James were always a bit of an enigma to me. They were part of the "Madchester" scene, but never struck me as one for some unknown reason.
In 1990, at the age of about 10, I remember first hearing my dad's eponymous Stone Roses album and Kinky Afro plus Step On by the Happy Mondays. I instantly loved them and was a firm fan of Madchester music
But James didn't seem to fit in with these. Shaun Ryder and Ian Brown had a swagger about them (that may be quite an understatement), but Tim Booth seemed to engage more with the listener. Born of Frustration and Sit Down were frequently listened to by me, yet they seemed at odds with the likes of Kinky Afro and I Wanna Be Adored.
Over the next few years I got into the Inspiral Carpets and the Charlatans. These immediately became lumped in with the other great Madchester bands. Tim Burgess had the swagger, while the Carpets had the lollopy music
The other big difference between James and the others was the tender songs. On 1993's Laid album, James took this to a new level. Sometimes is quite upbeat but still loving. Say Something is even more tender.
But the one that eclipses all others is the opening track, Out to Get You. It's a truly beautiful track: heartbreaking and blissful at the same time. It also contains a melodica - something not very common in traditional Madchester songs.