Submitted by Robin Blackburn
Formed in 1981 in Manchester, James spent nearly ten years as a respected, but relatively obscure, indie band before achieving mainstream success in the early 90s. Paul Gilbertson (guitar) and Jim Glennie (bass) recruited drama student Tim Booth (vocals) and Gavan Whelan (drums), and the band started to build a reputation as an exiting live act, even earning praise from Morrissey (who invited the band to support the Smiths). Recordings came slower, however, but eventually the band signed with Sire and released their debut LP, ‘Stutter’, in 1986. By this time Gilbertson had been replaced by Larry Gott, the first of many line-up changes. The second album, ‘Strip-mine’, was delayed by a dispute with their record company, but finally emerged in 1988. After leaving Sire, the band expanded to a 7-piece and signed to Fontana, who released ‘Gold Mother’ in 1990. The singles ‘Sit Down’ and ‘Come Home’ were huge indie hits, before ‘How Was It for You?’ and a re-mixed ‘Come Home’ broke into the Top 40. The re-release of ‘Sit Down’ then reached number 2, announcing James’s arrival as a bone fide pop group.
‘Seven’ (1992) saw the band moving towards an expansive, stadium-rock sound which, although it sold well, was not well received by the critics. The band decided to change direction again for their next releases, recording both the song-based ‘Laid’ (1993) and the more experimental, ambient ‘Wah Wah’ (1994) with Brian Eno. 1995 was a disturbing year for the band, with Gott quitting, Booth going off to record an album with Angelo Badalamenti, and the discovery that they owed £250,000 in tax. However, 1997’s ‘Whiplash’ was a strong response, with the single ‘She’s A Star’ proving particularly popular. After two further albums - ‘Millionaires’ (1999) and ‘Pleased to Meet You’ (2001) - Booth announced that he was leaving the band.
However, in early 2007, Booth returned and the band played their first live dates for six years. A new album is expected in early 2008.
Extra information sent by 'Hairchair'
James played their first gig at Eccles British Legion. (I was there) Venereal and the Diseases was the made up name, and as they had only had their instruments for a short time, and had no songs, they basically jammed with Jim Glennie shouting out random words! The old people didn't seem to like it.
Much of their early gigging was at The Cyprus Tavern, under the name Model Team International, and then Model Team after the modelling agency they took their name from objected to it. Even then, without Tim Booth and Larry Gott they had some good, catchy songs. The original vocalist, whose name I have forgotten, was a bit of a nutter. I remember him smashing up a Space Invaders machine with his fist at Cavendish Building because he lost! He also kicked me in the face on a bus once, in a random act of violence. He didn't know that I knew the band and was very apologetic when we met at a gig. Jennie replaced him which was a smart move!
I wish I still had the tape recordings I did of their Model Team days...