Turn That Noise Down - James

So many well-known albums turn 30 this year and Steve Taylor-Bryant and Susan Omand travel back to 1992 to revisit some of the sounds of their youth that made parents shout "Turn that noise down!" This week, Susan counts to Seven with James...

It’s easy seen that we’re getting slightly beyond my realm of music listening now as a lot of this year’s albums for me will be ones where I only know the one song, so I have to listen to the rest of the album for the first time now to see what it’s like. The James album Seven is kind of like that. So, yes, I only know the one song by James [that one when we all found out just how sticky the bar-room dance floor really was when we sat down on it - Ed] and, when this album came up on the list I thought I’d give it a listen because I vaguely remember the cover art. Plot twist - Sit Down isn’t on this album. D’oh!

So what is on the album? Think of a Simple Minds/INXS/U2 style of stadium rock but with added brass and you have a pretty good idea of the sound. The album starts with three of the four singles from it - Born of Frustration had me chair bopping from the start, Ring the Bells is just as upbeat and catchy with some brilliant percussion and the whispering vocal at the start of Sound is incredible and that low drone at the end of the song is shiver-inducing. The tempo changes, meaning the drums go even more frenetic, for Bring a Gun and I adore the jazz brass in it. The intro to Mother sounds for all the world like House of the Rising Sun to me and then it settles down into something that comes from the Mexican desert and is all the more glorious for it. Don’t Wait That Long is probably the most U2ish song on the album, it’s slower with gorgeous harmonies among the speaker feedback, and I can really see it being played live mid-set on a huge stage. Live a Love of Life brings the brass back to the fore with a flavour of Suicide Blonde in the rhythm. The lyrics are very on point too:

Open your eyes, and what do you see
A system made to crush our needs
A saviour nailed to every tree
As if you care, as if you care

Next Lover goes all Celtic folk and reminds me of Del Amitri’s Nothing Ever Happens, I think because of the lilt in the chorus [other tropical fizzy drinks are available - Ed]. The piano start to Heavens is very unexpected, as is the orchestration in the middle of the song, which adds interest to the lyrical heftiness. Protect Me is the penultimate track and makes excellent use of the stereo in the intro. I also love the steel guitar sound which underpins that sublime brass which has been evident throughout. The album rounds out in mellow style with the final single to be released, which is also the title song. Shimmering strings and almost mariachi brass are the icing on the cake.

Long story short - Seven is a brilliant album and, rather than writing the band off as a sticky-pub-floor one hit wonder, I really should have sat down and listened to James a lot more back in the day.

Image - Amazon

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