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Customer Review

on 16 March 2009
I really do think those who are awarding this album one or two stars are slightly missing the point of Wah Wah. As far as I'm aware this album was never intended to be fully formed or a flawlessly produced masterpiece. It is essentially a collection of out-takes and improvisation designed to give the listener an insight into the creative process the band go through to deliver their more polished efforts such as Seven or Laid. The liner notes written by Tim Booth explain how the project was first put together and essentially why they decided to release it.

There are only a few tracks here that could be considered "finished" i.e. have a proper flow, structure and lyrics. These would be Jam J, Rhythmic Dreaming, Gospel Oak, Honest Joe and Tomorrow. The latter was destined to be re-recorded by the band (and Stephen Hague) for 1997's Whiplash where it clearly stands out as a career high both commercially and in terms of "that's simply a great pop song". Here, the track is already fully formed a full four years before Whiplash but sports a much more rough and ready sound which characterizes most of Wah Wah right down to the minimalistic cardboard digi-pak.

Rhythmic Dreams is a blissfully chilled out jam with Booth free-forming lyrics over Gott's distant guitar work; a mellow stand out. Honest Joe and Jam J have a much more distorted and heavy sound; they both feature unpolished and rawer instrumentation and we can hear the band taking some risks with their sound. James would never sound quite so far removed from the jangly guitar and trumpets sound of their traditional sound again; excellent stuff.

I like this album a lot but know it's probably considered a niche or leftfield pleasure. If I was looking to turn a friend onto the band this would probably be the last album I would give them but it's still well worth checking out if you appreciate something a bit off the wall and - more importantly - you own enough James albums to know they're hands down one of the best groups the UK has produced.

Highly recommended to longer term fans however newer listeners may want to start off with Laid or Fresh As A Daisy and come around to Wah Wah in your own time. That's pretty much what I did.

On a final note, Wah Wah's status as a James oddity was further solidified when the label and/or band chose not to re-release with the other remasters in 2001. It remains out of print as of early 2009 but the original pressing is still easily attainable if you're willing to pay.
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