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Brian James: The Guitar That Dripped Blood

The Damned’s original guitarist/songwriter’s swaggering fifth solo album.

In appearance, Brian James has the look of a man who has approached his 40 years at the rock’n’roll coalface via the fast lane. But the signs here – insouciant sneer, coupled with reliably mind-shredding licks on his suitably sacramental offering Hail Mary – are that this son of the Stooges still gives as good as he gets.

The Detroit fuel he siphons so well conflagrates on Mean Streak, and petulant punky postures (Becoming A Nuisance) unrepentantly endure past middle age.

Growing up doesn’t have to mean forsaking detuned menace, and high-intensity guitar wrangling continues to be its own certain reward, as on the flamethrower strut of The Regulator.

A record to hold , squeeze and throttle you – complaining would be futile and not a little churlish.

Late NME, Daily Mirror and Classic Rock writer Gavin Martin started writing about music in 1977 when he published his hand-written fanzine Alternative Ulster in Belfast. He moved to London in 1980 to become the NME’s Media Editor and features writer, where he interviewed the Sex Pistols, Joe Strummer, Pete Townshend, U2, Bruce Springsteen, Ian Dury, Killing Joke, Neil Young, REM, Sting, Marvin Gaye, Leonard Cohen, Nina Simone, James Brown, Willie Nelson, Willie Dixon, Madonna and a host of others. He was also published in The Times, Guardian, Independent, Loaded, GQ and Uncut, he had pieces on Michael Jackson, Van Morrison and Frank Sinatra featured in The Faber Book Of Pop and Rock ’N’ Roll Is Here To Stay, and was the Daily Mirror’s regular music critic from 2001. He died in 2022.