It took nearly a decade for taste-makers on both sides of the Atlantic ocean to hip audiences to the catchy guitar pop slung by Manchester, England band James. First, their hometown label Factory Records (run by legendary impresario Tony Wilson) gave it a shot - releasing the "Jimone" EP in 1983, which got James instant credibility with Anglophile music critics and a support slot with The Smiths.
Then Seymour Stien's Sire Records, which nurtured the careers of Blondie, The Ramones and, The Replacements and The Talking Heads, signed the band. Spinal Tappishness went down, and after one record, James bailed on Sire.
Their next record "Gold Mother" popped up right when "madchester" acts like the Happy Mondays were the next big things, and having both experience and a home field advantage helped out. They rode the "madchester" wave for another record and round of videos on MTV's 120 minutes, and finally crossed the pond for their first US tour.
With that momentum behind them, James returned home, hooked up with roxy music guitarist/david bowie collaborator Brian Eno - and together they made "Laid" - the britpop hit of the year. Despite the acoustic-guitar driven song having nothing "edgy" about it, save for its tale of gender-bending lovers who keep their neighbors awake - it mattered little to the kids. Rock and roll androgyny sells - just ask Blur, Peaches or Poison.
After a few months on the charts -the song took a life of its own - propelling James to arena rock status back home in England and bona fide buzz act everywhere else. Alas, despite James' other musical charms, the success of "Laid" damned them to permanent 1-hit wonder status in the US.
But as 80s nostalgia seems to know no bounds these days, James have found a second wind. Thanks alt-disco nights have been force-feeding "Laid" down the throats of hipster kids for almost two decades - it's no wonder that James have released two mini albums this year and are kicking off their 2nd US tour in two years at the Culture Room tonight. So put on your tightest pair of pants, and bring a fun date to the cutlure room tonight. Nostalgia and beer goggles are a powerful combination.