James – in concert from Heaton Park – Recorded September 12, 1999 BBC Radio 1 – Gordon Skene Sound Collection –
James in concert this Friday night (slipping into Saturday morning). Recorded live at Heaton Park in Manchester on September 12, 1999 by BBC Radio 1 for In Concert.
James were formed in 1982 in Whalley Range, Manchester, when Paul Gilbertson persuaded his friend Jim Glennie to buy a bass guitar and form a band with him. Their line-up solidified when Gavan Whelan joined on drums. They played a string of gigs under the names Venereal and the Diseases and later, Volume Distortion, before settling on the name of Model Team International, then shortened to Model Team. They performed mostly improvised material derived from jam sessions, supporting the Fall at an early gig at Manchester Polytechnic. Vocalists and other musicians drifted rapidly in and out of their line-up, until the band encountered Tim Booth at a student disco. Gilbertson invited him to the band’s scout hut in Withington to join the band as a dancer; he was soon promoted to lead singer. After a brief period under the name Tribal Outlook, the band renamed themselves James in August 1982. A gig at the Haçienda caught the attention of Tony Wilson of Factory Records. He offered James an album deal with Factory, but the band, by now a settled live act, were worried about tarnishing their material in the studio and settled instead for a three-track EP. Their debut release, the Jimone EP, was recorded at Strawberry Studios, Stockport, in August 1983 and released on Factory Records in September. It led to the band providing the support for The Smiths between February and April 1985 on the Meat is Murder tour. The Smiths covered James’ ‘What’s The World’ track during this tour.
Over the next two years, James toured constantly, building up a solid fan base. They released their second album, the folky Strip-Mine, in 1988. The record failed to capitalize on their live following, and the band departed Sire the following year, signing with the independent Rough Trade. On their new label, James released the moderately successful “Sit Down” and the live album One Man Clapping, which climbed to number one on the indie charts. In 1990, Whelan was replaced by David Baynton-Power, and James expanded to a septet with the addition of keyboardist Mark Hunter, violinist Saul Davies, and trumpeter Andy Diagram. The new lineup signed to Fontana Records and released Gold Mother in the fall. Following a handful of minor hit singles, Gold Mother finally became a breakthrough success in the spring of 1991, when a re-recorded version of “Sit Down” — now boasting a contemporary baggy beat — climbed to number two on the U.K. charts and became a staple on U.S. modern rock radio. Although the success of “Sit Down” was a blessing, it also was a curse, as the single became all James were known for. The band began to rebel in concert, playing almost nothing but new material, and its next album, 1992’s Seven, was perceived as a misguided stab at big arena rock.
James called it quits following a winter tour of the U.K. in December 2001. The break was short-lived, however, as the band re-formed in 2007 and embarked on a tour in support of the double-disc compilation Fresh as a Daisy: The Singles. The following year saw the release of Hey Ma, James’ tenth studio album.
For a reminder of their 1999 period, hit the play button and crank it up and get ready for the weekend.