120 Reasons To Live: James

Nothing did more to further the cause of Alternative Nation-building than 120 Minutes, MTV’s Sunday-night video showcase of non-mainstream acts. For nearly two decades, the program spanned musical eras from ’80s college rock to ’00s indie, with grunge, Britpop, punk, industrial, electronica and more in between. MAGNET raids the vaults to resurrect our 120 favorite and unjustly forgotten videos from the show’s classic era.

#69: James “Sit Down”

You thought maybe James’ “Laid” would occupy position number 69? That’s obscene. 1993’s “Laid” made James a one-hit wonder in the U.S. (mainly via movie soundtracks throughout the ’90s), but the Manchester band led by singer Tim Booth had so much more to offer than that. 1989’s “Sit Down” was the group’s first big single, though it wasn’t really that popular until a 1991 re-release. As the song’s heal-the-Eleanor-Rigbys-of-the-world message suggests, James was more of a big-hearted, arms-wide-open band than the U.K. was used to at the time; in the early years, James went by the name Tribal Outlook, which is telling. Booth and Co.’s wide-ranging impulses led to an interesting career: from the gorgeous romantic pop of 1992’s Seven (featuring the trumpet of Andy Diagram, later of experimental act Spaceheads) to the landmark Laid (recorded with Brian Eno, and an intricate, introverted album despite its title song) and a strange 1996 collaboration between Booth and Twin Peaks theme composer Angelo Badalamenti (titled Booth And The Bad Angel). James’ most recent album, Hey Ma, appeared in 2008.

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