James Lavelle may not be everyone’s cup of tea but you can’t fault the chaps he chooses to work with. Few bands can boast a list of collaborators quite as impressive as his UNKLE project, which since it’s inception in 1994 has featured contributions from an extraordinary array of A-listers.
On the 1998 album ‘Psyence Fiction’, for instance, he tapped up DJ Shadow, Thom Yorke, Richard Ashcroft, Mike D, Badly Drawn Boy, Kool G Rap and Jason Newstead from Metallica. 2003’s ‘Never Never Land’ featured Ian Brown, Josh Homme, 3D from Massive Attack and Mani from Primal Scream, while Homme and 3D also joined The Duke Spirit and The Cult’s Ian Astbury on last year’s ‘War Stories’. Quite a cast list.
Lavelle has just mislaid the most important member of the UNKLE set-up, however, his long-standing second-in-command Richard File, who did the majority of the technical in-studio stuff. File has jumped ship to pursue his own project, a more traditional band called We Fell To Earth, and his replacement looks set to be Pablo Clements from DJ/production duo The Psychonauts, who chipped in some synth breaks on the latest album.
Still, Lavelle is keeping the ‘War Stories’ flag flying for the moment, and UNKLE release a new single in mid-march, ‘Restless”, fronted by Homme and full of brooding menace, which sums up the album rather well.
We’ve got four vinyl box sets – worth £45 each – of ‘War Stories’ to give away if you can answer the following question.