1990: The Calm Before The Storm: James Come Home
The year starts well with the band signing a deal with Fontana ensuring that this time their music gets the promotion it deserves. The album ‘Gold Mother’ enters the top 10 supported by three top 40 singles ‘How Was It For You?’ ; ‘Come Home’ (remixed) and ‘Lose Control’.
Live; their World Cup tour is planned to avoid England’s matches. At the end of that tour they play a triumphant show at Glastonbury, becoming the talking point of that year’s festival. To round off an excellent year they sell out a mini tour taking in Newcastle, Glasgow and an amazing 2 nights at Manchester’s 10,000 capacity G-Mex arena, filmed for later release on the ‘Come Home’ live video.
Heralded by many as ‘the pride of Manchester’ and often proclaimed as ‘Manchester’s best kept secret’ James had at last come home and were about to go global.
1991: The Rise Of The Magnificent 7
At 8am on the last day of January, in an effort to say thanks to the Manchester faithful, James announced on the radio that they would be playing on a roof overlooking Piccadilly Gardens in Manchester, By noon that day. Manchester city center was brought to a virtual standstill as 5,000 fans danced in the streets to a selection of hits and new material.
The rushes of the G-Mex concert secure the still relatively unknown James a spot on the primetime BBC show ‘Wogan’ and helped by this exposure the re-recorded single ‘Sit Down’ enters the UK top 10 upon release. It reaches #2 the next week and stays there for 6 weeks, being denied the top spot by one hit wonder Chesney Hawkes’s ‘I Am The One And Only’ for 5 of them and even more cruelly by Cher’s ‘Shoop Shoop Song’ for the 6th.
Other highlights include headlining Reading festival, 2nd single ‘Sound’ going top 10, the band recording the album ‘Seven’ with Youth at Olympic Studios in London and performing a pre-Christmas fan-club show at Warrington Parr Hall. This previewed all 11 tracks from the ‘Seven’ album and filmed for subsequent release as the ‘Seven’ Live Video.
1992: America Is Waiting For A Message Of Some Kind
As the band travel to LA at the start of the year to film the Born of Frustration video, Larry is mugged at gunpoint on Sunset Boulevard and catches the next flight home. Their tour manager stands in for the video shoot in a very concealing hat and coat. Not a good start but later, kicking off in Toronto, James’s first North American tour is a massive success with 11 sold-out shows.
Nearer home, the lads headline their own triumphant show at Alton Towers supported by P.I.L. in front of 30,000 people. The gig was broadcast live on Radio 1. 2nd support Galliano had to be cancelled as high winds blew the stage roof off earlier in the day.
The rest of the year was equally eventful with Brian Eno contacting them with a view to producing the next album. Headlining Glastonbury, ‘Seven’ charting at #2, supporting Neil Young acoustically, visiting France, Germany, Denmark, Switzerland, Italy, Portugal and japan and two top 40 singles.
1993: Why Make One Album When You Can Make Two?
In February, after falling in love with the demo of ‘Sometimes’, Brian Eno sets about the task of unravelling the mysteries of James’s creative process by setting up two studios that will run side by side at Peter Gabriel’s Real World complex near Bath. One studio focuses on the song album ‘Laid’ whilst the other studio delves into an array of live improvisations unearthing the jewels that will make up the album ‘WahWah’.
To celebrate the release of the album ‘Laid’, BBC’s Radio1 hold a “James day” where the band play live tracks on every show throughout the day.
Later in the year the band add to the canon of great support acts they have taken out by touring UK, Germany, France, Spain Switzerland and Portugal with show openers Radiohead. To date that list also includes The Stone Roses, Happy Mondays, Texas, Stereophonics, The Inspiral Carpets and lastly but not leastly The Twang.
1994: England...Where's That Again?
The success of the title track ‘Laid’ on US radio and a series of critically acclaimed arena shows supporting Duran Duran, sees the band spending most of the year in America. They completed 3 extensive tours and cemented their growing popularity with appearances on the national TV shows of Jay Leno, Conan O’Brien and the legendary Tonight show with David Letterman.
The renowned manager Peter Rudge (referred to as ‘The Rudge’ by friends and enemies alike) takes over the bands affairs when original manager Martine bows out.
James return briefly to the UK to play at Glastonbury before going back to the US to take part in the 25 year anniversary concert, Woodstock 2. (nb : this turned out to be Larry Gott’s last live appearance during his first stint in the band)
The band liked the area around Woodstock; they stayed and retreated to a “big barn” in the woods to work on new material.