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4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
Format: Audio CD|Change
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on 13 April 2008
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James, give us the joy of being able to purchase the tracks you put aside while making this album, not forgetting past unpublished material such as the "Whiplash Sessions" with such wonderful tracks as "Hedex", "Without You" or "Maybe Jane", just to mention a few...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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on 11 April 2008
What a joy. Delighted to say this is a great album.

James are old school. They are a singles band trapped in a landscape where no-one buys singles anymore. All but 2 of these tracks could stand up to the single test, if only you could turn the clock back 10 or more years to when the charts meant something.
In the abscence of this market they make great songs that you just want to hear live. I would love to hear each song live, in a Wembley Arena size venue. That's what James do now. Songs that fill a huge space.

Sure they never got over the fact that U2 made Joshua Tree before they did but this album is better than Joshua Tree.

There are a few cheesy lyrics that remind me of some cheesy lyrics from the Whiplash album, but is that a bad thing? You could also argue that it is "too" produced.

The best band around making the best music I have heard in ages.

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on 15 April 2008
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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on 18 August 2016
I came upon this hidden gem by way of Simon Powell's ambitious ultra low budget film 'Poor Wee Me.'

I'd heard tracks by James in the past and liked them but the film made me hunt down 'Hey Ma' which had somehow slipped under my busy radar screen! I'll be brief because other more in depth comments have already covered this album.

After listening to this over half a dozen times I can honestly say I like every track (I didn't come to this with any expectations). The thoughtful catchy poignant and lived-in lyrics resonate after each play of the CD. The music is sublime and as packed with energy passion and variety as the vocals.

It is a pleasure to listen to and I'll now go in search of more of the band's material. It was great to get the CD AND the MP3 download (with the interesting commentary on the latter).

What an absolute bargain!
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on 13 April 2008
I've been a james fan for 15 years and I have to admit that I was worried that this new album would be awful. Why? Well james haven't recorded an album for 7 years and the new line up haven't worked together for at least 13 years! So, were they short of cash or does this new album represent a new era for james?

Thankfully my fears were ill founded. This album is a new chapter for james and contains new direction and ideas. It's obvious the band have the desire to do it all over again. The first track (Bubbles) is like a rebirth of the band with Tim singing "I'm alive" combined with excellent piano and guitar rifts....however, there is one song on this album which warrants it purchase alone. The song `Of Monsters, Heroes and Men' haunts you from the first time you hear it and is a classic. There are many more too...Hey, Ma is a catchy anti war song and White Boy grows on you also. Overall this is a great comeback album and is already in the UK top 10. Buy it, you'll love it!
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on 4 August 2010
James have always been a great band, but they've always been underrated, and unfortunately it seems that there will always be critics preventing them from getting as much recognition as they deserve. One of the first bands the 're-form' a lot of the aforementioned critics just dismiss any work that James produce as 'nothing special'.
Shame on the critics! 'Hey Ma' is the first album from James since the band re-formed, and it truly justifies the band getting back together again. There is a bit of everything on this album, from tender quiet moments such as the mid-album track 'Semaphore' which surrounds Tim Booths ever-reliable lyrics and vocals with an enchanting swirl of different instrumentals, to the majestic soaring moments, brilliantly displayed on opener 'Bubbles' which makes full use of its 5+ minute length, starting small before gradually growing into something wondrous, and of course the triumphant-sounding choruses, 'Upside' and 'Hey Ma' locking straight into memory after a single listen.
Tim Booth hasn't lost a trick as a songwriter, and rather than hiding away from getting older, he embraces it, especially on 'Waterfall', and even more so on 'Whiteboy' which is full of darkly humorous lyrics, and has a sound somewhat reminiscent of 'Sometimes' from 1993's LAID album (in my opinion at least).
There are no weak tracks on this album, although some do take a couple of listens to truly appreciate. I don't have an actual favorite track, but I'd definitely recommend 'Bubbles' 'Hey Ma' 'Boom Boom' 'Upside' 'Whiteboy' and 'Of Monsters & Heroes & Men'
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on 14 September 2009
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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on 28 February 2008
Ok, so the new James album isn't out yet so I can't review it. But what I can do is tell you what I think of their new material having seen them play it live.

If only film directors were as good as musicians when it comes to producing long awaited follow-ups. I was almost literally blown away by the energy, intelligence, detail and cunning consideration that James demonstrated in their new work. Their time away hasn't been wasted. If you liked James before you'll love them now.

Buy this album. If it's half as good as what they played live you won't leave the house for a week!
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on 15 April 2008
James have for a long time been one of the best live acts I've seen but with the exception of 'Millionaires' I always found their albums a bit hit and miss. Usually there would be 4 or 5 great tracks (the singles) padded out with some mediocrity. However this is one of the best albums I have heard from any band recently, James really do sound reinvigorated. I haven't used the skip button at all! I can't wait to hear 'Of Monsters & Heroes & Men' live. Buy and enjoy.
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on 27 November 2008
I had no idea 'James' were back together and recording, let alone releasing a new album, such is the amount of press this new album has received!!! Which is really undeserved.

I wasn't sure what to expect from this latest offering, its been well over a decade since their last album, could they cut it anymore? Or would they be a sad embarrasment of their former selves? Oh yee of little faith!!! 'James' were responsible for some of the best indie rock anthems of the early and mid 90's, but also wrote some great, very poignant lyrics and they have come back with an album that shows more creativity and heart in one track than some of the more "mainstream/popular" bands have in a whole album.
Standout tracks for me are "I wanna go home" and the title track "Hey ma" which is both musically uplifting, yet has the lyrics "boys in bodybags coming home in pieces."

A great album and deserving of high praise and acclaim. I urge everyone to take a listen.
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