THE JAMES SINGLES (16)

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The fact that Ring The Bells had been a flop didn’t strop the record label wanting to extract every last possible drop out of James as they continued their merry way across the festivals of Europe playing the songs off Seven alongside the better received older material. Whatever else could be said about the band, they were still continuing to improve as a live act and take things to some quite substantial heights backed by huge crowds willing to sing and dance along.

Their biggest ever show was scheduled for July 1992 at the Alton Towers theme park in England with 30,000 fans making the pilgrimage…a hugely impressive achievement given the band were also high up on the bill of Glastonbury just a few weeks prior.

The Alton Towers show was also scheduled to broadcast live by BBC Radio 1 and the record label was keen to exploit the exposure offered by the broadcast with a fourth single from the LP. The band weren’t happy, especially on the back of the backlash about the poor value offered to fans by the previous single (see Part 15 of this series), but realising they weren’t in much of a bargaining position decided that they would re-record the title track of the LP along with three brand new songs.

mp3 : James – Seven (remix)
mp3 : James – Goalies Ball
mp3 : James – William Burroughs
mp3 : James – Still Alive

The remix is so blatantly stadium rock….it’s almost like a U2 cast-off…Tim Booth sounding uncannily like Bono at times. I just can’t bring myself to listen to this track….

However……….it’s a release very much saved by the b-sides.

Goalies Ball, despite the title, is not a song about football, but a commentary on human evolution set against the backdrop of a strangely melodic and haunting tune.

William Burroughs is a manic few minutes which provided a great reminder of the band at their critical peak a few years earlier when they were lucky to sell out venues with a capacity of 30 never mind 30,000. The record company must have hated it…

Still Alive is a real oddity given the rest of the material the band had been recording at the time. It’s a vocal-led track with the minimal of accompaniment in the background. It certainly sounded like nothing James had recorded before and it is one of the few tracks from the era which has dated well.

This release was made available on 7″, 12″ and CD single but for once, all four tracks were available on each format. This meant completists only had to shell out once and this was probably a contributory factor in it stalling at #46. As I said above, it’s a dreadful single and so deserved such a lousy chart performance, but long-term fans could be pleased and intrigued by what they heard on the b-sides. Were the band already preparing a move away from the stadium rock nonsense??

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