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Don’t Forget the Songs-365: Mach Dos: Day 331
Wed, Dec 12, 2012

“Pressure’s On”
James

1994

“♫ Break
your first
impressions/
recreate
your will
♫”

photograph by Chris Boland: All Rights Reserved

The band James was born in seeds of improvisation. Instead of just creating pop hits, Tim Booth and his band mates Larry Gott, Mark Hunter, David Baynton-Power, Saul Davies and Jim Glennie were more interested in allowing the rhythms to guide the songs, not to some three minute conclusion, but a sonic exploration of emotions, sound and space. Brian Eno seized on their inventive spirit when working with Booth and the band 1993. Tim Booth described the atmosphere of working with Eno during the Wah Wah sessions when he said, “Every song we’ve ever created was spawned from improvisation. We’d go in a room and make a racket. For the first few years of James, from three hours of cacophony would come maybe two minutes of semi-coherence. This would be the seed of a song which we would attempt to repeat and refine and eventually reveal in public. Gradually we have become more efficient in our method of extraction. All the songs on “Laid” evolved from this process. All but three pieces of “Wah Wah” are being born as you hear them in an attempt to capture the moment of creation spontaneously.”

After Brian worked with James, Booth talked about why James were so successful with Eno, he said “When you’ve got Brian Eno you’re not going to give up. Everywhere I went, Michael Stipe would say ‘How did you get to work with Brian Eno, I’ve been trying to work with him for years’. Flea would say ‘How did you get to work with Brian Eno for five albums?’ We had that. Brian God bless him says we were his favorite band. We had an amazing time with him. He’s definitely the fifth Beatle.”

The Fifth Member of James became a fan of James after hearing a demo for “Sometimes,” which to Brian Eno sounded like his beloved Velvet Underground. From this one song, begat the collaboration that would change the history of James as a band; working with Brian Eno gave something that pop success could never give James—respectability. Eno reminisced about the prolific time spent working with James, when he said, “Improvisations are almost always the seeds for James’ songs. Before we started our formal recording sessions for what became the ‘Laid’ album, I spent some days working with the band in their rehearsal room in Manchester, seeing extraordinary pieces of music appearing out of nowhere. It occurred to me that this raw material was, in its own chaotic and perilous way, as much a part of their work as the songs that would finally grow out of it. The music was always on the edge of breakdown, held together by taut threads, semi-formed, evolving, full of beautiful, unrepeatable collisions and exotic collusions. I suggested that, instead of working on just one record (the ‘song’ record, for which we’d already agreed a very tight schedule) we find two studios next to each other and develop two albums concurrently – one of structured songs, and the other of these improvisations. It seemed pretty ambitious at the time, but we decided to aim for it.”

Although, James are known for pop gems like “Laid,” lately I prefer the more atmospheric improvisational compositions like “Pressures On.” James honest lyrical sonic Wah Wah trips are the perfect antidote to modern pop music. Tim Booth not a fan of Pop Idol shared his thoughts on why creating music for James is essential than becoming a pop star, when he said “I totally get why people are attracted to it and kids are attracted to it as a shortcut. But it’s a shortcut to a short life. I don’t think it’s very fulfilling. What I want to see is people expressing themselves. From their heart, from their soul. I don’t think when you become part of a machine like that you have any chance of that happening.”

This is the reason I am a loyal and beloved follower of the band James. James believes in the evoking the imperfect moment in canvas of a song. You can feel it through its developing majesty, “Pressure’s On” came to life from colors of improvisation. Sometimes you need to follow the rhythm for the music to be complete. Why fight it? Kick back and experience the unplanned sounds cape wonder of James. With the assistance of The Fifth Member of James, Brian Eno captured the improvisational brilliance within the beautiful chaos of Wah Wah. Maybe it’s time to turn off the pop radio and switch on some James; “Pressure’s On” beauty as James sound will give you some much needed sonic belief.

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