Band: James
Album: Gold Mother
Year: 1989
Label: Rough Trade
Status: Still going
Come Home is the opening track of James’ Gold Mother album which was recorded in Manchester and Wrexham. Their third album, but it was their first big hit after years in the margins. (Maybe having the golden touch of the Inspiral Carpets singing some backing vocals helped).

The song is a complex narrative to make a whole from but the feelings are clear. It’s about dealing with pressure, separating love from rudeness, dealing with hate towards a man, ambivalent feelings and the homewards pull. It is also about coming of age and whether you can overcome the direction your personality goes in, be yourself rather than what the past and your genetics might push you towards. Resist, scream yourself hoarse, and try to find somewhere safe, wherever home actually is. The chanted chorus of “Come home” is like a command, accompanied by piano notes, screech guitars and percussion tambourine which drive us forwards to the drumroll blowout.
The band had been established for a long time before they became well-known. They’d played under many different names in the 1980s, even supported The Fall at one gig. In 1982 while they were playing at The Ha├žienda Tony Wilson persuaded them to release a few tracks with Factory. They collaborated with The Smiths around the time of the latter’s Meat Is Murder tour, and there was mutual respect. James had a reputation for being a good live band with lots of fans but little money. Bank loans and volunteering for medical experiments at Manchester hospitals kept them going until their commercial success began in the 90s (Sit Down became a staple of student discos across the land). At that point they performed sell-out shows everywhere, including packed gigs at G-Mex. They’d come home.

Extract from page 198 of 2000 Tunes: A History of Manchester Music by M. H. Rees; used with permission. Read the whole series (25 extracts) here; or my summary post. Readers might be interested in my forthcoming novel about a man obsessed with Manchester music - confusingly, it is also called 2000 Tunes!