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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gobsmacked
With all the mixed fan and press reviews I was expecting very little from this album. But blow me down, it bowled me over. It is everything it could and should have been. There is more heart and soul in one of these songs than many bands manage in a whole career. It is a remarkable record, a real career highlight and the band should be as proud as punch that they have...
Published on 11 April 2008 by Luke Redridge

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars James do their usual trick...
It starts magnificently, "Bubbles" now figuring in my top five James songs. It's a tremendous track, starting quietly, suddenly exploding into life, and turning into a glorious chorus of the words "I'm alive!" repeated over and over again. The word "euphoric" doesn't do it justice.

The title track is also pretty good, if marred slightly by its "hey ma, the...
Published on 20 Mar 2009 by Peter Lee


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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gobsmacked, 11 April 2008
This review is from: Hey Ma (Audio CD)
With all the mixed fan and press reviews I was expecting very little from this album. But blow me down, it bowled me over. It is everything it could and should have been. There is more heart and soul in one of these songs than many bands manage in a whole career. It is a remarkable record, a real career highlight and the band should be as proud as punch that they have delivered something as beautiful and uplifting as this. There are elements of Laid, Strip mine and Seven but it works as its own album. Of course there is the odd daft Tim Booth lyric, it wouldn't be a James album without it. He tells us on the title track that war is bad. Just in case you were unsure. But that's ok, just like seeing a beautiful girl in a daft pair of trousers, its almost endearing.

And that aside, it's a beautiful, hopeful, elegant, bloody brilliant record.
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45 of 49 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A mighty comeback album, 7 April 2008
This review is from: Hey Ma (Audio CD)
Wow what a comeback album this is, I encourage all James fans, old and new to investigate....

Bubbles

One of the best James songs ever written. The starting of the song is very similar to the like of Laid album/The Lake stylistics but explodes into a very beautiful passionate song which seems to be about a new born life with a great future. Just a brilliant opening track. transferred from live performance to record seamlessly. You will be singing 'I'm alive' for months. Uplifting stuff! 10/10

Hey Ma

It may be 16 years on but the song Mother is still a haunting track and Hey Ma is no different lyrically, but it is a very uplifting song musically which contrasts so well with the deep lyrics being sung about 9/11, Iraq and Afghanistan and particularly about consequences of your actions. This sort of shows the best and worst of Tim's voice, there is a point where he sings 'coming home' in a kind of a strained way yet somehow im transported back in time to the early 90s in other places. Strange, but great, pointed lyrics. 9/10

Waterfall

This could probably the succesor to Say Something, my feeling on this song is that it is wonderful but at times the production is too heavy and almost sags under its own weight like the latest Manics album does. There are parts I love to this song such as the lovely verse guitars and backing vocals in the chorus and the chanted verse is particularly wonderful. The 'Im so cynical bit' is the part I think goes over the top perhaps for me. Again the underlying feeling of Laid but production values of Seven 8.5/10

Oh My Heart

Very anthemic in a Booth and The Bad Angel meets Seven kind of way, I read a review which says an 'old-school' James anthem. I can hear U2 in the guitar as well which puts me back to the Seven album. There is something about it that doesn't win me over in the same way the previous songs did, but the fact that I'm giving the first four tracks at least 8/10 bodes very well for the rest of the album. The fact that there is loads of guitar in this track is great and is as far away from Pleased To Meet You as my bloody football team winning the title! This could really soar live as well a real out-there number. 8/10

Boom Boom

A song which at first didn't really grab me and thought was not fantastic. However it started getting ingrained in my head and for days I had the melody in my head. It has a dominant trumpet line. This is a song similar to Were Going To Miss You lyrically in terms of hitting back at the critics of the band who had written them off. It is quite a dark melancholic song with an orchestral ending. 7/10

Semaphore

A very beautiful slow number about a man who has hit a woman realising what he's done. 'But its too late for sorry' Fantastic echoey guitar and bass with some fantastic lyrics. The slowest song on the album which allows pause for reflection for what we've heard already. 8/10

Upside

First aired at least a year ago at some of the gigs last year. It is the one song I'm truly disappointed with, it doesn't really do anything for me. It's about immigrants being away from their loved ones. For some reason it doesn't work for me, I think it is in the arrangement somewhere and the chorus also doesn't work for me. Not what I was expecting. A bit of a mess. 5/10.

