The change of tone and emphasis begun by Sometimes was maintained with the release of the LP Laid in September 1993. This was a James that we hadn’t heard or enjoyed for a long time…songs that were largely stripped right back and which were a long way removed production wise from the over-wrought and painful stuff which had afflicted much of Seven.
It was difficult however, to imagine where the next single was going to come from as there were no real obvious candidates from the LP other than perhaps the title track. But it suffered from having the line ‘she only comes when she’s on top’ which ruled it out of play as far as getting it past the censors….
The solution was to re-record the offending line and change one word. ‘Comes’ was replaced by ‘Sings’. Problem solved despite the fact that anyone listening to the opening few lines was still able to smile about hearing daytime radio blast out a song that was quite clearly about orgasmic sex….
The thing is….when you went out and bought the single, you found yourself owning the uncensored LP version!!
mp3 : James – Laid
It came (ahem) in 2 x CDS as well as 7″ vinyl. Here’s the b-sides to CD1 and the vinyl, all of which would have seemed impossible to imagine if you had only picked up on the band during Seven and owned no other songs from any other era. Indeed there are some fans who think that The Lake was criminally thrown away as a b-side and would have made a lovely ballad-type single for James.
mp3 : James – Wah Wah Kits
mp3 : James – Seconds Away
mp3 : James – The Lake
This single wasn’t universally praised. Too many journalists were still happy enough to mock the band as a pretentious stadium-rock act with a front man who was game for abuse just because he was charismatic and offered opinions. Here’s the review from Melody Maker:-
Not much proof here of the much-heralded creatively-revamped James.
“Laid” is smalltown folk music. Driven by a wheezy old Hammond organ, a drumbeat that sounds like the bloke upstairs nailing down his floorboards and a guitar that might as well be a banjo for all the expression it brings. “Laid” is 1990 naff. It’s not even spuriously uplifting. Tim Booth’s cryptic Indian type whoops aren’t a call to arms or joyous chant but more a sort of cryptic holler, as if he’s Geronimo trying to invoke Chief Sitting Bull in a seance.
There are tracks here, however, such as “Wah Wah Kits” that do indicate a newer, freshly adorned James, perhaps abetted by Brian Eno.
So maybe pigs are flying and they have turned half-decent.
Nor did daytime radio give it too much play. A two and half minute single without an obvious sing-a-long chorus is still a refined taste and in the end it only limped to #25 in the charts.
A criminal state of affairs if you want my opinion.
CD2 was made up of four tracks recorded for a BBC Radio 1 session. I never bought it at the time and still don’t own a copy….so I’m unable to offer you the chance to listen to those versions of Laid, Say Something, Five-O and Sometimes.