The first James single that I didn’t set out to buy at the time.
Waltzing Along was one the tracks from Whiplash that I liked most, helped by the fact that it is driven along by some lovely work on the slide guitar which gives the song a country feel akin to some work a decade or so earlier by R.E.M.
A lovely bit of slide guitar that was replaced by a horrible bit of standard guitar work. Indeed, all the lovely subtle sounds which made this such an enjoyable LP track were butchered away and in their place came a more commercial and jarring sound.
The single was released in June 1997. Again, it involved 3 x CDs.
The first of them had three live renditions of songs lifted from a London gig a few months earlier, and for the second single release in a row Greenpeace featured as did Homeboy (another track on Whiplash) together with an old favourite:-
Waltzing Along (single version)
How Was It For You (live)
The Second CD was where you’d find the three new songs:-
Where You Gonna Run?
Long To Be Right
And finally, yup, you guessed it, CD3 for the diehards who wanted all the remixes:-
Waltzing Along (Disco Socks Mix)
Waltzing Along (Flytronox Mix)
Once again it was all three for £5 if you wanted or £1.99 each. Fans bought enough copies to have it enter the charts at #23 before it plummeted like a stone.
There was a rather savage review of the single in NME but it was hard to argue with it:-
Time was when these merry Mancunian misfits could lay claim to being one of the most forward-looking groups in this country, with their weird take on rock music and an ascetic outlook that stuck out a while in times of much frippery. These days, James are more like Simple Minds than the Scottish stadium rockers themselves, if the hackneyed and plodding backing track here is to be taken seriously. Which is a pity as Tim Booth still sings like he’s got something of importance to impart – in the case a prayer for the dying. Oh well, there’s always the solo career.
The really annoying thing is that having subjected myself to so many sub-standard b-sides with the Whiplash singles I missed out for 17 years on one of the more interesting efforts from the band. CD2 was well worth £1.99….
Your Story is a song about being obsessed with sex and rather unusually has the odd expletive thrown in during its five-minute duration. The tune is a bit more rock orientated than most James songs but it is different enough to merit attention.
It’s a total contrast to the instrumental track which follows – you could have given me 100 guesses and I don’t think I’d have stumped up James as the band who composed and recorded what is the rather haunting and occasionally beautiful Where You Gonna Run? It sound like the sort of music that comes over the credits of a movie that just had the saddest and most moving of endings.
Just a pity that the final new song, Long To Be Right, is a self-indulgent, noodling waste of three and a bit minutes of your life.
mp3 : James – Waltzing Along (single version)
mp3 : James – Your Story
mp3 : James – Where You Gonna Run?
mp3 : James – Long To Be Right
Tune in next time to see how James got the critics and record buying public to like them again!