(The Smiths at The Manhatton, Manchester 1983, James Maker on the left)
A lot of people have heard the name James Maker, but a lot more have not. James Maker's name was bandied about as "The Fifth Smith" long before Craig Gannon hit the Smiths scene. The truth is, James became friends with Morrissey in the late 1970s during Morrissey's pre-Smiths frustrated writer days when, confined to his bedroom, he would constantly write to music papers such as NME and SOUNDS in support of the glam rock music scene and in particular The New York Dolls. James being a New York Dolls fan himself 'felt compelled' to contact Morrissey 'as he was the only living New York Dolls fan visible through (his) opera glasses'.
Years later after many a jaunt from Manchester to London and vice versa, James joined Morrissey and The Smiths on stage during their early gigs to 'dance in a cool and understated manor' and to sing backing vocals on "What Do You See In Her?" (Wonderful Woman). There was never an urge on James' part to be a member of The Smiths ('I'm far too Susan Hayward to share the spotlight with anyone else').
Instead James went on to form Raymonde. A band who released one amazing recorded body of work titled "Babelogue" which for me is one of the most underated albums of all time. The opening track "No One Can Hold A Candle To You" has been covered by Morrissey on a few occasions and is well and truly worthy of more recognition than anything recorded by chart favoured artists since it's release. The rest of the album is a collection of finely crafted 'Indie camp rock' (remember where you heard it first folks) and yet 'Alternative 80s guitar rock' at the same time. Great songs, brilliantly delivered.
I only saw Raymonde play live once and that was in 1986 supporting The Smiths at Middlesbrough Town Hall. At the risk of expleting myself out of decent society conversation - They fucking blew me away! Bearing in mind there was little communication about line ups in those days (YES Kids - No Internet!!) we had no idea who was supporting. Then out poured Raymonde onto the Town Hall stage and within seconds they burst into song and captured my attention and adulation for decades to follow. An amazing experience, never to be repeated. Unfortnately the album Babelogue isn't currently available for genaral consumption so I expect you to start a campaign NOW to have it rereleased. (I would, but I've got an alternative guitar music revolution to front....)
Anyway... as the title of this post suggests, the reason I am recalling such memories is because James Maker has released a book of his memoirs tiltled AUTOFELLATIO (or in other words ' I can suck my own dick' - World Class Title!). To be honest I bought and began to read this book purely from a Raymonde / Morrissey / The Smiths angle but by the end of the first chapter I was totally enthralled with James' story of his childhood and upbringing that all the aformentioned topics were gone from my mind. This is such a compelling story of the begining of a lost and unidentified character growing up in late 60s South London via mid 70s London ('Moscow with John Lewis') and onwards into his life in the music and acting world and beyond. James HAS made a name for himself in certain quarters. Amongst people that appreciate what he does and what he has acheived, even if most people are unaware of his work. Their loss I say.
This book is well worth you investing the time (and the minimal pence cost) to read it. I'm sure that, like myself, you will be dragged in kicking and screaming from chapter one and not released until the ransom of one crate of Rioja, one guitar and a trestle table has been paid.....
Let the performance begin.
The book Autofellatio is available via iBooks HERE for a tiny £1.49
Also for the KINDLE HERE for the same price and...
It is also available in print HERE in various states of drunkenness, age and beauty on Amazon.
GO AND GET IT TODAY!!!!
James Maker's blog is HERE