7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 12 February 2004
It's difficult to know what to make of "Millionaires". Booth saw it at the time as James' best album, and while this view may not be entirely popular with the fans, I'm inclined to agree with the singer (OK, so Pleased to Meet You was better, but Tim wasn't to know that at the time). There isn't a weak song here. The two which you'll be immediately most familiar with are "Fred Astaire" and "I Know What I'm Here For" (which, incidentally, has my favourite opener of any James song), but the rest are far from subpar.
It's true that some of the songs took a while to grow on me- I didn't fully appreciate "Someone's Got It In For Me" until I saw the live DVD, and I'm still working on "Vervaceous"- but there is a maturity and roundness to the album which is missing on some of their others. It may not be as epic as Seven, as experimentally creative as Laid, or as hauntingly beautiful as Pleased to Meet You, but this is still, in my opinion, James at their best. Part of this may be due to the presence of Michael Kulas, the backing vocalist who joined the band only in 1997. Kulas' voice gives a lovely contrast to the forthright clarity of Booth's singing, particularly noticeable on "Someone".
I'd heartily recommend this album to anyone. For those who are unfamiliar with the band, it represents probably their most accessible material. For existing fans, it's one of the best albums the band produced. Enjoy it.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 31 July 2000
What can i say? I could say that ive been following James for years, and considering this late start I have grown to love them very quickly.
So, with the release of the new album, i rushed out to buy it, and was immediately captivated: from the excellent, upbeat opener CRASH, to the melodic finish of VERVACEOUS; this album is fantastic. Its like taking every great James song that appears on all the old albums and jamming them together on one great record!
A true return to form for a truly great Manchester band. Also, if you've never watched James live, you have missed a unique fulfilling experience. I have never met anyone who has seen a bad James concert. I never have.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 8 June 2000
Many listeners don't immediately take to James because of their complex, highly developed sound and Tim Booth's post-modern lyrics and voice. Quite frankly, James lacks any peer, in the UK or the rest of the world. Their sound and technique can only be described as Kafka-esque, in a beautiful and rhythmic way. Their albums emerge out of improvisational jam sessions; the band plays and Tim Booth weaves his poetry into the chaos, creating an entirely unique and utterly brilliant collection of songs for each album.
Millionaires, like all of James' albums, is pure genius. There are unforgettable love songs in JUST LIKE FRED ASTAIRE, SURPISE, and SHOOTING MY MOUTH OFF, songs where the listener wonders whether Tim Booth isn't singing directly to his audience. James' social conscience is evident in such songs as AFRO LOVER, DUMB JAM, and I KNOW WHAT I'M HERE FOR, but their true depth of ability shines through songs like HELLO and VERVACEOUS. And no James album would be complete without such self-aware songs as WE'RE GOING TO MISS YOU and STRANGERS. Millionaires is one to add to any collection, as are any of James' other albums.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 12 June 2009
James. A band, who in my opinion, don't deserve the rubbish they get from critcs and should be a household name. I've grown up with them, so I might be a little biased, but this has to be one of the greatest albums ever made. It covers just about every emotion, love, anger, sadness, joy and wonder. Whatever mood you're in, you can't go wrong with it.
