That it has been almost a full month since the previous entry in this series will perhaps give you an idea of how difficult it has been to do this post.

James had finally captured the hearts and minds of music fans in the UK and indeed across much of Europe. All those years of blood, sweat and toil and what had been Manchester’s greatest secret was out there in the open. All that was needed now was a poptastic sing-a-long single at the end of 1991 to provide a perfect preview for the new hugely anticipated LP that was due out in the early months of 92.

But if you’ve been following this series, you’ll know that with James, it’s usually always a tale of the totally unexpected with a twist nobody anticipated. The release of Sound in November 1991 was certainly that.

Listening to it now still fills me with horror. Yup, releasing a six-minute single with no discernible chorus can be seen as brave….but it only works if the music can hold the listener’s attention which sadly in this case it did not. There are some who thought it was evidence of an inevitable drift into stadium rock thanks to the size of arenas that the band could now sell out in a matter of minutes but quite frankly it is just not bombastic enough to fall into that category. It sounds to me like a band who were confused about what to do next and the results were a messy mix of a record having big contributions from everyone with no overall sense of control.

Released on 7″, 12″, cassette single and CD single. Sound did reach the Top 10 in the UK but only for one week before dropping like a stone. This was one bought by fans only and not, as with the re-released Sit Down, by casual listeners attracted by the vibrant pop blaring from their radios.

Thankfully, everyone concerned didn’t release all sorts of different b-sides on the different versions – buying either the 12″ or CD would get you everything:-

mp3 : James – Sound (7″ version)
mp3 : James – All My Sons
mp3 : James – Come Home (Youth Pressure Dub)
mp3 : James – Sound (full length)

All My Sons appears to have been included as the antidote to the single, clocking in at under two minutes. Dating back to the early 90s, it was really an outake from the Goldmother era….but worryingly boring. Oh and it was also disappointing to get yet another remix of Come Home……..



7 thoughts on “THE JAMES SINGLES (13)

  1. It tends to come alive as a live track. It was an odd choice for a single , seven would have been a better choice

  2. I can’t agree with you on this one JC, I loved Sound at the time and think that it still holds up well today.

  3. Thank you for continuing. I check every morning for a new James post, and love your commentary.

  4. Totally disagree with you on this one JC, I loved Sound when it came out (made it my Single of the Year in Our Price) and I still love it now. It was a decent hit too (#9) so it was more than just the fan base that bought it. I do agree about the stadium rock thing though. As good as Sound was, I didn’t get on with the album at all.

  5. Sound has my favorite lyrics by Tim Booth. While I agree it is lacking something as a stand out single, live this song is brilliant. Thanks for keeping up the series I enjoy it every time!

  6. There was a definite change in direction for the band around this time, possibly as they adapted to having to play (much) bigger venues, but also to accommodate Andy Diagram on trumpet, which for me needed toning down a bit. that said I still really like the Seven album as a whole, and I think that over the years the tracks have come across quite good when played live.

    Thanks for carrying on with this series JC, I thought you may have shelved it. its great to see some of the different views people have.

  7. James are one of the few bands to have jumped the shark at least twice, and “Sound” marked the point where I’d gave up on them for the second – and final – time. I first saw them warm-up for the The Smiths in 1985, in the days of beards, jumpers, instrument-swapping, unhinged drummers and dervish-whirling, and they were so demented, off-kilter and thoroughly out-of-step that they seemed genuinely dangerous. The Smiths machine was reaching it’s well-oiled peak by then, and, as good as they were, they’d already lost the ability to surprise in the same way; consequently, James kicked lumps out of them that night.

    I zoned out during the Warner Bros years when it became clear that they couldn’t translate that energy into product, and only switched on again after overhearing “One Man Clapping”.

    The next time I saw them live was in Folkestone the week before “Sound” was released, and I was gutted to find that they’d morphed into a T-shirt selling machine that was as regimented as The Smiths at their most assured but with bags more hubris and none of the humour.

    Thanks for this series, however, and for giving me the chance to try out this portentous nonsense again.

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