James about to hit road again as release date announced for new album

James frontman Tim Booth performing in Linlithgow in 2018 (Pic: Michael Gillen)James frontman Tim Booth performing in Linlithgow in 2018 (Pic: Michael Gillen)
James frontman Tim Booth performing in Linlithgow in 2018 (Pic: Michael Gillen)
It’s a wonderful life for fans of alternative rock act James since their reunion 16 years ago after six years apart and it’s about to get more wondrous still as they’re back on the road in a month’s time and have got a sort-of new album coming out in the summer.

Their forthcoming double album, titled Be Opened By the Wonderful – referencing a line in their 1997 single Waltzing Along, a No 23 hit – is due out on Friday, June 9.

It’s a reinterpretation of bits of their back catalogue, plus new track Love Make a Fool, backed up by an orchestra and choir, the former being Orca22 and the latter Manchester Inspirational Voices, arranged and conducted by Joe Duddell, to mark the 40th anniversary of their formation in 1982, albeit a year late.

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Its 19 other tracks, recorded at Blueprint Studios in their home-town of Manchester last year, are Sometimes, We’re Gonna Miss You, Tomorrow, The Lake, She’s a Star, Lookaway, Sit Down, Alaskan Pipeline, Someone’s Got It in for Me, Hey Ma, Hello, Beautiful Beaches, Why So Close, Medieval, Hymn from a Village, Say Something, Top of the World, Moving On and Laid, though its vinyl version will omit 1985 track Hymn from a Village.

It’s their 17th studio album and first since 2021’s All the Colours of You, a No 3 hit, its predecessors having sold more than 25 million copies between them.

The band are hitting the road for their James Lasted tour, name-checking late German composer and big band conductor James Last, to promote it, accompanied by an orchestra and gospel choir, and their itinerary includes two Scottish dates – at Edinburgh’s Usher Hall on Saturday, April 29, and Glasgow’s Scottish Event Campus Armadillo on Monday, May 1, plus one not too far south of the border at Newcastle’s 02 City Hall on Tuesday, May 2. All three of those dates sold out in a matter of hours but details of possible returns can be found at the band’s website, wearejames.com

It’s only their second orchestral tour ever, their first, accompanied by Warwickshire’s Orchestra of the Swan and the Manchester Consort Choir in 2011, having called in at Glasgow’s Royal Concert Hall and the Sage Gateshead.

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Vocalist Tim Booth is looking forward to touring again, saying: “There are a number of great bands that have been around for 40 years, but to get here and to be having the best time of our lives, to be part of a supportive, loving family that still have something to say and new ways to say it, to be turned on by every gig and song, to fall in love over and over again, Groundhog Day-like, with our bandmates and audience, damn, that’s time well spent.

“We should have recorded the orchestra tour first time round, but we’ve done it now, and here comes the tour.

“The orchestra and gospel singers expand our palette, heighten the tenderness, heighten the celebration and, despite their numbers, somehow leave us feeling more naked and raw.

“It will be different, probably each night, because we are James and because you are different each night.”

Booth’s bandmates these days are Jim Glennie, Saul Davies, Adrian Oxaal, David Baynton-Power, Mark Hunter, Andy Diagram, Chloe Alper and Deborah Knox-Hewson.