Whiteboy

I love this track, it's the most fun and uplifting track since laid. This really is the 'old-school' James track I had been looking for, a mile away from the poor 'What Is It Good For' et al the whole song is what sums James up for me; fun, slightly goofy, uplifting, estoric, catch as fcuk particularly love the way the 2nd verse explodes into the 'Wanna talk to me Whiteboy' 2nd chorus just whisks you away! 9/10

72

A song about religion and brings up strong imagery of suicide bombers. The darkest song on the record although ironically a little funky with a dark electronic backdrop and rythmn section. The chorus of WAR will be ingrained in your head immediately. 7.5/10

Of Monsters Heroes and Men

This song is based on an extended poem full of imagery. This was played love at the September Hoxton shows. It's an interesting song that builds up to a kind-of mantra at the end with Andy's trumpet kind of taking over the song. Again it doesn't have much of an effect of me compared to what has gone before. 6/10

I Wanna Go Home

This is brilliant. A wonderful yearning song, although a bit too short. It is about a guy in a bar full of remorse, dying of a remorse. A fantastic closing track with effects coming in and out and builds to a crescendo of 'I wanna go home right now', awe-inspiring and I can personally identify with the lyrics as well. I just wish it could have gone on longer. 10/10

Child To Burn (Itunes Deluxe track)

This is an extremely beautiful Wah Wah/Laid style track with slide guitar, and Tim in falsetto most of the time. Extremely atmospheric. 9/10

Overall

A totally fantastic album overall, miles better than the last two albums. It sounds totally 'together' and everything hangs together well. Apart from one or two flawed songs, mainly in terms of arrangements this contains some of the best James songs ever written. Yes it possibly lacks anthems in a 'singles' way, however it is closer to Laid in spirit in terms of lyrics and some of the music. There are moments of a bigger sound, with A Seven-esque production value namely Oh My Heart and Waterfall. This is now my 3rd favourite James album, and only Laid and Whiplash better this one. In terms of a comeback album this is so much more than I and James fans could have hoped for. Ignore those stupid reviews that give this 1 and 2 stars they obviously can't hear the beauty within. Dream Thrum score. 8/10 - a mighty album.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A welcomed comeback!, 14 Sep 2009
This review is from: Hey Ma (Audio CD)
Im writing this review immediately after listening to the album.

I've been an avid fan of James for some time, but to some i'm probably a late bloomer, after buying their 'Just Like Fred Astaire' single and then purchasing the 'Millionaires' album which I thoroughly enjoyed. It was primairly in my teens where I took interest in the band but over time my tastes have changed and I persued other artists, especially after their suprising hiatus. I was slowly forgetting about them and knowing they won't be returning didn't give me much faith in following them any further. Their 'Best Of' is clearly one of the best compilations released in the past few decades and is a definite favourite of my collection. I can safely say after hearing this album they have clearly returned with such a maturity only other bands similar can admire to; not only have they been able to carry off their amiable sound for over 20 years, but they have also been able to improve their song writing and Tim Booth doesn't fail with his perceptive lyrics and unprecedented singing voice. The album proves that even after so long, James can return, maintain an undecayed sound, work together as they once did and establish a punchy, ripened tone.

Most of the tracks on the album are of superior quality, but the ones listed are personal favourites. The opening track 'Bubbles' opens well with a compelling chorus until the end. 'Waterfall', a no-brainer choice as a single, is a charming track which plods along with another righteous chorus and a maturity which shines throughout. 'Upside' is an engaging track and with a welcoming and hopefully concrete return, Andy Diagram, who flaunts his fantastic trumpet skills. 'Hey Ma' is another amiable track from the album with acoustic and wind infused instrumets married with powerful lyrics. 'Whiteboy' is an instant hit from the start with Booth's vocal dexterity creating an enthusiastic and solid anthem.

I advise all James fans to purchase this compelling comeback album. It might not be as good as 'Pleased To Meet You' (in my opinion one of the best albums I own) but for me to say this album has bought me back into following James and enjoying all their releases again says so much. I'm also sure that I can say for a lot of fans, that another set of new tracks from James is never unwelcomed. I also advise those who don't have an interest or havn't heard a song by James and want to buy an album out of the blue but don't want to dive in at the deep end, to do so. Here's hoping they'll stay together for many more years and bring out some more releases!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best comeback album ever, 30 Jun 2008
By 
Poor Napoleon (TX United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Hey Ma (Audio CD)
When I first heard James was reuniting, my heart was being tugged on in two directions. I would love to hear James again, but I was expecting a half hearted attempt at rekindling the magic that made James such a good band in the first place. "Hey Ma" proves my doubts wrong, and then some.

"Bubbles" begins the album with a song about new life, describing Tim Booth's joy as a father. This song is reminiscent of Laid era work - uplifting, but atmospheric. While Eno isn't here to produce this album, his presence is still felt.

But the sound quickly shifts to jam-based anthemic rock that James successfully mastered with "Gold Mother" and "Laid." "Hey Ma" might be described as an optimistic protest song. Tunefully, it's a classic. In the chorus, Tim Booth loudly proclaims "Hey ma, your boys in bodybags coming home in pieces." It's very poetic, and there's really no reading between the lines.

