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James - Folklore: The Official History Paperback – 9 Nov 2000
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Maconie takes us from the band's humble beginnings in Manchester University's Student Union bar back in 1979, to the massive concert that was played in Beijing earlier this year. James have indeed come a long way, and the story is a long, complicated one, with the band troubled with drugs, artistic differences, members coming and going and the massive unpaid income tax bill that nearly finished the band in the mid-nineties. Maconie has suceeded in getting interviews (or quotes) with all current and past members of the band, with the most interesting information probably being given by the former drummer Gavan Whelan, Tim Booth and the multi-instrumentalist 'newcomer' Saul Davies. And Whelan and Booth at last each give their side of the story regarding Whelan's acrimonious departure from the band. Other contributors to the story include the band's producer Brian Eno, the founder of Factory Records Tony Wilson and the well-known music journalist Dave Cavanagh, each of whom tell their stories of their association with the band. The early history of the band is probably covered in more detail than the recent history, which sometimes seems to be glossed over and dealt with quite breifly at times.
Perhaps the main failing of the book is to leave some quesions about James unanswered. Why for example, did Andy Diagram leave the band? How was Black Thursday resolved? Why has the band never achieved long-lasting mainstream popularity?
All in all, Folklore is a book that is well worth buying, both for fans of the band, and lovers of music alike.
Buyer beware .... it may make you buy James albums that you've not already got.