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Monday, December 19, 2011

James - Wah Wah

Released : October 1 , 1994
Recorded : 1993
Genre : Alternative
Label : Mercury Records
Producer : Brian Eno, Markus Dravs

As Brian Eno's sometimes all too precious liner notes explain, when he and James worked together first in rehearsals and then in full recording sessions on Laid, a conscious decision was made to work on a variety of improvisations just to see what would happen. Wah Wah is the result, one of the more uncommercial albums any band of its stature and its accompanying major label has had a hand in releasing. Those expecting 60-minute maelstroms of free noise or recitations of obscenities or the like are in the wrong place, but definitely compared to the beautifully structured and precisely produced Laid, Wah Wah is much more a series of explorations in sound, sometimes quite fascinating ones. The general focus of Laid towards an evocative, restrained attractiveness and moody melancholy holds here as well, more immediate numbers with full lyrics from Booth sung in his fine voice mixed with more open-ended instrumental or wordless vocal jams. More than a few songs could have easily fit on Laid without a worry, such as the slow building "Pressure's On," easily a cousin to Laid's album-starter "Out to Get You," and the solid, techno-tinged trip "Honest Joe." Meanwhile, "Tomorrow," in re-recorded and even more warmly epic form, later became the excellent lead track on Whiplash. One tune, "Say Say Something," shares title and inspiration with the similarly named Laid song but takes a much different direction, with what sounds like Indian violin contributing to a slow-paced, serene wash of sound. Some songs are by default much more fragmentary than others, lyrics just dreamed up of the top of Booth's head, the rest of the band working around a rhythm loop or quietly rolling rhythm. Overall Wah Wah makes for a good listen both as a companion piece to Laid and on its own understated merits.


1. Hammer Strings
2. Pressure's On
3. Jam J
4. Frequency Dip
5. Lay The Law Down
6. Burn The Cat
7. Maria
8. Low Clouds
9. Building A Fire
10.Gospel Oak
12.Say Say Something
13.Rhythmic Dreams
14.Dead Man
15.Rain Whistling
16.Basic Brian
17.Low Clouds
18.Bottom Of The Well
19.Honest Joe
20.Arabic Agony


James - Strip-Mine

Released : September 1988
Recorded : Rockfield Studios, Monmouth (early 1987)
Length : 35:32
Label : Blanco y Negro/Sire
Producer : Hugh Jones

The second full-length by Manchester quartet James found them still struggling for their own identity as the overall sound of Strip-Mine continued to be deeply influenced by the Smiths. Songs like the jangling "What For" and the upbeat stomp of "Are You Ready" have the same blend of breezy melody and lyrical discontent as Morrissey and company. There's more than enough worth listening to on Strip-Mine as, along with the aforementioned, tracks like the horn-driven "Charlie Dance"; the spry, folk-pop of "Fairground"; and the perky "Ya Ho" are catchy, if not exactly memorable. Everything has a crisp, clean feel, without being distant, thanks to the hand of noted producer Hugh Jones and, although not essential listening, Strip-Mine is of interest to fans of late '80s British alternative rock.


1. What For
2. Charlie Dance
3. Fairground
4. Are You Ready
5. Medieval
6. Not There
7. Ya Ho
8. Riders
9. Vulture


James - Jimone EP

Released : November 1983
Recorded : August 1983, Strawberry Studios, Stockport
Genre : Folk
Length : 6:29
Label : Factory
Producer : Chris Nagle

Jimone was the first EP by Mancunian band James, released in November 1983 by Factory Records. It contained three tracks that also later appeared on the band's Village Fire EP. According to the band's biography Folklore by Stuart Maconie, the band were fearful of tarnishing their best songs in the studio, so instead opted to record the three songs they felt were their worst.
The track "What's The World" has been covered by The Smiths (live recording on "I Started Something I Couldn't Finish"). It has remained popular among die-hard James fans to the present day and was still occasionally being featured in setlists as late as 1998. [1].
"Folklore" lent its name to Stuart Maconie's biography of the band in 2000, while "Fire So Close" was later radically reworked under the title of "Why So Close" on the band's debut 1986 album Stutter.


1. Folklore
2. What's The World
3. Fire So Close