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Thursday, 12 March 2015

Ex-EMF Frontman James Atkin Comes to Manchester's Ruby Lounge (Don't Mention THAT SONG)

I imagine that fame can be a tricky beast, particularly for those known for one really, really famous thing. You don't want to bite the hand that feeds you, but you'd really rather move on now and do something else - we might perhaps call it Victor Meldrew Syndrome, or the Coolio Curse.

I'm pretty sure that James Atkin, erstwhile singer with EMF, feels the same about Unbelievable, a song which dominated the UK charts in 1990 and was a huge hit in the States the year after. It's a truly, truly great song; indeed, as an impressionable schoolgirl I was very taken with the whole album, Schubert Dip, and still have it on tape somewhere (although, alas, not the wherewithal to play it). I can still remember a sketch on The Mary Whitehouse Experience where Newman, Baddiel, Punt and Dennis came off stage as a sweaty, post-gig EMF, listening in astonishment as the audience demanded an encore and asking each other whether they had any really massive hit singles under their belts that they could play. You may mock, but if you don't remember the heady days of the early 90s you really don't know what you were missing.

James has a new album out, A Country Mile, which I've been listening to this week. It's very good indeed - an electronic, dancey album with a slightly aggressive edge and some memorable tunes, topped by James' distinctive vocals (which in themselves are enough to take me back to a time when I was too young to drink and considered Brookside to be the viewing highlight of my week). James has released all sorts of successful songs over the years, but this is the first time he's put his own name to a new collection of songs and they are (to my inner-schoolgirl-self's relief) no disappointment.

As I am now thankfully old enough to drink I'm looking forward to hearing the album played live next Friday at Manchester's Ruby Lounge - in fact, the whole line-up looks good, with The Narrows, Demons of Ruby Mae and Villiers also on the bill. I certainly can't imagine you'll find better value for a tenner anytime soon, and if you're too young to remember James from the first time around this looks an excellent chance to become acquainted with his music. And if you were listening to Xfm this morning at about half past seven you might, like me, have heard the opening riff to Unbelievable and shouted aloud in triumph before, like me, singing lustily along as you drove down Didsbury Road - best moment of today by a country mile.

- James' gig takes place at The Ruby Lounge, Northern Quarter, Manchester next Friday, 20th March 2015 from 7.30pm. Advance tickets £10 from, &, and you can download the album from itunes here.

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