ian  james  stewart 

Junk DNA

By Uber Rock

Multi-instrumentalist and producer Ian James Stewart is best known as the guitarist and main songwriter with the band Strangeways. Not by me though – I’d never heard of him before I found 'Junk DNA' stuffed in my letterbox.

On the evidence of what’s here, that’s my loss. 'Junk DNA' is a wonderful collection of thoughtful, well-crafted and sometimes heartfelt tracks that sits in that genre-defying no-man’s-land with the likes of Steve Hogarth’s h-band, Talk Talk’s Spirit of Eden, Kate Bush’s 'The Dreaming' album and Twelfth Night’s Geoff Mann. It’s too tough and edgy to be pop, but not always hard enough to be rock. It’s proggy in places but not really prog. There’s a cool blues influence here and there, but it’s not really blues. You get the picture.

Title track opener, ‘Junk DNA’ itself, has a great, swinging riff and grooves along in inspired fashion, as does the equally enjoyable ‘Big White Monkey’ (“pissin’ all over the grass”). The mighty ‘Phosphorus’ and ‘So Far So Good’ match the aforementioned Hogarth’s solo output for earnestness and intensity. The latter has a gorgeous melody, as does the jangly ‘One More Time’, which is itself reminiscent of a Marillion single circa 'Season’s End/Holidays in Eden'. Prog fans might also like to note the extended lead guitar work on ‘Path of Lightning’, that wouldn’t sound out of place on a Dave Gilmour album.

Elsewhere, I also enjoyed the gentle, bluesy ‘Heaven Knows’, the yearning album closer ‘If This Is Life’, the chilled-out instrumental ‘Slow Burn Dance’ and the Celtic-tinged indie folk of ‘No Water’. Backing vocalists on ‘No Water’ include Robert Wyatt who also contributes his inimitable lead vocals to the bonus track ‘When U Love Somebody’.

Wyatt (or ‘Y@’ as he signs off) also provides an insightful Foreword in the CD booklet, drawing attention to Brian Eno’s warning dictum: “Every object obscures another”. “And here’s what is so refreshing about what Ian James Stewart does,” says Wyatt. “There’s everything you need and nothing you don’t.”

“Ian’s music has a hypnotic elegance,” continues Wyatt. “A magical touch – almost translucent at times, but with a warm pulse that really drives the music along with an organically focused momentum. Rock music for grown-ups.”

Indeed, Robert, it’s wonderful stuff. And for those of us who don’t want to grow up all the time, there’s Motörhead too. 

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A word or two on Junk DNA from Robert Wyatt..

I well remember father Brian Eno's warning dictum concerning unhelpfully decorative clutter:

"every object obscures another".

And here's what is so refreshing about what Ian James Stewart does. there's everything you need and nothing you don't.

Ian's music has a hypnotic elegance. A magical touch - almost translucent at times - but with a warm pulse that really drives the music along with an organically focussed momentum.

Rock music for grownups.


Ian was born in a small Scottish farmhouse, to the sound of his father's accordion. Started playing guitar in the mid-sixties, strumming along to his dad's records - Hank Williams and Johnny Cash as well as the popular music of the day.

Ian's sister Linda played piano, brother Billy played violin, and later his younger brother David took up bass guitar.

Ian started playing in their dad's band. A mix of scottish and country music. Next he found himself in a Glasgow band "the James Boys", playing material by such as Steely Dan, the Eagles, and Stevie Wonder.

After six months with them in Spain, Ian returned home to work on his own songs.

He managed to get hold of an old reel-to-reel tape recorder, bouncing ideas back and forth until he felt he'd got enough possibilities down to write and record his own music in own way.

after recording and touring with many of the best, Ian's really earned this.

Ian James Stewart's music has something to say, and does so in a way I find totally authentic.


robert Y@.

Thank you Robert..!