James were the first live band I ever saw when they supported The Smiths way back in 1985.
They had just released their debut single “Hymn From A Village” which was a great track.
Oddly James did go on to be hugely successful but the quality of their music dropped.
It was almost like they became a “student by numbers” band. Their songs had no edge, even if the band could knock out a decent tune.
Yes, I’m panning James a bit for playing it all a tad too safe. When they supported The Smiths their early tracks had great promise. With a bit more experimentation they could have been a truly great band.
Then in the late 90’s (1998?), they released “Runaground”. I’d better back track a bit as “Runaground” too is hardly cutting edge.
It is however a great, great song. With a steady build and quite lush vocal Runaground unexpectedly reveals itself to be the bands best ever song. Way past the bands peak this came out of the blue.
With outrageously good lines “you might have oysters – but you’ll never find a pearl”, and, “might I suggest that you find a softer place to fall?” it just works.
Throughout the chorus rises, as does the whole track. It sounds vengeful, slightly bitter – but gentle at the same time. An achievement.
Accompanying the vocal rise the instrumentation too rises to forge a near uplifting sound.
True that i’ve not heard an awful lot by the band – but I can’t imagine them having a better track than this…