James – Laid

My ongoing nostalgia trip, kicked off by the fact that this May will see the 20th anniversary of the release of The Stone Rose’ début, has taken a slightly random turn recently, into the world of early 90s indie. Whilst much of it cam be traced back, at least in some way, to 1989 and the Roses, much of it (I’m thinking Ned’s Atomic Dustbin here – no, really) can’t. One band however that are definitely of an age with the Roses are James.

Originally an off-beat art-rock band who came out at the same time as The Smiths (a band they supported on tour in their early days) by the end of the 80s James were able to sell out huge gigs and recorded their breakthrough album Gold Mother, which came out in 1990, just as the Madchester bandwagon was gathering speed. James became known not only for lead singer Tim Booth’s spinning dancing but also for using trumpet in their sound, something none of the over Manchester bands did (just as The Charlatans and the Inspiral Carpets became known for their use of the hammond organ).

But by the time of Seven, the follow-up to Gold Mother, the trumpet, and the man playing it, seemed to be in danger of talking over the band. So Laid, the album that came out in 1993, was a return to basics, and all the better for it. Many of the songs were extremely down-beat and even the most up-tempo tracks, such as title track Laid, were semi-accoustic in nature. But whilst James might have abandoned much of the over-production that had bogged down Seven, they hadn’t ditched their ability to write a cracking pop-song. In fact, in many ways, with the stripped down sound, it was almost like they were going back to the days of Hymn From A Village.

I can never decide which is my favourite track off of Laid: this, the title track; Sometime (Lester Piggot) or Say Something. At this exact moment in time it’s Laid, with its basic, but addictive drum-beat, the guitar line that gets totally under your skin, and Booth’s brilliantly witty & caustic lyrics such as:

This bed is on fire
With passion and love
The neighbours complain about the noises above
But she only comes when she’s on top


Moved out of the house, so you moved next door
I locked you out, you cut a hole in the wall
I found you sleeping next to me, I thought I was alone
You’re driving me crazy, when are you coming home

You really can’t imagine Chris Martin singing anything as amusing as that, though he has pinched Tim Booth’s dance, hook, line & sinker.

Tim Booth photo by alterna2 on flickr

Hymn From A Village download via backed with

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