For James and their ninth album, “Pleased to meet you”, the story is similar, almost word for word, to that of Pulp’s “We love life”, whose song “The night that Minnie Timperley died” appeared at number eight on this list.
Like Pulp, James was one of my very favourite bands in the latter half of the 1990s. Both bands found great success as part of the Britpop phenomenon after having toiled for many years prior, but in my case, I happened upon them both before I even knew what that there was such a thing. Both bands were coming off an album that, while excellent, did not chart or perform as well commercially as their previous albums, probably resulting from changes in musical direction as well as the waning Britpop movement.
In the case of James, I went out of my way to buy 1999’s “Millionaires”, picking up an ‘import’ copy of the CD at HMV for an exorbitant sum and though I enjoyed it, it took a while for the love to take hold. Of course, that was back when I was still living the bachelor life in Toronto and making a mockery of my financial situation. As I’ve mentioned in other posts, my finances were quite different after moving to Ottawa with Victoria in 2001. I didn’t have the money to lavish on CDs, especially on ones that I had never heard before, so I didn’t buy “Pleased to meet you” upon its release. It was years before I finally picked it up used and got to hear the whole album in full, well after the band had called it quits, frontman Tim Booth having announced his intentions to throw his hat into the solo ring. And it might even have been after the band decided to finally get back together for some reunion gigs in 2007, shows that would eventually result in full reactivation of the band. Of course, you all know that James is still slogging it out today, their most recent release being this year’s very fine, “Living in extraordinary times”.
But back in 2001, there was no way of knowing that there would be a reunion so I did my best to hear parts of this ‘final’ album. “Getting away with it (all messed up)” was one of the songs I had no problem locating on the internet, being the only single to be released off the album, and I listened to it quite a bit back then. It starts off all slow and jangling arpeggios against an acoustic strum, Tim Booth whispers and soothes the thrum of the bass and ushers in a temperate beat. The song builds as all good James songs do, layer by layer, energy upon energy, until each of the band’s six members (seven, if you count Brian Eno’s production work) has joined the party. And a party it is, a final (or not quite final) bow, depending on at what point in time from which you were listening.
Lovely James music, gets me everytime.
For the rest of the Best tunes of 2001 list, click here.