views updated Jun 11 2018


Pop band

For the Record

Bright Colors, Career Blues

Switched Labels, Personnel

Increased Popularity

Selected discography


The mercurial English band James came out of the fertile early 1980s Manchester postpunk scene, along with such celebrated groups as the Smiths and Joy Division. Though they built a solid fan base in the United Kingdom, they struggled for international recognition, changing labels several times and frustrating journalists with their playful image-shifting. Combining an acerbic wit with honest yearning, the bands visionwhich a writer in Musician called eclectic, theatrical and introspectivekept James relatively underground for many years, though their followers remained enthusiastic.

It wasnt until their 1993 album Laid, written and recorded under the aegis of inventive and storied producer Brian Eno, that James broke through to a larger audience in the United States, thanks in large part to the albums title track, which singer Tim Booth described to a Los Angeles Times interviewer as a silly little catchy pop song. At the same time, critics acknowledged the bands increased maturity and depth. The members of James have clearly weathered their shifting fortune by

For the Record

Members include David Baynton-Power (joined bande. 1988), drums; Tim Booth (borne. 1964), vocals; Saul Davies (joined band c. 1988), violin; Andy Diagram (bandmember 1988-92), trumpet; Jim Glen-nie, bass; Larry Gott, guitar; Mark Hunter (joined band c. 1988), keyboards; Gavan Whelan (left band c. 1988), drums.

Group formed in Manchester, England, and signed with Factory Records, releasing singles and EP Jim One, 1983; signed with Sire Records, 1986; signed with Rough Trade Records, 1988; signed with Phonogram, 1989; contributed to Velvet Underground tribute album Heaven and Hell, 1990; appeared on WOMAD tour, 1993.

Addresses: Record company Mercury Records, 825 Eighth Ave., New York, NY 10019; 11150 Santa Monica Blvd., Suite 1100, Los Angeles, CA 90025.

remaining focused on what mattered most. There were times when we felt like there was no place for us, bassist Jim Glennie recalled to Musicians Paul Zollo. Wed start feeling down, but then wed walk into the rehearsal room and songs would appear. Wonderful songs. Thats why we kept going. Its why we kept faith. Its the main reason were still here. As Booth insisted in Melody Maker, Were here to discover.

Bright Colors, Career Blues

The initial band members of Jamesguitarist Larry Gott, Glennie, and drummer Gavan Whelanstarted playing together without a singer. Booth related to Zollo how he was recruited: The band had only been together about a year since they first stole their instruments and they saw me stuttering in some nightclub and asked me to dance onstage with them. Dancing has always been my main release from life.

The year was 1983; the Manchester scene, populated by a number of uncompromising alternative bands that carried the torch of punk rock, was among the most closely watched on the underground music circuit. The pervasive mood of these groupsparticularly the stark Joy Division, which became New Order after the suicide of lead singer Ian Curtiscould be fairly described as gloomy. James, on the other handnamed by Booth after the innovative I rish writer James Joycesported bright colors and explored happier themes. Yeah, everyone was wearing black and being really po-faced, Booth recollected to Paul Lester of Melody Maker.And we were dressed in yellow, red and green. We looked like Smarties [candies], or kids show hosts! But it was all very tongue-in-cheek and deliberate. The bands popular T-shirts eventually became some of the most visible on the music scene; their independent merchandising empire has received almost as much attention as their music.

It was also in 1983 that James was signed by Factory Records, Joy Divisions label, and released the singles Whats the World and Hymn from a Village, and the Jim One EP. Fellow Manchester popsters The Smiths covered Whats the World; Smiths vocalist Morrissey was one of Jamess biggest and earliest fans.

Switched Labels, Personnel

By 1985 the band had moved to Sire Records, which released James Two that year. Their disdain for the publicity machinery of the music business created a sense of mystery about them, but it also fed a burgeoning rumor mill. Because Booth practiced abstinence and told journalists he chanted regularly, the U.K. press misidentified the group as Buddhists, and many of their casual, tongue-in-cheek comments were either taken too literally or misconstrued by gullible or sensationalistic music writers. As a result, as Booth related in Melody Maker, We got more serious in interviews [because] we realized it was too risky being flippant. But the larger problem for the group lay in expanding their listenership.

