Most famous for their classic anthem Sit Down, James have now been around for 19 years, and they were known as ‘Model Team International’ until 1983. So who are the present members?
Tim Booth – lead vocals (since 1982)
Jim Glennie bass, backing vocals (since 1982)
Dave Baynton-Power – drums (since 1989)
Saul Davies – guitar, violin, backing vocals, percussion (since 1989)
Mark Hunter – keyboards (since 1989)
Adrian Oxxal guitar, cello (since 1996)
Michael Kulas – backing vocals, guitar, percussion (since 1997)
Larry Gott – guitar, keyboard, flute, backing vocals (1985-1996)
Andy Diagram – trumpet, backing vocals (1990-1993)
Gavan Whelan – drums, piano, vocals (1982-1990)
Paul Gilbertson – guitar (1982-1985)
James signed with Manchester label, Factory Records in 1983. Their early singles, “What”s The World?” and “Hymn From A Village”, and the EPs “JimOne” and “James II”, were acclaimed for their unusual mixture of folk and new wave textures.
In 1985, James began an unhappy 3 years with Sire Records, releasing the albums ‘Stutter’ and ‘Strip-Mine’. No singles from these albums were included on 1998s Best Of, perhaps due to the poor relationship between the band and Sire Records during their 3 years together.
At the end of 1988, James were looking for a new record deal, but no-one seemed to want them. They approached their bank manager for a £2000 loan to help finance the recording and release of a live album. The bank manager said no. But that wasn’t the end, the band convinced the bank manager to go and see James at a gig in Manchester. He did, and came away very impressed, offering James £3000 to fund their album. With this, One Man Clapping was released in March 1989. This live album gained favourable reviews and caught the attention of the record label Fontana, to whom James signed.
At this time, Gavin Whelan left the band and was replaced by Dave Baynton-Power, while three new members also joined the band: Saul Davies, Mark Hunter and Andy Diagram. The singles Come Home and Sit Down were re-released by Fontana, Sit Down becoming James’ biggest hit to date, reaching number 2 in the UK charts.
Gold Mother was the first album to be released under the new label, the title track, drawn from the experience of the birth of Tim Booth’s child, was about the extreme physical pain mothers go through during child birth. During the early 90s, the media attention that was focused on upcoming Manchester bands made it easier for James to go from independent to major league status.
Seven was an album of more unconventional song structures than featured on Gold Mother, so saw a lowering in James’ commercial viability, although they still retained a loyal fan-base. 1993s Laid single was the first James release to make an impression in the USA. Laid, the album, also went Gold in America, selling 600,000 copies in its first year, James being one of the few successful British bands in America during 1994.
Wah Wah was released in 1994, an experimental album of jams recorded during the sessions of Laid. This saw a 3 year break for James, during which time Tim Booth recorded an album with the American composer Angelo Badalamenti under the alias Booth And The Bad Angel.
The Top 10 single, She’s A Star, saw the return of James in 1997, followed by their Whiplash album (also Top 10). The recordings of Whiplash featured a new guitarist, Adrian Oxaal, who had replaced James’ founder member, Larry Gott. Ironically, during James’ US tour of Whiplash, Tim Booth suffered a recurring neck and shoulder injury and was bedridden for 6 weeks, meaning the majority of the tour had to be cancelled.
It took 1998s “Best Of” for many people to realise the strength of James’ music over the years. The Best Of was very successful commercially, reaching the top spot of the UK chart. On the back of this success, an Apollo 440 remix of Sit Down was released in November 1998 and made the UK number 7.
Brian Eno was back to produce James’ next album, Millionaires, which received many very favourable reviews, but just failed to reach number 1 on the album chart.
The last album with James’ current record label, Mercury, was released on 2nd July of this year, preceded by a single, “Getting Away With It (All Messed Up)”. It seemed many people had no idea that James were back, Radio 1 refused to play the single after its initial first play ‘exclusive’, but it still managed to chart respectabely at 22 on the singles chart. The album “Pleased To Meet You” failed to make the album Top 10 though, which was very disappointing. The cover features ‘James’, a fictional character made up of facial features from each of the seven member of James. There was also confusion over this, “…who is that on the front cover!?”
INTERESTING FACT?: The woman featured on the cover of ‘Whiplash’ and the inlay is not a woman. It’s a man wearing a mask.