This was number 39 on my essential albums list.
James Varda – Hunger
James was championed by Roy Harper and I was fortunate to catch this incredibly original singer/songwriter supporting Roy on one of his eighties tours. He seemed a little self-conscious but his playing was brilliant and the songs very different and interesting. I love lyrics that are complex and thought-provoking.
Hunger was recorded for Andy Ware’s Awareness label and has not been heard by a lot of people. This is a great shame because it is a set of intelligent, thoughtful and distinctive songs delivered in an entirely original manner. The production is excellent and does justice to James’ songs.
‘Just a beginning’ is a brilliant start to the album. It sets the tone. You know this is going to be one of those great experiences. ‘Whatever you’ve got I don’t want it’ James snarls. You get the impression that he is not impressed with the way this society is run. It is an album that doesn’t stop. ‘From the Bellevue Hotel’ continues with that same wafting voice and ominous chords. Seemingly there are a lot of bastards out there and it’s cold too. Then there’s ‘Sunday before the war’. There is no end to this vision, dream, – nightmare. Yet it is compelling. ‘This train is lost’ is a metaphor for all that’s wrong with this establishment nightmare. Not only are the lyrics brilliant but the music is equal to it.
What a shame James decided to leave music at this stage. This album should have been huge. It is one that I go back to again and again. It deserved to be followed up straight away with something of a similar standard.
James’ later work is very good but doesn’t compare with the power of this. His last album the superb Chance and Time was his masterpiece!