1985: Cover stars
The good fortune of 84 continues as the band feature on the cover of the NME for the first time, release ‘James II’ to critical acclaim and play support on the legendary ‘meat is murder’ tour.
1985 was also the year that the lads discovered the joys of festival going, playing at numerous large and small events during the summer including Glastonbury and W.O.M.A.D.
Frustrated by the lack of promotion for the factory single James meet with Tony Wilson and announce they want to seek major label support, a move, that in some ways, they will live to regret.
1986: The First Big Step
Now signed to Sire records James finally embark on there first album ‘Stutter’ with Patti Smith’s long time collaborator Lenny Kaye and (soon to be) the Pixies main man Gil Norton at the controls.
On the live front James embark on a nationwide tour promoting ‘Stutter’, do a series of concerts in Germany and headline the legendary ‘Festival Of The Tenth Summer’ at the birthplace of Factory records, Hulme’s P.S.V. club, on a steamy hot night in July.
1987: That Difficult 2nd Album
Relations between James and Sire start to turn sour after the first ‘Strip Mine’ sessions recorded at Rockfield Studios in Wales with producer Hugh Jones was deemed to be “too English”.
No records are released in 1987.
Live James continue to go from strength to strength experimenting with unusual and original support acts in sometimes out of the way venues including Manchester’s Green Room Theatre, the first set of two was performed acoustically.
1988: A Frustrating Start, A Liberal Finish
After a cosmetic change of management to improve relations, some additional recording and remixing by Steve Power at London’s Battery Studios, ‘Strip-Mine’ is ready to release at last. However it does not get released until September due to internal wrangling. The single ‘What For’ released in April was well received but an almost complete lack of support from Sire ensured the album sold less than the previous album ‘Stutter’.
Exploiting a small loophole in their contract James free themselves from Sire. Once liberated the band take control, raising finance they set up their own label, record ‘One Man Clapping’ as a debut. ‘Sit Down’ is written and then performed live for a Radio1 exclusive. The band tour extensively during this time with support from a couple of local bands The Happy Mondays and a lesser-known crew called The Stone Roses, a sea change was happening.
Oh by the way, a fashion student wearing a rather striking ja-m-es t-shirt was spotted at a London gig.
Unfortunately by the close of year we had lost Gavan due to internal squabbling.
1989: The Birth Of The Magnificent 7
Whilst looking for a drummer capable of filling Gavan’s drum stool, Tim, Jim and Larry, in true James style, found a keyboard player a violinist and a trumpet wizard as well. Dave Baynton-Power; Mark Hunter; Saul Davies and Andy Diagram respectively, joined the remodelled band.
This momentous year also saw their self financed album ‘One Man Clapping’ reach number one in the independent charts, and the Rough Trade released singles ‘Sit Down’ and ‘Come Home’ enter the top 100.
The band didn’t know it, but whilst recording ‘Gold Mother’ ably assisted by co-producer Nick Garside and a young engineer called Damon Gough (aka Badly Drawn Boy), ‘Sit Down’ was becoming a rather unusual dance floor hit in the clubs, especially the Hacienda. When, in November, they embarked on a triumphant, though flu-ridden UK tour, audiences took to invading the stage and holding mass sit-downs whenever ‘Sit Down’ was played.