I can’t remember where I first read of heard that James had chosen to work with Brian Eno. All the accusations of selling out and embracing stadium rock were being denied by everyone associated with the band but here they were having a producer who had helped turn U2 into the biggest and most popular contemporary rock band on the planet by forging a sound which was radio-friendly, anthemic and extremely appealing to the masses. I feared the worst….
………which is why I still find it hard to properly put into the words the sheer joy I felt the first time I heard the first new song since those that had been slipped out as part of the Sound EP some fourteen months previous. This remains my favourite James single of all time:-
mp3 : James – Sometimes
It’s a helluva comeback and not at all the sort of sounds I was imagining would be the fruit of their labours with Eno. Indeed, the producer himself has stated that hearing the band’s first playing of this song in the studio was one of the highlights of his entire career….and let’s face it, he’s had plenty to choose from.
It was released into the shops in August 1993 but by then had become quite familiar to radio listeners having been put on heavy rotation some three or four weeks prior. Rather surprisingly and disappointingly, it only entered the charts at #18 which was still good enough to enable a Top of the Pops appearance which, due to touring commitments, had to be filmed and beamed in from Pittsburgh. It was a memorable performance and I’m happy enough to break my self-imposed rule of nothing from you tube so that I can share it with you:-
Despite this, the song dropped down the charts the following week which must have been a bit of a concern to the band. After all, tradition has it that you put out your strongest and most catchy song as the lead single, but little did any of us know that the band and producer had an ace hidden up their collective sleeves….
The single was released on 7″, 12″, cassette and CD single with just two new songs made available across the different formats so there was no need to shell out loads to complete any collections. The b-sides were also of a very decent quality:-
mp3 : James – America
mp3 : James – Building A Charge
It’s worth noting that America was recorded live using solar power as the band sought to promote the activities of Greenpeace.