James approached producer Eno when they were preparing to record their debut album, Stutter. Theyd been impressed by the producers work with bands like Talking Heads; unfortunately Eno was booked up and couldnt take the project. They ended up instead with guitarist-writer Lenny Kaye, whom they identified as their only other choice. Released in 1986, the album still couldnt take James out of relative cult status. The same was true of its highly praised follow-up, 1988s Strip Mine.

Disappointed at their relative lack of career movement, James left Sire in 1988. Whelan departed, and in addition to adding his replacement, David Baynton-Power, the remaining members recruited keyboardist Mark Hunter, violinist Saul Davies, and trumpeter Andy Diagram. Weve found some new musicians that we all agree on at last, Booth explained in Melody Maker, with the right attitude for James. Weve got more versatility now, more power. Before, our songs were a bit skeletal. With a fuller sound, the group soon became, in the words of Musician writer Zollo, among the most charismatic live acts in the country. In concert their power derives from an intricate yet rock-solid rhythmic foundation, over which Davies weaves colorful violin lines while Hunter fills in the gaps with keyboards, accordion and melodica. Its also an ideally plush setting for the plaintive, emotional voicings of singer Booth.

After releasing an independent label live album, One Man Clapping, James signed with Phonogram. It was with their 1989 album Gold Mother that the group saw some real sales, thanks to the hits Come Home and Sit Down; the latter song reached the number two position on the U.K. charts. Next came 1990s James; like its successors it was released in the United States by Mercury.

Increased Popularity

1992 saw the release of Seven, another step forward in the bands quest for international popularity. A million-seller, it was the last recording with Diagram, who left the groupamicably, in the words of a record company press releasethat same year. James was poised to break through to mainstream American listeners, particularly as the 1990s began to look like a decade of commercial viability for alternative bands. Joining rock legend Neil Young on an all-acoustic tour, James refined its sound; we didnt play electric again for three months after the tour, Booth told a Billboard interviewer. Our ears were sort of tuned to that level of subtlety.

The group then contacted Eno again. I sent him a demo tape of the stuff we were working on, with a letter saying, Come on and play with usyou know: Well have some fun, were ready for you now, Booth recalled in Rolling Stone. And he rang me up about 10 oclock one morning, and we had this discussion about cyberpunk and fine wines and culture; and then he said hed really like to make the album.

The groups admiration for Enos production had only deepened. The reason we like Eno is that he doesnt seem to stamp his identity on things, Glennie reasoned in an interview with Glenn Gregory of the L.A. Village View. In the past, on the things he worked with, he has pulled the best out of people and produced great albums, but theyre not Enos style. I think its the same with this [album]. He makes you work and play to your strengths. Working with Eno for six weeks, the members of James wrote, recorded, and mixed 40 songs. The result was not only their 1993 album Laid, but a collection of what Booth described in Billboardas mainly improvised stuff. Eno had listened to the bands jams, Booth averred, and declared, People would like to hear this. The group, however, decided to wait until Laid was sufficiently marketed; Mercury aggressively promoted it and helped push the group to the next commercial level.

The album itself includes a number of soulful, introspective songs, but Eno picked the lighthearted song Laid for special attention despite the bands relative disdain for it. Weve been brought up on the kind of maxim that pain is deep you know, Booth admitted to Richard Cromelin of the Los Angeles Times. Its a Western false concept. Very English, very European, I thinksuffering for your art. And when something comes as easily and as simply as Laid, you kind of dont take it as seriously as some of the ones that you have to bleed for.

With an infectious melody, bouncy rhythm, and relatively comical lyrics about sexuality, the song began to show up on radio playlists; soon MTV put the video in its buzz bin, and James was suddenly a player on the commercial rock scene. Critics raved about Laid: a Musician reviewer called it what must be one of the best albums of the year. In fact, it sounds like music well still be listening to in 10 or 20 years. Laidis gentle without being wimpy, smart without being snotty and moody without being morbid. Gregory of the LA. Village View labeled it probably the bands most mature and creative album to date.

