My Favourite Band: James



Hello. Paul here. It's my turn to have a go at talking about my favourite band. Deciding which band to write about was an effort, growing up where I did, when I did (no internet, 3 TV channels, if you didn’t play rugby you had failed at life) music consisted of the few records my parents had and whatever was on Radio 1.

if you’d asked me at age 14, hands down it would’ve been “Simple Minds”, I grew up listening to them, had all their albums, could’ve given you a complete track by track break down, but somewhere around Street Fighting Years, I began to diversify. Well, I say “diversify”. There’s an article on here featuring a top 40 of Scottish bands… that’s how far I diversified, other Scottish acts. Then someone introduced me to Bauhaus, the Pixies….and in more recent years my musical tastes have gone all Canuck.

Anyway, in keeping with modern times I probably listen less to specific bands, and more these days to playlists that fit my mood… sometimes I’m up, mostly I’m down and very occasionally, I’m in between days. Whilst having a ponder, I noticed these guys are one of those bands who have been around my listening habits for years, sometimes lost in a dark cupboard, but like that favourite t-shirt, always there when you need them.

This then is James. A band who (in my opinion) tend not to get the credit they perhaps deserve, often seen as that slightly unfashionable mate always off to the side of the group photo whilst all the “cool” kids threw shapes and pouted in the middle.

This won’t be one of those deeply technical muso musing type articles, I’m not by any stretch of the imagination a musician, I can barely tap my feet in time. For me it’s about the memories or the fact that a song just does something in my brain that translates to “I like that”. James have been an overwhelmingly positive presence throughout the 30ish years since they were introduced to me and they deserve a little love. So, if you feel the breath of sadness, have been touched by madness or just find yourself ridiculous, sit down next to me and we shall begin:

Jonny Yen - Stutter (1986) It was a girl that introduced me to James, one of those fleeting holiday flings as a teenager. She’d noticed my Sugarcubes t-shirt (the Life’s Too Good cover picture of the duophallic cat) and started chatting about them before conversation moved on. Her: “do you like James?” Me: “yes”. Inner Monologue: “James? James? James Brown!!” Me: “Owwww”. Somehow, she didn’t leave. Come the end of the evening I’d been presented with a chewy on my neck* and her cassette* copy of “Stutter”. *ask yer parents

Stripmining - Strip-mine (1988) Fell in love with this song at their Alton Towers gig in 1992. It was wet, blustery and could have been a miserable occasion. The first support slot was cancelled as the roof blew off the stage. PIL got pelted with the traditional. All a bit marvellous. This copy comes with the "Refrain" added which just completes it.

Goldmother - Goldmother (1990) Not many male songwriters would attempt a song around childbirth, yet somehow this works. "How do you sail the ship from the bottle" indeed. I love that they've captioned this "Gold Mum"...

God Only Knows – Goldmother (1990) Goldmother was the breakthrough album for the band they had had some success with the single “Sit Down”, which was only included on a re-released version of the album a year later. This track is a belter, a proper dig at TV Evangelist’s in the USA and religious hypocrisy in general

Born of Frustration – Seven (1992) The upward trajectory of greater public notice and radio play continued with Seven. An album of its time in that, it’s full of U2/Simple Minds style anthemic tracks but still retains something of their signature chaos about it. This track opened the album and that Alton Towers gig, Tim Booth whooping like a demented Sioux. Who did put those "brown oil eyes on a butterflies wings?"