1. Crash. A fantastic, rousing opener, guaranteed to get you up and moving. 7/10
2. Just Like Fred Astaire. One of my favourite love songs. Cute and sweet without being vomit inducing. The piano loop is beautiful. 9/10
3. I Know What I'm Here For. A song similar to Crash, yet entirely different. Great opening, you'll be singing along by the end of the song. 8/10
4. Shooting My Mouth Off. Beginning with Tim's vocals alone, this is an upbeat and singable song. 7/10
5. We're Going To Miss You. A song aimed at critics, shows the band's wonderful talent at being two polar opposites at once. Haunting and reassuring. 9/10
6. Strangers. Comforting and uplifting. 7/10
7. Hello. Stunning. It might take a few listens but this song will etch itself into your head and remain there all your life. Truly beautiful. The brilliance of this song is worth the price of album alone. 10/10
8. Afro Lover. Quite dissapointing. Listenable, but seems rather silly and filler-ish after the majesty of the previous song. 6/10
9. Suprise. Another sing-along chorus. An enjoyable listen. 7/10
10. Dumb Jam. An interesting song, once again the lyrics will near instantly be in your head. Humourous and with a great beat. 7/10
11. Someone's Got It In For Me. James albums have a long standing tradition of saving the best 'till last and this one is no exception. If you are not moved by the lead 'Let it fall away' and the backing 'Lies, lies, lies', you have a heart of stone. 10/10
12. Vervaceous. Simply awesome. You practially see and hear the beauty of the world being described. Instrumentation is simply genius. 10/10
It's a perfect album, and I highly recommend it. You won't regret it.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 25 September 2000
Before Millionaires many of james' albums had started of well but had contained some really dodgy songs near the end. Millionaires however contains nothing but fantastic songs all the way through. It starts off with a fine opening trio of "crash" "Feel like fred astaire" and "I Know what im here for" Then it finishes with songs like "Dumb Jam" that finish the album perfectly. Two of my favourite songs are "shooting my mouth off" and Strangers". However the song that I feel defines the whole album is the fantastic "Were going to miss you" this is a fantastic song, heartfelt and funky. This is a fantastic musical Achievement for the whole band.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 4 December 2005
I'm slowly getting into James, and I must say this is a good album - I only steer clear of the 4 star accolade because I would rate some of my all-time favourite albums as only 4 stars. However, I've put 4 stars at the top because it wanted me to put something dammit, and 3 stars isn't really fair.
The first three tracks combine to be, in my opinion, one of the best opening trios to any album ever. The beginning to Crash enters you immediately into the world of James, and it's annoyingly catchy and clever at the same time. It then paves the way for the beautiful Just Like Fred Astaire - one of my all-time favourite love songs - and the brilliant I Know What I'm Here For. To be honest, it's probably worth buying the record for those superb first three songs.
The album slows down after that, but doesn't lose its way. Highlights amidst the more downtempo songs are Strangers, Hello and Someone's Got It In For Me, all of which are epic and string-laden - this seems to be what James enjoy doing and it really works. It's ambitious but pretty much pulled off.
There aren't many specific downsides - just that some of the album wanders through aimlessly. On the whole though, it's very good - beautiful in places - and well worth a look.
Is it just me or is the end to the album (last couple of minutes of Vervaceous) a bit like Imogen Heap's 'Hide And Seek', as heard in the finale to the second series of The O.C.? Just a thought.
on 19 June 2007
James were and still are an odd band. They were often compared in the UK music press to R.E.M., this being perhaps down to the facts that both bands duly slogged away for a decade or more before managing to break through into the mainstream, and also due to both bands' seeming to revolve around the enigmatic outpourings of a sexually androdynous and wilfully mysterious frontman. The seemingly deliberate 'big' stylings of Millionaires's songs are in keeping with James's previous ventures into epic indie - indeed, while James's contribution to British guitar rock seems to have been forgotten in their temporary absence, the likes of Travis and Coldplay continue to deliberately homage their endeavours. (Remember, Chris Martin and Jonny Buckland only started writing together because they were both huge James fans... And doesn't Travis's recent single Closer sound like a something Booth and co didn't get around to finishing in 1995 or so?)
The early years saw James more concerned with surrealistic experimentalism, a trait the band would later refine and integrate into a more coherent pop framework with the more cultured likes of Seven and Laid - and through their work with uber-leftfield producer Brian Eno, who is endlessly lauded for his work with Bowie, U2 and Talking Heads among others. With Millionaires - along with his work on Laid, Wah-Wah, Whiplash and Pleased To Meet You - Eno contributes significantly to helping create that elusive James sound.
Tim Booth spoke of his experience with religious cults and streamlined spiritual angst into that handy medium of the pop lyric, while his assembled cadre of indie associates (not to demean their contribution, but I rather suspect it would take too long to namecheck them all, including the bloke on trumpet, so I won't) supported him - and his crazy dancing - with some fantastic tunes, not least of all that perennial indie disco favourite Sit Down (I myself remember subversively refusing to do just this back at a school disco back in 1989 or so - I liked the song but saw the inherent flaw in having to collapse on the floor when there was dancing to be done, but this is fairly irrelevant). At the time of their late-nineties moment in the spotlight, James were reguarly being showered with best-band-in-the-world style accolades - but alas, as is the case case with most 'serious' indie / rock bands who peak too soon or too late (see also Radiohead, the Manics, Blur, any 4 or more skinny white blokes making non-fun music) by the time of their next album Pleased to Meet You the public praise seemed to have dissipated and Booth quit the band, leading to an eventual quiet dissolution.
