Towards the end of last year Tim had announced that he wanted to work on a solo project with David Lynch’s composer Angelo Badalamenti (this became Booth and the Bad Angel). Previously that day Larry had expressed a desire to end his tenure as guitarist after the completion of what was to become the ‘Whiplash’ album. So far not a good day! Enter Colin Young, the bands new accountant appointed by The Rudge after Martine’s departure. He informs the, by now rather sombre, band of a shortfall of £250,000 worth of tax’s he has uncovered. Ouch!!, this day will forever be known by James as Black Thursday.
Armed with recordings from sessions in The Windings & Westside Studios with Brian Eno, Jim, Larry and Dave set about laying down the foundations of the Whiplash album by using some of the techniques learned on WahWah. This would hopefully work around the fact that, for the most part, James were singer-less for the rest of the year. The resulting tracks and sketches of ideas surfaced some time later and became known as ‘The Whiplash Tapes’ (nb : these experiments and tracks were documented in Eno’s published diaries for 1995 entitled ‘A Year With Swollen Appendixes’)
1996: A Somewhat Lean Year
The band reconvenes with Tim at Mickey Most’s RAK Studios in London with Stephen Hague and Eno in charge of production. A friend of Saul’s, Adrian Oxaal, shares guitar duties during Larry’s concluding session with the band.
Tim’s album ‘Booth and The Bad Angel’ is released in June and he humbly asks the rest of James if they would back him and angelo for their upcoming appearance on BBC’s ‘Later’. The band duly oblige and have presenter Jools Holland in tears with the power and emotion of their performance.
1997: A Testing Time
The year starts well with ‘She’s A Star’, the 1st single from ‘Whiplash’, going top 10, launching the lads back into the limelight. If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery then Natalie Imbruglia’s hit ‘Torn’ flatters the band by borrowing Larry’s slide guitar line.
Another of Saul’s buddies, the lovable Canadian Micheal Kulas, is drafted in to help with backing vox for a few gigs. He ends up staying for four year’s contributing his multi instrumentalist skills to the two following albums and numerous live shows.
This was also the year that saw the debut of the dance off-shoot ‘money’. Their only (thank the lord) live appearance was at the Toronto WXNE Festival in June.
The lads then join bands such as Korn, The Prodigy and Tool for the travelling circus known as ‘Lollapalooza’, a six week rollercoaster that the band frequently falls off of. Frustration & boredom drive the lads to new extremes of excess with numerous members achieving personal bests in numerous events. This leads to band relations becoming strained & dysfunctional forcing Saul to take the helm in an attempt to keep the ship afloat and on course. He writes the seeds of the songs that will eventually become Millionaires.
1998: Platinum Record?..Thanks, I'll Have 3!
‘The Best Of’ is released in March and promptly reaches the No1 spot going on to be the band’s first triple platinum selling album. To celebrate the band embarks on a sell-out nine date arena tour, supported by the Stereophonics and Gene.
In typical James fashion, on a tour supposedly promoting the ‘Best Of’ album, eight new songs are unveiled.
1999: To Be Beside The Seaside...Beside The Sea!
This year saw a spectacular one off show at the Tower Ballroom in Blackpool. Mark entered through the floor playing the famous Mighty Wurlitzer naked and the band were ably assisted on stage by p.v.c. clad dancing girls. The year also saw the band headline Radio 1’s Live Festival in Manchesters Heaton Park along with such rock luminaries as The Sugercubes and The Shirehorses.
The album ‘Millionaires’ is finally released supported by a seven date arena tour with scouse songsmiths Cast opening. After many tears hugs and apologies band relationships return to an even keel. Ahh bless!