Runaground was a new track released to promote The Best Of compilation release.
CD JIMDD 20 – Runaground / Say Something (live at GLR) / Laid (live at GLR) / Lose Control (live at GLR)
CD JIMCD20 – Runaground / Hang On / Crescendo / Be My Prayer
CD JIMED20 – Runaground / Runaground (James Remix) / Egoiste / Lost A Friend (Aloof Mix)
|Release Date:||25 May 1998|
|Catalogue:||JIMCD 20; JIMDD 20; JIMED 20|
|Related Release(s):||The Best Of / Unhinged (Album)|
Following on from the Number 1 success of the Best Of, Runaground was originally scheduled for release at the beginning of May 1998. It was then delayed for three weeks inexplicably, particularly as when it finally came out Tim was in the middle of his acting stint in Saved at the Bolton Octagon. A day off allowed a TFI Friday performance and there were interviews for the Big Breakfast, but very little promotion in total.
The 3CD format of previous singles continued. The live disc contained three tracks recorded acoustically for GLR back in April which Tim describes as one of the band’s best sessions ever. The second disc again featured James “rarities” which included both Hang On and Crescendo, deleted from Gold Mother in May 1991 to make way for Sit Down and Lose Control. A third CD featured a band remix of the title track, an Aloof remix of Lost A Friend (originally commissioned for that song’s planned release in the summer of 1997) and Egoiste, a mostly instrumental track previously only available on the Long Live Tibet compilation album. Artwork was designed by Peacock.
The video was filmed at a racecourse, in a bar and on a beach in rural Ireland. It was shot in black and white to more fit in with the mood of the song.
The lack of significant promotion and, crucially, the fact that the song was already available on the platinum selling Best Of, the single entered the Top 40 at number 29 but bombed the week after despite another £1.99 campaign. This chart position made a mockery of Saul’s claims that it would be the band’s biggest single since Sit Down.
Earnest rock breast-beating on behalf of some poor lost woman, from a band who make Eamonn Holmes look like a paragon of sincerity. Never trust a man who sings about some nebulous, suffering ‘she’ in any song that’s not a love song – they’re generally the kind of men who believe, like Eternal, in ‘the power of a woman’, who are creepily devoted to the ‘mystical feminine principle’ and who think a lot of eye contact and caring hand-stroking mean they’re in touch with their feminine side. Most unpleasant. Still, James will understand that – after all, with the “come back when we’re getting old” line from ‘Destiny Calling’ and now a single called ‘Run Aground’, it seems they’re in the throes of a severe honesty attack. Expect the next single to be ‘Hello? Hello? Is Anyone Listening?’ followed by ‘I Used To Be Tim Booth, You Know’.
OK, it’s a marketing trick, alright? James have a Greatest Hits album out and apparently need filler. So this is one of those irritatingly “exclusive” singles which bands now record especially to give obsessives a reason for buying their compilation albums. But, despite all the incentive to hate it for that reason, this is one of the few times when the phrase “bonus track” actually makes sense.
Because “Runaground”‘s more than satisfying in its own right.
Here’s one of James’ occasional warmly blue-tinted songs, coming from one of the reflective lulls between their big anthems (“Laid”, “Sit Down”, “She’s A Star”) and their bursts of dervish doolally (“Avalanche”, “Bring A Gun”, “Sometimes”): with a soft bush of guitars rather than a wall of them, a lilting breathy melody, and Saul Davies’ thin sweet glow of violin coming through like light under a mother’s door. “For every woman you will leave an open door / You find yourself thinking “why can’t I have more?” “. There’s a directness to Tim Booth at such moments, an unguarded wistful sadness to his herald’s voice as he ditches the metaphysics and the egghead bluster. “Runaground” is one for the frightened fool, grasping for every tiny illusory chance in order not to get stuck, only to find they’ve dropped everything that’s worthwhile anyway just to grasp at shadows, and that they’ve gotten stuck anyway. “Oh no, she’s gone, back wherever she came from. / You watch her go, your reactions much too slow. / Let her go. / Runaground.”
Is it one of Booth’s flagellating stabs at his own unreliability, as with “Come Home” and “Don’t Wait That Long”? Maybe. One thing’s for sure as the waves of another great James chorale surge up: with this, the Manchester stadium-pop weirdos have touched down gently on the human feelings they neglected too much on the patchy techno moves of the “Whiplash” album. Experimentation’s nothing without soul and empathy. “You take for granted all the riches of the world / You may have oysters, but you’ll never find your pearls…”
Almost a desert island disc.