James – Seven (1992): Review

james

Produced by Youth, James and Steve Chase
Label – Fontana

Titled as a direct result of the band increasing to a 7 piece, Tim Booth and cohorts released their fullest sounding, grandest produced and most satisfying release. Their stock as a live band had never been questioned, but their album releases up until “Seven” had been patchy, and it seems that the response would be to fill out the traditional jangly pop elements with a harder arena style rock sound. Many comparisons at the time associated the sound with classic Arena Rock similar to Simple Minds, which is an unfair comparison because although there is a surging crowd pleasing grandeur, singer Tim Booth maintains a level of resolute intimacy, expounding his lyrical obsessions of war, religion, and sex. The war theme seems a direct result of the Gulf conflict of the previous year and both “Bring A Gun” and “Mother” where Booth opens with the lines “These wars are motherfuckers, how many sons will we kill today?”

james

Partly produced by Youth, Steve Chase and the band, the first half of “Seven” is James at their blistering best. The addition of Trumpet playing Andy Diagram adds to the plunging pop surge of the opener “Born Of Frustration”, and Booth yells out insecurities with abandon, employing lines like “I don’t need a shrink, but an Exorcist”. The dramatic “Ring The Bells” passionately displays Booths inner atheist beliefs as he repeats the line “I no longer feel God watching over me” and the rhythm and performance of the song seems to add a weird exaltation to his discovery. “Sound”, “Bring A Gun” and “Mother” continue the momentum perfectly, and although the quality isn’t maintained throughout, the final cut and title track “Seven” is the most gloriously produced and possibly best song of the bands career. A wonderful string arrangement is supported by Diagram’s lonely distant Trumpet and guitarist Larry Gott’s tender embellishment, all set to Booths questioning of the many facets of Love as he bares himself with the line “Darling, I’m open, Unguarded, Unbroken”.

“Seven” is a more than worthy addition; it’s a creative compilation of a band developing their ideas with a complete and wholesome passion.

8/10

Track Listing
1.”Born of Frustration” (James) — 4:21
2.”Ring the Bells” (Booth/Glennie/Gott) — 4:45
3.”Sound” (James) — 6:40
4.”Bring a Gun” (James) — 3:42
5.”Mother” (James) — 2:40
6.”Don’t Wait That Long” (James) — 6:39
7.”Live a Love of Life” (James) — 4:18
8.”Next Lover” (James) — 5:27 — omitted from the vinyl edition
9.”Heavens” (James) — 3:56
10.”Protect Me” (James) — 3:05
11.”Seven” (James) — 3:22

Sound

Born Of Frustration

Ring The Bells

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