In late 1989, James moved to Fontana Records which became their fourth home in just six years.
They took with them loads of newly recorded material that would fill an album and provide plenty of b-sides if the demand was there. The timing was perfect as Madchester really was all the rage and all of the papers and magazines covering the explosive growth of the movement were convinced James were worthy of attention.
Fontana sniffed money from the association with James but left the band in no doubt that things had to be done differently from the debacle at Sire a few years earlier. How Was It For You? was identified as having the potential to be a huge hit but the label insisted on the caveat of a more commercial mix than had been brought over from the sessions originally recorded for Rough Trade and that it be released in as many formats as possible to help propel it up the charts.
All of this was done, probably through gritted teeth for most of the band, who over the years had done their best to provide great value for money to their loyal fan base. Five formats were issued in April 1990 – a 7″ in a blue sleeve with gold writing, a 12″ in a red sleeve with green writing, a 12″ remix in a silver sleeve with blue writing, a CD in a sandy colour with purple writing and a cassette version. There was even a promotional box of condoms issued….
It all worked to an extent as the single did reach the Top 40, peaking at #32. It could have been better if the label hadn’t committed the basic error of filming a promo that was deemed unsuitable for daytime audiences – the incriminating footage was Tim singing underwater!
I’ve got the 7″ and both 12″ versions in the collection which means I can offer up all the tracks that came with this particular release:-
mp3 : James – How Was It For You? (7″ version)
mp3 : James – Whoops (live)
mp3 : James – How Was It For You? (12″ version)
mp3 : James – Hymn From A Village (live)
mp3 : James – Lazy
mp3 : James – How Was It For You? (band mix)
mp3 : James – Undertaker
The two live tracks are taken from a gig at the Manchester Apollo in December 1989 and were two of the most popular of the back catalogue at the time (still are IMHO). Lazy and Undertaker were part of the previous summer’s recordings, and the fact that neither were deemed good enough to make the cut for the forthcoming LP really raised expectations among fans.