The release of Sit Down was the breakthrough hit that James had been looking for. Famously kept from Number 1 in the UK Charts by one-hit-wonder Chesney Hawkes.
7″ JIM8 – Sit Down / Sit Down (Live at G-Mex)
CAS JIMMC 8 – Sit Down / Sit Down (Live at G-Mex)
12″ JIM 812 – Sit Down / Sit Down (Live at G-Mex) / Tonight
CD JIMCD8 – Sit Down / Sit Down (Live at G-Mex) / Tonight
|18th March 1991
|7" JIM8; 12" JIM 812; CD JIMCD8; CAS JIMMC 8
|Gold Mother (Album)
Despite having had three Top 40 singles and a hit album, James had not yet made the major breakthrough both they and Fontana had hoped for. They did however have a major ace up their sleeve – Sit Down. Despite only being a minor hit in 1989, it was the one song that unified the James audience, the communal sitting down at the December 1990 G-Mex show providing indisputable evidence of this.
Overcoming their initial reluctance to re-release it, the band went into the studio with one-time Pixies producer Gil Norton. Additional tracks on the single were the live version of the song from the aforementioned G-Mex show and Tonight, recorded in the same session that produced Lose Control.
Sit Down saw a massive media blitz. The video of the G-Mex show had been sent to the major TV and radio stations. James played on BBC1’s primetime Wogan show two weeks before the single’s release and on several children’s TV shows. The single was picked up by Radio 1 and A-listed weeks before release.
The video to the single wisely chose to take footage from the G-Mex show and gained James first significant daytime airplay on MTV.
The artwork for the single featured a blackened-out outline of Tim taken from the G-Mex concert with the background produced using computerised paint-box techniques.
The single stormed to number seven in the Top 40 in the first week of release surpassing the band’s wildest expectations. The inevitable Top of the Pops appearance ensued with Tim looking rather uncomfortable miming. At the end of the performance, Bruno Brookes described the single as “a potential number one”.
Sit Down rose to number 2 the following week where it was to remain for four weeks being held off by Chesney Hawkes “The One And Only”. Another Top of the Pops performance followed as well as an appearance on the Christmas Day review of the year. The single remained in the Top Ten for a further three weeks.
Following the single Gold Mother was rereleased with Sit Down and Lose Control replacing Hang On and Crescendo and a 30-date UK tour was announced for the autumn. It appeared that James time had finally arrived.
Sunday Times Top 100 Singles Of All Time
James: Sit down, 1991, Highest Chart positon: 2
James came out of the Eighties Madchester scene and first released Sit Down on the independent Rough Trade label in 1989. After adding a trumpet to their line-up and toughening up their sound on the road, they became festival favourites in the early Nineties, and crossed over into the mainstream with a string of jaunty hits, of which Sit Down was the biggest. “Those who find themselves ridiculous sit down next to me.”
One of the first Albanians to depart from the good ship Hoxha Bene Bene on to the Trieste quayside was student Mestma Trouziz. His first question to his Italian cousins was “Quixa Esproc Inglaterra Induj Musikas?” This translates loosely as “what is this indie music that I’ve been hearing so much of in Tirana?”
A local Manchester United supporter whipped out his Walkman and the strains of “Sit Down” greeted the refugees’ ears. “Ah! Duj! Duj!” exclaimed the lad, swaying in a fairly crap way. Enlightenment!
This is the definitive indie track – because although it’s resolutely bouncy, up beat, there’s no way any living being could possibly attempt to dance to it and look cool. If Paula Abdul were commissioned to choreograph it, the returned brief would read: “Bumble round a bit. No, better still lollop. Waft your arms around in a somewhat vague manner and imagine your hands have lost all feeling. Sit exams.”
Along with The Railway Children’s “Every Beat Of The Heart”, “Sit Down” is a merited re-issue of a song which any self-respecting music lover grows to like despite themselves. A minor classic.
James: Sit Down Press Release and Band Biography February 1991
Formed in 1983, James turbulent career finally came good in 1990. Their ‘Gold Mother’ LP went silver, their dates at Blackpool’s Empress Ballroom, Glastonbury, Maine Road (with Bowie), Crystal Palace (with The Cure) saw them build up a fanatically loyal live following, while James’s t-shirts became an essential fashion item for indie kids up and down the country. The band also had their first top forty hits with ‘How Was It For You?’ and ‘Come Home’.
Originally signed to Factory Records seven years ago, they released two cult hits, ‘What’s The World’ (later covered by The Smiths) and ‘Hymn From A Village’ plus the ‘Village Fire’ EP. Signing to Sire in 1985, the group put out two albums ‘Stutter’ and ‘Strip-Mine’ during an awkward three-year relationship with the label.
Leaving Sire, James pursued an independent path once more, releasing a live album ‘One Man Clapping’ through Rough Trade Records.
Following the departure of original drummer Gavin Whelan, the nucleus of James – vocalist / lyricist Tim Booth, bass player Jim Glennie and guitarist Larry Gott – injected a new harder edge to their sound with the addition of Dave Baynton-Power on drums.
Following two of the biggest indie hits of 89 – ‘Sit Down’ and ‘Come Home’, James had their freshly recorded ‘Gold Mother’ album released by Fontana.
Expanding to a seven-piece with man of many instruments Saul Davies, keyboard player Mark Hunter and Andy Diagram on trumpet, the new look James bounced into the charts with ‘How Was It For You?’ and ‘Come Home’.
The group ended the year with a new single ‘Lose Control’, two triumphant hometown Manchester shows and a short tour of Russia’s major cities.
Coming bang up to date, James release a re-recorded version of their live classic ‘Sit Down’ on 18 March 1991. Out on Fontana, the seven-inch version of ‘Sit Down’ is produced by Gil Norton and mixed by Dave Bascombe. The b-side is backed by a nine minute version of ‘Sit Down’ recorded live at Manchester G-Mex last December.
A full length live video, filmed at the December G-Mex gig is released on 15 April 1991, while an hour long TV version of the gig is to be transmitted by Granada on 27 March 1991.
The group are currently recording their new album which is set for Autumn release – a massive UK tour is being booked to coincide with the release.