. I did see him perform for the first time at the Halloween Con and was very surprised just how good he was, and from all accounts he improved on the tour with each gig.

Can't say I liked much of the GotR stuff though.
"Can't say I liked much of the GotR stuff though.
It definitely would be comparing Apples to Oranges if one decided to buy (OR NOT) buy Civilized Man based on what they've heard of GOTR, worlds of difference there; stylistically, professionally, skill, it's completely different.

Thanks Rogue Slayer, for answering that question. Perhaps because I don't have much experience with the Blues (only stuff that tends to cross the lines onto more mainstream airwaves - read that: hearing watered down versions) I didn't hear it as him trying too hard or trying to emulate someone else, a more discerning ear may hear the difference! Seems that, according to debw and what he has said at shows, he's well aware of not quite being in the same league (or emotional place) as those he's emulating in those particular songs.

[ edited by Grace on 2005-05-17 16:33 ]
Seems that, according to debw and what he has said at shows, he's well aware of not quite being in the same league (or emotional place) as those he's emulating in those particular songs.


Yeah, I've always appreciated that James recognized his own limitations when he saw them. I remember he said(while doing GotR) that he wasn't a very good singer, and while I don't agree with that completely, he saw room for improvement and apparently took lessons(I think I read him say that somewhere). It's obviously important to him, and I wish him the best of luck with it. I also hope I can catch an LA gig at some point and judge for myself whether I like his new style as a whole, instead of basing it on one song, which isn't really fair to him.
Rogue Slayer said: “I know I didn't really like his old stuff, but I know it's not fair to judge this new project on GotR.”

My “Civilized Man” CD actually sat around for a while because I was dreading that it would sound as thrown together as “Mad Brilliant". I’m quite relieved to say the least. I never saw the band live and didn’t care to, but I would really like to see him perform these songs solo and acoustic. He uses his voice much more expressively on “Civilized Man” and it just sounds like the real deal all around and I think some of the songs would be amazing to experience live. And they were, or so I’ve read. (Waaah!)
While the rockin’ tunes are fine, I think his voice really lends itself to the folky/ballady/bluesy ones. I think he occasionally tries to hard or to sound like someone else on it, as mentioned, but that may straighten out as he gains confidence in presenting his own material. I think he lets it rip quite honestly on the vocals to the title track that ends the album rather effectively—sort of a warning and declarative and pleading all at the same time. Color me impressed. I’m not in love with all the arrangements, the use of keyboards, some unnecessary musical accents and there is a guitar solo I could live without, but I can listen straight through without the urge to skip over any songs or turn it off. I can’t say the same about “Mad Brilliant”. I never recommend music to anyone because I think it is much more personal than movies or TV or whatever and I think it’s better to discover on your own instead of having it forced on you. I can only give an opinion on an album which I think deserves more praise than “Whew! What an improvement over the thing with the band!”
. I can only give an opinion on an album which I think deserves more praise than “Whew! What an improvement over the thing with the band!”

LOL! I am more and more inclined to give it a shot. I just hate buying a cd(even of established musicians) and end up only liking a couple of songs. Feels like such a waste. Ah well, only one way to tell!
Are James' blues songs really sad? I love blues music but only if it's so melancholy that it makes me weep like a baby. My favorite blues song is an old Delta Blues riff called "Devil Got My Woman" by Skip James. I first heard it in Ghost World. I had to download it and listen to it over and over again. I haven't been exposed ot a lot of blues music, but I know I like it rough and worn and heartbreaking.

[ edited by electricspacegirl on 2005-05-17 20:04 ]
Not so much the one on the album ( which is good old fashioned dirty blues) but the new blues track " Birth Of The Blues" is thought provoking and there's a new ballad called "Finer Than Gold" which managed to reduce me to tears three nights running

Sadly you either have to get to a gig or wait for the next CD for those.
"I can only give an opinion on an album which I think deserves more praise than “Whew! What an improvement over the thing with the band!"

Well said. I also agree with your analysis that he may continue to gain confidence enough to not sound like he's trying too hard. In fact, I think he's already gained a tremendous amount of confidence in creating the solo CD. I think this was reflected in his comments at the recents shows as well as the new material he literally wrote overnight and threw out there while at the gigs. I would definitely be interesting to hear these in comparison to what's on the CD, but like debw said, obviously and unfortunately, until (and if) he creates a new CD, the only way that can currently happen for us NON-attendees is if someone created a bootleg recording.

[ edited by Grace on 2005-05-17 20:40 ]
I enjoyed reading this review, as it brought back to mind my own JM concert experience.

I saw James sing in Houston and wasn't expecting much, because GOTR was never my cup of tea. Happily, I came away with a much more favorable appreciation of him as a singer. In the post-concert talk, he was asked some music-related questions and mentioned he wasn't comfortable singing many of the GOTR songs because, even though he'd been taking voice lessons and had managed to gain five notes on the high end (pretty good for a guy his age, I would think) it still wasn't enough for him to be able to sing Charlie's songs.

My only criticism of the CD, which I like very much, is that I think it would have been better with fewer additions, one notable exception being the piano added to one of the tracks. James and his guitar are plenty for me, and anything further suggested by a producer should be weighed judiciously, IMO.
I'm half-enjoying, half-hating reading all these thoughts about Civilized Man...because despite ordering a month before it's official release...I STILL HAVE NOT RECEIVED IT!!! Okay, sorry for the shouting. Inside voice, now. My CD has not arrived, and I can't find anyone who cares. *sigh* Numerous eMails and calls to "Time Machine Collectables" have gone unanswered...I've even tried reaching out to James' management. Grr, arrgh.
How strange barest_smidgen. I received excellent service from Time Machine Collectibles.

I care. Of course, I can't do a damn thing about it.

Has your card been charged yet? TMC called me when my bank wouldn't approve the purchase, and got a different card. If you haven't been charged yet, you may want to try a different card.
Thank you for caring, Angela. : )

Sadly, my card was charged immediately upon my order. On March 17th -- exactly two months ago today. Every email I send is just replied to with my initial confirmation eMail, or an empty message. Every time I call their number it tells me that the mailbox is full, and would i please hang up now. (eMail address and phone number double-checked and confirmed.) Didn't want to resort to it, for such small potatoes, but even eMailed James' management company, because I just don't know what else to do. No word, yet.

Trying to think of my friends who didn't get tickets for the BDM screenings, and how they're thinking positive that it'll be worth the wait, and sweeter for the anticipation. Again, I say, *sigh*
barest_smidgen - I've emailed you to talk about this off site for a bit.

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