Millionaires follows the relatively unfocused Whiplash and kicks off in fine style with the absurdly jolly and/or tearful Crash, which along with Afro Lover and I Know What I'm Here For satisfy the old skool Baggy fanatic still lurking in James's fanbase. Shooting My Mouth Off starts off all ambient and mysterious like U2 - no doubt Eno's sideways influence again - before kicking off and joyously referencing New Order in its distinctly Peter Hook-esque melodies, then continuing the homage with Were Going To Miss You which marries Stipean melodies to metronomic krautrock and Joy Division-patented robotic dronery. Hello is a hushed, enveloping waltz, the kind that James do so well, ironically bidding farewell to a collapsed relationship by finding a new way to say hello.
The only wobbly point lies with Surprise and more notably, Someone's Got It In For Me, both of which seem to plagiarise shamelessly from Frankie Goes To Hollywood's epic ballad The Power Of Love, either intentionally or otherwise. But of course, James manage to save the best for last with the mighty Vervaceous, an ethereal rock epic which sees Eno's influence writ large; there's a definite trace of the title track of Eno's 1975 album Another Green World (aka the Arena theme, for those of a certain age in the UK) in the processed, spacey synths, while the lyric conjures up Bowie's Space Oddity and some imagined apocalyptic end of the planet Earth; but with a note of hope - maybe we don't need to come back down. And then there's the moment four minutes in where the track builds to a psychedelic crescendo before dropping out to an alien pulse, and out of nowhere, the ghostly and fragile vocoderised voice of Sinead O'Connor carries the album off into outer space, drifting through the atmosphere, like the last transmissions of a long dead race.
A mighty piece of work, and I for one am glad that several years down the line James are back and hard at work on a new album. Further work pending, Millionaires may be their most complete work to date. Long may they be ignored by those who forget to listen...
on 4 November 1999
I've been a fan of James since their days as a winsome foursome, and what a journey it's been. Who'd have thought they could disappear so completely, make amazing albums which never really caught on ('Laid' and 'Whiplash'), and then bounce back so spectacularly? It seems their 'Greatest Hits' provided a much-needed jog to the collective memory - how else to explain 'Sit Down' being voted the nation's sixth most favourite pop lyric?
Their bizarre journey takes an unexpected new turn with this album. Basically it's very good indeed. Although it is noticeably more mainstream than anything they've done since 'Seven', it has none of the pomp rock tones of that album - principally because it feels like a record into which they have poured their hearts and souls as well as their technical abilities. As a result it is a hugely enjoyable album - and that's not a word which gets used much in music reviews these days, I feel.
Who knows, but this may well turn out to be the outstanding rock / pop album of the year, in a year which has been rather disappointing in that category. One thing i am certain of is that it is by far and away the most impressive record released this year by any recording artists who have been making records as long as this bunch has. Will James become the Rolling Stones of our generation? It's a weird idea - but not an impossible one at all. I for one may well still be listening to them when i'm fifty...
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 23 June 2001
A breath-taking album by one of the UK's finest bands. The whole record exudes a certain confidence that other lesser artists can only dream of. From the first track, Crash, through to the stunning finale that is Vervaceous, this is a must-buy album for anyone who considers themselves to be a serious music-lover.
on 5 November 1999
After falling for the hype I eventually went out and got myself a copy of Millionaires. After reviewers saying that it was the best that James has ever ever done I thought that that is some claim for a band with such a pedigree as James. I admit to not having anything by them in my collection to date but I have to say that this is a very enjoyable album and works in that way. Sometimes a cd is just a simple collection of songs, which is my one line review, however Millionaires does indeed work as an album and a very good one at that. I am not so sure as to it being the best they have ever done as I have nothing else by them but it is a fine album and I would thoroughly recommend Millionaires to any discerning music collector.