James – Wah Wah

1 06 2012

Listened: May 1

I bought Wah Wah very early on in my CD-buying career. I don’t remember if I owned Laid yet or not. I think Wah Wah had just come out so I wanted to own James’ “newest one”. But little did I know that this album is just experiments the band did with Brian Eno whilst recording Laid. Even though I didn’t know it at the time, it was a good introduction to “classic Eno”-type explorations. I remember being 15 years old, listening to this album on a family vacation to Maui, alone in the bedroom of the condo with island breezes flowing around me as I tried to make sense of what I was hearing. It’s amazing now how much Jam J & the bass of Frequency Dip sound like Achtung Baby-period U2. It’s clear that Eno was experimenting with a certain sound during the early 90s, no matter who he was working with.

Not that there aren’t some pretty traditional Jamesian songs here amongst the noodling – Pressure’s On and Tomorrow are especially good. At Coachella 2012 I saw James live for the first time, in unusual-for-Coachella rainy weather. When they busted out Tomorrow, it seemed like the clouds parted. I love that about them.