After more than ten years on the music scene, James had truly arrived. After the release of Laid the group appeared on Peter Gabriels international WOMAD tour and enjoyed increased attention from U.S. concert audiences as well, playing Laidwith some suggestive lyrics alteredon TVs Late Show with David Letterman. Despite the increased visibility, however, James retained its original sense of mission. The idea is to move people really, and to move them in different ways, Booth remarked to Cromelin of the Los Angeles Times. To upset, to agitate, to uplift, to give people happy endings now and again, but for the whole trip to be a happy ending. Ultimately, he went on, music is magic, and we try to keep connecting with that spirit of music rather that get sidetracked into any other cul-de-sac about power or money or fame.

Selected discography

Hymn From a Village, Factory, 1983.
Jim One (includes Whats the World), Factory, 1983.
James Two, Factory, 1985.
Stutter, Sire, 1986
Strip Mine, Sire, 1988.
One Man Clapping, Rough Trade, 1988.

On Phonogram and/or Mercury

Gold Mother (includes Come Home and Sit Down), 1989.

James, 1990.

Seven, 1992.

Laid, 1993.

With others

Heaven and Hell (appear on Sunday Morning), Imaginary, 1990.


Billboard, October 30, 1993; February 19, 1994.

L.A. Village View, October 29, 1993.

Los Angeles Times, March 19, 1994.

Melody Maker, May 5, 1990; December 8, 1990; November 9, 1991.

Musician, February 1993; November 1993.

Rolling Stone, April 21, 1994.

Additional information for this profile was provided by Mercury Records publicity materials, 1993.

Simon Glickman

Bassantin (or Bassantoun), James (ca. 1504-1568)

views updated May 18 2018

Bassantin (or Bassantoun), James (ca. 1504-1568)

Scottish astrologer and mathematician, the son of the laird of Bassandean in the Merse, Berwickshire, Scotland, born in the reign of James IV. After studying mathematics at the University of Glasgow, he traveled for further studies on the Continent. He subsequently went to Paris, where for some years he taught mathematics at the university. He returned to Scotland in 1562.

There was a prevailing belief in judicial astrology at that time, particularly in France. On his way home through England, according to Sir James Melville's memoirs, Bassantin met with Sir Robert Melville (brother of Sir James), who was at that time engaged on the part of the unfortunate Mary, Queen of Scots in endeavoring to effect a meeting between her and Elizabeth. Bassantin predicted that all his efforts would be in vain, which proved to be true.

Bassantin was a zealous Protestant. His principal work is a treatise on astronomy, written in French and translated into Latin by John Tornaesius, which was published at Geneva in 1599. He wrote four other treatises on mathematics and horoscopes, but they do not appear to have been published.


views updated May 23 2018

James. The name of two or three early Christian figures. St James, the son of Zebedee, was brother of John, and one of Jesus' inner circle of disciples. He was martyred in 44 CE (Acts 12. 2). He was claimed in the Middle Ages to have been the apostle of Spain, and was supposed to have been buried at Santiago de Compostela (see PILGRIMAGE). St James, ‘the Lord's brother’ (Mark 6. 3), became the leader of the earliest Christian church at Jerusalem after the departure of Peter. Nothing is known of St James the Less (or ‘the younger’; Mark 15. 40) unless he is to be identified with James the son of Alphaeus (Mark 3. 18) or Jesus' brother.

The Letter of James is the first of the Catholic Epistles in the New Testament. It is almost entirely moral in content.


views updated May 14 2018

James male forename, name of two saints.
St James the Great an Apostle, son of Zebedee and brother of John. He was put to death by Herod Agrippa I; afterwards, according to a Spanish tradition, his body was taken to Santiago de Compostela, which became a major pilgrimage centre. He is traditionally seen in Spanish iconography as leading the Christian Reconquest against the Moors. His emblems are a scallop shell and a pilgrim's hat, and his feast day is 25 July.
St James the Less also an Apostle; he is said to have been martyred by being beaten to death with a fuller's club. He may be identical with the James who was a leader of the early Christian Church at Jerusalem, also known as the Lord's brother. His emblem is a fuller's club, and his feast day (in the Eastern Church) is 9 October; (in the Western Church) is 1 May.

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