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A James You Perhaps Didn't Know?
on 22 November 2000
Back in 1983 Manchester fourpiece James supported fellow Mancs The Smiths on a UK tour. They were a quirky (always quirky) folkish combo with a very manic edge. Two EPs followed on the Factory label, but they put off this, their first album until 1985.
The James of the 1980s were a million miles away from the James of the 1990s. They were indie stars without really selling big. They were NME front cover darlings -- but only in silhouette. They were branded loony Buddhists.
There is a mania about this album, there is an edge, and there is a thinness which really appeals and no longer exist in the band of today.
Sure enough, the album probably suffers from not having those early singles on them. The inclusion of "What's The World", "Folklore" and "Hymn From A Village" would have made this album flawless, and the following tale of hardship and reinvention would perhaps have been very different.
That said, here you have some staple stuff. "Johnny Yen" will always be remembered by fans as a favourite. "Why So Close" presents an acoustic improvement of an earlier b-side, and "Black Hole" is an excellent dark album-closer.
It's a great shame to think any 1990s fans pick this up and drop it on to their least-listened-to shelf as a disappointment. This James is a different band, more personal, and -- well, maybe a little more interesting.