Songs I Wish Everyone Knew: “Crescendo” by James

There are very few bands quite as talented and unpredictable as Manchester’s pride and joy James. Originally emerging out of Factory records (the indie label that launched Joy Division/New Order, the Happy Mondays, etc,) the band has more or less been the underdog in scene that is iconic and legendary. For context, over the years, they were peers with everyone from the aforementioned bands to the Smiths to the Stone Roses to Oasis and bands like Nirvana and Coldplay were once their opening acts. They’ve certainly earned their “legendary” status with hits such as “Sit Down,” “Sound,” “She’s A Star,” and “Laid” (a song that broke in America,) and the band’s live presence has been heralded as a national treasure (trust me, nothing will ever compare.) Nonetheless, outside of their native country (and city,) they’re sort of the “other white meat” that some people get, and others have no idea even exist. James has evolved greatly over the years, both in the context of their music and their lineup. There have been 11 musicians that, in different combinations, has made up the band over the last 30 years, but there is always one lineup that will be their “classic”…the Seven: Tim Booth (vocals,) Larry Gott (guitar,) Jim Glennie (bass,) David Baynton-Power (drums,) Saul Davies (guitar, violin, etc. etc. etc.,) Mark Hunter (keys,) and Andy Diagram (trumpet, etc.,) Pre-reunion in 2007, this exact line up only ever released 2 albums together, Gold Mother and Seven. They cranked out a series of absolutely stunning tracks over this era, including many of their biggest hits and fan-favorites. However, it pains me to acknowledge that one track in particular, “Crescendo,” has been lost in the shuffle over the years. This is a particular crime considering it is one of their greatest works. Released on the original incarnation of the Gold Mother album, the track (alongside “Hang On”) was booted in favor of the singles “Sit Down” and “Lose Control” on later, more popular pressings. The track is a seven minute epic that brings Andy Diagram’s trumpet to the forefront in a magical way. The way he interacts with Tim Booth’s massive vocal performance is completely natural and it elevates the track. Each 1/7th of James brings something vital to “Crescendo,” more than likely in a spontaneous jam, allowing for more climaxes than a female orgasm; it’s a beautiful thing. The fact that this song was tucked aside, only ever to be dusted of and tacked on as a BONUS TRACK (ugh!) to the 2001 re-release of Gold Mother. If you don’t know James, do yourself a huge favor and check them out. If you do, and you don’t know “Crescendo,” be prepared for a revelation and a revolution!



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