Elsewhere on the album, there's a theme of age and growing older. "Waterfalls" deals with materialism while the single "Whiteboy" sounds autobiographical with the wonderful line "My mom says I look like Yul Brenner/Too old for Hamlet and Too young for Lear."

Still, one of my favorite gems on this album is "Oh My Heart," a song where the singer asks to have his heart broken. It's anthemic and once again features James taking bleak moments and making them somehow uplifting. The lyrics are simple, but the breadth of feeling in this and the other offerings on this album make it a winner.

What makes Hey Ma so great though is that it feels like James of many many years ago. While jamming and experimentation did prevail on the last two albums, there seemed to be more rigid structure and thus rigid performances. Conversely, Hey Ma feels loose, fun and raw, but not without the ideas from the Eno years. It's rare that a band that has been around for 25 years can come back and sound this fresh and energetic. I have read many reviews that compare James to U2. Yet I feel U2 stopped making relevant albums (musically) sometime ago, lurking into more adult contemparary fare. James thrusts back onto the scene that could give some of the younger bands a run for their money. If you're still doubtful, check out recent live performances. As Tim Booth proclaims on "Bubbles," 'I'm Alive.' As I listen to this album, I believe it.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A strong and very consistent comeback. Superb!, 16 April 2008
By 
John K. Gateley "johngateley" (Bracknell, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Hey Ma (Audio CD)
Comeback albums can always have that air of 'better times are in the past' about them. 'Hey Ma' - James' first album in over 6 years is a very rare creature in the 'comeback' zone - it sounds energetic, full of fresh ideas and contains a consistent collection of great tunes / arrangements. Tracks like the opening 'Bubbles', the title track and 'I wanna go home' are anthemic. These guys aren't recording this on a yacht in the Bahamas or at their 50m mansion somewhere in the Swiss Alps - these guys sound as angry and enthusiastic as ever. I am not a huge James fan but have to say this is probably the best 'comeback' album I have heard in many years. There are a lot of influences here over and above James themselves - Bowie, U2, a bit of Ray Davies in the vocal style. Truly excellent. Ignore the duff reviews - they are missing the point. This will be one of the best albums of 2008 when we look back in December.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very good, 12 April 2008
By 
O. Miranda (Quimper, France) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Hey Ma (Audio CD)
One of my favorites James's albums. Bubbles, Waterfall, Upside, I wanna go home, Of monsters...
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good to be back, 15 April 2008
By 
Mr. M. A. Reed (Argleton, GB) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 1000 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Hey Ma (Audio CD)
In the old days, you'd buy a record from Woolies from HMV in town. You'd sit on the bus, or the train, or the walk home, and you'd read the sleeve notes. You'd read the song lyrics and try to work out what the songs were going to sound like. You'd suck up the wrapping of this work of art first. Finally you'd get home, and the needle would hit the groove, or the tape would click and begin, and the music would bleed out and immerse you in a world. In those days, there was no internet, TV wasn't `on demand', and a record could change a world.

That's what the world was like 16 years ago when this lineup of James last made a record. A long time ago when these seven people made music. James disappeared with a slight whimper in 2001 and only re-emerged blinking last year when singer Tim Booth decided to rejoin the fold. So, after a seven year hiatus, and an unfair perception of James hitting the rails and turning rubbish near the end, "Hey Ma" hasn't exactly set the world alight in terms of press inches, which is undeserved.

So you open the CD, you sit down and hear that sound. It's an authentic recreation of the classic James music, and something I personally was never quite sure I'd hear again : those intricate guitar parts, that soft, lolloping bass rhythm, the stratospheric trumpets and Tim Booths unique (and lyrically obvious) yodel. In a second it all comes back, as if it has never been away : from the opening moments, the music unfolds, evolves, grows like a flower, and suddenly bursts into the kind of reaching-for-the-stars, aspirational, love-can-conquer everything that changed lives. James aren't afraid of The Big Idea (or the big picture).

"Hey Ma" is certainly consistent with previous James albums. It feels as if they have never been away. And thankfully, the band are a cohesive and credible whole - not some reformed, reprocessed selection of musical workers with no past history of the band, a money making exercise : this is James, with every integral and vital member present and correct, and an artistic venture, not a commercial necessity. However - and this is not necessarily criticism - "Hey Ma" lacks a certain something : each of the songs are strong and solid, the album flows well together as a cohesive whole, but...

And there's always a but.

But there's no one absolute stone dead killer Hit on it. No take-to-your-heart-hear-once-and-remember-forever classic like "She's A Star" or "Sound" or "Sit Down" or "Laid." There's the title track, which is a jolly romp, albeit unfortunately let down by Booth's occasionally obvious lyrics. There's "Waterfall" and "Upside", both of which shimmy and shake and shine like something beautiful. The rest of the album is a solid, intriguing and timeless puzzle (better, I think than either of Booth's solo records which were good, but not bristling with the oasis of inventiveness that James provide) and will bear repeated listening.

