17 Laid by James 1993
For some reason every time I do a post on James my visit figures drop like a stone. For loads of people they are either a classic singles band or the ones that did that now annoying Sit Down single. They seem to get only grudging praise and plenty of slagging off from the music press.
But bollocks to all that to my ears they have been one of he most consistent bands over the last 30 years , with only one slight misfire in all that time (and that had 4 or 5 cracking tunes on)
Just pipping the first lp and the last lp before their initial split is the Eno produced Laid.
Recorded on the back of an extended acoustic tour of America it was a conscious move away from the big sound of the Seven
Produced by Eno and emerging from hours and hours of jamming sessions (some of the rejects can be heard on the wah wah sister lp) , the lp has a much more organic sound.
There are quite few sections on the lps recording in Eno's diary for that year ( A Year with Swollen appendices). He seems to have spent a lot of time trying to get Tim Booth to sing through some kind of vocal modulator (I'm guessing we a re not talking auto tune) and wondering why singers find the concept so difficult to agree to. You get a good insight into the band politics but it seemed that Eno found the whole process enjoyable and creatively inspiring.
Among the more ambient material are 3 glorious singles. The first Sometimes is firmly rooted in my top 10 and makes great use of the Eno massed male backing vocals that he seems to love so much
Laid is a catchy sexy sing along (although there is a bit of a cop out lyric change for the video
Stick with this one as they stop and go into a much slower version
Say Something is a just an ache of a song
The balance comes from the quieter more grooved based songs. One of the best things they have recorded was rescued form a b side states their intention from the off by opening the lp with a lullaby to loneliness and paranoia
Out to Get You - James
I may be blinkered (although I can see why the pseudo mysticism , tendency to repeat a phrase 3 times for a chorus , odd dancing beard/hat might annoy some) through endless live concerts but I think this lp never really got the sales or acclaim it deserved - cursed by an accident of birth in terms of being linked to yesterday's scene.
You can buy Laid here
On a related note I saw James play Brixton academy Friday night and they were excellent as ever including a storming versions of Why So Close from Stutter and Medieval from Stripmine. Also a killer final encore of a mass sing along to Sometimes , Getting Away with it , a simply joyous version of Laid and a frantic Tomorrow. The support act was Echo and he Bunnymen.. I had read that they have been a bit of a mess with Mac all over the place at some gigs. However they were amazingly sharp. A 45 min set which was basically a best of with Mac in fine voice. Among the highlights was a killer version of this