Seven – James
Ring the Bells – James (1992, Fontana Records)
I hated ‘Seven’ when it first came out. For years I had been singing the praises of Booth and his band of troubadours. I had been begging people to listen to the intricate folky brilliance of ‘Stutter’ or the majestic pop of ‘Gold Mother’. When they finally did (thanks largely to ‘Sit Down’ conquering the hearts and dancefloors of the nation) I stood there with a smug look of my face that read “Told you”.
Then they returned a few years later with ‘Seven’, an album so bland that could you place it next to the semolina in the supermarket and very few people would be able to tell the difference. The smug look on my face was replaced by one of embarrassment and the record was quickly pushed to the back of the cupboard, never to see the light again. I remember the trumpet that blurted itself through most of the bloody songs being one of the most irritating things that I had ever heard. Andy Diagram (the trumpet player) had gone from being the Trumpet Triumph has was on ‘Gold Mother’ to a Brass Bellend in two short years and I thought he was a bastard because of it.
Sound – James (1992, Fontana Records)
Now, I can’t remember the last time I listened to ‘Seven’ all the way through but I might have been at University – I definitely found a copy on vinyl in a second hand shop in Woking for a £1 so it was probably then. I still hated it because I don’t have that record anymore. So, some 27 years later, has my opinion changed.
Slightly. For starters, I don’t hate it nearly as much as I did. I think this is probably because James, don’t mean as much as to me as they did back in the early nineties. In 1992, James felt like my band, and the songs on ‘Seven’ simply lacked the punch and pull of, well anything, that they had recorded before and I felt massively let down by them, but you know they are just a band.
What is clear is that the singles, particularly ‘Born of Frustration’ and ‘Sound’ aren’t as terrible records as I first though they were. Admittedly they haven’t aged massively well but as James songs go, they are ok, worthy of adding to any collection of James songs. ‘Born of Frustration’ is certainly far better than I remember it being.
Born of Frustration – James (1992, Fontana Records)
It’s the album tracks that still bother me, songs like ‘Don’t Wait That Long’ and ‘Live A Love of Life’ are still overblown, bland monsters that sound like they were recorded specifically for the Radio 2 audience that the band had become accustomed to. Elsewhere ‘Next Lover’ tries to hawk back to the more folky early James sound that we might have heard on say ‘Stripmine’ but its not quite the same, Booth sounds too bitter, too angry and way its way too forced.
Live A Love of Life – James (1992, Fontana Records)
Oh and there is still too much bloody trumpet.