James, Jimmy (and the Vagabonds)

Band members               Related acts

- Rupert Balgobin - drums (1960-70)

- Colsen Chen - bass (1960-70)

- Phil Chen - rhythm guitar (1960-70)

- Russell Courtney - drums (1970-)

- Nat Frederick - sax (1960-70)

- Chris Garfield - guitar (1970-)

- Jimmy James - vocals (1960-70)

- Milton James - sax

- Alan Kirk - keyboards (1970-)

- Count Prince Miller - vocals (1960-70)

- Carl Noel - keyboards (1960-70)

- Wally Wilson - lead guitar (1960-70)

- Alan Wood - bass (1970-)




- Jimmy James (solo efforts)



Genre: soul

Rating: *** (3 stars)

Title:  The New Religion

Company: ATCO

Catalog: 33-222

Year: 1966

Country/State: Jamaica

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: mono pressing

Available: 1

GEMM catalog ID: 4660

Price: $80.00

Cost: $66.00


Maybe I'm being a little cynical here, but had these guys tried to make it in the States, it's doubtful they would have made it beyond local clubs.  Mind you, they had plenty of talent, but there's simply no way they could have competed with US based competitors.


Born in Jamaica, Jimmy James started out as a solo act.  By the late 1960s he'd enjoyed a couple of big Jamaican hits.  That publicity led the The Vagabonds to suggest a collaboration and in 1960 the two formed Jimmy James and the Vagabonds.  Relocating to London, by the mid-1960s the group's blend of American soul and Jamaican influenced made them an in-demand club act.  By 1966 the group was signed by the English Piccadilly Records where they released a string of four singles over the next year:


- 1965's 'I Feel Alright' b/w 'I Wanna Be Your Everything' (PIccadilly catalog number 7N 35298)

- 1966's 'Come To Me Softly' b/w 'Hi Diddley Dee Dum Dum (It's A Good Good Feelin')' (Piccadilly catalog number 7N 35320)

- 1966's 'This Heart Of Mine' b/w 'I Don't Wanna Cry' (Piccadilly catalog number 7N 35331)

- 1966's 'Ain't Love Good, Ain't Love Proud' b/w 'Don't Know What I'm Gonna Do' (Piccadilly catalog number 7N 35349)


Having attracted the attention of American labels, the band made their US debut for HBR Records with a reissue of the earlier 'Come To Me Softly' single.  ATCO promptly reissued the single nationally with the track eventually hitting the top-100 charts.  As was standard marketing procedure, ATCO followed the single with the release of 1967's "The New Religion".  Musically the album served to compile a mixture of previously released UK singles, several live tracks ('Ain't Love Good, Ain't Love Proud' and 'I Gotta Dance To Keep from Crying' ) and new studio material.  To my ears, James voice isn't the greatest instrument you'll ever hear.  His delivery tends to be kind of shrill, which is only highlighted by the overly sweet arrangements.  That isn't to say the LP's a complete waste.  James and company reflected good taste in their covers including two nice, if uninspired Curtis Mayfield tracks.  To their credit 'I'm Just a Fool for You Girl', 'Hi Diddley Dee Dum Dum (It's A Good Good Feelin')' and 'AIn't No Big Thing' were all as good as anything else on the radio and would have made dandy singles.  Elsewhere 'Come To Me Softly' b/w 'Hi-Diddle Dee Dum Dum (It's a Good Feelin')' provided the band with their first US hit (ATCO catalog number 45-6551).  Yeah, not exactly groundbreaking, but solid and it grows on you the more you hear it.

"The New Religion" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Ain't Love Good Ain't Love Proud  (Tony Clarke - R. Wylie) - 3:12

2.) This Heart of Mine   (Barrett Strong) - 2:29

3.) Do It Right   (Rudy Clark) - 3:03

4.) I Gotta Dance To Keep from Crying   (Eddie Holland - Lamont Dozier - Brian Holland) - 2:31

5.) I'm Just a Fool for You Girl   (Gerald Sims - Carl Davis) - 2:19

6.) Hi-Diddle Dee Dum Dum (It's a Good Feelin')    (Billy Davis - R. Stauton - R. Walker) - 2:43

(side 1)

1.) People Get Ready   (Curtis  Mayfield) - 2:36

2.) The Entertainer   (Tony Clarke) - 2:19

3.) Come To Me Softly   (Jimmy James) - 3:20

4.) Little Boy Blue   (Curtis Mayfield) - 2:11

5.) It's Growing   (William Robinson - Warren Moore) - 2:43

6.) Ain't No Big Thing   (Gerald Sims) - 2:40



Back to Bad Cat homepage/search