Sit down while I write a little on my personal musical constant, the Manchester band James. They were the first proper band that I became a fan of. My friend’s sister played Strip Mine all the time when it came out and my 11 year old ears immediately loved it.
I got the flower t shirt, grew my hair and decided that I was an ‘indie kid’. I bought Stutter and played it until the cassette wore out.
They were weird and different form anything I’d heard before. I think on Stutterthey were different from anything else full stop. What is that album? Pop? Folk? Indie?
Because I was a dumb kid I thought their obscurity at the time was a plus. Like, ‘Yeah we know this cool band. you probably haven’t heard of them. I later found out that after Strip Mine came out the band were so desperate for cash they became human guinea pigs for drug trials.
After Strip Mine , they changed drummers after Tim Booth had an on stage fight with him. They then hired 3 new members before recording what was to be their breakthough album Gold Mother
This was just as ‘Madchester’ was taking off and James live prowess led to two sold out shows at the Manchester G-Mex arena.
One of these shows was released as a massive selling video and the performance and popularity of one particular song being placed on the re-release of Gold Mother
In the UK at least, James became massive. I’m not sure if it’s something they went with or chased but their next album Seven was …a bit of a step down. It sounded like it was designed for stadiums and was unfortunately reminiscent of Simple Minds or U2 at their most grandiose.
It did lead to them cracking the US college circuit and did well but wasn’t a critical darling. In 1993 , the band played an acoustic tour with Neil Young. After this, they seemed refreshed, more experimental and they returned to the UK to record an album with Brian Eno, who was originally supposed to produce Stutter
These recording sessions were so fruitful they resulted in two albums being recorded, the main release Laid and the experimental, slightly weird album Wah Wah
and from the weirder album….