Withdrawn / Chain Mail / Just Hip / Island Swing / Folklore / Vulture / Leaking / Discipline / Stutter
Supporting The Smiths
James seem simple, four men, single Jimone on Factory Records. They make nothing of it – James have no phoney philosophical policies, no heroic hyperbole, no dull boasts or grand exaggeration.
Their attitude is more one of the days of ATV and Swell Maps than the flashy NY remixes and glossy art design of Quando Quango or New Order. Fittingly, their record is low-key, harsh, humble, naturally bitter and almost wilfully rushed and messy with little or no production. With the homely folk-feel of fellow Mancunians, those sensitive Smiths, James could easily make their fortunes as the obvious meeting between The Fall and very early Bunnymen. But then, they’re not that simple.
In fact, James are a highly peculiar thing; despite the splendid incongruity, they regard the relationship with Factory as one of mere convenience. “We just want to play gigs, and you can’t get gigs without a single. It’s a means to that end. Factory liked our tape, gave us gigs at the Hacienda and supporting New Order and then asked us to do an album. Then they wanted a mini-album, then an EP, then a 12″ – anything but a plain 45. They offered us help with production, artwork, all of which we declined. They’ve been remarkably patient. They didn’t even know whaat the single was until the day we recorded it! If anything it’s us that’s been difficult, and they never asked us to sign anything, which is all we wanted from anyone.”
Jimone then, is just three songs from James – “No A-side, it’s insulting to tell people which song is better.” All have different productions and all were recorded live in the studio rather than “piece by piece on headphones” (they sneer well). The result from the snappy, slap-dash funk of ‘Fire So Close’ to the terse rumbling of ‘What’s The World’ and ‘Folklore’s unusual charm, is tentative; taut, almost disastrous, ultimately admirable, erratic and brilliant, with a concentrated anger and strange, rambling beauty that begins to prepare you for the fierce challenge of ‘Stutter’, a live highlight and their first moment of Greatness.
Although they’re clearly prepared to be bold and determined to be different, the James boys are softly-spoken, shyly nervous, modest and wisely-aware of their own possibilities. Too bashful to talk to my tape, reluctant to have their pictures taken or to lend me demos or offer up influences, they even resist my attempt to discover devious intentions behind their choice of sleeve (a scrappy green and red felt-pen design of an elongated ‘Jimone’). The idea was to do one drawing each, and then choose. (Laughter breaks loose) Jimmy was the only one who finished! But it’s only a sleeve, even if it is Factory (who, perhaps justifiably, hate it). We want to be judged by our music. As long as it keeps the record clean, it’s fine.”
With their past, their plans and motives, James remain strangely straightforward. “We just want to play live. We may stay with Factory, we may learn about production and change. We may learn to worry about sleeves. So far though we’ve done one single on Factory. We’re happy with that.”
So, for now, Fac 78 is by James. The name was “simple, unassuming, didn’t give any clues…” And James are Jimmy Glennie (bass), Tim Booth (vocals), Paul Gilbertson (guitar), Gavan Whelan (drums).
But you can believe it’s a great deal stranger than that. James. That’s it.
The staunch antagonistic and ever so simply named James succeeded in blustering through their edgy rock dream with a good deal more dignity and composure than the preceding Diskobolisk. Ruefully lacking in melody, Diskobolisk opt for the topically introspective soul search, without ever looking more than faceless wooden dolls in Carmel hand me downs.
But where Diskobolisk were too clumsy to be plaintive and too miserable to be anything more, James confront, with a determined exhibition of hard handed noise and rock dramatics – hack and otherwise. Fronted by a scraggy youth twitching and trespassing further into art school exhibitionism than he would care to admit, the fourpiece nevertheless etch out a rugged individuality from taut rhythms and tart aggression.
On the evidence at hand, James deserve a fair amount, if not all, of the currently circulating gossip, but the truest test of their rousing revelry will not be before the dilettantes of the Hacienda.
|21 Jan||Manchester Hacienda – 21st January 1983||Discobolisk||UK|
|23 Mar||Liverpool State Ballroom – 23rd March 1983||(supporting) New Order||UK|
|9 May||Birmingham Edgbaston Tower Ballrooms – 9th May 1983||(supporting) New Order||UK|
|10 May||Hanley Victoria Halls, Stoke-on-Trent – 10th May 1983||n/a||UK|
|24 Nov||Manchester Hacienda – 24th November 1983||(supporting) The Smiths||UK|
|1 Dec||London Brixton Academy – 1st December 1983||(supporting) New Order||UK|
|2 Dec||Bournemouth Town Hall – 2nd December 1983||(supporting) New Order||UK|
|7 Dec||Manchester Rafters – 7th December 1983||Big Flame||UK|
James’ first ever gig at the legendary Hacienda club in Manchester supporting Big Country. Larry was in attendance at the show and recorded it for the band with Announcement and Folklore from the gig appearing on The Gathering Sound boxset. Stutter from the show was also filmed and released on A Factory Outing video.
The show was immortalised on the wall of the new Hacienda apartments built on the site of the club with a PRS plaque in 2011 commemorating James’ contribution to the Manchester music scene.
|17 Nov||Manchester Hacienda – 17th November 1982||(supporting) Big Country||UK|