THE 1990 student anthem Sit Down could well have been something of a weight around Tim Booth’s neck, but the fact that James had been labouring for eight years previously probably helped them put the success in context.
It was in 1982 that guitarist Paul Gilbertson, bassist Jim Glennie and drummer Gavan Whelan invited a possessed dancer they saw at a Manchester disco (drama student Booth) to join their band.
After headlining the Hacienda, James were approached by that club’s owner, Tony Wilson of Factory Records, and in 1983 released an EP, Jim One.
By now James were having an effect on other local contenders with lovestruck fan Morrissey hailing them as “the best band in the world” and inviting them to tour with The Smiths.
A major label deal soon came courtesy of maverick major label Sire and while it produced just two albums the experience helped the band hone their sound with Stutter and Strip Mine.
Tim Booth’s lyrics, too, began to show potential.
The escape from Sire left James testing drugs at a local clinic to earn money but when live album One Man Clapping topped the indie charts in 1989 it must have seemed worth it.
Phonogram/Fontana, rescued the impoverished lads in 1990 and released Gold Mother the album that would go on to sell 350,000 in the UK alone.
It was fuller sound and with Manchester, in full swing, embraced James, Happy Mondays and the Stone Roses, the coolest fashion statement became the baggy JA (front) MES (back) t-shirt, a serious earner.
In an unprecedented philanthropic coup, when Sit Down lodged itself at No 2 for a hundred years and was included on repressings of the album, the band insisted anyone who’d bought Gold Mother be allowed to swap it free for the new completed version.
By 1992, Andy Diagram was on board, and Seven showed his presence in the majestic trumpet that backed the album’s hypnotic, windswept mood.
His personal life in continuing turmoil, meanwhile. Tim was making a feature of songs for the lost, lonely and questing. James were drawing vast audiences 32,000 at the Alton Towers knees-up and, in their anthemic charisma, comparisons to Simple Minds and U2.
1993’s Laid gave the band their first US hit, courtesy of the title track which had to be censored before it could be played on the airwaves.
The album did the business in the States, selling over 600,000 copies.
1995 was a year of anti-climax, and the following year seemed like the ideal time for Tim Booth to do a solo album in the shape of Booth and the Bad Angel.
Meanwhile, Jim, Saul, Mark and Dave were revitalised and back in the studio. They corralled the lads, and with new guitarist Adrian Oxaal, last year unleashed Whiplash.
The first single to be released from it, She’s a Star, turned out to be one of James’s biggest hits and was swiftly followed by top 20 single Destiny Calling.
Those who wrote James off in the mid-90s swiftly had to revise their opinions and this year the release of a Best Of LP proved James’s enduring popularity.
The Best Of James entered the UK charts at no 1 and has not left the top 10 since it’s release in March.
It would seem there’s plenty of time to be yesterday’s men.