Overall, "Hey Ma" is a classic James album : one that stands up easily to their previous artistic high watermarks and sees James playing very much to their strengths. The formless jamming and sonic experimentation that saw James as an almost schizophrenic entity in the past is banished in favour of what could be described as credible, intelligent Stadium Rock - minus all the implied slurs of such a label. "Hey Ma" is a fine, solid James album, and as good as anything they've ever done - both reminiscent of their past glories, whilst also demonstrating musical evolution and development that bodes well for the future. It's good to have them back.
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Typical James: slightly flawed magnificence., 8 April 2008
This review is from: Hey Ma (Audio CD)
This is a very good album and I believe I am well qualified to speak on the subject.

Here are the facts. James are a great band. This album contains 7 wonderful songs and 4 unmemorable fillers.

We have been here before though, over the past 20 years I have awaited many James albums with baited breath and so I know what to expect. James are prone to watering down their albums with some genuinely uninspiring self-indulgent tunes. On Hey Ma, they all appear together in the middle. "Oh My Heart" & "Semaphore" would shame a B-sides compilation by The Feeling and are total deadweight. "Boom Boom" is actually James at their worst as they manage to create the horrendous hell that sounds like Coldplay meets The Smiths. Apparently these tracks were chosen from over 120 others...The mind boggles. Anyway, forget all that, there are 7 gems on this album which help you forgive the cardinal sin of mid-CD mediocrity. "Waterfall" is going to become a James live classic akin to "Sometimes", "White Boy" is a multi-layered mental fusion with some choice lyrics, Tim in self-deprecating mood is a good balance to some of the heavier semi-pretentious lyrics of "Upside Down". Tucked away at the end of the album is the token epic James slowy "Of Monsters, Heroes and Men". Like "Out to Get You", it is instantly addictive and should come over well in a live venue.

So how will this album be remembered? Well, it is a top class James album. Despite its weaknesses, it still makes so many of today's British guitar-based bands look like the paper-thin inadequate pretenders that they are. Nice job, don't forget that after seeing them live this weekend I will of course change my opinion about the middle 4 tracks.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A solid comeback, 15 April 2008
This review is from: Hey Ma (Audio CD)
This album is a very solid comeback by James, the musicianship is as high quality as ever and the songs of a good standard. I do agree with a previous review stating that there is just something lacking, maybe a killer track.
I am a big fan of the last two albums (Millionaires and Pleased to Meet You) but would say that this one is similar in depth and quality of songs but with maybe a feel of their earlier stuff thrown in for good measure.

I was shocked at the Sunday Times review for this album and expected the worst! but after 3 or 4 listens it is standing up well and I think it will be a real grower. I think the Times review (1 out of 5) was just banal, I would imagine many bands would give their high teeth to sound this polished.

It's good that in this age of albums with 1 or 2 decent tracks and loads off fillers a band can still make a whole album worth listening too.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars James are back at their best., 13 April 2008
This review is from: Hey Ma (Audio CD)
There are lots of bands nowadays that create canned, ready-made instant hits we enjoy for a while just because its trendy... and then put the CD on the shelf never ever to touch it again.

James are not about trends or instant hits. Their music is something that appeals right into you so that you keep coming back to it... Sometimes soothing, sometimes uplifting, sometimes sad, sometimes eerie, always meaningful through lyrics, chords or both.

I was first touched by the chords and lyrics of "Bubbles"... The musical arrangment is great and its chorus "I'm alive" moves me a lot, maybe because I've been through and recovered from a serious illness very recently.

"Of Monsters & Heroes & Men", while an original masterpiece on its own right, reminds me of a longtime Laid favourite, "Lullaby".

"Upside"... I can understand some people find its lyrics pretentious but I can't agree... Those lyrics are among the best Tim has ever written: "Connected to you by a mobile/What I can't do, I can say/Away from you I'm feeling empty/I am raining, I am grey". I can relate very easily with the deep sadness protrayed in it...

"I Wanna Go Home" is a simple music that builds up along the way to become one of James' greatest ballads.

As for the rest, I'm still discovering this treasure, gold coin upon gold coin, not worrying about how much it will amount to... it's certainly a priceless musical pleasure...

Welcome back, Larry. I can clearly listen to your contribution to this album, an album that is a worthy successor to "Laid".

I hope James will keep creating great music as their place in the musical scene is irreplaceable.

And please, James, give us the joy of being able to purchase the tracks you put aside while making this album, not forgetting past unpublished material such as the "Whiplash Sessions" with such wonderful tracks as "Hedex", "Without You" or "Maybe Jane", just to mention a few...

James lasts!
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Hey Ma
Hey Ma by James (Audio CD - 2008)
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