Monday, 29 September 2014

FIVE - O the best of James, Not Seven


Manchester has produced a lot of talent and legendary iconic bands such as The Smiths, The Stone Roses , Oasis and Take That ( Okay, they can't all be great's ). One band and my favorite Manc group are simply called James. Not many realize they've been together since 1982, releasing their debut Stutter, a more folky - rock edge than their indie - pop /rock, we grew to love. The track Johnny Yen featured on the album and would became a live favorite throughout the 90's. They grew throughout the Madchester scene with their anthem's Sit Down and Come Home in to a stadium sounding beast with Seven and Laid album's

James have had their up's and down's, line up changes, splits and reformation's. Today they are going strong , proving once again their still relevant with their stunning new album La Petite Mort. Of course they still are a live delight with a powerful  7 piece line - up , tried and tested over the years featuring Tim Booth, Larry Gott, Jim Glennie, Saul Davis, Mark Hunter, David Baynton and Andy Diagram , the trumpet player from the Seven period. I personally love new tune Moving On which ironically sounds like something off the Seven album. Catchy as.

I must admit i had chance to see James at their peak, at their massive Alton Towers headline show, a gig which legend has it was recorded but the tapes got lost or destroyed before it could be released as a live album. Sadly i didn't decide to go and the same on their Laid tour featuring a unknown band from Oxford supporting: Radiohead? How stupid was i? But i did eventually catch the lads in action on their comeback Whiplash tour at the intimate Leicester De Montford hall in 1997. Front row, Tim Booth swooned onstage to the electronic intro from Come Home, dressed in female mask ( from the album cover of the same name )  I was in awe, seeing my musical heroes for the first time.

Which brings me to my first of my top:

5. Blue Pastures

I remember Tim Booth prior to singing this was telling us the inspiration for the song; a story about a man who had enough and laid down in the snow, never to wake up. The production had Brian Eno all over it. ( The band have worked with the legendary producer across their work ) Blue Pastures you can hear on their underrated Whiplash album as the album closer. A Spellbinding piece of music.

4. Don't wait that long

From their stunning Epic Seven; now here is a album that should be enjoyed in one listen from start to finish, not a bad track on it. I first fell in love with this album, passed on to me from a girlfriend's brother. He was cool, clued up and loved Inspiral Carpets too. I was skeptical to begin after the pop success and indie disco hit Sit Down but as soon as i felt the emotion in this tune, the punchy lyrical delivery and widescreen sound, i was hooked. I think i played it that much, the tape snapped. Replaced today on C.D.

3. Born of Frustration

From the same album Seven and the opening number. A huge single ( One of many ) and live favorite. The trumpet and Tim's battle cry:  like a Indian going up against a brass wielding soldier blue. I honestly think this is pop -rock perfection. Still get's me every time. Classic.

2. Out to get you

Now this opener from my second favorite James album Laid , which would have made it to No 1 but never felt Low, Low, Low fitted the vibes of the album, anyway i digress. On purchasing the brand new tape of Laid i slipped it in to my cheap recorder in my car and was originally shocked how stripped back this was, after myself enjoyed the massive stadium anthems from Seven. Carrying on listening; at first Laid, Sometimes and Say Something i loved the most but when back at home,  listening at night it made sense. Being a slightly insecure 20 year old, this tune reached out to me. The slide guitar from Larry Gott is hypnotic and spine tingling, the way the song starts from nothing and builds to everything, i have goose bumps writing about this. A song which still is embraced by many a James fan and when it is heard live; Tim Booth find's himself drowned out by the audiences singing back at him, word for word. A masterpiece in musical history.

1. Sound

What can i say? Any one that has seen James live will know this is a song that gives all younger bands in search of the big time a lesson in how to perform a stadium anthem ( Check out the footage of the band at Glastonbury above ) Truly Epic, also every time i witness it live it's always different, a song you can lose yourself in. This can be found on my favorite James album Seven. If you haven't heard it, i urge you to go and seek it out. One of the best albums of the 90's.

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