GWENDOLYN

THE WENDY JAMES DEMOS
  1. This Is A Test
  2. London's Brilliant
  3. Basement Kiss
  4. Puppet Girl
  5. Earthbound
  6. Do You Know What I'm Saying?
  7. We Despise You
  8. Fill In The Blanks
  9. The Nameless One
  10. I Want To Stand Forever
When Elvis Costello was asked to write a song for former Transvision Vamp singer Wendy James, he responded by spending a weekend writing 10, half of them with Cait O'Riordan. He then entered Pathway Studios and quickly recorded the demos accompanied by Pete Thomas. Elvis suggests in the Extreme Honey liner notes that this was in November 1992, but Bill Flanagan writes in the March 1994 Musician about hearing them in January 1992, just after they were recorded.

James was told she could either record all of the songs or none of them. She chose all, and her versions became the album Now Ain't The Time For Your Tears, released in May 1993.

The following year, five of Elvis' demos managed to sneak out on Brutal Youth B-sides. "Puppet Girl," "Basement Kiss," and "We Despise You" appeared on the UK CD single for "13 Steps Lead Down." In a perverse move (for 1994), the other two were officially released only on vinyl singles. "Do You Know What I'm Saying?" was the B-side of the "13 Steps Lead Down" 7-inch single, while "London's Brilliant" appeared on the 12-inch for the similarly titled "London's Brilliant Parade." ("Do You Know What I'm Saying?" also appeared on a promotional-only CD single for "Clown Strike" in the US.) Elvis and the Attractions occasionally played "Puppet Girl" and "Basement Kiss" in concert that year, and a performance of "Basement Kiss" from the last night of the tour turned up in 1996 on the CD single for "The Other End Of The Telescope."

Elvis' versions of the other five songs remain officially unreleased, but four of them (all but "This Is A Test") have surfaced on bootlegs.

The Wendy James demos were conspicuously absent from Rhino's Brutal Youth reissue. Although it was never announced in any official capacity, at that point the demos were planned as a separate release. Previously dubbed the "Gwendolen Letters" by Elvis in the Extreme Honey liner notes, the project was known simply as Gwendolyn at Rhino. Whether that was intended as anything more than a working title is unclear.

With a running time of approximately 30 minutes, the demos would make for an awfully short album on their own. And with only the previously released live version of "Basement Kiss" as obvious bonus material, it could require some imagination to find additional bonuses which would seem appropriate. One of the more entertaining suggestions is to make Gwendolyn the bonus disc for The Juliet Letters, although that would be wildly at odds with the usual concept of a close relationship between album and bonus disc and would in some ways be doing both albums a disservice. Another suggestion is to put out Gwendolyn as part of the Rhino Handmade series of limited-edition CDs sold mainly over the Internet.

As of October 2005, it is unknown in what manner Gwendolyn will be released or indeed if it is still planned for release at all.


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