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Hey Ma

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Editors’ Notes

Hey Ma is the first James studio album in seven years. They’d disbanded but never really lost touch as they easily pick up where they left off. The distinct lush textures that made the band’s reputation throughout the late-1980s and 1990s became commonplace for bands ranging from Oasis to Radiohead, while the band’s overwhelming sincerity always placed them closer to the epic goodwill of the U2 camp. Hey Ma doesn’t attempt to break new ground, but actively reclaims their authority over their given terrain. There’s a comforting thrust to the near nostalgic gait of “Oh My Heart,” the chiming walls of guitar lining “Boom Boom,” and classic rock homage to the Kinks’ Ray Davies lurking behind many of these tales of societal frustration. The title track could be a collaboration with that distinguished bard’s latest work (try Davies’ Working Man’s Café for starters), while “Semaphore” is a gorgeously orchestrated ballad that dials down the band’s massive attack for a poignant quiet that’s reverberates in a masterful and chilling loneliness.

Customer Reviews

"Hey Ma" a triumphant return

"Hey Ma" marks a triumphant return of some of Manchester's finest. In the US, the wait has been longer due to legal woes that prevented their last two studio albums from ever making their way into record stores on these shores. The wait is well worth it, however, as the boys prove they still have the ability to churn out catchy upbeat tunes harking back to their "Gold Mother" days (anyone remember that little track "Sit Down"?). This album's filled with no clutter. "Bubbles" begins by taking notes from the Eno produced days of James with an atmoshperic melody that soon give way to Tim Booth singing about the joys of fatherhood and in one verse sings "I'm Alive." There's such emotion in his voice, you believe every word. "Hey Ma" sounds upbeat, but with its chorus proclaiming "Hey Ma, your boys in bodybags comin' home in pieces," you know that this is very anti-war. Despite the grim subject matter, you might findyourself singing along to it. "Waterfall," the single in the U.S. is a song about growing older and disatisfied with material posessions. The clencher of a song though is "Oh My Heart," which is classic James taking the unhappy and making it upbeat, as it is about someone cherrfully accepting their heart being broken as they feel more experienced and better for it. The second half of the album winds down a bit, until the bittersweet "I Wanna Go Home," the album's closer. It's one of James' sadder tracks. It contains some of Tim's best lines in years though: "Sex is overated/I want to dance." As "Hey Ma" is now in the book, we can rest assured that "Hey Ma" is no "get more money quick scheme" from the boys, as this is artistically sound as any of their previous works, harking bark to their golden days. If there's one complaint, it's the fear the US company had in releasing the album and snipping the cover a bit. As one reviewer pointed, it doesn't make much sense. No it doesn't - the UK release is slightly more alarming and a bit satirical. Cover aside, this album is ace material.

Simply Wonderful - Buy It Now!!!!

I remember the first time I heard James on KROQ in 1993 - Laid was blasting over the airwaves and it was infectious and weird and utterly mesmorising. I purchased a tape of Laid (the album) and wore it out by the end of 1994. James went on to make another 4 brilliant albums and then disappeared off the radar... I was crushed since I came to love the band. This new record is a kin to a time machine... It takes you back to the magic that is Laid and the 7 piece crew the created some of the most memorable songs in the James catalogue. I recommend the whole record but if you must choose songs choose: Waterfall (a brilliant song about letting it all go), Oh My Heart, Upside and Hey Ma. Hey Ma is the (proto)typical James tune. It's infectious to the n-th degree and has a refrain that drives into your brain "Hey Ma, the boys are coming home in body bags..." - it's about 9/11 and being blinded by the aftermath. It maybe a tough pill to swallow for some but it's a brilliant tune. So if you want a fresh thoughtful contagious pop record, get yours here.

iTunes "reviews" - Go Where No Cars Go

From a cultural and historic perspective I appreciated the iTunes "Review" of James' career. It was well-written and the writer shared several deep perspectives on why James remains a great band with a great sound. Other than generalities about the arc of their career and a use of two sounds from their catalog, the review mentioned nothing about the songs. You have a captive audience here buying and researching music on the iTunes site. Give us more depth and talk about specific songs that bear out your "opinion." Go where no cars go (or other music sites). Enhance the brand.


Formed: 1982 in Manchester, England

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

As one of the first groups to be dubbed "the next Smiths," James became an institution on the British alternative music scene during the '80s and '90s with their pleasant folk-pop. Early in their career, James were praised by their idol Morrissey, which turned out to be both a blessing and a curse. The group was pegged as second-rate Smiths, yet continued to tour and record, eventually gaining a sizable following. In the late '80s, James, like many of their British peers, became involved in the acid...
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Hey Ma, James
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